Antique Equipment, Boat Anchors, Radios

What is the Radio Hobby? One Perspective

07/16/2018

The Geloso G.215-AN

I have recently been re-exploring the hobby of photography, which is a lateral move from studying astronomy (my main interest being astrophotography). At one time in my life I was a semi-professional photographer, having studied photojournalism in college and dabbling in nature and street photography (as it is now named). And no, I was never a paparazzo!

Following a link from an article on today’s SWLing Blog I landed on an Italian radio/audio company’s archive, the company being Geloso.  The above image is an audio amplifier and it caused me to think about radios (and related equipment) in much the same way I have been currently thinking about photography. Allow me to explain.

I spent about a decade in photography back in the days of film, black and white and color. (This was back in the days when the earth was cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth!) Film cameras are to modern-day DSLRs much like IBM PCs are to modern day Intel Pentium i7 computers — that is to say, technology has really changed! Seeing what modern cameras can do within the camera is rather astounding, and certainly far beyond what we could even dream of in the 70s. The same is true in radios, of course, with radios from the 40s and 50s in comparison to today’s rigs.

And yet, just like film cameras of old being used today producing incredible photographs, radios from the past can still produce incredible sound if maintained well and their operation understood. And yes, I am getting to my main point, but in an intentionally somewhat circuitous route!

As I have been learning about these modern cameras and watching copious videos on YouTube, I have heard a recurring theme come up. Back in my early days I, like many folks today, always believed the next lens or camera would take me over the top and allow me to produce incredible shots. Oh, I might not have stated it that way, but it certainly was present in recesses of my brain. Now mind you, I was producing good photographs, but I was always looking for those shots worthy of a portfolio, and thereby sometimes missing out on great shots right in front of me.

Having just recently  purchased a DSLR camera kit with two lenses, before I had even taken a handful of shots with it, I was starting to think, “What will I need to add to this setup to make it really good? Oops, old habits die hard! Today’s cameras (and optics) from the top 4 or 5 DSLR makers are all head-and-shoulders above what we had access to when I was in photography years ago. There is no reason to look for the absolute best optics unless you have literally thousands of dollars to spend for what are at best, modest improvements under specific shooting conditions. The talent is not in the camera or the lens, but rather in the person behind the camera.

The same holds true for radios today, whether receivers or transmitters. Sure, you can spend thousands of dollars on the top of the line receivers or transceivers, and under certain circumstances, such a purchase may be the right thing. But for most of us, which radio you use does not matter nearly so much as the skill of the operator using the radio. Both the camera and the radio are tools, nothing more. A skillful radio operator can pull signals out of the mud or work stations at the farthest reaches of the globe with a 1940s radio that has gorgeous audio with little to no filtering, or they can use a modern DSP-equipped, roofing filter-loaded rig to hear stations so close together a cat’s whisker could fit between them on the frequency dial. In both cases, it is the radio operator who makes the difference by understanding their rig and knowing how to get the best from it.

Now if you are the type of radio hobbyist who really enjoys playing with the newest radio to hit the market and can afford it, wonderful! You help the rest of us have options when we do decide it is time for a new rig. But if you are the type person who believes you can’t really enjoy radio without having that “other” radio with the slightly better specs derived from precise laboratory conditions with nothing to interfere with signal reception, you may just be missing out on what you have right in front of you.

Believe me, I am not one to judge because people in glass houses should not throw stones! I have simply been surprised at myself as these old instincts have arisen in me, when I thought I had put to rest such things! In the radio world I have resisted the siren call of enticing marketing for the latest whiz-bang radios, at least in these more recent years (!) and now must use that same resistance in my photography. In radio I have learned to get the best out of my gear, and the results are very satisfying. Here’s to hoping I can do the same behind the camera! 73, Robert


 

4 Comments

  • Reply Ron 07/18/2018 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Robert:

    Great post.

    I was into photography back in the early 80’s. I had a Cannon SLR with three lenses – regular 50 mm, a wide angle and a telephoto zoom. I also a bunch of filters for color and B&W. I liked B&W and color slides. I used to just get B&W contact strips, then picked out my favorites to be printed. Great hobby. Like ham radio, one of the most important features is the operator.

    I”ve like trains since I’ve been a kid. I like model railroading, but never had the time, money or space to get into that hobby. I fill that void by playing train simulator. I have 6 western routes with various engine power and rolling stock. I have loads of fun playing.

    Of all the hobbies out there, ham radio and monitoring radio has to be the best of them all. I’ve never had so much fun in 15, or so years I’ve been liscensed. I’ve meet a lot of friendly people. Whenever I get a car, my first trip will be to a OHKYIN meeting.

    73

    Ron-KD8AFH

  • Reply Ron 07/25/2018 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Robert

    Did do some photojournalism, as I was a field investigator for one of the larger UFO organizations. Did some writing there along with photographs. I did color slides for vacations. I have a boat load of slides, so I want to get one of those computer scanners that do slides. Yes, those were the days. I only have a small Nikon digital camera now.

    I just wish I was into ham radio back then instead of using CB. Oh well, most hams started with CB, even though some won’t admit it. haha.

    73
    Ron

  • Reply Robert 07/25/2018 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Ron,
    Would have responded sooner but I didn’t get notified you had left a comment – usually I do. At any rate,that’s about the time I was into photography (photojournalism, actually) and had Canon equipment as well. I enjoyed a lot of different aspects of photography, much like radio – there’s a lifetime of possibilities.
    Getting back into photography now and my, how things have changed. Not the basics of photography, of course, but the equipment is light-years ahead of the old film days. But I miss working with film, developing black and white prints, and the magic of seeing the image come up in the developer. Ah, those were the days!
    Cheers, Robert AK3Q

  • Reply Robert 12/11/2018 at 7:55 am

    Ron,
    Developed my first roll of film in 30 years last night – what a trip down memory lane. Haven’t worked with the B&W negatives yet, but will make scans and see how things look. This was just a test roll, nothing exciting on the film, but still fun.
    Cheers! Robert

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