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  • By koyaanisqatsiuk
    Jan 27, 2010
    It's not often that I've come across a book that combines the fun of Amateur radio along with understandable explanations of difficult technical concepts as well as being a damn good read. This book not only achieves this but does it perfectly. It's described on the back cover as "... the story of a secret, after-hours life in electronics." Why after hours? Well because the author, Bill Meara (N2CQR, M0HBR, CU2JL) is a diplomat, a consul for the United states of America, having been posted to such diverse locations as Rome, London, Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican republic and many other places. During his career as a diplomat his hobby of ham radio and in particular QRP and home-brewing has followed him around the world. He admits that he did take time out for a while on meeting his future wife and then marrying her. Then, as so many of us have done before, he began to be drawn back into the hobby; the warmth of the shack, where on a cold night, he could sit clutching a... More > hot coffee, listening to the bands, talking to friends and surrounded by the smell of solder smoke. During his years as a diplomat-ham he has spent much of his free time trying to understand some of the whys and wherefores of the circuits he was building, attempting to build and attempting to fault find when they didn't work. And so many of us have been right down that road! And that explains what this book is; it's a form of diary of Bill's Eureka moments combined with an insight into his travels and life as a diplomat. The technical range covered is quite large and despite all my years in electronics I found many of his eureka moments clarified some of my ingrained foggier thinking. For example we all know how mixers work. Or do we? How many of us can actually explain what goes on even in the simplest of two diode balanced mixers? Most of us just accept that, by the black necromancy of radio in which we dabble, fearing the release the magical smoke at the wrong moment, it just mixes and that's that. But Bill took time to ask, query and eventually, by making notes to himself, come to understand what was going on. And his explanations of mixers and other such subjects are indeed highly illuminating. He explains semiconductor principles (Do you really understand hole flow versus electron flow?). And how about resonant circuits for example? Bill explains these and much more in a refreshing new way along with capacitors, crystals, and a host of other often accepted but often not fully understood truths that we, as amateurs just take for granted. This is an ongoing life's trip through the hobby which we all share with Bill, and remember that he is not a professional electronics engineer; he is a radio ham who wants to be more than an "appliance operator". He enjoys tinkering and has stuck with some pieces of equipment for more years than I will mention but it hasn't stopped him working through the satellites and bridging the oceans on less watts than a nightlight. And as well as his obvious love of his hobby, he introduces us to many of the other amateurs he has met on his travels and at his various postings. He paints a wonderful picture of the people that many of us may get to meet on the air but he's been lucky enough to meet face to face. And as well as doing all this he also ventured into the world of Pod-casting and blogging, the outputs which has reached thousands world-wide on his SolderSmoke website. I cannot recommend this book too highly and I found that it was one which I couldn't put down until I'd finished.< Less
  • By morseman5
    Oct 15, 2009
    "Soldersmoke book" I found this book a good read. It was very interesting from start to finish. Lots of great stories that all of us with the "knack" can relate to. I saw many parallels in the book to my own experiences growing up with radio as most radio hobbyists will. All in all, a light reading book that will hold your interest from start to finish. Five stars for you Bill! – Mark Z KA9OOI
  • By n0jms
    Jun 21, 2009
    "Along with great radio stories comes technical understanding." I found SolderSmoke to be a great read. I was even able to learn the proper spin on items of radio electronic knowledge that had escaped me through my formal education. All in all, the personal experiences shared by Bill Maera are a great look into radio days past (especially for those like myself who weren't into radio during the majority of the book's coverage) as well as putting technical discussion into more lamen's language than would normally fly over most ham's heads nowadays. To sum it up, SolderSmoke is a great read for all that are interested in anything to do with radio, and especially for those into homebrewing and fans of radio in exotic locations.
  • By scott.hedberg
    Jun 11, 2009
    "one man’s journey into the soul of ham radio" SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics, by Bill Meara, N2CQR, takes the reader on a journey into the magic of radio and the essence of the amateur radio hobby. The book is both a personal journal and a workbench notebook. Bill weaves together his exploration of radio through both his experiences since joining the hobby as a boy and the continual development of his conceptualization and resulting understanding of the basics of electronics. With a liberal arts education, Bill’s exploration of electronics becomes a passionate pursuit driven by questions not easily explained by standard text book answers. Anyone who has enjoyed listening to a SolderSmoke podcast knows that Bill is a wonderful storyteller. His narrative traces his development in the hobby: early years as a boy, an Army private at Fort Gordon, GA experiencing the Signal Corps school, his reemergence in the hobby upon the start of a State Department... More > posting in the Dominican Republic, followed by tours in the Azores, London, and Rome. Bill’s interests in amateur radio covers many of its facets. He makes contact with a Russian OSCAR satellite, talks to an astronaut aboard MIR, and catches the homebrewing bug - building an AM rig, a dual side-band rig that he uses on 17M and other completely homebrewed projects. His job with the State Department allows him to enjoy the hobby from exotic locations around the globe. The fellow hams he meets (both on air and locals) adds to his adventures. Whether a fellow homebrewer is sending him a hard to get part or he works a local ham in the Dominican Republic via a satellite-based VHF repeater, Bill brings to life the camaraderie of the amateur radio fellowship. His journey takes him beyond the basic equations of electronic theory and explores some of the fundamental questions behind the formulas. I would recommend this book for anyone who views amateur radio gear as more than just a collection of transistors, capacitors, diodes, and solder. SolderSmoke (the book) is one man’s journey into the soul of ham radio. It is a wonderful, amazing quest to unlock the magic of the electron.< Less
  • By don_mcbain
    Jun 3, 2009
    "Great Book" If you like the SolderSmoke podcast you will love this book. A must have for any SolderSmoke fan. Great job Bill !!! KZ0Y
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Product Details

Edition
THIS VERSION SHIPS FROM A PRINTER IN THE U.S.
Publisher
HBR Press
Published
May 4, 2010
Language
English
Pages
206
Binding
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
1.41 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall
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