This Weekend in Ham Radio at KB6NU

It was a busy weekend here at KB6NU.

The first order of business was the Fists Sprint. Although the contest started 1:00 pm, I got started with preparations a bit earlier. I had taken down my 20m ground plane antenna a couple of weeks ago, so that I could try it in a different–and hopefully more effective spot. Well, of course, I never got around to doing it earlier, so I did it Saturday morning.

Not wanting to goof around too much, I hung it from the same branch that it hang from earlier. It always seemed to be pretty effective there, but when I had it there before, I did not have the 40m/30m dipole. I was kind of worried that there would be some interaction between the two antennas.

Fortunately, that did not seem to be the case. Neither antenna seemed to be affected, and I was able to make contacts on all three bands.

Unfortunately, neither 20m or 40m seemed to be in very good condition, and while there were stations on the air, I wasn’t having a lot of luck working them. After almost two hours and 30 contacts, I pulled the plug.

After a disappointing contest, a cool contact. After giving up on the Sprint, I tuned around a bit and worked K6KPH on 14.050. K6KPH is the station of the Maritime Radio Historical Society. According to their QRZ.Com page,

The Maritime Radio Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the history of maritime radio communications with special emphasis on the stations and companies of the Pacific coast of the United States. The call sign of the amateur station of the Society, K6KPH, is intended as a tribute the greatest of those stations, the “wireless giant of the Pacific”, KPH.

K6KPH on-the-air operations use only the original transmitters, receivers and antennas of KPH. No amateur equipment is employed. At this writing K6KPH operating frequencies are 3545kc, 7050kc, 14050kc and 21050kc. The transmitters for most of these frequencies are 1950s vintage RCA commercial units known as “K” and “L” sets.

The antennas used are double extended Zepps for frequencies below 12Mc and H over 2 for 12Mc and above. All antennas are fed with open wire line.

The KPH receiving station is 18 miles north of Bolinas on the Pt. Reyes peninsula. The operators work from this location, keying the transmitters in Bolinas remotely, just as was done when the station was in daily service.

KPH is activated at least once a year for the “Night of Nights” event that commemorates the last commercial Morse transmission in the US on 12 July 1999. KPH operates on HF frequencies in the 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 and 22Mc marine bands and on 500 and 426kc in the MF band.

K6KPH is typically activated for International Marconi Day in April and for Straight Key Night on New Year’s Eve.

It was very cool to work them. There is more information on the history and operation of KPH and K6KPH on the Maritime Radio Historical Society website.

Lots of old junk and some campaigning in Kalamazoo. On Sunday, I drove out to Kalamazoo for the Kalamazoo Hamfest. One reason for going was to continue my campaign for Vice Director. Another was to meet with the organizers, with a view to having them host the 2006 ARRL Michigan Section Convention. Third, I wanted to see some radio junk. :)

For some strange reason, this hamfest had a lot of old test equipment. There were lots of old VOMs, and some VTVMs and one guy even had an L&N precision potentiometer. What caught my eye, though, was a 1938 Weston Industrial Circuit Tester. It looked to be in good condition, and it was a real beauty in its wooden case. The guy only wanted $22 for it, too. I really was thinking of buying it, but I resisted the temptation.

I did make one purchase–an external speaker for $2. It’s kind of old and a bit beat up, but I hooked it up to my rig yesterday, and it seems to work pretty well. So if I don’t factor in the $30 in gas it cost me to get there and back, I got a pretty good deal.

While one of my reasons for attending was to do some campaigning, at first I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m getting kind of burned out on campaigning. It didn’t take long to make a couple of circuits around the hamfest, though, so I stationed myself at an empty table and began working the crowd.

I actually got into it once I got started. It’s fun to talk to hams and find out their concerns and get their views on how to make ham radio better. I also talked to some guys who were just getting started in the hobby and hopefully I gave them some good advice.

Jumping into the fray on eHam. Another thing I’ve been doing all weekend is monitoring the response to my latest article on eHam. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I submitted the article on Friday morning, and by that evening, it had been posted on the website.

I knew that both I and the ARRL would get a lot of criticism–and the boys didn’t disappoint me–but I also got a lot of positive comments and support. That was heartening.

One of the reasons I posted my article was to see how I’d react to criticism. I am happy to report that if all they can come up with is illogical rants about the ARRL using disaster funds for new office furniture and that I have a 6-land call and not an 8-land call, then I think I’ll be OK.


  1. Dan,
    I’ve been tuning into your blog off and on and I enjoy it.
    Keep up the good work.

    On the crowd….geez, what a waste of energy. When first surfaced, it was a real asset for ham radio. Then it turned into the place to whine and complain. Don’t let them get you down.

    Good luck in the VDirector race.

    Bob K0NR

  2. Jason AK7V says:

    I am not presently an ARRL member, but I wish you luck on your campaign!

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