SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics, by Bill Meara, N2CQR

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. With a liberal arts education, Bill’s exploration of electronics becomes a passionate pursuit driven by questions not easily explained by standard text book answers. 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, an Army private at Fort Gordon, GA experiencing the Signal Corps school, his reemergence in the hobby upon the start of a State Department posting in the Dominican Republic, followed by tours in the Azores, London, and Rome. Bill’s interests in amateur radio covers many of its facets. He makes contact with a Russian OSCAR satellite, talks to an astronaut aboard MIR, and catches the homebrewing bug – building an AM rig, a dual side-band rig that he uses on 17M and other completely homebrewed projects. His job with the State Department allows him to enjoy the hobby from exotic locations around the globe. The fellow hams he meets (both on air and locals) adds to his adventures. Whether a fellow homebrewer is sending him a hard to get part or he works a local ham in the Dominican Republic via a satellite-based VHF repeater, Bill brings to life the camaraderie of the amateur radio fellowship. His journey takes him beyond the basic equations of electronic theory and explores some of the fundamental questions behind the formulas. 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.
The book [softbound, 195 pages] is self-published and available from Lulu or for $22.99.