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Reviews Categories | Books/Manuals/Videos/Pod-WebCasts on ham radio | SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics Help

Reviews Summary for SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics
SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics Reviews: 6 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $22.99
Description: SolderSmoke is the story of a secret, round-the-world, after-hours life in electronics. Bill Meara started out as a normal kid, but around the age of 12 he got interested in radio... To make matters worse, when he got older he became a diplomat. In all of the places he has lived, his hobby caused him to seek out like-minded radio fiends, to stay up late into the night working on strange projects, and to build embarrassingly large antennas above innocent foreign neighborhoods. SolderSmoke takes you into the world of an expatriate geek. It is a technical memoir filled with funny stories and with serious descriptions of Bill's struggles to truly understand the theory behind the equipment that he built.
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K6OI Rating: 5/5 Aug 31, 2010 21:52 Send this review to a friend
The Most Interesting "Ham" in the World  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The book is part autobiographical, part travel-log, part technical reference, part inspirational, and all extremely well written.

After reading this book, I believe without a doubt, the summary above says it all. (Make sure you read it with same tone and emphasis like the beer commercial.) Bill Meara's passion and unrelenting pursuit of the understanding of the art of radio is inspiring and contagious. It has made me revisit all my past references to also better understand the science that makes radio work. I too, from now on, refuse to be an appliance operator. Well, I will keep my Ft-2000 but I am committed to melt more solder and gain understanding.

Well done Bill Meara.
KC9HTV Rating: 5/5 Jul 15, 2010 11:04 Send this review to a friend
Fun and interesting book!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I can only echo what the other reviewers have said, I just finished reading it and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. As the back cover says, it's a "technical memoir", Bill Meara combines his history with ham radio with very clear and concise explanations of electronic theory. Highly recommended.


KC2VNI Rating: 5/5 May 6, 2010 14:50 Send this review to a friend
Good Book with Straightforward Explanations  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am reading and enjoying this book. The author does a good job melding the technical aspects of ham radio with the personal aspects of ham radio.
K5ILW Rating: 5/5 Dec 29, 2009 22:23 Send this review to a friend
Fun Book  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I ordered SolderSmoke about a month ago and have enjoyed reading it. I'm taking a unique path: I'm reading the personal sections first and will go back and read the technical sections later. Most of the personal stories are in normal print, whereas the technical sections are in bold.

Although my beginning in ham radio started about 16 years earlier than Bill's, his early fascination with boat anchors reminds of my early introduction to ham radios in the late '50 in Carlsbad, NM.

I'm only about half way through the book, but it's very enjoyable and I'm very glad I ordered it.

Brad K5ILW
AK2B Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2009 06:42 Send this review to a friend
A ham radio classic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a charming little book about ham radio. I know, I know, who uses the word charming and ham radio in the same sentence? Well, I did and I hope I never see the word used in this context again. But, that's the truth of it. Bill Meara is a charming guy and as might be expected, he wrote a charming book.

The book starts out by expressing the way many of us felt in our early years, filled with excitement and anticipation of the new and wondrous world of radio. And then, in the next breath, ponders how we, many of us mere children, ever survived the ordeal. Those were high voltage dangerous days before transistors! My favorite ‘early years’ story is about the power supply and the gift of the lightweight radio.

Many of the stories come from foreign countries where Bill has traveled as an employee of the United States government. These adventures give perspective to another important part of our hobby which is the camaraderie among hams and the things that are unique about us, no matter what part of the planet we come from. The stories from the Dominican Republic stand out in my mind. Particularly the Resistor Store and the Capacitor Store or if you wanted anything that involved winding wire you looked up a guy who hung around on a street corner. I think Bill was really impressed with the hams he met here. He writes with great excitement when describing some of these characters.

Not having an engineering background, Bill expresses, on several occasions, of being mystified by some popular explanations of electronic theory. Here I share common ground. I also had a problem with semiconductor theory and the common explanation of “hole flow”. As the author points out, it sometimes takes a library to understand these theories. Sometimes just one book doesn’t cut it. Bill’s explanation of semiconductor theory is as good as I’ve read anywhere. In fact, a lot of the technical asides were really excellent. I guess I didn’t expect them to be as in depth as they were.

Bill, the “Radio Fiend” also takes on a journey that requires him to get on the air with homebrew gear. The journey starts out with a failed direct conversion receiver and ends up years later with a DSB transceiver. I found this very interesting as well as entertaining.

SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics. is about us. I don’t think there is a ham alive that is not going to see himself within the words of this book.

Tom, ak2b
KD7PJQ Rating: 5/5 Jun 6, 2009 13:18 Send this review to a friend
A great read!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
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. 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, a private at Fort Gordon, GA experiencing the Army’s Signal Corps school, his reemergence in the hobby upon the start of a State Department posting in the Dominican Republic. Bill’s interests in amateur radio spread to its many facets. He makes contact with a Russian OSCAR satellite, talks to an astronaut aboard MIR, and catches the homebrewing bug. With a liberal arts education, Bill’s exploration of electronics becomes a passionate pursuit. His job with the State Department allows him to enjoy the hobby from exotic locations around the globe. His journey take him beyond the equations and explores some of the fundamental questions behind the theory. 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.

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