Listener’s Library, February 1999
Well here we go with another year. At least we are moving toward the Millennium with a notable improvement in the sun spot situation. Let’s ring in the New Year with what has become an annual tradition.
Passport to Worldband Radio
Editor in Chief: Lawrence Magne
382 pages + extensive “Blue Pages”
International Broadcast Services, Ltd.
Penn’s Park, PA 18943
I keep hearing this nasty rumor that Shortwave Radio is dead. Well if this is the case, how come each year Larry and his team come up with this excellent book? Further, if shortwave is dead, could somebody please explain to me why Larry is able to review all these wonderful receivers produced by all these manufacturers? If you’re new to the hobby you may not yet know that “Passport” is one of the standard tools necessary to make sense of what you can find out there in the world between about 2300 and 21850 kHz. Passport’s “Blue Pages” serve as a guide to listening to the shortwave bands. It remains amazing to me that one book can have so much to offer both the beginner and the experienced shortwave listener. As usual, Larry has pulled together a group of great radio writers to share a series of articles on the shortwave world. (I guess it wouldn’t sound right to say the worldband world, would it?). The lead article this year is Hans Johnson’s account of Broadcasting in Liberia. This article expresses the never ending dance of politics and international broadcasting most clearly. Henrik Klemetz contributed his thoughts on Latin American stations while Manosji Guha contributed three articles covering aspects of broadcasting from eastern nations.
This year’s Passport features an article showcasing the top ten radio shows in English. I can tell you, we have come a long way from Alister Cooke’s “Letter From America”. As always, Passport includes an excellent beginner’s section designed to get the first time listener up and running in short order. And let us not forget the regular Passport features “What’s On Tonight?” and “Addresses Plus”.
But many dedicated hobbyists always turn to a new Passport’s features on receivers. It seems to me that there is a growing number of portables and “sub” portables of note on the market. Notably missing are the new wave of “black box” computer controlled units but I am sure they will figure in future Magne reviews in Passport and in Monitoring Times. I was really happy to see the attention given to the Ten Tec 1254 kit. I am happy to see that the smell of melted solder has not totally left our hobby.
The 1999 Passport to Worldband Radio is a must have book, but no review would be complete without Skip’s annual pick of the pics, so to speak. By Larry’s own admission, this year is a toughy. We simply need to be submitting more radio related pictures of women to Passport for consideration folks. Maike van Pelt on page 56 is a bit on the young side (or is it that I’m just getting too old?), Deutsche Welle’s Erica Gingerich on page 70 definitely gets an honorable mention. But this year I must bow toward the East and go with Shoko Fukui of Radio Japan on page 75. I can be so otaku at times!!!
Well here is a book that goes a bit beyond our normal fare but it actually came into Listener’s Library by way of a request.
Introduction to Radio Frequency Design by Wes Hayward W7ZOI
383 pages + software disk
The American Radio Relay League
225 Main Street
Newington, CT 06111-1494
When I first approached Joel Kleinman N1BKE at ARRL HQ for a review copy of this book he commented that he didn’t think shortwave listener’s had an interest in the more in-depth electronics theory. I then related to him how the idea to look into this book came from a discussion at the tables at the Kulpsville SWL Winterfest. It would seem more than a few folks want to know there way around the innards of their equipment.
Admittedly, this book is a bit beyond the beginner’s texts taht often grace this column and my column in Monitoring Times. Introduction to radio Frequency Design assumes that the reader knows a bit more than Ohms Law. It was originally published as a supplemental text for working engineers. Still, a dedicated hobbyist with a solid foundation in basic electronics can muddle through and gain a lot of knowledge about RF concepts.
The text covers, in detail, eight major aspects of radio theory and practice including: Low Frequency Transistor Models, Filter Basics, Coupled Resonator Filters, Transmission Lines. Two Port Networks, Practical Amplifiers and Mixers, Oscillators and Frequency Synthesizers and The receiver: Am RF System. The book makes use of illustrations and extended mathematical analysis to fully examine each concept. “Real world” circuits are used to demonstrate the applications discussed, many of which can actually be pressed into service should you desire to take up a soldering iron.
The book includes a disk of useful programs to aid the reader with testing the various design concepts discussed in the book including programs covering filter design, feedback amplifiers, RF system dynamic range and phase-locked loops.
If you are ready to design the next great receiver, this book will put you on the right track.
Here’s a neat little book full of great stories.
Inside Amateur Radio
by Lenore Jensen W6NAZ
2120 28th Street
Sacramento, CA 95818
Every time a group of hams or any kind of radio people get together, there are often a couple a stories told about how amateur radio saved a life or helped out in some kind of emergency. This brief book is a collection of some of the best amateur radio anecdotes I have ever come across. The book contains five actions packed chapters covering: Disaster and emergencies, phone patches, wartime, medical assistance and personal anecdotes. The book makes for great light reading and you will come up with a story or two that hits close to home. At the very least, you’ll have a few new tales to tell next time you gather with your radio buddies. It’s a great book to remind everybody that the radio hobby is sometimes more than just a lot of fun.