Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hammarlund Super Pro Console, 1937


The Hammarlund Super-Pro series of receivers represent one of the best performing prewar communications receivers. The line was first introduced in 1936, and when war came, they took the BC-779 nameplate for the military version.

Thousands of the models making up the series rolled off the Hammarlund assembly line over the years, but one of the rarest variations is shown here, and it appears that only about 70 were made.  Inspired, no doubt, by high-end home consoles such as the McMurdo Silver, Hammarlund decided to move the set from the ham shack to the living room.  So they put it in the cabinet shown here, as seen in the August 1937 issue of Radio World.

But it wasn’t just any cabinet that they slapped it into.  As the accompanying article explains, the cabinet was carefully designed for its audio qualities, particularly the bass response.  There’s no doubt that the set was a top performer, and I’m sure it sounded good.  Since it was destined for the living room, a few modifications were made.  For example, even though the set had a BFO for listening to code, the BFO pitch was not adjustable from the front panel.

But it was a flop as far as sales.  As the Radio Boulevard site explains, “it just wouldn’t do for hams – it had no BFO on the front and it was too big. It didn’t have the Scott or McMurdo chrome chassis – how could you impress your friends?”  The site does have a picture of a nicely restored specimen, owned by AA6S.  From the color picture, it does look like a communications receiver thinly disguised as a console.  The front panel is faux walnut, and just looks out of place.  It’s not quite a communications receiver, and it’s not quite a console.

I’d love to have one in my living room.  And as a loyal reader, you would love to have one.  But let’s face it, nobody else would want one!

1947 TV Census

1947SepOctTeleviserSeventy years ago, television was just getting off the ground, and the September-October 1947 issue of Televiser magazine gives this interesting snapshot of the number of televisions in existence at that time.

The magazine estimated that there were 93,151 sets in existence in the country.  At this point, most of the numbers were fairly exact, since the limited number of manufacturers allowed them to report the exact number manufactured.

One wildcard was the limited number of prewar sets still in use, but this was also relatively easy to estimate.

One wildcard was the number of homemade and kit sets in use.   Stations were hearing more and more reports of “stations becoming increasingly aware of unspecified numbers of home-built receivers” tuning in their signals. The magazine provided a “conservative” estimate of 10,000.

New York was still the hotbed of television, with 51,500 sets, over 40,000 of them in private homes.  An additional 4000 were installed in bars, with more than 7000 on the dealer’s shelf.

Philadelphia weighed in next with 11,000 sets in use.  Washington had 3000, and the TV phenomenon was just starting to move to Baltimore, with 10 sets in homes, with an additional 90 in the hands of dealers.


1947 Chemtrails

1947Oct27LifeSince covers such a wide variety of interesting topics, we get plenty of conspiracy buff visitors looking for evidence to prove some conspiracy once and for all.  So it’s not surprising that this is the go-to website for definitive information about such topics as Nikola Tesla or HAARP.

Today, we welcome the conspiracy theorists once again, as we provide the smoking-gun photograph establishing once and for all the existence of chemtrails.  According to the theories, your government is hard at work spraying all manners of chemicals into the atmosphere, cleverly disguised as the ordinary combustion products of jet engines.  But today, we see from this 70 year old photograph that chemtrails were actually being sprayed.  The photo was taken in Cairo 70 years ago, and appeared in the pages of Life magazine 70 years ago today, October 27, 1947.

A cholera epidemic was underway in Egypt, carried by the water supply and insects. When the epidemic reached fly-infested Cairo, desperate measures were taken. Medical supplies were rushed in from a variety of countries including the United States, Russia, and Iraq. With those three countries involved, the conspiracy buffs should have a field day!

And the chemtrail fleet was put into service, as shown in the photo. The planes were equipped with DDT and flew at housetop level throughout the city. As the planes dispersed the thick smelly fog, the nervous Egyptians below opened wide their windows, and hung out their mattresses.

Thanks to the quick intervention of the chemtrails, the epidemic was under control within a week.

Monitoring My Eclipse Radio Signals Online

IonosphereOn the day of the eclipse, you will be able to view my radio signals live as I send transmissions to determine how the ionosphere is reacting to the eclipse. The map and list shown below will be constantly updated. The map will incorrectly show that my signals are originating from Minnesota, but my signals will actually be originating in Hastings, Nebraska. The locations of the receiving stations will be correctly shown on the map. If you want to view this as a separate web page, go to:

I predict that during as the eclipse begins in Oregon, propagation will be enhanced toward the west, and as it moves to the east, propagation will be enhanced in that direction.  You will be able to follow this live at this site.

If you have a shortwave receiver, you will also be able to hear me directly on the frequencies listed above.  Transmissions will be very short, so tune to the frequency of the last transmission and listen.  The receiver should be set for CW/SSB reception.  You will hear me send in Morse code TEST DE W0IS:


Even if you don’t have a shortwave receiver, you can tune in using one of the many shortwave receivers that are connected to the Internet at  Pick a receiver close to one of the locations where my signals are shown as being received on the map above.

For other ways that you can “listen” the eclipse by radio, please visit my Eclipse Radio Experiments page.

