The Amateur Amateur: Radical Ray's Radio Bizarre
By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
April 1, 2016
There is one immutable fact in Amateur Radio. As soon as you receive a
license, you'll start receiving catalogs. It's as certain as the sun rising in
the east or that when the next power outage hits you'll find that your
flashlight batteries are dead. I get tons of them. We all do. As I can't afford
most of the products advertised (or, if I'm totally honestl, I don't really need
them), I tend to quickly skim the contents and then toss the catalogs into the
A recent arrival, however, caught my eye. The cover proclaimed Radical
Ray's Radio Bizarre in bold letters. Ha! This a a real winner, it's
obviously a one-man shop, and the guy can't even spell "bazaar", I thought to
Nevertheless, and without even being conscious of what I was doing, I
started thumbing through the pages of the catalog. And I had to admit that
Radical Ray had some unique items that I'd never seen anywhere else.
New! Worldspan HF Antenna!
This one-of-a-kind dipole is guaranteed to reach every part of the
globe! No more dead spots or missed grid squares! Blast through that pileup
with no trouble at all! Good for all bands and then some!
* Not deliverable. You must pick up the 25,000 miles of wire at our warehouse.
30 mile long feed line sold separately. Support options include balloons,
dirigibles, and drones. Do not exceed recommended altitude as the Worldspan
will become less efficient once it enters the ionosphere. Do not deploy over
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Well, that was intriguing. I folded the corner of the catalog page to
remind myself to go back and look over the fine print later. In the meantime I
found another item that looked promising.
Completely Undetectable Tree Stealth Antenna!
disguising wires or secretly shooting arrows into trees when your neighbors
aren't watching! Miracle Antenna-Gro will turn your entire tree
into a perfect antenna!
Just fertilize your tallest tree with the patented Miracle Antenna-Gro
solution and let its metal-heavy formula work its way throughout the tree via
vascular system. By spring your tree will be a perfect multi-band antenna! The
root system will make an ideal ground, and the branches will act as excellent
radiating elements! All you have to do is a little innocuous "gardening" to
attach your feed line and you're all set to go!
Hmmm, now that product could come in really handy, as I have
two massive cottonwood trees in my backyard.
I decided to keep reading. And as I seem to spend a lot of time on the roof
of my house, the following product caught my attention.
Antenna Repairman's Indispensable Combination Kit!
Spend a lot
of time up towers or just on the roof? Think you've done it so many times that
you know exactly what you'll need to take with you? Well, there is one crucial
item that you always forget!
up that tower so many times that you think you're prepared for anything. So,
what is the item you never remember to take with you? Why, a first aid kit, of
course! Ah, but you're thinking, "I can't haul any more stuff up there!" Fear
not! The Antenna Repairman's Indispensable Combination Kit contains a
complete first aid kit combined with what you already planned to take!
The Kit includes:
Combination duct tape / surgical tape
Dual-use tie-wraps / tourniquets
Multi-function voltmeter / ohmmeter / ammeter / blood pressure monitor
Tower-to-ground hand held radio with 911 on speed dial
4-in-1 oil that loosens stubborn bolts and disinfects wounds
Foam spray weather sealant and spray-on bandage
Don't be without it during your next climb!
I also think most of us would be interested in this next item.
Swedish Operator Tuning System!
ages tuning your antenna system but neglect yourself? Hours of trying to pull
intelligible signals out of the noise will quickly de-tune even the most
experienced operator! Make sure that you stay in peak condition with this new
European import! The system includes:
A comfort Swedish backrest for your shack's chair
A No-Sweat patented Swedish headset that gradually eases the pressure on your
ears as they cramp up
A case of Sweden's best relaxing beverage (not sold to minors)
A Swedish Masseuse
Sounds good to me!
And then there was the inevitable selection of tools.
Universal Package Opener!
struggling to open over-zealously sealed products? Does that plastic wrap
defeat even your table saw? Help is here! This one easy-to-use tool is
guaranteed to open anything, including:
Shrink wrapped items
The special Alien Technology Disrupter Tool (patent pending) will make quick
work of opening the most stubborn containers!
* Federal regulations prohibit the use of this product in populated areas.
Back-To-Basics All-Purpose General-Use Tool!
Life is complicated enough, so why carry a massive array of tools with you
when one tool will do the job? Hey, it worked for our ancestors, and
look what they achieved! The Back-To-Basics All-Purpose General-Use Tool
allowed them to:
Bring down mammoths
Bust open clam shells
Win political debates
The Back-To-Basics All-Purpose General-Use Tool comes in the following styles:
The final item to beguile me was a long-life battery.
Super Long-Life AA and AAA Batteries!
remarkable batteries will still have a kick long after everything else has
failed! Even after 28.79 years they are only half-done working! Never change
* Really. Don't try to change them.
** Chernobyl Brand Strontium-90 batteries should only be used in heavily
Well, maybe Radical Ray's Radio Bizarre wasn't so inappropriately
named after all. I guess I'll move on to the newer catalog that I just
received, Fine Do-It-Youself Projects from Sherman's Scrapyard.