CQ Serenade

I thought this YouTube video was kind of cute. It’s a collage of ham radio photos accompanied by the tune “CQ Serenade.” There’s even a French version.

Atlanta Station Invites First Chief Engineer to Throw Digital TV Switch

WAGA, Atlanta, GA, invited its first chief engineer, Paul Cram, K4IO, to throw the switch that cut the station over to digital TV. Cram will be 100 this year.

WAGA began broadcasting in 1949. See a short video of the switchover, which includes some history of the station.

Hams Added to the QRP Hall of Fame

Hank, K8DD reports from Dayton:

The following people have been inducted into QRP-ARCI QRP Hall of Fame 2009

Hans Summers, G0UPL
This man is an inspiration to many QRP home builders said Rev George
Dobbs. He has produced a whole series of novel and innovative designs
for the QRP constructor.

Another said “He is an Elmer in the finest tradition of the term”

His “Pound Shop” radio articles let to a flurry of UK QRPers building
something from almost nothing Perhaps his greatest contribution has
been promoting QRSS equipment using simple circuits and very
reproducible ideas His novel ideas for simple QRSS beacons have been
taken up my QRPers worldwide.

Younger than many of the others in HOF, He offers us a future for
amateur QRP design and home construction

Tony Parks, KB9YIG
The next recipient has brought innovation to the QRP and radio world
by creating and offering specialised kits to the radio community.

More elaborate and expensive versions of his kits have been available
for a while, but with his kits now every ham can have access to an
affordable one. By putting inexpensive, high quality kits in the
hands of experimenters this will advance his technology, as seen by
the activity on the QRP email lists and Yahoo groups.

He has kitted thousands of kits and throughout all of this has had an
incredible attitude and willingness to help other hams.

Martin Jue, K5FLU
A commercial vendor in Ham Radio, While his products benefit amateur
radio in general, his impact on the QRP community is major both in
terms of the products his company produces and his personal
contributions to QRP and to this organisation.

His products are not strictly QRP, but it is clear that QRP has always
been a major focus of his endeavours.

He has been an active supporter of QRP, and QRP ARCI in particular but
not exclusively, as evidenced by his recent collaboration with the
GQRP club’s India project. His donations to QRP in general and QRP
organizations have always been generous and without “strings
attached”.

Last year, he was approached while at Dayton to thank him for his
support of QRP. His first words were, “What can we do to help your
club?”

I could expand his nomination petition to a much greater extent,
citing examples and instances of his contributions to QRP. Many of us
probably have our own supporting experiences, so we really just need
to focus on the fact that this man has indeed touched QRP on an
ongoing basis to our benefit.

Rick Campbell, KK7B
The next induction is for a man who has the ability to convey
complicated material by using simple analogies and practical examples,
allowing his students to more easily learn.

He has also been the designer or involved in the design of several
transverters, receivers and transmitters. He is a well known author
and several of his projects have appeared in print. He continues to
publish articles pertinent to QRP that are easily understood by
average hams

He has been a speaker at FDIM on more than just the one occasion
enlightening and entertaining us all.

“I think this Ham Radio nonsense might have finally paid off!”

Here’s an interesting post to the GlowBugs e-mail list from Jason, KF6PQT. The subject is, “I think this Ham Radio nonsense might have finally paid off!”

In my 13 years since graduating college, (mind you, I have a Liberal Arts degree in Philosophy, um, yeah, one of those… It cost a lot more than it was worth!) my career has been IT stuff—tech support, Systems Administration. All computer related, as that and the Internet was the sexy new “high tech” back then. I later specialized within the Entertainment Industry, mainly with Disney. Which, as you may have heard, isn’t really the happiest place on earth to work.

I’ve been on their “revolving door” program, full time employee laid off after 3 years, then returning for various stints as a non-benefitted, expendable contractor

I’ve been out of work since last August, part of that was due to slacking off, some more due to the crummy economy, and the remainder: I simply came to hate my career after a while, and especially the industry I was in. I recently realized that a big reason why I was still unemployed was that I simply didn’t want to do this sort of work anymore, and therefore I was simply not pursuing it at all. Likely a lot of the reason I was let go (aside from making way more $ then they wanted to pay me) was that I knew exactly how much of a POS my project was, and there was absolutely no way I could ever be a cheerleader for it, under any circumstances, even though the only reason it worked at all was my 2-1/2 years of hard work.

