Saturday, August 5, 2017
Communications at Tech Level 5
In this big, black case is a rather expensive radio, with an initial MSRP of around $200. There is a front and back page with technical specifications. I paged through the guide book, and it had a list of clear channel stations in the United States when published, as well as a time zone map and a log for shortwave radio stations the owner heard. Of the "clear channel stations", I saw Minnesota's old 830 kHz WCCO and 1500 kHz KSTP which are still around, as was St. Olaf College's WCAL at 770 kHz and WDGY at 1130 kHz. Of that pair, WCAL was bought by MPR, and the 1130 kHz spot in the Twin Cities is now a talk radio station. Another thing I saw was the nomenclature for the signal frequency, mentioned as kilocycles, as in WGN 930 kc, rather than Hertz, as the latter was not adapted as a SI unit until 1960.
How could something like this work in a science fiction campaign? Well, vacuum tube electronics are more or less electromagnetic pulse resistant, which may be useful if the characters find themselves on a nuclear or high energy laden battlefield. I would not be surprised if a Fusion Gun could fry equipment. Also, a system like this, a heavy duty communications receiver could be a useful trade good for TL 5-6 worlds. Not only would it be a good size for various transportation methods, with the original designer being a keen yachtsman, but it is also locally repairable. Think of the graduate class in receiver construction this would be on a low TL backwater, and how it isn't crippleware making the user totally dependent on outside tech support. Pair a radio receiver with a simple solar charger system, and it could be sold on almost any world that is open for trade as an easy way to get information to a large number of people The relatively innocuous nature of a radio blends into espionage campaigns as well. Numbers stations exist, as do propaganda stations like Voice of America, the BBC World Service, and Radio Moscow. An every day radio set can be part of a spy's sinister plans for the players to thwart.