RAN Technology


Vintage Ham Radio 0 Comments 01/13/2021 

The Amalgamated Wireless Ltd. (AustralAsia)

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

This short article about the AWA Forestphone was the last one put on the Midwest Classic Radio Net website by for former webmaster George K9GDT before he unfortunately became a Silent Key.  

MCRN article

Now that a longer version has been published in Electric Radio magazine I thought I'd include it here as well.

Throughout most of the 20th century AWA was Australia's leading electronics company, providing a wide range of radio, television, and audio equipment as well as broadcasting services. Over that time period the company partnered with other companies including RCA, Thorn, Rediffusion, and others to broaden it's product offerings. But as an Australian company, the Forestphone FP-1 no doubt was it's own creation, a small, easy-to-use, portable transceiver designed for use by forestry crews and similar commercial endeavors back when HF radio was the primary means of communication beyond line-of-sight. According to the seller, the FP-1 I recently acquired was "Originally built for the Forestry Commission in the state of Victoria, the last user of this rig was a gliding club, before gliders and balloonists were compelled to move to the VHF air band in the 1980s. They were also used by mobile bee-keepers, inland waterways craft such as houseboats and dredgers, and local government operators in the inland."

The FP-1 is all solid-state, a big plus for battery operation in the field, and being a mid-1960s design uses germanium transistors, including a pair of 2N301As as the modulator, a transisitor I remember scavenging from hybrid car radios as a young ham! The PA uses two 2N3879 transistors in a push-pull neutralized output stage which uses a toroidal inductor having 11 taps and a second inductor for antenna tuning/matching. Two output connectors are provided with a switch to select between taps that have been set for mobile (presumably close to a 50 ohm load) and as a loading coil for a portable whip. Unlike some similar sets, the FP-1 uses an external battery, which I see as a plus given how often battery leakage causes damage to portable radios. As the pics show, the interior of the FP-1 is very clean and quite interesting to look at, since many of the locally-sourced components look a bit different from the ones we're more accustomed to seeing. The frequency range is 2-5 Mhz

The receiver is a single-conversion superhet that requires a crystal 455Khz above the desired operating frequency and is very sensitive (Under 2µV). Fortunately for me, the radio came equipped with transmit and receive crystals for 3888 Khz, which the seller said was outside the AM allocation in Oz and thus he never was able to use the radio on the air. It took only a slight tweaking of the IF cans to peak it up 3Khz away, on 3885. For transmit, I merely substituted one of the inexpensive HC-49/U crystals from N4ESS, which did not oscillate to begin with. Fortunately again, the radio came with a complete technical manual where I saw that a 33pF cap had been placed in series with the crystal in the Colpitts oscillator, and which was reducing the feedback too much. Bypassing this cap brought the oscillator to life with full output of 12-15 watts with 13.8V supply, or a solid 10 watts from a 12 volt battery. Transmit current drain is as high as 3.8A but the receiver draws only 20ma in standby yet produces lots of audio. For this reason we plan to have the Forestphone "guarding 3885" during next year's Hamvention at Xenia, OH ? so calls on 3885 AM might just be heard!

I found little information about the FP-1 online but the pic shows one with the cover and canvas carry bag which I do not have, as show in photos here with permission of Ray Robinson who was more than a little surprised to see mine at the Dayton Hamvention!

Small AM (and later SSB) field radios like the Forestphone were the mainstay of the Forests Commission in Australia until the mid-70 when VHF took over. But HF still plays a role in remote regions of the world, and when used with a decent antenna, radios like this are still capable of communication over several hundred miles.

In the modern era when satellite communications are available virtually anywhere on earth, it is still fun to remember when HF radio was really the lifeline for anyone more than line-of-sight away from civilization and to recognize the trials and tribulations of that form of communications by restoring and using this equipment on the ham bands.   Here's a 30 sec. video from Vkthreepi doing exactly that!    WATCH


Click on the image title or on the image itself to open the full-sized image in a separate window.

