You’ve seen them out there.  All those little white ear-bud earphones…  They are connected to I-pods or other kinds of mp3 players.  Most are playing music, but more and more of them are playing digital recordings of radio programs.  And out there, amidst all the Rock-and-Roll and NPR, there is at least one program devoted to QRP, homebrewing, and ham radio.  

SolderSmoke London studioLast year, broadcasters started converting their programs into small audio files (usually in the mp3 format) and making them available on the web.  Listeners can play them on their computers, or download them into their mp3 players.  This is “podcasting.”

 In late 2005, I was alerted to the potential of this new technology by an article in the British magazine “The New Scientist.”  The article described how people around the world were, in effect, creating their own radio programs on their home computers.  It occurred to me that my home PC was close to being ready for the production of these kinds of shows. 

For a few years, Mike, KL7R, and I have been having regular QSOs via the Echolink internet system.  We usually discuss our homebrew radio projects.  I mentioned the podcast idea to Mike, and the next thing I knew he had recorded one of our QSOs and converted the recording into an mp3 file. We were suddenly podcasters!  

By August 2006 we were up to edition #29 of SolderSmoke.  We usually get around 500 downloads for each show. Our only direct pay-off is the fan mail we get; we consider ourselves well-compensated.

For those of you interested in the technical aspects of our operation, it is very simple.   Mike records our QSOs using the record feature of the Echolink program.  He then uses the (free) “Audacity” audio program to edit our jabbering and add the musical background theme.  The file is then made available for free download on our site:

Listeners can subscribe to the show via a bit of software called I-podder (or something similar) – in this way any new shows will be automatically downloaded into their mp3 player.  Our RSS feed is  Or they can just visit our site, click on the desired program and listen through their PC. 

We have been having a lot of fun with this.  Mike is in Alaska, and I am in London.  It is usually 6 am for me and 9 pm for Mike when we talk.   The next day, or the next month, a fellow ham may be listening to our show while jogging through Tulsa, or while going to work on a train in Tokyo 

 Just as Echolink opened up a new way to link ham radio to the web, there are clearly a lot of possibilities for our hobby in the new world of podcasting.  Do you participate in an interesting technical roundtable QSO?  Why not share it with a larger audience?  What about a podcast of that weekly QRP roundtable on Echolink? How about some of those great AM QSOs on 75 and 160?  Right now they are all disappearing into the ether, but with this technology, they could be essentially immortalized and made available to hams around the world, on demand.   How about a series of podcasts on that new rig you just built… And remember, those little mp3 players also have microphones in them.  So you could do some time-shifted transmitting. For example, we’d like to work some listener participation into our show.  So maybe if you are listening to us someplace interesting (going through the channel tunnel? 35,000 feet over the Pacific?) how about recording us a little message – we could then put it into the show and send it out to the world.

Please check out our show.   

You can subscribe to SolderSmoke by plugging this URL into your I-podder (or equivalent) software:

Or you can find all of our shows on our page:

 Like I said, feedback keeps us going, so please let us know what you think. Send feedback to
 “So that’s all for today from the Anglo-Alaskan SolderSmoke production team. Tune in next week for another inspiring edition of SolderSmoke!”

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