This is a personal blog, please observe Think Hour for ad hoc quasi-diary writings and Big Ideas for my ratified longform items. I will see you there.


First post I vomited. Second post I colonic’ed it. Third post now.

Sony SRF-M35FP // Tech Moan


Usually not a day goes by where I don’t use YouTube, whether it’s to listen or watch. Often I’ll visit creators I know of, play-lists already made and notice new things to dislike outside of my curated safety zone. Sometimes I’m surprised to find things I really like, and surprised I didn’t find them sooner. I stumbled upon and subscribed to the “Tech Moan” channel earlier to day, and while it’s highly successful (over a million followers) and related to many I already enjoy religiously (LGR, DigitalFoundry, The 8-Bit Guy and RetroManCave to name several) I seem to have never watched his stuff before.

The main video that fascinated me (enough to actually stop working and watch, instead of using the audio as an autistic distraction) was one on consumer technology for prisoners in the US prison system. It was largely an exhibition of basic media-playing devices with a transparent casing for safety/privacy-deprivation reasons, but the little belt-clippable radio and its accompanying headset really turned me on. Not only is it a compact and cool little thing, it seemed familiar and vividly “90’s”.


Those round-the-back over-ear headsets with small oblate spheroid ear pads typically equipped alongside a belt-borne device are conjuring great images in my head. While according to The New Yorker there’s a model more popular in prison, due to its lower battery requirement, the “SRF-39FP”, I really like this one a lot. The FP in these model names apparently stands for “Federal Prison”. Both models were introduced around the turn of the millenium and there’s some good posts about the “39” on this blog.

A matching set.

Enough on aesthetics though, what’s the feature set. According to the manual, hosted on the Sony website support section, we are restricted to a 12-hour time system, so whether or not (and I’m honestly uncertain) that means no option to count a full 24 hour cycle rather than two twelves, we can definitely conclude the device does not support Swatch Internet Time. It comes in at under 100g with the required two AAA batteries inserted, and comes supplied with a set of earphones that can be used with the devices 3.5mm jack. The belt holder appears to be detachable. The stereo signals can be driven up to 18mw for each channel, however at this level you will be incurring 10% harmonic distortion. I don’t really know what I’m on about right now.

Another M35.

You can store up to 10 FM stations alongside a collection of 5 AM ones. Imagine sitting in prison and having access to the airwaves, rolling through the frequency and finding a signal that will provide audio compatible with your natural harmonic frequency to superpose you into a Zen state. I think a dedicated ambient radio station doesn’t exist, and probably should for those in prison. I should lower my empathy level for now, they probably do not care about this.

Unrelated Sony Headset

This has been an incredible journey. Can’t believe I spent so long enjoying the details of this whole microcosm of old technology.