ad: Halibut-1

Rock & Roll technology innovation from Amateur Radio

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by W0PV, Sep 16, 2019.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: abrind-2
ad: Left-3
ad: L-MFJ
ad: Left-2
  1. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I ran across this story and thought it would be of interest here.

    I hope it illustrates to younger generations that amateur radio interest, self-education and skill building, doesn't just lead to being an "uncool" nerd, it can actually be quite "hip" :cool: and valuable.

    Too long to post the entire interview, here are just a couple of snips, I encourage clicking the link to the Ultimate Guitar web site embedded in the headline. Far more fascinating anecdotes are contained in the interview. IMO a "must read".

    Wireless Guitar System Inventor Remembers Working With Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Others - A UG Exclusive interview with Ken Schaffer (N2KS), who single-handedly altered the course of rock and roll history.

    "Actually, I started out as a recording engineer. Two of my ham radio buddies, Richard Factor and Steve Katz (who would go on to found Eventide Clockworks) and I boldly took on the assignment of building a recording studio. We actually didn’t know anything about building recording studios, but we were relentless ham radio buffs and well-read — we knew such esoterica as to line the wall with egg crates for acoustics. We had a three track Ampex there was state-of-the-art at the time and soon added a 4 track Scully, the first in the city, I think, which was kind of like science fiction."


    "Although I was involved with music as an engineer, a producer, a publicist, my blood type was always radio [pictured below: Ken Schaffer – High School Radio Club President]. In fact, everything I’ve done my whole life was somehow an extension of my childhood hobby, ham radio. I was building antennas and transmitters and receivers when I was 11 or 12 years old. Everything I think I’ve ever done or come to do had to do with frequency — (thus my nickname, “Ken(neth) What’s the Frequency Schaffer.” Or WTF for short). “What’s The Frequency” was later memorialized by the REM song… Interesting note almost no one ever noted: the cover of REM’s CD single of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth” has Morse code for “Kenneth” under the title. "


    Hope you enjoy.

    73, John WØPV
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    KC0KEK, LZ5EE, KC9SNG and 10 others like this.
  2. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    N8QQE, W1YW and W2QA like this.
  3. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Glad to see these guys did well and survived....the music business (in all its forms) is a field that eats its young!

    There are many,many folks in ham radio who also are in the music biz/electronics side.

    One of many stories I have to tell--I will keep it to this one here-- is that I designed, in 2010, the wireless antenna system for the Firebird X guitar that Henry at Gibson screwed up royally on. I am sure many of you guitar folks have seen the video of the 'dozer destroying the remaining Firebird X inventory by running over it with its tank treads...

    The wireless on the GUITAR worked great but the guitar itself, like the Dusk Tiger before it, was overly complex to get the requisite sounds. And it looked stupid too.

    I never got paid--a common issue with third parties in the 'Henry' era at Gibson--and refused to even take a Firebird X.

    Gibson went 'down dee draino' last year and is trying to exist post-bankruptcy.

    Henry, IMO, was a major disaster that should have retired 20 yers ago. Your opinion may differ.

    I cherish my custom LP-SG and custom flame LP custom. Both pre-Henry. And my 2 Flying V2's are to die for.

    Chip W1YW
    K0UO, KC5TJS and WQ4G like this.
  4. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    Here's the video of the destruction of inventory of the Firebird X wireless electronic guitar....amazing and sad at the same time. Waste of a great antenna design;-)!

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  5. NN2X

    NN2X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    What a small world! I worked for Ken Schaffer!

    I even put up his 2 element Quad, (From Lightningbolt), back about 30 years ago..

    His company was called, Belcom/Belka..(USA / Russian company)...

    I was the satellite engineer....

    NN2X, Tom
    W0PV and W1YW like this.
  6. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Love that 'socialist mousetrap'!!
    W0PV likes this.
  7. WR2E

    WR2E XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    @WB2WIK ?
    K9ASE likes this.
  8. NN2X

    NN2X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  9. G3SEA

    G3SEA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nice ' Hoppin n' a Boppin ' story :cool:

    Love that Fender in Surfin' tunes.

  10. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Chip, other than the obvious lead word in company names and New England area, did you have any connection with Fractal Audio Systems? (Perhaps unknowingly inspired? ;))

    An interview with their founder Cliff Chase reveals another connection between their guitar audio innovations and radio experimenting.

    "IC: At which point would you say that you decided to pursue a career in engineering?

    CC: I knew ever since I was a kid I was going to be an engineer. That’s all I did – guitar and screwing around with electronics ever since I was a little kid. In those early days I broke more than I fixed. I used to try and make my own things and sometimes it would be successful. More often than not, it wouldn’t. I tinkered with radios, and then started making my own guitar effects and all that stuff. "

    73, John, WØPV
  11. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    BTW, its no secret that I play, and produce music. I just try to keep that off the internet. For the moment, call it my 'private pleasure'.

    People just like the WORD 'FRACTAL'---most companies with 'fractal' in their titles have nothing to do with fractals....

    Fractal Antenna System,Inc. was started in 1995 and pre-dates these other 'fractal--like-that word' companies.

    There was a company called 'Fractal Systems' in Florida (founded after the above) that notoriously had its principles go to jail for de-frauding the government on various contracts. N-O connection to the above!! :)

    There is no such thing as 'fractal audio'. The basis functions are sinusoidal waves, which makes them 'Fourier' and not 'fractal'. It is, on occasion, useful to describe certain ' sonic distortion' regimes are 'fractal' because of the non linearities.

    Hope that helps:)

    Chip W1YW
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
    W0PV likes this.
  12. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

  13. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think that we shouldn't downplay what Ken did, especially with his 'wireless mike' stuff. The system was a huge enabler for live venues, the first of its kind (earlier wireless mike systems were noisy, dropped out, or had major 'coloration' of the input signal.

    Ken, and Bob Heil (for example) are two hams who, among others, enabled the modern 'live performance' era.

    Chip W1YW
  14. W0RIO

    W0RIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    That depends on how you look at it.
    Here's an mp3 clip with outtakes of a fractal music CD that I put together a long time ago (DOS 3 era):
    The melody and volume are fractal, in some cases the rhythm is fractal.

    You can read about it here:
    I'm not really selling the CDs anymore, I plan on uploading it to to give away.

    That video of the 'dozer crushing new guitars is tough to watch, what a waste of materials and effort,
    it reminds me of a photo I saw on QRZ with piles of Collins gear rotting in the rain.
    W0PV, WJ4U and W1YW like this.
  15. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    There is 'fractal music'. :)

    My point is that sound waves (unless nonlinear) are not fractal:)
    W0RIO likes this.

Share This Page

ad: Retevis-1