Thursday, June 26, 2008

We're Jammin

I once lived between two absolutely awful neighbors. My neighbor to the South was an evil divorced woman who came from a family with a long history of criminal activity. For example her father paved his driveway with stolen tomb stones. She on the other hand would hook her hose up to my out door spigot and water her garden and lawn and fill her pool when ever I went away. At first I couldn’t figure out how my water bill would quadruple on months when I was away. Then I once caught her in action.

My neighbor to the North had unleashed dogs that would only shit on my lawn. These dogs loved jumping up on my car and sleeping on the hood and roof. It was like living next the Bumpas family.

The house I lived in was a duplex. I rented the up stairs to my brother. We were both radio heads. Our attic had various lengths of wire that was used as antennae that corresponded with short wave bands. We were able to listen to stations all over the world. There were a great many other things you could tune in with a good S/W radio, which I won’t go into here, but you radio heads know what I’m talking about.

One year I read about TV amplifiers. These were devices that would boost TV signals. Our town didn’t yet have cable and our television watching consisted of channels 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 13 from New York. Seven channels, and some barely viewable UHF channels.

I went to our electronics shop and ordered a TV amplifier. When I hooked it up I was able to get stations from Philadelphia, Boston, Albany and probably 20 UHF channels from every area between. Suddenly I had a choice of 50 TV stations to watch. This inspired my brother who took it up a notch and found an antenna amplifier that had some wild power above and beyond the unit I had. His not only pulled in a stronger signal, but it also seemed to broadcast as well. When he switched his amplifier on, the TVs in the houses right next to ours went to what looked like a scrambled image like the photo above and the speakers emitted a bold electrical hum. No TV channel could be seen or heard. It was like a jamming station. Being hooked to the same antenna my signal was a clear as a bell. I could now see TV from Washington DC.

I remember one neighbor coming over to see if my Apple II was putting out some weird interference. I turned off my computer and went to his house, and it wasn’t that. I knew full well what the problem was.

I did get my brother a device like I had that didn’t interfere, but he still kept the old one for spite. If either neighbor was a prick, they didn’t get to see the last 15 minutes of their favorite TV shows that evening, or maybe for that week if they were especially evil.

Oddly neither neighbor ever asked me if I was having trouble with TV signals. They blamed the interference on a local industry.


Anonymous cb said...


Hmm not a radio head, email me the details. LOL!

11:08 AM  
Blogger weese said...

aha! not surprisingly you are the one I will ask when I purchase our new antenna. Once the last kid is out (couple years on the outside) I am ditching cable and going back to FREE tv. (with a netfix membership to fill the gaps).
I have been researching...and I WILL have questions. :)

11:57 AM  
Blogger pril said...

i had a little walkman-like radio when i was in middle school that, when i took it to the beach and turned it on, i could listen to whatever station I had it on, but anyone else listening to that station on their radios lost the signal. So, after a while, I'd bring that one and a different one. Used the small one to kill off the station around me that I hated and listened to something good on my second one. I don't know what the deal was with it. It was just pretty cool.

1:41 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

CB, Back then you could tune in and listen to cordless phones, cell phones and wireless intercom systems.
It's not so easy these days since they now broadcast in much higher frequencies.

Weese, in 2009 everything will be digital where as if you can get any signal at all it will come in crystal clear and there won't be any coaxing or amplifying anything out of range. Broadcast TV will be a lot cooler, trust me.

Pril, it's a little known fact that all receivers broadcast as well. A radio is more like a complete circuit rather than a vacuum. They dampen this effect on better equipment, but all it takes is for one sloppy weld or a malfunctioning something or other to upset the balance. You can make a metal detector out of a radio. It sends and receives and reacts to resistance of something that reflects radio waves. Pretty cool stuff.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous g said...

I heard of a couple of people who had a neighbor in the middle who caused interference with their TV.

Heh Heh.

I had a neigbor once who's dogs would bark late a night. I lived in a 5th wheel trailer on a site where I was building a house - the trailer wasn't great at deferring sound transmission so it was like the dog barking inside. Anywho, I was bitching about it to a friend of mine who years prior had a similiar problem and cured it by calling the guy (not you Guy) up when the dog would bark and when he said "hello", he would hang up. It took about 3 times before the dog barker owner caught on. From there on out, Peace. Too bad the guy had cable...

7:01 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

G, I've got some dog problems out here right now. People move to the country and assume it's ok to let them run wild. Hopefully they will learn to stay away when I electrify the lower strand on the fence.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Oh that was funny!

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Bayou said...

I had a friend in High School that had hacked his own radio station onto the airwaves. It was entertaining to get drunk and DJ for our friends riding around on the weekend.

10:37 AM  

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