Sunday Traffic Update for Nebraska

Traffic today between Lincoln and Grand Island on westbound I-80 was very heavy, but moving along at or near posted speeds.  US 30 and state highways between Freemont and Lincoln had very little traffic.  Rest area parking along I-80 was almost full.  I do recommend that if you see a parking spot on the truck side as you pull in, then you should take it.  Once you get to the end of the car parking, there’s no place to turn around.

We did see units of the Nebraska National Guard out and about, but there doesn’t appear to be any need for their services at this time.

Eclipse glasses appear to be unavailable.  But they’re not needed, so don’t let that stop you from coming.

The Cornhusker State seems to have everything under control.


Travel Updates: MN to NE

We drove today from Minneapolis to Freemont, Nebraska, near Omaha. Tomorrow, we will drive to our viewing location in Hastings.  There were no traffic problems today.

There was fairly heavy traffic southbound on Interstate 35 from Minneapolis to Des Moines, but absolutely no problems.  The majority of the cars we saw in Iowa had Minnesota license plates, and many were obviously loaded with camping gear, cameras, and other signs that they were eclipse chasers.  We spoke to several other chasers in rest areas, and everyone was very upbeat.

Traffic is always heavy on Interstate 80 between Des Moines and Omaha, and today was no exception.  In addition to the normal truck traffic, there were many cars and RV’s with Minnesota and Wisconsin plates.

To get to our hotel in Freemont, we continued on 680, which was eerily devoid of traffic.  We got on northbound I-29 for a few miles, and southbound traffic toward the eclipse seemed moderately heavy for a Saturday.

We got off I-29 onto US 30 to head west into Nebraska.  There was no traffic to speak of.  We gassed up in Blair and drove to Freemont with no problem.  The hotel clerk apparently didn’t have glasses yet, and was very grateful when we gave him a pair.

I’ll update tomorrow with conditions between Freemont and Hastings.  We might continue on US 30 to Grand Island, but due to the lack of problems, we might get back on the interstate just to report the conditions.

If you are making a last minute trip and hear that traffic is heavy on I-35 and I-80, our experience today suggests that a better route might be to drive to Sioux City, Iowa, and then continue on US 30 to Grand Island or other points in totality.

At least five hotels in Omaha still show availability for Sunday night for under $100.  To find one, check my Minnesota Iowa travel page and click on any of the hotels listed there.  Even if it’s not available, you’ll see a list of all available hotels.

Win Free Eclipse Glasses!

This contest how now ended.  We are running a Facebook contest, and two lucky winners will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses.  The glasses are similar to the ones shown here, and are ISO and CE certified as safe for direct viewing of the sun.  They are made in the USA by American Paper Optics.  (I purchased them directly from American Paper Optics, and they were shipped to me directly, so there’s no chance that these are counterfeits.)

Most retailers have now run out of the glasses.  This might be your only chance to get them, and they won’t cost you a dime!

To enter, simply follow these two steps:

  1. “Like” us on Facebook. Just click on this link and then click the “Like” button near top of the page.  (If it says “Liked,” then you already have this step taken care of.)
  2. Go to the contest announcement, which is the pinned post at the top of that page. I have randomly generated a number between 1 and 200. Post your guess as a comment to that Facebook post.  The two closest guesses will be the winners. I will contact the winners for their mailing addresses.

The winners will be the two who posted the numbers closest to the secret number.  In case of tie, the earliest post(s) will win.

The contest ends at 11:59 PM Central Time on Monday, August 14, 2017.  I will contact the winners by Facebook message, and you will need to send me your mailing address.  I will mail them by First Class Mail on Tuesday, August 15.  Glasses will be sent folded in a normal business size envelope.

If you want to purchase eclipse glasses, please see my post with advice on where to find the few remaining pairs.  Click here for more eclipse information.

1957 Two Tube Junkbox Special Broadcast Receiver

1957JulPEpictorialSixty years ago, the July 1957 issue of Popular Electronics showed how to put together this simple two tube broadcast receiver using junkbox parts.

The AC-DC set used a 35W4 rectifier, and the 12AT7 dual triode served as detector and audio amplifier to drive the speaker.  The author reported that it pulled in many local stations, and up to 500 miles at night.

The article warned that the AC-DC chassis should be kept clear of pipes and other grounded objects.


1927 Baffin Island Expedition


Effie M. Morrissey 1894.jpg

Effie M. Morrissey in 1894. Wikipedia photo.

Shown above as it appeared 90 years ago is radio operator Edward Manley aboard the Effie M. Morrissey, as it prepared for the Putnam Baffin Island Expedition to the Arctic in search of the magnetic north pole.

The smaller battery powered transmitter on the shelf would operate on 33 and 20 meters, with the larger longwave generator transmitter was on the left. The battery set used twenty B batteries in series to supply 900 volts.

The ship was built in 1894 and served as a fishing vessel until 1925. She made her first voyage of exploration in 1926. The preparations shown above were for her second voyage.

In 1946, the ship was renamed the Ernestina, and is currently based at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. She is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The top photo is from the July 1927 issue of Radio Digest.