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Thread: RadioWaves - a micro story.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    SE NSW, Australia.

    RadioWaves - a micro story.

    OK, Since Dragon is ex army sigs - he might get a kick outta this very short story.

    Again one of mine from from PAWFiction;

    RadioWaves - a micro story.

    It was the beginning of the first winter after Things Changed. The results of the garden (such as they were) had been preserved or stored, though how well he didn’t know - this was all new to him, and to most of the other survivors. The only way to look at it with some objectivity was to realise that so many had perished, that what canned food and dry goods were available should last many years for those left - hopefully long enough for them to learn again the forgotten skills of raising their own food, and preserving it.

    With as much as could be done on the food front done, the firewood cut and stacked, the house squared away for the cold weather as well as he could, Bob contemplated what he would do for the winter. There was no TV, no movies to go see, no sports events to attend. people didn’t meet in large groups any more. There wasn’t even the radio to have on in the background. Just the daily tasks to do - which took little effort at all - books to read, individual hobbies to pursue.

    Oh people kept in touch - almost everyone had acquired a CB radio it seems - from electronics stores, salvaged from trucks, or dug out from the back of garages.
    Bob had one, and quite a few other radios as well. Before The Change, he had been a Ham - an amateur radio operator. Still was, and used his radios to stay in contact with other hams worldwide - though the numbers were depleted elsewhere in the world along with the rest of the population there too. He had plenty of power via his solar setup - PV panels and deep cycle batteries, with a small generator should he need it.

    He missed new movies, cable, and the radio in that order. he could watch DVDs, but that was becoming old for him and, he was sure, most of the others too. He (they?) missed the news, something different that originated from somewhere else, not his own thoughts. Outside stimulation.

    So a plan formed. There were still lots of broadcast band radios out there - almost everyone had a small radio that worked, most of them, surprisingly perhaps, hadn’t been fried. It was just that there were no broadcast band stations on the air to tune them into.
    Bob could do something about that. He was a ham that was into ‘homebrew’ - making his own gear rather than buying it off the shelf. And the AM broadcast band was only just below ‘top’ band - hundred sixty meters - for Hams. He probably had all the parts he would need in his ‘junque box’.
    He thought about getting a commercial station back on air. But that was a big undertaking, and meant traveling a long way from home. People, including Bob, just didn’t like doing that anymore.

    Over the next few days, he had a look at his books, then the junque box, discarded many circuits as not matching his parts on hand before finding something he COULD build. It was not just the transmitter that needed building though - the AM broadcast band needed a fairly long antenna - that was because the lower the frequency, the longer the wavelength of the antenna. CB used a much higher frequency - hence much shorter antennas were required.

    So he assembled parts, did sketches, measured, stared off into space and thought a lot. Truth be known, he loved sourcing ideas, adding to them and making the end product something with his own imprint on it (that was what his job had entailed mostly in the old days too - he had loved his job - and he got a bit teary missing his old colleagues at what they used to jokingly call ‘nerd central’).
    Then it was time to get down to building.

    First, into the workshop. A metal chassis was bent up and pop riveted together (he used to have a friend cut, bend and weld his sketches into metal form back in the old days). It wasn’t all that purty he thought, but functional it was. The screening function of the metalware was as important as the safety aspects. Bob wanted others to be able to safely and easily use his creation when he was finished, and wanted to have something he could be proud to show off to? Whoever.

    Then out came the soldering iron, and parts. He worked far into the nights, just stopping to eat and sleep, as was his practice when he really got into a project. he even let the fire go out several times, so absorbed was he in his project.

    Several days later, a weary but satisfied Bob came up for air. it was ready to test.

    It was a basic AM transmitter of about 50 watts. Power based on 12v batteries and an inverter that bob kluged up. Set up so it could be used for simple interface to a CD player, Pod or similar for music, and switched to a simple microphone for voice. Basic instrumentation like a VU meter was there to try and make sure he didn’t over-modulate it (which would cause distortion - and a not very good product delivery to whoever might be listening).
    He tested it mostly by playing some CDs into it, listened to via an old radio as he walked a distance away. The signal may not be pure, the frequency not parts per million stable - but it worked.

