Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Of Hyperbands and Hams. Post #692.

Of Hyperbands and Hams
(http://www.radiomagazine.com/deep-dig/0005/of-hyperbands-and-hams-37408).
Accessed on 17 February 2016, 22:45 hrs, UTC.
Author: "The Wandering Engineer."
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Comment:

As a former broadcast news director and part-time broadcast engineer, I still remain fascinated by the communications wonder known as AM radio.  This article by the anonymous "Wandering Engineer"  struck a familiar chord and reinforced a wonderful memory.  According to this experienced radio engineer, not enough of us in the Amateur Radio Community talk about the "hyperband" and its standard medium wave broadcast cousin or the role ham radio plays in our profession.

The author believes it was the "romance" of AM radio many years ago that spurred our interest in becoming amateur radio operators and, eventually, broadcast engineers.  You can get a feel for what the standard broadcast band was like before IBOC (In-band-on-channel), digital modulation, and switching power supplies gradually supplanted tube-powered transmitters and brought in a new age of digital broadcasting by venturing into the expanded AM broadcast band between 1610 kHz and 1700 kHz.

You may have discovered this fairly new band by tuning below the 160 meter amateur radio band (1800 kHz to 2000 kHz) just before you "called it a night." One hundred sixty meter enthusiasts have done a remarkable job of restoring old AM, plate-modulated transmitters so they can work the "gentlemen's band" of 160 meters.  When 160 meters rolls into my home on Hawaii Island, it's a joy to listen to the outstanding quality some of my fellow hams have incorporated into these transmitting veterans.

If you can spare a few moments before you "throw the big switch,"  tune down into the "hyperband" of 1610 kHz to 1700 kHz and get ready for a real treat. Power limitations (10 kW day, 1 kW night), shortened antennas, and uncertain propagation make many of these AM stations a difficult catch, especially in Hawaii.  These stations remind me of my younger days, huddled over an old Hallicrafters S-38 or Hallicrafters SX-62A receiver trying to pull out the "tough ones" on the standard broadcast band (540 kHz to 1600 kHz).

Every once in a while, I fire up the old SX-62A and relive some of those memories by exploring the upper ends of the standard broadcast band and its younger siblings in the "hyperband" of 1610 kHz to 1700 kHz.  My early days as a MW and SWL fostered a keen interest in radio, something that helped me get an Amateur Radio license and a low-paying, but totally satisfying , job in the broadcast industry.  Even though I retired from active broadcasting, I still get a thrill out of working the "hard" ones.

Perhaps it was no surprise that I gravitated to amateur radio, since the engineers who maintained my stations were hams and encouraged me to get a license.  This article is a nice trip down memory lane. Thanks for the memory.

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