Testing odd looking antennas in the Victoria area · 9.10.12 by colin newell
What has 50 surplus Russian made ferrite rods (ferrite rods are crushed iron and resin – and little more? They look like licorice cigars and are used in AM radios… no really!)
Sections of PVC pipe?
A dozen turns of exotic insulated wire? (known in geek world as “Litz” wire…)
and a variable capacitor? (Not a flux capacitor by any stretch of the imagination.)
If you have ever taken apart a transistor radio you have likely seen some of these innards — on a much smaller scale.
But what does it do?
Well. Most of you folks know that long distance radio reception is possible on your little AM radio at night? You did not know that? Well it is.
For instance, a station in San Francisco on 810khz on the radio dial is audible from Mexico to Alaska. It is called “KGO” and it is part of the ABC radio network. You can hear it on your car radio or anything that tunes AM – no, really you can.
And unless you do not already have an AM-FM battery powered radio in your emergency kit, you should have one handy. Oh yea, internet radio is all sexy and everything but after an earthquake, the only thing you will be hearing (apart from the screams for help) is going to be low power AM and FM stations locally – running on back-up power. Forget your cell phones, cable TV and internet. None of that stuff is going to work. Be prepared.
I am testing this gizmo (seen in the photo) It is one of about 10 ever made – and there are 9 other ones in use in North America.
What does it do? It pulls weak radio signals out of the air and boosts them for virtually any AM radio.
Believe it or not, when you are driving to work in the morning (on or about sunrise) in Victoria (or anywhere on Vancouver Island or on the West Coast) you are picking up signals that have traveled the entire distance across the Pacific ocean… from Japan, China, Korea, Australia, Hawaii, etc. Yup, they are there – but they are pretty weak most of the time. Sometimes (right around sunrise) they will be enhanced and you may hear Japanese or Korean… it happens. No cause for alarm.
The gizmo above gives them a huge boost so they become readily audible on virtually any small radio. I will produce a you-tube video in the next few days (conditions permitting) to better demonstrate what this thing can do.
But why build one? Well, it takes basic antenna principles to a bit of an extreme – for the purpose of receiving radio signals over vast distances, but also enhancing signals within a 100 mile circle… so when you absolutely positively must be able to receive a radio signal under stressful conditions. Yup, that is pretty much it.
I will be testing this gadget around the Victoria area for the next while. You may see it on top of my blue 2012 import along Dallas Rd. or in the Gonzales – King George Terrace look-out. Do not be alarmed. It is a passive receiving antenna. I am not transmitting any signals. And yes, the device looks odd and potentially scary. But not to worry. Stop. Come by. Ask for a demo.
It is all about making radio and retro electronics fun and staying safe during an Earthquake or civil defense emergency!