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delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 35  NUMBER 5


Craig MIller  W8CR

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Fun with Fobs

You ever throw something out while saying to yourself something like: “I’ll never use this it’s just junk , not even worth giving it away”, so in the trash can it goes?  Who knows what artifacts of historical significance was delivered to its final resting place via the back of a Rumpke truck.  I typically find myself later regretting such a foolish act. One of my biggest mistakes was pitching a perfectly functional 1950’s vintage GE AM radio that was my Grandmother’s.  She had it in her basement as long as I can remember.  When she passed, years ago, I was given that little tube radio.  It sat on a shelf, not hurting anybody until one day I got in a cleaning frenzy and stupidly tossed it in a can.  I think the very next day I regretted it, still to this day. The second thing I tossed that I now wish I had back was a simple remote controlled motor thingy.  I think I picked it off the discount table at a Radio shack for a few bucks back in the 80’s.  It obviously was for some type of remote control car, really early generation stuff.  The motor had a gear box on it, some electronics and a handheld wireless remote controller that allowed you to command the motor to spin clockwise and counter-clockwise at maybe a few RPM.  I came up with a great application for it.   I mounted a wood dowel to the motor shaft and connected a rubber band from this dowel to the VFO knob of my Yaesu FR-101S receiver.   The audio output of the receiver was connected to a two tube low power AM broadcast band transmitter I’ve had for years (at least I didn’t throw that out!).  This Rube Goldberg contraption allowed me to listen to the Ham shortwave bands while relaxing on my hammock in the back yard, a hundred or so feet away.  I could tune up and down the band, remotely, eavesdropping on the chit-chat of sideband or CW operators via a Sony Walkman.  Cool stuff!   A dramatization Thirty-some odd years later I’m now kinda doing the same thing but now I want to talk on the radio, remotely.  Gary, KE8O, gave me the heads up about a wireless headset, with a boom microphone, for sale on eBay that he and others have been using on the air.  The headsets are designed mostly for office telephone stuff but easily adapts to Ham radio as well.  The price was right and if it worked as advertised, it’d free me up from the operating position for long QSOs and I can also use it for my intolerable work-related phone calls as well. Gary had a cable already wired for a Yaesu rig so I didn’t have to do anything special to get it running. I originally used the flaky VOX (voice operated relay) feature on the radio which automatically puts the radio into transmit mode at the slightest noise entering the microphone. This is nice but quite a pain when you flush the toilet and find you just broadcast over the shortwave bands the unmistakable sound of an American Standard wooshing away last night’s General Tso’s chicken.  For about 8 bucks, I ordered from a Chinese gadget web-store a remote control key- fob doohickey that allows you to turn on and off up to 4 devices wirelessly, like a garage door opener.  I now have a clever remote control button that will trigger the radio to go into transmit mode and back to receive with a flick of the thumb.  Slick as snot!   Now I can wander around the house aimlessly while listening and chatting to other hooligans on the air.  No one is the wiser that I’m folding underwear fresh from the dryer or on the back deck throwing rocks at the squirrels tearing up the bird feeder.  The only thing I can’t do, yet, is to remotely tune the radio up and down the band while loading the dishwasher.  That’s why I regret pitching that simple toy motor away. I do have 3 other buttons on the key-fob at my disposal, so, if I can just find another motor and some rubber bands, I may be back in business! Let’s see if I can keep it out of the trash can this time.
© DELARA News, the official monthly newsletter of the Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware, OH