H. P. Friedrichs (AC7ZL) Homepage
Tucson, Arizona U.S.A
A Homemade Morse Key... Made From.... WHAT?
Amateur radio operators have a long and rich tradition of building their own tools and equipment from scrapped, salvaged, and repurposed junk. Morse keys are no exception. For years, hams have fashioned creative and functional sending instruments from a staggering variety of household odds and ends. Here is a novel design for an exceptionally nice straight key which is fashioned from a disemboweled computer hard drive. Read about it here! Then build one of your own!
Who Really Invented the LED?
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are everywhere! They've become essential components of everything from cars to computers, televisions to telephone networks, audio gear to medical equipment and more. If trends continue, they will eventually dominate all of domestic and industrial lighting. But where did they come from? You are likely to be surprised when you discover the origin of the LED, but even more so when I demonstrate how you can create a primitive LED with nothing more than a flake of industrial abrasive, a power supply, and a sewing needle!
AC7ZL Appears on QSO Today!
Early in May I was surprised to receive an email from Eric, 4Z1UG, host and creator of the famed QSO Today Podcast. QSO Today is noted for the exceptional quality of its guests—a veritable Pantheon of ham radio's most recognized names. This list includes the likes of Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE), Bill Meara (N2CQR), Phil Anderson (W0XI), Bob Heil (K9EID), Tad Cook (K7RA), Budd Drummond (W3FF) and even the world famous Art Bell (W6OBB). I was honored with an invitation to be interviewed and gratefully accepted the opportunity for this very small fish to swim among some of the greatest.
My episode was released May 28. Look for Episode 95 here.
Announcing New Books By H.P. Friedrichs!
As an author, I am best known for my technical writing. Examples of this are The Voice of the Crystal and Instruments of Amplification. Articles I've written have appeared in the Xtal Set Society newsletter, QST Magazine Online, Practical Wireless and elsewhere.
However, I sometimes amuse myself by writing fiction. I've recently published a work entitled, Riley's Way. It's an adventure story of sorts, as seen through the eyes of a smarter-than-average German Shepherd dog. Available through Amazon.com, I invite you take a look here.
Are ghost stories more your cup of tea? Then why not have a look short collection I've created entitled, Numbers, Neighbors, and Nobody's Business. Also available through Amazon.com, I invite you to take a look here.
New Section to My Web Site! HPFParts!
Anyone who is serious about experimenting with electronics, computers, or radio has a junk box—or two, or three, or ten... or a room, shed, or garage...You know who I'm talking about.
Unfortunately, if you're like me, you've noticed that reality ends up placing constraints on all the projects we intend to do "someday." In reality, time is limited, and so is storage space. Rather than let these treasures accumulate, it is sometimes best to choose where we shall focus our efforts and divest ourselves of those items that won't advance our immediate objectives.
HPFParts is a new section of my web site where I will occasionally list parts, materials, or equipment that I no longer want or need, but might be of use to persons with similar interests. Please, have a look and check back from time to time!
All about Crystals for Crystal Radios!
Every crystal radio set builder knows that you can detect radio signals with a tiny glass germanium diode. If you want to go old-school, you use a chunk of galena and a wire cat's whisker. But are those your only options? You might be surprised to learn that old-timers knew of many dozens (perhaps hundreds) of useful minerals, metals, and compounds that can be combined to fabricate primitive semiconductor diodes. Read about it here.
Having Problems With Telemarketers And Their Robodialers?
Telemarketers—you know, the people who selfishly hijack equipment and services you paid for to interrupt your sleep, dinner, or privacy in hopes of selling you something? They are a species onto themselves. I call them Telephonium Parasitus. A T. Parasitus infection is essentially an electronic malady. In some cases, it can be cured through electronic countermeasures. Read about it here.
MORE Neat People And Their Nifty Projects!
As the result of publishing my own work, I have had the pleasure to meet (or at least learn of) a large number of experimenters with interests similar to mine. All of this work is impressive, and some of it is downright astonishing. Take a look at the latest additions to my Guest Gallery project page, including Dr. Stanley Kaplan's version of my CDROM Radio and Stephanie Simek's crystal radio art exhibit.
I Have A New Distributor For My Books!
If you are a student (or master) of hands-on, from-scratch, craftsman-oriented activities like knife-making, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, metalworking, carving, or pottery, then you don't need an introduction to Artisan Ideas dot Com. Artisan has provided the craftsman community rare and interesting books and DVDs on these subjects for more than a decade. I am very pleased to announce that Artisan is the latest among an outstanding group of sellers/distributor for my books. Please give them a visit!.
Not All Of My Projects Are Electronic In Nature!
An electric guitar that I keep on a stand in my office has long been an object of interest to my grandson Kaden. When he asked if he could have it, I thought him just a bit too young, and declined to give it to him... for now. Read here how I built him his own guitar from bits and pieces that many people would have regarded as trash.
