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Old 07-21-2011, 07:11 PM   #61
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Very cool, Tom. Back in the day, I put quite a few Heathkits together so I know what you mean.
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:17 PM   #62
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I remember borrowing a Hot-Water 101 from my local radio club as a newly licensed teen and excitedly working all over Europe on 20M with it (I grew up in England, so working all over Europe with 100W and a low-slung dipole wasn't that hard.)

More recently, Elecraft are a fabulous kit company but sadly, they seem to be offering more kits as a set of ready-made boards that you just plug together and put in a case, as opposed to soldering all the parts yourself. It's those darned surface mount devices taking all our fun away........

Do you remember which Heathkits you had braumeister?
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:23 PM   #63
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Hi Major Tom, nice hardware there. But where is the CPU?

...just kidding.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:34 PM   #64
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There's more digital and no CW requirement now.
Man I'm feeling like a dinosaur.

So, I'm guessing that I can stop saving my Navy Morse code flashcard deck for my daughter's benefit?

Eh, maybe the surface Navy still practices flashing light when they've run out of other things to do for fun...
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:44 AM   #65
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Do you remember which Heathkits you had braumeister?
Quite a few, but I never built one of their radios. Just all sorts of other things. The closest I came was the last Heathkit I ever built, the SB-220 kilowatt linear amplifier, with a pair of Eimac 3-500Z triodes. What a tank! I never even drove it to the legal limit, but it served me very well over the life of two commercial rigs, and I finally sold it for way more than I originally paid for the kit.

It broke my heart when Heathkit finally folded.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:59 AM   #66
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Lately, I've been thinking about maybe getting back into amateur radio. I was very active a long time ago, but not in the last 20 years.

I know there are some other hams here. Has anyone returned to the hobby after a long time away?
Seems like there are a lot of hams here. I'm still assembling a station and am a lowly general. Once I retire I will have more time to devote to this fascinating hobby and move up to extra. I live in an HOA nazi neighborhood, so stealth antennas are the only way to go, but wish I could have a nice antenna farm. Have been through Skywarn training and would like to join ARES. Have also been involved in my local community CERT.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:31 AM   #67
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These postings on ham radio bring back old memories.

Back in the summer of 7th grade (in the early '60s), I took a summer school enrichment class in radios. I was the only gal in the class. As part of the class we all built a Heathkit shortwave radio, (on our own time) as class time was spent learning radio and communication theory. I don't know which model it was (bear with me, it's been many years.) All I remember is that it had different plug-ins (coils?) that changed the bands at which the radio operated.

It was a lot of fun building the radio using my brand-new needle nose pliers and soldering iron while sitting on the front porch at a card table.

The best part was, my radio was the only one that worked. It took the instructor a while to figure out the issue with the other radios. As it turned out, I was the only one who followed directions (remember, I was the only gal in the class LOL) and read the part in the instruction manual that said to use 2 special screws (they were same size as all the others we'd been using, but were separately packaged as these needed to something special for the antenna connection).

As it turned out, there was some design flaw or something like that in the all of the kits, and the whole class ended up returning them for a refund.

And that was my short-lived radio hobby.

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Old 07-22-2011, 11:22 AM   #68
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Some great Ham Radio stories here.

DFW_M5 - QRP CW and digital modes such as PSK-31 can still work pretty well for you in a stealth situation.

omni550 - the kits that I build always work because I follow instructions to the letter, just like yourself. Good for you! That sounds like it was a fun kit.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:32 AM   #69
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It's a bit of a shame that we can't exchange callsigns here.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:14 PM   #70
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It's a bit of a shame that we can't exchange callsigns here.
I've had four of them. One briefly where I was first licensed in 2-land, then a 9 when I moved to the midwest (back when moving meant a new call sign), then a 6 when I upgraded and was eligible for a 2x1 callsign, and now an 8 because DW and I got matching vanity callsigns. I also had a PY1 for a few years while overseas.