    Day after next was trading day. Those that wanted to met at the carpark of the local mall, and bartered whatever they had, for whatever they wanted - if it was available - and it probably wasn’t.
    People were still leery of getting too close to too many others. There was no real reason to any more, but traumatic lessons become deeply ingrained. No one wanted the sickness that had wiped out so many to return - though probably all those left had a natural resistance to it.

    So Bob went along, early, with his home made sign;

    “Listen on AM broadcast 1500 kHz - test transmission mid-day every day”. Taped it to a post and left.

    He had broadcast the same message by CB the night before as well. he got some questions from the other traders, intrigued by the idea, but still somewhat stand-offish.

    Come mid-day, he fired up the transmitter, blew on the mike, and radiated;

    “This is PAW Radio 1500, transmitting on fifteen hundred kilocycles. I will be conducting test transmissions daily at 12 mid-day every day until at least the next trade day. Please tell your neighbours, and have as many people listen as possible. this station will be available for community announcements, personal messages, trade day information, and soon, music and news as it becomes available”.

    And that is what he did.

    It took much of his time. What it did do also was draw more people to mix with him, he with them. There were even a couple of people who wanted to be relief announcers/DJs.

    Eventually he set up the transmitter and antenna near the mall.

    He had hoped, not really believed though - that it may bring people out of themselves once more. It did, Traumatized people, began to interact, listen, go to events that were arranged because there was communication again. Began to get out more often than just to trade. Began to see they weren’t going to get sick, die if they socialized. It was the ice-breaker that set THIS community on the path to healing.

    Other communities heard about it, tuned in or heard about it somehow. Bob found more parts from old TVs and shops, and made more for other communities (on different frequencies). Communication and interaction likewise had a positive effect on those communities too - as radio had when originally introduced.

    Not bad for a box full of parts and a few days work, thought Bob.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Queensland Australia.
    Good story,

    I had to laugh about the junk box, took me back to the days when we still used vacuum valves and other components of that time.

    Not long ago, i was toying with the idea of setting up an emergency community two way radio system after the natural disasters early last year in our area.

    Bounced the idea off a feew of the locals, but nooooo," we have mobile phones". Short memories, that system failed several times as did the land line services.
    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

    "Charles Darwin"

  3. #3

    #1} I've always said that Transistors will be a Passing Fad.

    Anyway, making your own Transistors would be very difficult to do in the Home Workshop, but Vacuum Tubes aren't that hard. There are Hobbyists making their own "Just Because" even as we speak.

    #2} I'm very poor with heights and I hate to have to depend on someone else.

    Long time ago, reading about Windmill Generators--They work better atop tall towers, high enough that the best way to get them atop the tower is to hire a crane operator with a long boom for the day.

    Yeah, but what if they need a little tinkering?

    Self isn't going to shinny up a forty foot steel tower.


    How about building a three or four story concrete block or brick tower? Something like a round grain silo.....

    Then mount your windmill on a six foot steel tower atop the "Silo"?

    Same principle works for me, if you want to mount a tall antennae.

    Yeah, the whole length of the Antennae needs to work, but either the brick will be very little impediment to the signal, and you can run it up the center.....

    Or failing that, a series of windows should let you install your Antennae outside the "Silo" while standing on solid ground the whole time.

    #3} Jerry Pournelle remarked one time that a man who can cobble together a two-way Radio Communication System out of what is likely to be available in the Aftermath of an Apocalyptic Holocaust, will be welcomed wherever he chooses to settle.

    Haven't really given that much thought.

    Organize + Cooperate (Invariably) = Crush the Individual

    But for those of you who might want a ticket into a Post EOTWAWKI Commune.....

    Saxon Violence
    Last edited by Saxon Violence; 08-20-2012 at 04:39 PM.


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