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Toying with the ether. An equipment check.

2016/08/17

KNYO is set up in such a way that I can just check the schedule so I don’t screw anyone else up and get on the air and play with the transmitter and test things in the middle of the night, and I did that a little earlier tonight (3 to 3:30am, Wednesday night/Thursday morning).

This sort of thing always reminds me of the middle 1980s when I was building transmitters in the kitchen, in Caspar. I’d turn on a transmitter that was a pile of parts a few hours before and put a stack of records on the changer and wander up the street in the fog with a pocket radio to see how far it went. We were close to the sea cliffs, across the cow field. Salt spray in the air. When the air was right the power wires would arc over the insulators to the wood of the telephone poles and gently snap and flash. Caspar is the only place I ever noticed that happening… Wait, no, that’s not right; I remember seeing that in San Francisco this last winter. Ward and Amy took us to a Thai restaurant, and it was raining like crazy off and on, and wires were arcing on several poles in the quiet between downpours.

In the middle-late 1980s I was teaching at the Whale School in Albion, among other things, doing radio drama over the phone from the Whale School live on KKUP in Cupertino, making little Tesla coils with the kids. I remember how magical it felt when Juanita and I would sit on the floor in the kitchen in our first place together, with the lamp off, playing with long streams of sparks from one of these homemade toys and, when our eyes had adjusted, admiring the little clouds of blue corona discharge around the corners of the woodstove and on everything else metal nearby. I still associate that calm, numinous, comforting scientific feeling with the smell of ozone. And it’s still a kind of magical experience turning something on that you’ve made with your hands, even though it’s just familiar computers and the web anymore (on this end, anyway). And just afterward I got email from people who were listening on the radio, so, good.

Here’s the recording of the short impromptu set of test music, ready to download. There’s a little triumphant-sounding swearing in it. If that bugs you, then don’t bother.

 

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2 Comments
  1. i miss after signing off at kdac going back on and opening the mic to saying “this is kdac testing transmitter” or whatever and running test tome reels on the 19 inch machines for calibration… good times in the middle of the night!!

  2. Hey, Joe! Am I the only one who thinks it might be a good thing to have more middle-of-the-night-engineer-goofing-around-style radio in the middle of the day?

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