The ICQ amateur radio podcast has reached Series Three Episode Twenty-Three and is available to download. Contents are listed as the latest news, your feedback and Martin M1MRB discussing PMR Conversions.
It was this last item that got me thinking. Way back when I was first licenced money was tight, I had spent a small fortune on a Trio TR-9130 multi-mode and as I had a young family splashing out on ham gear was way down the list of priorities. If I could not afford to buy it a cheaper alternative was to build it myself. This was okay for small simple things, but I never had the confidence to start that massive project that might take months to complete. "What if I did all that and it did not work?" that thought stopped me from having a go. I was always in awe of fellow hams who could pick up a old PMR (private mobile radio) set from a radio rally and after a few hours twiddling in the shack call me up to ask how they sounded. I begged to be taught how but I had no one prepared to mentor me. Then a great book came out on PMR conversions by Chris Lorek G4HLC and following his step by step instructions I converted various pieces of kit, mainly from the Pye family. I still needed the help of my fellow hams and the test gear that they had but I did not. Is there an up to date version of this book I wonder? Crystal sets and diode matrix have been replaced by computer processor control and programming so even if I could remember what to do it would no longer be very relevant to today's surplus kit. I no longer need to source my rigs this way but just thinking about it gets the juices flowing.
Back then there were three names that had a massive influence on me through their books and magazine articles. Chris Lorek G4HLC was one, the Reverend George Dobbs G3RJV and Fred Judd G2BCX were the others. Their step by step approach to construction showed that you did not have to be a certified genius or have a degree in electronics or engineering to do marvellous things with amateur radio. I have to say that some of the ordinary amateurs I met at the local clubs and on the air were every bit as able as those guys, they just did not have the ability to put their work in to print.
One other book had a similar influence it was the Screwdriver Experts Guide by Lou Franklin. It was a book about do it yourself repairs and modifications to CB radios. Although by the time I got this book I had moved on from CB, the lessons learnt helped me to convert both an FM CB and an SSB set to the ten metre amateur band. Not that it did me much good as I could only listen due to B class licensees being confined to VHF and above in those days. It also helped me to repair more than a few CBs for friends. I always wondered why no one had done a similar book for the more complicated amateur rigs out there. Fortunately a lot of that type of information is available on the Internet, but I am sure such a book would sell like hot cakes. We could do with an up-dated version of the PMR conversion manual as well. Anyone ready to rise to the challenge? It may never make you rich but you could just become a bit of a hero to the next generation of radio amateurs like Chris, George and Fred were to me.