HFU HF Underground

General Category => Pirate Radio History => Topic started by: NQC on June 01, 2021, 1154 UTC

Title: Confessions of a Former Operator
Post by: NQC on June 01, 2021, 1154 UTC
Hey All,

Just kind of  thinking back on the "old days" and the fun we had.

My first "operation" was VERY high up  in upper HF on a frequency that I found out LATER (of course) was  "supposedly" was a    frequency for  "U.S.   Entities  Operations" in   Africa. Not sure if this was just a "legend"  or not . I never copied  anything on frequency and never had any problems (FWIW, Africa may have been in my  dipole null anyways). It made  for an interesting "story" anyways.

The transmitter was a Uniden "export" type rig with mic input modified for an audio patch cord input for pre recorded cassette programming. A  double bracket bank of 6 mini fans - 3 for forced inlet, 3 for pulling discharge, kept the rig sink "cooler".

The  transmitter fed an outboard RF amplifier that was chilled water cooled , with the final power at 180 W peak into a 1/2 dipole.

Everything was powered by a set of  stand alone  car batteries.

I had a number of reports into drop Box 452 Wellsville, NY from the Southwest US and also from Europe. I used to announce my upcoming transmissions via the old "Signals" program on 100 Kw shortwave monster WWCR in Nashville,TN.

The next outlet I had was at  around 10 W AM on 1700 KC into a high helix antenna  that covered  out to around three miles with a "good" or better signal at most locations . No drop box for that operation, but also  a lot of fun , especially on the "Big Christmas Broadcast" each year.

Also I lent a hand at a  local "community based organization" than ran "Allston Brighton Free Radio". It originally was operating on  three  different X band frequencies  all at once to cover different areas. We tried to stay at true part 15 as much as possible .Two  sites  were microwave linked back to the net control location.  Eventually we dropped  the two remote  sites and went with high power at the base location( so much for part 15 ! :))) . I built the BIG antenna antenna for the "beefed up"  operation.We got a LARGE coverage area ( much more than all  the part 15's combined). The mayor of Boston at the time actually came in and did a show with us. He either didn't know or care that  we were  now an unlicensed  "big time" outlet.The operator of ABFR was also  a "consultant" who set up a number of Free Radio stations around the city .One station was  called  "Girlz Radio" run by minority female high school students. They ran  on WAY down on 540 from a commanding hill top site that blanketed a huge area.I got the "Dime Tour" of that facility on one  occasion .The view of the city was phenomenal !

FWIW, some of the ABFR programming was also carried free of charge  on (FCC licensed) WJIB 740 ( 250 watts  day/5 watts night). The owner (Bob Bittner) is BIG into "free speech on the  radio"). His  commercial  free "beautiful music"  network of multiple  stations in New England is inter spaced with such PSA 's as : "Cut up your credit cards, pay cash", "Avoid chains, buy local", philosophical quotes from different folks, etc. For many years he used his own money to keep on air, but now he does a fundraiser to just cover his costs. JIB is the ONLY LICENSED "FREE" radio station I have EVER heard of.

LONG before I met my wife to be, she and her young son did a program on "Radio Free Allston -FM.RFA had a "decent" coverage area, but certainly  was NOT a "big" station either. They were interviewed by the Boston Globe which
 (as quoted in the Superman TV show opening) is  a "great metropolitan newspaper" with a huge subscription circulation, both  locally and  internationally.   The  station got a nice  write up  and then was promptly raided by The F unny C andy C ompany who  shut  them down on the spot. The end.

I also did some "liaison" work  with the Ireland's Dun Loaghaire Local Radio ("DLR") near Dublin which ran local FM and also on shortwave SSB .I still have some  of their programming tapes. FWIW,  I could  copy them  on shortwave here in the  NE US.

I also knew one guy who did  high power FM from the top of a "more than 40 story building" and wiped out 2/3 of the coverage area  of a   distant  legitimate licensed  college station on that frequency. Bad, Pirate, bad >:( ! I eventually got him to "see the wisdom" (and also avoid getting slammed by the FCC) and to shut it  down. He then went over  to a "low" power FM  tx into a TV antenna on a CLEAR  frequency (many miles away    from the skyscraper site) at near sea level.   It covered  nearly  all of his   home town, which was much more acceptable then his prior stunt.

There USED to be  quite a few operations in the Boston area"back in the day". We had up to 4  or more different  Haitians running  at once in the X band (and  1 or 2 in the upper old  AM band as well ) AND some on FM, also other format    stations in the  X  ,old and on FM. Only 1 or 2 Haitians now  left in X, unsure if anybody is  on FM. I  am not much of an FM fan and prefer my friendship with A ncient  M ary.
Now ALL my gear  is  LONG gone,  and it's just a distant fun memory..

I  have been recently  looking at some discrete transistor VERY LOW power  designs for full  band "VFO"coverage . One application would be at "pico" power for use as a piece of "test gear" ( AM BCB BFO, BCB RF bias source, etc). But if  I "pump up" a bit  (  but still at a definite part 15 / QRPpp) it would be nice to be able to  listen to my  programming cassettes on my old     "Boy's" reflex  pocket radio   out in the park, maybe  75 ft away from the Tx.

We'll see.

 de NQC K
Title: Re: Confessions of a Former Operator
Post by: Nielsbo on June 01, 2021, 1423 UTC
This was fun to read. Thank you for sharing your story.
Title: Re: Confessions of a Former Operator
Post by: NQC on June 02, 2021, 1430 UTC
 Hey Nielsbo,

Thank you for the kind response.
Yes, it was fun. 

Yup, We  used to do a LOT of wild things, radio  related and otherwise, that are better left unsaid. Some of it didn't turn out so well.

When you are young sometimes you do some seriously DUMB stuff. So  although I certainty have a lot of mixed  memories, I  really like just being "good" and  chill  from now until I go "permanently QRT" / SK .

So- Just a legal  tiny   flea AM  BCB transmitter would meet my current  requirement  and be just fine.I am only looking for a good 150 ft coverage to the East and a solid  signal through the building  from my 2nd floor apt to my basement work shop ( or vice versa). NO desire for any bigger signal.