Cool Stuff

Here’s Some Cool Stuff For Your Enjoyment

Ok, we all like some really cool stuff. Here’s a page just for your enjoyment. Some is radio related but there’s other things as well. I’ll add content to this pages as and when. Great for when your in lockdown and just bored stiff!. Hope you like it :

Tony Hancock – ‘The Radio Ham’

Here’s a real classic British TV comedy clip from the 1960’s featuring Tony Hancock as
The Radio Ham‘. Taken from the ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ series. [June 9th 1961]

Steampunk – It’s an Old Guy’s Sort of Thing!

So, moving on outside of the realms of Ham Radio. Do you want some of the really coolest stuff on the planet? Well – point your browser to our friends at ‘Bad Dog Designs‘ here in the UK. Ever heard of ‘Steampunk‘? Well – when you’re getting old n’ grey like I am, then some of these retro ‘Steampunk’ projects may well whet your appetite.

Steampunk – it’s not about just throwing a load of old ‘scrap’ and parts together. There’s much thought that goes into the many designs and also many [hundreds of hours] involved in the often intricate and extremely detailed construction of the pieces. I’ve built a handful of pretty [crummy] items. I’m not even in the same league as some of the chaps, but hats off. Some of the constructors are world-class.

Make your old AVO-8 into something great. I’ve got 5 in the workshop. An AVO 3 that works well [and the final AVO 8 MK7] plus 2 AVO 4’s and an AVO 5 that are all bad. Many last years, but when they go – well – it’s STEAMPUNK time for most!

Say no more and see the image below and check out the very fine detail that’s been involved in the manufacturing processes. It’s magical stuff for sure!! – I’m determined to make something [half] good at some point! – don’t you just envy these guys!

A really exquisite ‘Steampunk’ dome complete with an array of hand-crafted ‘micro’ engineered items – pure brilliance!
A really nice Steampunk AVO 8 by ‘Bad Dog Designs’ in the UK. A 4-tube ‘Nixie Clock’ forms the design.
With a little time and plenty of retirement hours, you could make your own [broken] AVO shine once again 🙂
Why spend 20 grand on a spanking new ‘Rolex’ when you can have a great ‘Steampunk’ watch for a fraction of the price. OK – I won’t guarantee that it will tell you the time, but when you’re a greybeard – who gives a hoot what the time is anyway!!
The work of a genius – ‘Banjo Show’ from Athens, Greece. This stuff rocks. What superb construction and attention to detail.

More Cool-Stuff:
Collectable QSL cards from the ham world

JY1 – HRH King Hussein of Jordan JY1
Here’s some really great QSL’s. The ‘Coolest’ by far is the personal QSL of HRH King Hussein of Jordan JY1. It’s a QSL that would take pride and place in any collection. I must admit, I missed out twice in pile-ups with Hussein, both on 10m even with big monobanders. As normal, the whole world was calling. I’m envious of friends like ‘Allan G0IAS‘ [sk] who always enjoyed showing me his ‘confirmed QSO’ JY1 card. My thanks to Bob Schenck, N2OO for the original examples.

P5 by 4L4FN – North Korea
Here’s one that comes a close second to JY1 and one in the log here. P5 is the Democratic Republic of North Korea [DPRK]. A Russian amateur 4L4FN Ed Giorgadze, visited North Korea in 2002 and operated as P5/4L4FN. I was lucky enough with the nice punch from my KLM KT34A and 400w to bust the 15m SSB pileup. DPRK still remains #1 on the ‘DXCC Most Wanted’ list and I’m pleased to have logged it.

Wake Island – KH9/N4BQW by Dr. Chuck E. Brady Jr.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) E. Brady [N4BQW] sk, was a Nasa Astronaut and ‘Mission Specialist’ on space shuttle launch ‘STS 78‘. The hardware for launch was the orbiter ‘Columbia‘ which completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107 on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members. Chuck really liked operating rare DXCC islands and gave me four new ones. The other three of chuck’s very rare activations [Kingman Reef, Palmyra and Bouvet] are here also.

Kingman Reef – N4BQW/KH5K by Dr. Chuck E. Brady Jr.
My first QSO with IOTA OC-096 ‘Kingman Reef’. Saying that, it looks like I need to drop WA4FFW another SAE as my callsign letters seem to have been jumbled around somewhat. [circa 2022 – we have a new card with the correct call tnx!!]

Palmyra Atoll – N4BQW/KH5 by Dr. Chuck E. Brady Jr.
My first QSO with IOTA OC-085 ‘Palmyra Atoll’. I enjoyed the days in the 90’s using my KLM KT34 tri-bander which with my trusty FL2100Z amp, I managed to work some nice locations.

Bouvet – 3Y0C
#2 on the DXCC ‘Most Wanted’ list behind DPRK is Bouvet. Chuck [N4BQW] was part of the 3Y0C Antarctica activation in 2001 which I logged on 17m. As a bonus, I got quite reasonable at putting high value DXCC targets in the log, subsequently adding 3Y0X [Peter 1st Island] #6 on the DXCC most wanted list in 2006 on two bands.

