Monday, October 23, 2017

 Ham Radio - QRP: Vibroplex Vibrokeyer

 Interesting analysis of the design of Vibro-Plex single lever. It all makes sense to me.

 Ham Radio - QRP: Vibroplex Vibrokeyer: Get it right the first time The electronic keyer, for sending Morse code, came into into use in the late 1950's and early 1960's....

NEAR-Fest eyeball QSOs, The latest digital fad, Flex update, SKCC awards and more!!

Hello again! It has been a couple of months so time to do a new post. I wanted to wait until after NEAR-Fest so I could write about my eyeball QSO with some the SKCC members.


First of all here is a link to a video of the October 2017 edition of NEAR-Fest NEAR-Fest Oct 2017
This was a special one for me because I got to meet several members of the SKCC club.  Below is a picture of our get together. All were great guys and had interesting stories as well. If you get a chance, visit their pages.

Larry KJ1RE, has a really nice time lapses video of his tower going up. I think you will like it. Larry is a Marine veteran.

John W1TAG, splits his time between MA and ME.  He runs a KX3 with the 100 Watt amp (when he has to HI-HI).

Urb W1UL, is one of the SKCC officers. He is the DX, WAC and WAS manager. He is from NJ, but made the trip up here to work as a VE for NEAR-Fest VE session. So it was a pleasant surprise to have him there. Urb last name is LeJeune, as in Camp LeJeune.  He is related to the LeJeune that the camp is name after.  Here is a link to the biography of Lt Gen John A. LeJeune who had a nice 40 year career.

Jim NM1W, Also owns a Flex radio, a 6700. We commiserate  over our "issues" we have had with the Flex SDR. Well like I said when I bought it, the 6300 was "Bleeding Edge" and it has been. Jim is a software developer and has done some work on the server side of the new SKCC Sked page, contributed back mods to the skcc skimmer, and wrote the centurion/tribune/senator/prefix  awards program used by AC2C and K3EW.

SKCC eyeball QSO at NEAR-Fest Oct 2017.
left to right
Larry KJ1RE, John W1TAG, Dave(me) KB1WOD, Urb W1UL and Jim NM1W


These next three photos are of the Enigma machine used by the Germans in WWII. I was surprised when I showed my son these pictures and he had no idea what Enigma was. Of course, my generation, which is the baby boomer generation, had relatives that were in WWII. So needless to say, it was something that effected us deeply. So anything related to WWII has always been of great interest to me.

If you don't know about Enigma here is a link to it BBC History of the Enigma machine Breaking the Enigma code was probable the most important event that help the Allies win the war against Germany. 

Also of much importance was the breaking of the Japanese JN-25 code which allowed the US Navy to defeat the Japanese at Midway Island. 

Here is a link to the JN-25 story Breaking of the JN-25 Naval code.

 Probable what is most interesting and sad thing about both these extraordinary events, is how badly the person responsible for each project were treated afterwards. For the Enigma it was Alan Turing, for the JN-25 it was Capt. Joseph Rochefort. "No good deed goes unpunished".

Enigma display at NEAR-Fest

One of the German Enigma machins

Did not realize this, but the Russians had their own version

Nut Net:

 No trip to NEAR-Fest would not be complete without a visit to the Wolf, Brian WO1VES and his friend, Harry WA1VVH. They are there at every NEAR-Fest both days and camp over night.

Brian "runs" the nightly Nut Net on the Danvers MA 2 meter repeater at 11:00 PM every night. And I mean EVERY night.
Brian WO1VES and Harry WA1VVH. As you can tell Brains is a great fan of wolves.


I stopped by the NEQRP Club display and talked with Bruce N1RX. Bruce is, I believe, a director for NH and ME. (I may have this wrong). We chatted for awhile and we had our picture taken. This is the club I bought my NESCAF (switch capacitor audio filter) for my HW-8 project. They do some fun events. Bruce said they are trying to do more scheduled events like Boxborough Ham fest, which is now every year instead of every other year. Here is a link to their website. NEQRP Club

Bruce N1RX and Dave KB1WOD


One of the things we (SKCC members) talked about at NEAR-Fest is how people seem to disappear once they get their Senator award. There are many awards you can get and going for that Sx2 or Cx10 or 20 meter Senator keeps it interesting. So please DON'T STOP AT SENATOR!!!


Aug    94
Sept   91

Overall I am in 10th position and was 5th for September. I have a total of 642 brags for the year.
Brags are a personal challenge and It gives me an excuse to be on the air. I have been trying to do more  chatting with brags. I need to get better with my cootie so I need to practice more on air.


Sept   11    good for 102 overall and 82 for QRO
Oct    113  good for 22 overall and 14 for QRO

September I really didn't work it much. I had my son and his family up for the weekend, so didn't really work the bands on Saturday. On Sunday, the bands were the worst I have ever seen. completely dead for several hours. I believe this was do to solar storms. Oh well can't win them all.

October was MUCH better. Got to work both days. I actually started CQing, which help my score. There are plenty of shy operators out there (including myself) that don't like calling CQ. But like anything else the more you do it the easier it gets.

SKCC Awards:

It seems like the stars were aligned perfectly for awards for me this last month.
I was awarded:
Cx10, Tx15, Sx3, Px8 and the big one WAS-S. It was truly amazing how they all seem to happen at the same time.

Of course the WAS-S would not have been possible if not for the efforts of Dave KD9VT, who was portable in ND so a bunch of us could get this last remaining state. BTW there are no Senators if ND if you were wondering.


I thought I had an issue, but thankful it was easily resolved. The MOX was getting set for no apparent reason. Turns out I had created a PTT CAT port that was causing this. I created it because I thought my fldigi needed it, but it turns out to not be the case. I forgot to remove it, and that's what was causing my problem. All is well now and the radio seems to be doing well.


The new mode. I have been using this mode not for awhile and am please with the performance. There is a new release candidate, RC3, that seem to be pretty good. Of course I forgot to mention that I have bought a new computer. An Alien Aurora R6. It is running Windows 10 Home edition 64 bit. This may have more to do with better performance of FT8 then the updated program. I have 185 QSO so far and 37 states on 20 meters.

This mode seems to have taken over, especially JT9. It seems like no one works JT9 anymore.

The new computer Nice!!

160 meter Antenna project:

It seems like this doesn't want to happen. About a week ago I tried to shoot another line over the big pine tree in my yard. But there was like 100 pine cones at the top of the tree and when I shoot the line over the tree, the line got stuck in a damn pine cone!! Luckily, I was able to retrieve my projectile with no damage done. I guess I am going to have to wait for the pine cones to drop before I can try again.

Oh by the way, I did buy some stuff at NEAR-Fest for my 160 m antenna project.

QSO totals are 470 from Aug 28 to Oct 22

73 for now