My years of real activity were with the 9 and the 6 calls. This post probably reads like pure gibberish to the non-hams.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:38 PM   #71
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This post probably reads like pure gibberish to the non-hams.
I'm not a ham, but it makes perfect sense to me. Frank is a ham, so I guess I have heard some of it before.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:39 PM   #72
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This post probably reads like pure gibberish to the non-hams.
yes, but surprisingly, still interesting. I love any sort of jargon, and passion, for a subject, so that is what comes across to the rest of us. Sounds like a very rewarding and useful hobby to me!
But Nords' Morse code flashcards? No way!
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:49 PM   #73
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I've had four of them. One briefly where I was first licensed in 2-land, then a 9 when I moved to the midwest (back when moving meant a new call sign), then a 6 when I upgraded and was eligible for a 2x1 callsign, and now an 8 because DW and I got matching vanity callsigns. I also had a PY1 for a few years while overseas.

My years of real activity were with the 9 and the 6 calls. This post probably reads like pure gibberish to the non-hams.
I hear you on the gibberish thing. Having a hobby with both a technical nature and it's own peculair brand of jargon, mixed with the fact that I spend so much time thinking about and doing it means that when a friend or family member calls and says "what are you doing?" I'm faced with the choice of either telling them, "I just finished building a simple regen receiver and am surprised by it's stability and sensitivity, but think I am going to have add a pole or two of audio lowpass filtering" or the stock "Oh, just fiddling around with radios again".

Of course, I nearly always take the latter route. The end result is that some who know me probably think that I lead a dull life closeted with my radios in a dimly lit room fiddling with the same old knobs day after day. Little do they know that I am on a brave protagonist's journey to find the ultimate in simple yet high-performing shortwave receivers

Aaah, fine then. I spend my days mostly in my pajamas fiddling with radios. What do I care what others think Luckily my SO is a fellow bedroom geek who understands.

About the calls. You were DX? Cool! Wish I could one-up you braumeister, but my tally stands at 3. I had a VHF-only G8 license in the UK shortly after turning 15, then upgraded to the full G4 license (with code test) a few months later. On moving to the US, I didn't want to be bothered with continually going back for more tests, so just went for broke and did all the tests, including the 20wpm code, in one day and got the extra. With a few faltering exceptions, didn't use the code again for almost 20 years until a year or two ago, and have hardly used any other mode since. I've developed an aversion to microphones, but would pick one up if it were for an AM transmission

Apologies to all you normal people for the gibberish.
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:42 PM   #74
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Proud you should be Major Tom!!

I would like to make it to the Dayton Hamfest sometime, it's on my list. I do go to Orlando Hamcation ( it's a 3 1/2 hour drive) every year as they have all the "new" products/modes to play with. They also have a HUGE boneyard.
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:44 PM   #75
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You were DX?
Actually, that's one of my favorite stories, so I'll bore you with it.

When I lived in Rio, I was able to get a Brazilian license under our reciprocity agreement. It took me about two days of wandering around various government offices to get all the required stamps on various pieces of paper, but I finally got it.

Unfortunately, I had sold my equipment before going there, and there was no chance of getting an antenna installed in my high-rise apartment building next to a cliff.

However, Brazilians have a saying that translates roughly "There's always a way around any difficulty; you just have to find it."

I learned that the US Consulate had a warehouse in a desolate part of the city, and there was a shortwave radio in it that was occasionally used to communicate with military flights from Panama. I got a consulate friend to loan me a key to the radio room, and I was allowed free access to it on weekends.

It was a general coverage transceiver, so it could easily tune the ham bands, and there was a huge honking rotatable log periodic antenna on the roof.

I would get on the air with my Brazilian call, and during a QSO with a US ham, I would frequently get a comment like "Wow, your English is incredibly good; I don't even hear any accent."

That was my opening. I had a little speech prepared to gently chide them about their built-in prejudice. "What, you think you're the only ones who can speak English? We have very good schools here -- some of them are probably better than some of yours. Etc. Etc. Etc. ...."

I had fun, and I didn't torment them too badly, but I like to think I did a little toward international understanding. At the time, I spoke nearly accentless Portuguese, so I wasn't a complete hypocrite.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:07 PM   #76
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Some great Ham Radio stories here.