What else to do? Why can’t I get work doing what I do for a hobby? No one wants to give me a job building CW transmitters out of discarded TV sets. ;) Finding a gig as a babysitter for a broadcast transmitter would be awesome, but those jobs are extremely scarce. Even if they still needed CW capable radio offices on ships, I don’t think my girlfriend nor family would be too fond of it. (Even if I was issued my own AK-47 with handy clip-on grenade launcher.) I’ve even pondered applying for a Lineman position with my municipality’s electric Co. 12kV? Heights? Not a problem. Sun damage or skin cancer from working outside all day? Might be a problem.

So I got up late this morning, and over my morning coffee looked through Craigslist, saw a job for an electronic testing technician. Sent ‘em an email with my resume, saying why I’d be a good fit even though I have absolutely no career experience doing this—I’ve got the highest-level Amateur Radio license, like to tinker with electronics and troubleshoot, etc.

I got an email back pretty quick asking when’s the soonest today they could meet me! I spent almost two hours chatting with them, and seeing what the testing techs do.

Got a phone call earlier this evening offering me the job! Of course I accepted, got them to bump the pay rate up a tad too, and got them to let me take the vacations in May and June I’ve been planning since last year, also. I won’t make as much as I used to at my last IT job, but its not bad for pretty much a total career change with no formal experience. And it sure beats the unemployment check and hustling scrap metal!

This company makes 100% accurate reproductions of airplane cockpit instruments for flight trainer/simulator systems. Most of it all are LCD displays, but there were a couple of little CRTs being worked on as well! ;)

That, and getting my CA state income tax refund, (miracle in and of itself!) has made for a pretty good day!

73, Jason kf6pqt

Go to the Next Hamfest!

Don, KB9UMT, the moderator of the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list recently asked the following questions:

Do you support or go to your local area Hamfest(s)?

If you go then why do you go?

If you don’t then why don’t you?

If you go what do you see at them?

What kind of equipment?

What kind of prices?

Do you buy that $5 hotdog or take your own….

Here’s my reply…

There are quite a few hamfests within an hour or so drive from Ann Arbor–there were two last weekend alone! Since that’s the case, I can’t say that I get to all of them every year. I do try to make as many as I can, though.

Why do I go? Well, mostly because they are fun!

Meeting people is the most fun. At most hamfests nowadays, I always meet someone I know, either because I’ve spoken to their ham club, or they were in a ham class of mine. I also try to organize carpools, and it’s a blast to talk ham radio to and from the event.

I also go to check out the gear for sale. At a recent hamfest, I picked up a Lafayette HA-600 shortwave receiver, a radio that I bought as a kid with $100 I earned delivering newspapers. And there’s always supplies to buy. My friend Ralph, AA8RK, says that you should never leave a hamfest without a handful of connectors and adapters.

The hamfest I attended Saturday—the Crosssroads Hamfest in Marshall, MI—had a great assortment of radios for sale. There was a lot of vintage gear as well as more modern radios. There were also a couple of bugs for sale. I should have snapped up that Speed-X bug for $75, but by the time I had decided to do it, it had already been sold.

I never buy the $5 hot dog, but I do often buy a donut and coffee.

I think everyone on this list should go to at least one hamfest this year, even if it’s a bit of a hike. Find people that are near you to carpool with to keep down expenses. When you get there, make an effort to speak to the hams selling stuff about the stuff they’re selling. Make an effort to speak to the other hams while you’re having a coffee or while you’re wandering the aisles. If the hamfest has an ARRL table, check out and pick up some of the literature. Do all this, and you’ll not only have a lot of fun, but learn something in the process.

Yet Another Heathkit Site

I have just discovered Bill Wilkerson’s Heath Company website. The table of contents reads:

  • Introduction
  • History
  • Other Heathkit Sites
  • People
  • Related Publications
  • Usenet Newsgroups
  • Troubleshooting and Repair
    • Fixing It Yourself
    • Sales and Service

One of the cooler things on the site is this collection of stories about Heathkit by employees and suppliers.

RIP Uncle Tom

I’ve written before about Tom Kneitel, K2AES, known to some Electronics Illustrated readers as “Uncle Tom.” I’m sorry to report that he’s passed. His stuff was always a lot of fun to read.

The Orlando Sentinel article points out that, ‘He was the grandson of Max Fleischer, the cartoonist who had a Miami animation studio that created Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons.” You learn something new every day.

Here’s the ARRL story on Kneitel.

Franki Made My Day

I grilled some chicken for dinner today. Unfortunately, the cheap, store-brand charcoal I bought wasn’t all that hot, so it took longer than usual. Fortunately, though, I used that time to fire up the rig and get on 30m.

At 2130Z, Europe was booming in. I got on 10.118 MHz and started calling CQ. Nearly right away I get a call from SP3DIO who gives me a 579 report. Very cool.

