Construction of Radio Equipment in a Japanese POW Camp
March 15, 2009 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Interesting tale. The use of language alone makes it a fun read. Thanks.
posted by cccorlew at 7:39 AM on March 15, 2009

MacGyver eat your heart out.
posted by Xoebe at 8:37 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Well you see, we ran 'set spantree portfast 9/0 enable' but we didn't have a keyboard of course, so we tapped it out using sandlewood and some zinc, which was fine until a port became disabled when one of the Chinese plugged into their VoIP phone and it took about 3 weeks and some palm oil to get it running again."
posted by geoff. at 8:43 AM on March 15, 2009 [4 favorites]

"It was the BBC all right; it was quite a clear signal but it was somebody talking about growing hops in Kent. This broadcast went on for something like three quarters of an hour without any interruption, but ultimately the signal faded out and I was very annoyed. "

Figures. There is never anything good on.
posted by Authorized User at 8:52 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a lot more complex than foxhole crystal radios. This has a powered regenerative receiver with and hand made batteries, and later a AC/DC converter for power. I'd like to see a block diagram.

This would be a great exam for electronics engineers.

"In the box you'll find zinc, bark, aluminum foil, some beeswax, some wire, and a headphone and a tube (or nowdays, a transistor). Build a short-wave radio."
posted by eye of newt at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm reminded of the Professor on Gilligan's Island, who had enough ingenuity to construct a radio out of a coconut, but not enough to tie a bunch of bamboo together and float the fuck off the damn island.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ahhh, the glory days of the tube...
posted by Tube at 9:34 AM on March 15, 2009

Sys Rq, that strikes me as a very unfair slur. First, people did devote some of their considerable ingenuity to escaping, and second, floating the fuck off the damn island would have been considerably harder if it was a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

I am in awe at the cleverness of this. I also can't help but notice how modest and circumspect the speaker is about everything else.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2009

It wasn't a slur at all. (Well... Okay, so maybe it was a slur against sitcom writers.)

I was simply reading about improvised radios, thought of The Professor, and said so.

You are correct, i_am_joe's_spleen, World War II was indeed more harrowing than Gilligan's Island. It was more like Hogan's Heroes.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:50 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nice post, thanks: best of web in its quiet way.
posted by Rumple at 3:14 PM on March 15, 2009

I read this a couple times through, each time more amazed. I took a couple electrical engineering courses in college to supplement my CS degree -- they would have been far more entertaining and interesting had we done a lab on making a receiver like this. This has made my day.
posted by hanoixan at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2009

hanoxian: Thanks: It hit all my buttons too, hence the post! For true mefi greatness I probably should have gone out and sourced a bunch of similar "lets make something that usually requires the full backing of an industrial civilisation out of bailing twine and duct tape" stories, but life got in the way...
posted by pharm at 6:20 AM on March 16, 2009

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