DFW_M5 - QRP CW and digital modes such as PSK-31 can still work pretty well for you in a stealth situation.

omni550 - the kits that I build always work because I follow instructions to the letter, just like yourself. Good for you! That sounds like it was a fun kit.
MT, Its amazing what you can do with low power. While I call it stealth, believe it or not I have a 40' vertical in the backyard, painted green, to blend in with the trees. It was a major PITA to get approval from the HOA and town to erect it. I'm still laying radials and need to add about 30 more. Wish I could string up a nice dipole, but the only place for that would be in my attic which probably isn't the best location given all the AC and metal ducting.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:13 PM   #77
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Not boring at all braumeister. I've read a number of stories from hams who either worked for a consulate or had connections, with the resulting tales of getting on the air from all kinds of exotic DX locations. It always makes for good reading. Dave Bell's stories of getting himself on the air while in the army by utilizing the unused military gear and an old beam that needed fixing come to mind also.

Good stuff, and good to know that you did your bit for international understanding!

Dancer373 - I'm salivating just thinking of all the great used gear and parts at Hamcation. Have never been to a ham convention in the US, if you can believe it, though I did go to amateur radio rallies when young in the UK. I'm going to Pacificon this year, which should be a lot of fun. It will be my first ham convention ever in the US (and I've been here for 24 years - shame on me.) One advantage will be that I should get to see the Elecraft KX3 which is due to come out later this year. It's going to be a groundbreaking radio - first one with SDR architecture and a classic knob-based interface. WG0AT already got to use one, lucky guy
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Old 07-22-2011, 05:08 PM   #78
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Good to see so many fellow hams on the board. I'm now entering my 42nd year in this insane hobby.

I started as a Novice in the days when Novices were limited to 75W input and crystal control. I was SO glad when I finally upgraded and could use a VFO.

Built plenty of Heathkits, fixed a few boatanchors, built plenty of antennas, worked DX from the mobile, and such. I made the pilgrimage to Dayton a few times (I missed this year's scat volcano in the flea market) and generally had a grand 'ol time.

Still on the air every day but now I mostly listen. Sunspots cooperate now and then but, for some reason, I seem to only find out about openings AFTER they happen. Oh, well.

Even after all these years there's still something magical about it. Cellphones and computers are fun, of course, but they can't touch Amateur Radio for sheer magic.
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Old 07-23-2011, 12:10 PM   #79
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But Nords' Morse code flashcards? No way!
Back in the Evil Empire "good ol' days" of the Cold War, U.S. Navy submarine radiomen had to be able to copy at least 16 words per minute of CW and transmit something like 6 or 10 wpm before they could earn advancement to E-6.

Then you'd go to sea for 90-day patrols, copying this stuff continuously 24/7 for three months.

When your XO (USNA '71) could transmit CW good enough to joke with the other radiomen about your personal appearance and your ancestry, you stepped up your game. After all, I had a plebe year. Besides, I wasn't going to leave my Morse flashcards at home since my spouse already had her own set stored there for us to practice.

A few years later, when we all started spending our "peace dividend", I was on a different surfaced submarine transiting the maze of channels off the Canadian/U.S. border. A Canadian frigate pulled abreast and started transmitting flashing light, probably because he wanted to trade insults enhance his interoperability with his allied counterparts. (Either that or they couldn't raise us on VHF Ch16.) Our CO called down from the bridge "Hey, XO, make sure we're logging this communications net!" which is CO-speak for "I have no idea what the heck he's saying, so you'd better be backing me up."

The XO looked around the control room and said "Can anybody read flashing light?" I had just gotten off watch and had plenty other things to do so I wasn't about to raise my hand. Luckily another enthusiastic submariner said "Sure, XO, I can do it!" He leaped onto the periscope, a sailor stood ready with his logbook & pen ready to record this vital tactical information, and our steely-eyed killer of the deep said: "Stand by to record: Dash! Dash! Dot! Dash! Dash! Uh, dot, no wait dash!"

After he'd been thrown off the conn, I was on the damn scope for over an hour.
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:08 PM   #80
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I'm not a ham, but it makes perfect sense to me.
I'm a ham, but don't have a radio
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