Scarborough Reef – BS7H
Well, for starters – this one in NOT off the coast of North Yorkshire [just in case you were curious]. Scarborough Reef [Huang Yan Island] is a disputed tiny DXCC entity in the South China Sea. At best, it’s a small reef which sits just above the water line at low tide. When the tide is in – then most of the reef is submerged. As you can see from the QSL, this was a pretty precarious activation. Probably spurred on that it’s #4 as the ‘Most Wanted’ DXCC entity on the planet. I managed 4 bands slots and even got a 40m SSB contact with a home-made 40m 2 element Delta Loop.

Mount Athos – SV2ASP/AMonk Apollo
Monk Apollo [SV2ASP/A] sk was THE voice from the monastery at ‘Mount Athos’. Mount Athos is a DXCC entity. A ‘country’ in it’s own right and #19 on the most wanted list. I had the pleasure in contacting ‘Apollo’ many times on the bands over the years and he gave a me a coveted ’17m CW new one’ – even though his antenna was only tuned for 20m.

Crozet – FT5WG
1998 saw the appearance of FT5WG on the island of ‘Crozet’. Still right at the top of the ‘Wanted List’, Crozet has not been operated since this time and remains at #3. The operation in late 90’s seemed to focus on scientific and natural world studies. I’m happy to have a 20m SSB contact confirmed.

‘Texaco Heron Team Suzuki’- A Works RG500

We’ll I’m a 70’s guy and most people from my era enjoyed watching ‘Barry Sheene‘ become the 500cc Motorcycling World Champion in 1976 and 1977. It’s a wonderful era because at the time [and living in Kettering, Northamptonshire UK] this was THE home of ‘MCN’ aka ‘Motor Cycle News’. MCN was [and still is] in my book – number one in motorcycling.

As a 6 foot skinny lanky teenager and at the time working in the ‘Operating Theatre’ at Kettering General Hospital [KGH] a job which my parents help me get [mum was a ‘Staff Nurse’ in A&E and dad worked on transport] – I had a unique opportunity to work in something I loved. A job appeared in the local ‘Evening Telegraph’ [ET] newspaper working as a junior ‘Production Assistant’ with then MCN publishers ‘EMAP’. So no hesitation – I jumped at the chance and headed off 70 other hopeful candidates and landed myself the job at Huxloe Place in Kettering with ‘Team MCN’.

My mentors at the time, Bob Lynham and Peter Archer were instrumental in my time at MCN. During the 80’s and 90’s, proving my worth, I climbed the ladder to ‘Production Manager’ – when in 1999, EMAP asked me to join their IT dept. in order to prevent the ‘Year 2000’ IT meltdown. The job I enjoyed, but the event itself turned out to be a damp squid affair.

My time at MCN included buying [at first] a ‘Dunstall kit‘ first for my GT250 and then the same for my GT750 two stroke triple [aka the ‘Kettle]. So you could say I was a Barry Sheene ‘Wannabe’. In 1982 I managed to purchase with the help of MCN’s road racing guru Norrie Whyte, an ex-works RG500 Suzuki from what was then ‘Padgetts of Batley‘ which I duly put on the road with a ‘Q’ plate [What a numpty!].

It looked pretty similar to the machine above as over the months I collected various parts [scrounged along the way] including a brand new fairing in full works colours. It didn’t last as trying to keep this baby roadworthy was a task in it’s own right.

As a claim to fame, Norrie got me ‘IN’ on a Suzuki GB works test day at Silverstone where a ‘spare’ RG500 was just waiting to hammered around the circuit. Having experience with the stupid power of my own machine, he managed to convince them that I could actually handle it and I duly threw it around the circuit at just under lightspeed, getting a mention from a Suzuki bigwig saying that I weren’t ‘All that Bad’ for a skinny teenager and may be worth pursuing.

Well, Kettering wasn’t going to let me go that easily and my dream career as a works rider never came off. The best I’d get was helping to entertain the very many ‘Famous Faces’ of road racing [Sheene, Hailwood, Roberts, Ago etc] that enjoyed the hospitality at MCN’s famous ‘Three-Cocks‘ pub in Kettering.

Unfortunately, my motorcycling days ended after badly breaking my ankle in the mid 80’s and I ended up messing around in the 4-wheeled arena in ‘Fast Fords’ [Burton MK1 Escort, RS Turbo, Mexico, RS Cosworth and the like]. Saying that, it was great fun whilst it lasted and I’m forever a 2-stroke fan of the 1970’s.

From the year 2000, I continued with EMAP [now Bauer] – producing ‘Parkers Car Price Guide‘ until it moved digital in 2020 and now being part of the Parkers Editorial Team – reviewing and evaluating the latest 4-wheel metal to hit the roads. As of 2023, I’ve accumulated 44 years continuous service.

More Cool Stuff
I’ll be adding more ‘Cool Stuff’ as time goes on. Check back here for any future updates.