A couple of days ago, I worked Bill, N5LU.  I had worked him a couple of years ago and noted in my logbook that his previous call was KB6ZL. I thought it quite a coincidence that his previous callsign was so close to mine.

This time, I got the rest of the story. As it turns out, Bill was living in Concord, CA at the time, and took the Advanced Class test at the San Francisco FCC office, where I’d taken the test a month or so earlier.

Now, if  you think that’s coincidental, listen to this. Prior to living in California, Bill lived here in Michigan—Milan, MI, to be exact, which is just down the road from Ann Arbor. His original callsign was WB8KVS, and he took the General Class test at the FCC office in Detroit.  Before I moved to California, I lived in the Detroit area, and my original callsign was WB8KTZ. I also took the test at the Detroit FCC office, again just a month or so before Bill did.

He beat me to the 1×2 calls, but I still think I’m hanging on to my 2×2 call.

A Nice Note…

A couple of weeks ago, I worked John, VE3IZM from WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. As it turns out, John had only recent obtained his license, and while he had made contacts from other stations, this contact was John’s first from his own shack. What a kick that was!

Of course, I sent him a QSL card, and this morning, I received this e-mail from him:

Hi Dan,
Well, Sir, you have to know you have made this old dude a very happy camper. I received your QSL card today and have it mounted in a double sided frame for permanent display in the shack!!!

I will be sending you one of mine, just as soon as they arrive from the printer.

73 and Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas


He included this photo of his shack. You can see the QSL card mounted in the frame in the upper left-hand corner of the photo.


Thanks for the note, John. I hope we work again soon.

Operating Notes

Last week, I didn’t operate very much. I made no contacts at all Wednesday or Thursday, and I hoppened to notice that, for 2009, my number of contacts per day actually fell to below three per day. Of course, this does not include all of the contacts I’ve made ate the museum, but even so, I feel like I’m slacking off.

Friday, I did make a bunch of contacts, though; nine to be exact. One of the contacts was with Doug, NJ1T. We had a nice, long QSO. One thing we discussed was his cap (see right). I commented on it because I sometimes wear a cap while operating during the winter. I do it because it gets cold down in my basement. Doug wears one because he’s bald!

Another thing that we have in common is that we both have websites. Doug’s website is called The Deaf DXer. As the name implies, he has a lot of information to help hams who are hard of hearing. There are also pages describing his antenna experiments and other aspects of his hamming.

Unfortunately, it looks as though I may have lost the log file containing those contacts. The hard disk in my Mac laptop finally bit the dust, and I’m not sure that the log file is going to be recoverable. I made a backup of the log file about a week ago, but those nine QSOs will be lost if they can’t recover the file.

I debated about whether or not have a new hard drive installed, but $200 for a new hard drive is certainly cheaper than buying another laptop. I was thinking about doing it myself, so I Googled for instructions. I found some excellent-looking instructions on ifixit.com, but after reading through them, I decided to have someone else do it. The Web page noted above lists 42 different steps—and that’s just for disassembly! To put it all back together, you have to perform all 42 steps in reverse order.

On Saturday, I operated WA2HOM at the Hands-On Museum for a couple of hours. Saturday was Skywarn Recognition Day, and since we’re big on special event stations, I tried to work as many of them as I could. Although I managed to hear quite a few of them, not all of them could hear me. All told, I worked six:

  • K5LCW – Lake Charles, LA
  • WX9ILX – Lincoln, IL
  • KX4MLB – Melbourne, FL
  • K0MPX – Burnsville, MN
  • K0DMX – Des Moines, IA
  • WX4HUN – Huntsville, AL

On Sunday night, I checked into the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club net. The net control station, Pat, WA4DSR, asked me if it was true that American Morse was more efficient than International Morse Code. Now, I’d always heard this, but didn’t know how true it was. After the net, I Googled around for more information.

One resource I found was Chapter 20 of the book The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy. This book claims that messages are “handled at a rate about 45% faster on the Morse line than on the International channel.” One reason for this is that dahs in American Morse are generally shorter than dahs in International Morse. It also notes that letters are 73% shorter and numbers 65% shorter in American Morse than they are in International Morse.

After the Sunday night net, Stuart, KD8LWR, and I had a 40m QSO. This has become regular sked for us, and I enjoy cranking it up to 35 wpm and blasting code at one another.

All in all, it was quite a busy weekend in ham radio.

Who Do You Talk To?

When I tell people that I am a ham radio operator, people often ask, “Who do you talk to”? When one of my friends, Ovide, K8EV, was asked this question, he answered:

You asked whom I might talk to on ham radio…

See Who Do You Think is A Ham Radio Operator? Notable Ham Radio Operators Around the World. I was not included in this list–must be an oversight.

I haven’t talked to anyone on the list but I have had interesting conversations with navy captains, civil emergency radio installers, radar operators, and airline pilots as well as the more usual run of engineers, scientists, computer specialists, farmers and ranchers, long-distance commuters, and lot’s of retired rag-chewers, asocial curmudgeons, codger-ranters (I consider myself a proud member of this last category!).

A more zany listing is available on the N1MAA website. Note article in left column on Princeton’s Nobelist Joe Taylor of pulsar fame bouncing amateur radio signals off the moon. The feat of sending radio waves into space and back was first accomplished by Cindy’s (Ovide’s XYL’s) dad (also a ham radio operator) in 1946 using the most powerful radar transmitter built at the time.

BTW: the most recent Nobel Prize to a ham was just awarded to George Smith at Bell Labs for the CCD (charge capture device in our cell phones, cameras, Hubble telescope, etc.)

Unfortunately, the Notable list is rather out of date. There are lots of SKs on the list, including many that aren’t noted as being SKs. Sorry to say but JY1, K7UGA, FO5GJ, and KB2GSD are all now no longer with us.

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.