   Lakeshore Industries of Manitowoc WI was an early follower of Wes Schum and Central Electronics to supply single sideband transmitters to early adopters of the new mode in the mid-1950s.   Both companies used the phasing method developed by Don Norgaard at General Electric and made popular through articles in QST, CQ, and GE Ham News.  Like most companies, Lakeshore sought to c...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/26/2021 

International Crystal and the crystal synthesizer

How a crystal company reduced the number of crystals needed
Category: Vintage Radio
I have always been intrigued by the International Crystal CB radios which had a unique appearance with a channel selector that resembled a telephone dial.    The high end "Executive" models were big and expensive and sported an aluminum trim ring that no other radio had.    So I had to buy one to play with.     It was cheap, like $25 and ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/19/2021 

KBCX - US Forest Service Regional Radio

from Missoula Montana to the northwest
Category: Historic
Hams, especially those who enjoy operating AM and QRP should be aware of the pioneering efforts of the US Forest Service to adopt and advance the radio art in the early decades of the 20th century.The history of radio in the USFS literally takes a book to cover, but an interesting example can be found in station KBCX, the Region 1 Radio Operations Center in Missoula Montana.    It w...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/11/2021 
   Working on various vintages of equipment gives one a better appreciation for what we have today.    Example - this is a frequency counter from the "HF Manual Receiver" which was part of a wideband surveillance receiving system that extended from VLF to microwave frequencies using a bank of front-ends to cover the range.    It was designed as "ESM":...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/09/2021 

The John Meck T-60 Transmitter

the only ham product from this famous radio/TV manufacturer
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
Plymouth Indiana might not be famous for too many things, but John Meck Industries was the first manufacturer to start producing radios for home us in the US after World War II.   He'd started the namesake company prior to the war but like most others in the radio business it was converted to wartime production, making quartz crystals among other things.   Later, thousands ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/30/2021 
   If, like me, you enjoy flipping through old issues of 73 magazine from the 60s, you're bound to have at least seen the ads for the Transcom SBT-3 three-band SSB tranceiver.  Being made in Escondido CA in the mid-60s, my guess has always been that engineers from other San Diego SSB compnanies such as Don Stoner, Les Earnshaw from Southcom, Herb Johnson, founder of Swan or Faust Gonsett may...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/16/2021 
   Alexander M. Lewyt died in 1988 at the age of 79, a holder of patents on scores of inventions. His penchant for invention, he once said, was so strong that he had chronic insomnia from lying awake at night envisioning new products. When he learned of undertakers’ difficulty in fastening neckties on corpses, the teen-age Lewyt devised a new kind of bow tie that clipped on. He sold 50,000 of t...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/08/2021 

AN/GRC-9 Bias Battery replacement

Cheap and easy fix using coin cells
Category: Technical
The Korean-war vintage AN/GRC-9 is one of the most useful and fun military field radios for ham use, as with AM and CW modes and 2-12 MHz coverage and a VFO it's all ready to go on several ham bands.    The battery tube superhet receiver is also power-friendly and sensitive and stable enough to copy CW and SSB but has one annoying flaw - the 4 volt bias battery used by the audio...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/03/2021 

Beware of the LED Noisemaker!

MR-16 lamps have no home in the hamshack!
Category: Technical
Halogen type MR-16 lamps are commonly used in track lights and other spot lighting applications so what would be cooler than to drop in LED replacements!   A lot, as it turns out.   The LED replacements are HORRIBLE RFI emitters that totally trashed several ham bands when I unknowingly installed them.Halogen spot lights are 12 volt devices so it's long been common prac...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/02/2021 

VIEW News Item

Announcing the W9DYV Radio Society

honoring SSB pioneer Wes Schum W9DYV
VIEW News Item

Hamfests Return!

A quick look at the Wauseon OH swap on June 6, 2020
VIEW News Item

Making A Transistor Radio

in memory of Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV (SK)
VIEW News Item

Soviet Spy Radio found in forest

(oh yeah, I put that there...I'll take it now thanks!)
VIEW News Item

Take the Boatanchor Survey!

Let authors and organizers know what you're interested in
VIEW News Item

W9RAN's "VERSA-TR" (as featured in Dec. 2018 QST)

A Versatile T/R solution for SDRs and vintage radios
VIEW News Item


Cool mics from my collection and ones I wish were

(There are currently no Blogs.)