Thursday 24 October 2013

QRM and NZ

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Two other recommendations from Ian Brothwell are this video on QRM (interference).
Thilo Kootz DL9KCE, of Deutscher Amateur-Radio-Club (DARC), demonstrates findings when they tested a range of LED lamps. In a different mood, watch a rather nice video of moon rise over Wellington, New Zealand on Mark Gee’s Vimeo channel 

Why not tune to radio from Wellington et al online as you watch, or select from other kiwi stations. A handy guide is at

Also, I found an interesting "design a radio" NZ competition (see photo above) at

Thursday 17 October 2013

Tape Recording Magazine

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Ian Brothwell was going through some old magazines that came from the house of a relation and found a copy of 'Tape Recording Magazine' from April 1967. (the issue above dates from 1966).

The April 1967 cover shows a lady listening to a Van der Molen cassette recorder, which it looks a neat unit. The magazine says that the left speaker is actually removable from the unit - it is in a box inside the left side of the cabinet behind a dummy grille - for improved stereo separation.

The caption to the cover reads: "The attractive lady is none other than ballerina Amina Hanafy. Well known for her work with Covent Garden Opera, Sadler's Wells and Carla Rosa Opera, she listens with professional interest to the sound produced by one of the latest cassette machines, the Sonic 8. Designed and made in this country by Van der Molen, it is based on the Philips Compact Cassette mechanism and offers full stereo record and play-back facilities. The left-hand speaker can be stored within the cabinet when not in use, but is provided with a long extension cable to ensure adequate separation from the right-hand channel for stereo reproduction. Impressed by the smart, modern appearance of the equipment, Amina loves the simplicity of cassettes." The Sonic 8 cost 49 guineas.

So far, so good. I guessed that Amina was in her thirties and I wondered what she was doing today. I did a search and found this. Hmmm. I wasn't expecting that end to her story. Copies of Tape Recording magazine sometimes appear for sale on eBay, in fact there were half a dozen from the 1960s the week I wrote this, all starting at £2.99.

If you would like to buy copies of all Tape Recording magazine plus two other similar British journals from the same era, head to the Australian website  where you can buy electronic versions of Amateur Tape Recording, The Tape Recorder (becoming Studio Sound in late 1970) and Tape Recording Magazine. 

At 190 Australian dollars that might seem expensive but it probably isn’t, although I am always unsure about copyright issues here. Having said that I did buy some DVDs a few years back containing about 25 years worth of the satirical US Mad magazine. Maybe it’s a grey area.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Tesla tales...

Tesla in 1890
Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Ian Brothwell has another batch of intriguing and eccentric websites, starting with news that crowd funding has raised enough money to buy a laboratory that was used by Nikola Tesla. 

This is on Long Island in the USA and there us a really great backstory (and more ) at

 “The site became known as Wardenclyffe, after the former owner. Here, Tesla established what would become his only remaining laboratory building. Previously, after emigrating to the United States in 1884, Tesla had worked on all of his major projects at various laboratory sites. These included Pittsburgh, PA; New York City, NY; Orange, NJ; Colorado Springs, CO; and finally Wardenclyffe, NY. In April, 1901, the Wardenclyffe Post Office was established in the town; in 1906 the town became the Village of Shoreham.”

Ian adds that if readers haven't heard of Tesla (it's possible!) then these references should help. and, of course, 

Thursday 3 October 2013

A Radio Roma mystery...

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Phil Dodd writes with a little mystery that perhaps readers can help unravel and solve?

In an old engineering photo blog that he follows, there is a photo of some power supply equipment associated with a Radio Roma transmitter, in 1929. (reproduced above).Phil is wondering if the square units on the right of the equipment were water cooled, “as if you look at the base of the nearest square unit, a tap is clearly visible! If not water, it must have been oil?” He'd hoped to find a bit more information on Wikipedia about Radio Roma. It is mentioned, but as appearing at a later time. 

A further Wikipedia page suggests that Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche (EIAR) was in fact the user of the transmitter. Phil adds that there is further information available, but in Italian and if he really wants to know, he'll have to learn Italian. A simpler option is to use an online translator such as Google Chrome or others- I find them a great boon.

As is the way of the web, Phil found out other related information on his research journey and notes that medium wave in Italy is now being switched off, but they are getting good results from DRM+, according to on 10 May. “On that score, they're ahead of the UK!” The Portale Italradio is an interesting website in English covering news and current affairs about Italian radio and TV around the world.

Once upon a time: to smartphones and podcast apps

Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was a child, I used to dream of owning a magic book that would contain every comic strip, poe...