Over the past fifty years Barbie, the most popular and ubiquitous doll ever made, has driven or piloted every conceivable vehicle from cars to boats to jet planes. At one point, you could even purchase Barbie with a space suit. The birthday of one of my grand daughters, Kella, provided the incentive to construct a one-of-a-kind Barbie accessory that any little girl (and a fair number of little boys) would love to play with. Read about it here!
Build A Mechanical Magic Eye Tube!
If you're less than 50 years of age, and you don't tinker with vintage radios or antique test equipment, you're probably unfamiliar with the magic-eye tube. Pity, because you've missed out on seeing one of the neatest display devices ever produced. Click here to see an approach to building a fairly convincing electromechanical equivalent, using simple junk parts.
Neat People And Their Nifty Projects!
As the result of publishing my own work, I have had the pleasure to meet (or at least learn of) a large number of experimenters with interests similar to mine. All of this work is impressive, and some of it is downright astonishing. Take a look at my new Guest Gallery project page right here.
My First Appearance on Broadcast Radio!
I rarely use the microphone on my ham radio equipment. Sure, on a blue moon, I may be heard on one of the regional 2-meter networks, and I do have a couple of SSB contacts in my HF log book. However, most of the time, if I'm transmitting, I'm either working CW (morse code) or PSK-31.
That's why it was both exciting (and a little bit spooky) to be asked to visit the studios of KVOI AM 1030, to appear on Charles Heller's program, "Liberty Watch/America Armed and Free." On the program, we briefly discussed my books, and I spent some time discussing, in mechanical terms, how broadcast radio works. I've never had an hour of my life flash by so quickly.
Interested in hearing what you missed? For the next few weeks, a recording of that program should be available here.
Marvelous Magnetic Machines!
I am now in the process of producing my third book, entitled Marvelous Magnetic Machines. If you've just arrived at my site from Youtube, you've probably already seen these nifty machines in action! Click here to find the latest news on my book's progress, photos, video, and more.
Update: The text for all of the chapters in this book is now complete. My next step is to begin the production of illustrations and graphics.
Last month was my grandson's birthday. He has very interested in the projects on which my upcoming book, Marvelous Magnetic Machines, is based. Because of this, I build a one-of-a-kind motor just for him. You can see it here.
Still More Additions To My Links Page!
In August, I was contacted by teacher Mrs. L. Anderson with a suggestion for my links page. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Anderson and her students compile an annual "hobby handbook"with information and resources useful for pursuing various interests after the club/school year ends. Her student Steven suggested a URL entitled: "Learn How To Solder: Repairing Electronics & Appliances". Thank you, Steven, and thank you Mrs. Anderson.
A few months prior, I was contacted by teacher K. Mcneil who had some nice things to say about my Web site, and in particular, my CDROM Radio project. She also sent me a URL on behalf of one of her students, Brian, who though it might make a useful addition to my links page. Brian's suggestion is a links page in its own right, with connections to dozens of small articles and projects of interest to the casual tinkerer. Good job on this find, Brian, and many thanks to Ms. Mcneil for taking the trouble to write to me.
Building the "Pipsqueak" Regenerative Receiver!
A simple radio circuit with a single vacuum tube is enough to give a clever builder access to broadcasts from around the world. This article describes an attractive little vacuum tube radio receiver, built from a handful of salvaged parts that had been accumulating in my junk box. Read about it here!
Almost three decades ago, while still in high school, I designed a system of hardware and software to interface a then-brand-new TRS-80 Model I microcomputer to an IBM 029 Keypunch machine. Recently, an old friend confided that he had come across this now-ancient interface and promised to ship it back to me. What was the point of that project? How was it accomplished? What does an early example of "computer hacking" look like? Read about it here!
Make Your Own Cuprous Oxide Diodes!
Kitchen and garden-shed chemicals can be applied to copper to produce semiconducting junctions. Add a piece of plastic, a bit of metalwork and a handful of bolts, nuts, and washers, and you can fabricate an interesting, attractive, and functional piece of primitive radio equipment. Read about it here!
Make Magazine Reviews The Voice of the Crystal and Instruments of Amplification!
Gareth Branwyn of Make Magazine had some very nice things to say about my books in his review in issue #21. You can read what he had to say here. If you are interested in purchasing your own copies of my books, click here for a list of outstanding vendors. Thank you Gareth and thank you Make!
It Isn't About Politics!
The members of our military have volunteered to put their lives into jeopardy, and the lives of their loved ones on hold, simply because their country asks them to. If this kind of sacrifice is not worthy of gratitude and appreciation, then nothing is.
Some people are upset about American foreign policy...fair enough, there's plenty of room for different opinions. But the next time you see a man or woman in uniform, don't forget to tell them "thanks."
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(Last website revision 11/28/2016