After calling CQ again, I get a call from HA8KW, Feco. I give him a 449, and he replies with a 559. (Concidentally, I hear K8QKY, who’s less than 5 miles away from me, call HA8KW right after me and exchange 599 reports with him. Makes me think that I need to do something about my 30m antenna.)

At this point, it’s 2145Z, and I have about 15 minutes left before the chicken’s done. So, I tune around a bit and hear OQ5M, Franki, calling CQ around 10.106 MHz. He has a good, strong signal, and with band conditions being so good, I’m sure I’ll work him.

Sure enough, he comes right back to me and gives me a 579 report. He throws it back to me, and since it sounds like he’s running stations, I keep my transmission short, giving him the “TU 579 73 ES GUD DX” thing.

Well, I’m surprised when he comes back and thanks me, using my name, and saying, “I ENJOY READING UR BLOG.” Now, I’ve run into the occasional reader from here in the states, but Franki is the first DX op I’ve run into who reads my blog. It not only surprised me, but really made my day.

Morse on Morse

Recently, Ron WB3AAL met Diana Morse, who as it turns out, is a distant relative of Samuel B. Morse. Ron introduced her to ham radio, and now she is KB3NNP and an avid CW operator.

Dave Bushone of 99 Hobbies interviewed her in his latest podcast.

This Weekend on the Radio at KB6NU

This weekend, I didn’t do a heck of a lot of operating, but I did play radio repairman.

The first thing I tackled was the IC-28A. This repair went a lot easier than I thought.

This radio had a push-on/push-off type of power switch that had quit working. You could push the switch and turn it on, but unless you held switch down, it didn’t stay on. Fortunately, the part was still available ($14) from Icom. I ordered it over the phone, and it arrived within a week.

When I first looked at the switch/volume control combo, I thought, “Oh, no. This is going to be a bear to replace.” There were three contacts for the volume control and four for the on-off switch. I could just imagine trying to get the solder out of all seven holes without damaging the board.

Fortunately, it was a lot easier than I thought. Instead of being installed on the main board, the control was mounted to a small, single-sided board and connected to the main board via a small cable. It was a little tricky wiggling the control out to where I could work on it, but since the board was single-sided the solder sucked off quite easily. I pulled off the old one, popped in the new one, soldered the new control to the board, and then wiggled it in again.

Total repair time was about a half hour. Cool!

NEXT: Heakthkit keyer
Next on my list of repairs was replacing the batteries in the Heathkit keyer. These batteries provide the power to the memory chips that hold the recorded messages. These batteries finally gave up the ghost after more than 20 years!

Now, you’d think that changing batteries wouldn’t be a big deal, but noooooooooo. Heathkit didn’t really design the keyer to be easily maintainable. The problem is with the way that connectors and the keyboard connect to the main board. It’s all very cramped.

Then, after I managed to wrangle the old batteries out and the new batteries in, I had a hard time getting it all back together again. Part of the problem is that the voltage regulator is mounted to the keyer baseplate for heatsinking. The leads stick up through three holes in the main board and connect via a small Molex connector. Well, as you’re putting the thing back together, you have to align the regulator leads properly and then make sure that the Molex connector fits down over the leads.

Well, yesterday evening, I just couldn’t seem to get it right. and it took me three tries before I got it all together correctly. Total repair time was about an hour! Who’d have thought that it would take longer to replace some batteries than to replace a volume control?

IC-730 Waiting in the Wings
The Icom IC-730 is next on my list. I’ve gotten several good suggestions from the IC-730 mailing list for repairing the preamp relay. And apparently the fix for low S-meter readings is contact cleaner on the band switch. So, I’ll be digging into that sometime soon.

Monroe Hamfest
Yesterday, I rode down to the Monroe Hamfest with Ralph KB8ZOY. All we bought was the “requisite handful of connectors,” but it was fun. Ralph knows quite a few people, and I know a couple, too, so between us, we talked to quite a few.

I did manage to solve one problem. In the course of cruising the hamfest, I ran across Donnie W8RIF, who was complaining about the lack of response to his request to being appointed a Local Government Liaison. He had contacted someone at the ARRL, who had referred it to someone here in the Michigan section, but somehow it had gotten lost in the shuffle.

Well, fortunately our section manager is a member of the Monroe County ham club and was at the hamfest. I took him over to see the SM, and we cut through a lot of red tape. I also happened to spot Val N8EVX, who is also involved with lobbying. I introduced him to W8RIF, and they went off to talk about politics. My good deed for the day done, I got to go home.