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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

See the History of RF Engineering in this Large Old Magazine Archive Barry Manz

On Oct. 31, 2013, Broadcast Engineering, a publication I’ve been reading for 20 years, closed its doors. The company chose to throw in the towel rather than retreating to “digital only”, typically the last gasp before the grave. I learned this not from the company itself but from my colleague Lynnette Reese who sent me a link to back issues (of which there are 340) on a site her Ham dad found: americanradiohistory.com. She blogged about it too, but I had to take a description of this site a step further, as it is absolutely every bit the “gem” she described. It’s also hardly a secret as Alexa ranks it 147,429 in the U.S., placing it above most trade journal sites, but it was a revelation to me.


Mouser Ads from Popular Electronics, 1977 and 1982. Click to view.

Within this repository are issues from dozens of trade magazines long deceased, some dating back more than a half century, including:

• Broadcasting

• Radio & Records

• Television Radio Age

• Radio Daily

• Televiser

• Db

• Recording Engineer/Producer

• BM/E

• Popular Electronics, and of course

• Broadcast Engineering.

But that’s not it by far. There are:

• Technical journals (RCA, ITT, and more)

• FCC filings

• Station logs

and more audio, video, radio, TV, DIY, ham radio, general electronics, and other lore than you’ll have time to read.

For old timers like me it’s a stroll through my geeky youth, and if you’re a newcomer check out the old ads and articles on things like turntables, vacuum tubes, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and hundreds more.

And it’s free, although they’re actively seeking donations – of material. If you’re so inclined, you can donate to the Broadcasters Foundation of America.

Jim White’s QRP Midget with batteries in the background.

Incredibly enough, it didn’t take me long to find a project in the July 1967 issue of Popular Electronics (yes I’m that old) that I actually built. It was called the “QRP Midget” by its creator Jim White (W5LET, now the call sign of the LeTourneau University Amateur Radio Club in Longview, TX). Seeing it again took me back like a whiff of solder to the days when I actually had time to pursue such things. Sigh.

As its name implies, the QRP Midget is a palm-sized (minus the single 6-V and two 90 V “B” batteries in series) 2.5-W, crystal-controlled (natch) QRP transmitter for 80, 40, and 20 meters that uses two 3S4 pentodes, a few resistors and capacitors including the obvious variable tuning capacitor, the dreaded plug-in (plug-n-play?) coil inductors for each band, and a few other things. As I had been a ham for only two years at that time, even this little project was a failure on my first attempt, so I enlisted the help of a friend who actually knew what he was doing. But it ultimately worked.

I heartily encourage you to visit this site because I’m pretty confident you’ll be as fascinated as I was – or more.

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Barry Manz is president of Manz Communications, Inc., a technical media relations agency he founded in 1987. He has since worked with more than 100 companies in the RF and microwave, defense, test and measurement, semiconductor, embedded systems, lightwave, and other markets. Barry writes articles for print and online trade publications, as well as white papers, application notes, symposium papers, technical references guides, and Web content. He is also a contributing editor for the Journal of Electronic Defense, editor of Military Microwave Digest, co-founder of MilCOTS Digest magazine, and was editor in chief of Microwaves & RF magazine.

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