Monthly Archives: February 2022

Bespoke Morse Code Key Cover from Pete G0PNM

Morse Code Cover by Pete G0PNM with protective film

Wanting a dust cover for my key, I had been recommended those made by Pete G0PNM.

Took just a quick web search to get us in contact and get the ball rolling.

  • I inquired on February 1st 2022
  • Ordered, was customized with my call sign, and shipped airmail on February 2nd !!
  • Royal Post Air Mail, though a bit pricey, is often not very swift, and delivered to my PO Box on February 9th (Royal Post Costs added 34% to the all up cost of the cover)
  • Assembled any now protecting my key on February 11th.

Pete lives in a lovely part of Cornwall. I had the fortune to spend a month nearby on a work assignment, many years ago.

Here is a link to his YouTube on the covers and assembly: https://youtu.be/5BbVcqfjTFw

Pete G0PNM’s website link: http://www.g0pnm.uk/

Recommended!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Some Good Things from the Pandemic – Including Ham Radio Ones

The airwaves, both broadcast media and ham radio, have had dominant Pandemic coverage & conversations for two year now.

So often the message is “The World Is Ending,” but being that same message has been running 24/7 for like forever, many of us have tuned that droning out and are looking for what hope has survived the “pity-party” of woe?

We there are some absolutely great things than have emerged, and I hope to touch on a few that you might have seen yourself.

Health Awareness

Seeing people whose pre-pandemic view was “if it isn’t broke, ignore it” refocus on a bit of their own health. It is amazing the people who talk to you about their Vitamin D-3 levels, whether their diet might contain enough trace minerals, or talk about the glycemic index of various foods. In the past those discussions were the health-woe discussions where comparisons of major infirmaries dominated the dialogue. Now they have become pretty matter of course, or perhaps we’ve all aged so much quicker due to the pandemic that we’ve quietly arrived in a different phase of life unawares?

Solitude

The pandemic created more staycations, more at-home time and reintroduced us to more time on our own. People have enjoyed a portion of their lives being more reflective and perhaps less harried. A friend regularly goes further and parks his smartphone for periods of added solitude.

Pastimes from the Past

During the Pandemic I’ve done more jigsaw puzzles and board games. I’ve been particularly interested in more cooperative game versions, and family won’t even look at the Catan boxes lest I suggest we play. I know people who have started daily cribbage games, and I’ve tried my hand at a Sheephead app to relearn that card game.

As my performance groups went on hiatus and if they have returned have been hampered with silly rules (like No I am not wearing a mask with a hole cut through it to play baritone saxophone, at least not going do it as a volunteer), I’ve had my dulcimer back out and acquired a Hurdy-Gurdy with the idea of doing my own music. That I have a bass voice and mostly have played similar pitched instruments has made this exercise rather weird. I’ll figure it out somehow, but right now the low voice with higher instrument is fairly odd.

The XYL who in addition to being highly educated has a life long interest in Fiber Arts, took her skills to new levels.  One historic Nålebinding, a Scandinavian form of knitting that dates back nearly 3000 years! Another was doing what she often does, but with lots of flourishes and fancies. She reports that pushing personal limits seems to be common among the professional ladies during the pandemic.

Exercise

We entered the pandemic with enough inside equipment that I could do my daily exercise when the pools & gyms were completely shut down. It has been inspiring when others recount how they have developed their own ways to exercise. The Pandemic even got me introduced to Reformer Pilates, which looks like next to nothing while being very effective. On days where weather allows the road that passes our house has many more walkers per hour than it has in a couple days before the pandemic. Very awesome!

Hams on the Air

Yup the pandemic put a lot of hams on the air for more time spent working QSOs. Nets seem at times to have more check-ins than ever. Many folks are doing like I have, with running an instance of digital HF while working. If I was working remote, you can be sure my breaks we evaluated for whether I could do some SSB HF QSOs. Lots of folks doing POTA (Parks on the Air) and other activation programs.

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Lending a Helping Hand – KD9TVC’s first HF QSOs

Took a half-day off of work to lend a helping hand. Fr William KD9TVC earned his General Class ticket a few weeks back and hadn’t had a chance to make an HF contacts.

Earlier designs to get him to the K9ZW Home station on a weekend had not worked out, so when comparing schedules it looked like Friday Feb 11th 2022 was open there was little question that I would play hooky to have the station open.

KD9TVC has been making 2m and 440 MHz contacts since he earned his Technician ticket last November, and had held General Class privileges for about two weeks when we set forth to get him on the air. I gathered that Mike KD9TZ and the gang at SARC (Sheboygan Amateur Radio Club) had added to the Baufong HT I had given Fr William to get him solidly on the air on 2m/440.

At 2100 utc on 20m, I handed over to Fr William an ongoing QSO I had done as a demo, which the two operators exchanged their calls & reports, and made their own. Over the next hour calling CQ more QSOs were rounded up by KD9TVC.

It was SO MUCH fun to facilitate the session. I busied myself on some minor tidy-up tasks, listening and offering suggestions. “Call CQ now,” “Included signal report,” “If you aren’t sure the call, ask them again,” and “now you can broadcast QRZ and listen” were among the many offerings I was able to make.

As clergy Fr William has the presentation and speaking skills, so my suggestions were more about coaching towards an effective pattern for the HF SSB situation.

Prior to getting on the air, we had talked about logging, QSLing, and how the equipment we were going to be using was just a software-enhanced version of a typical transceiver.

For the record Fr William used a Flex-6700 (serial number 11, my original 6700) speaking to a Sure SMB-5B Microphone, outputting to a Flex-PGXL Amp (on bypass for our entire session), a Flex-TGXL tuner, over 1/2 inch hardline to a ZeroFive Flagpole vertical antenna. Keeping it simple he told other stations he was “on a friend’s Flex-6700 barefoot to a vertical.”

We followed the SSB session with a digital demo session where I showed how I run FT8 with a honest presentation as to how that mode was a very shallow experience compared to the SSB QSOs just made. We then ran some PSK31 to show a more keyboard-interactive digital example, and called CQ without response on 20m Hellschreiber as that mode is so historical.

Before the day’s light disappeared, we walked around in the crusty snow to look at antennas and the land. The wind made it a bit of a “bite” when exposed, but stretching one’s legs is always appreciated.

A nice dinner of Spiesebraten, Parched Wild Rice, and Veggies prepared by Alison KC9MPL (XYL) and joined my Victor KC9NWB, rounded out the session. Victor had just finished a lengthy “Full-Stack Bootcamp” which best I can figure out was a hands-on stem-to-stern computer training program complementing his more academic undergraduate computer and GIS degree. We had a great time talking until it was time for Fr William to head home, with a borrowed spare HF Go-Kit of mine.

That making his first first HF contacts was a thrill was both obvious and expressed by Fr William. I think we all cherish some of our earliest QSOs because they were a new event and as such became special.

The personal reward of helping another ham really resonated with me. I had been Elmered on making phone QSOs by George W9EVT and the memories of his “call now,” “say QRZ now” and “don’t forget to give them their report” really made me smile, as I was having a chance to “share-forward” what had been shared with me. Really I became so thrilled to help someone progress that I lost track of time and would say that this rated right up there in ham radio experiences I will appreciate always.

As important as memorializing Fr William KD9TVC’s first HF session is, the real reason I am sharing this is a reminder that helping another ham gain new experiences and progress their experiences & skills is rewarding out of proportion. It is so uplifting and as a reminder seek out your own opportunities to Elmer others on the air whenever you can!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Inopportune Updates – Lamenting the Device that Demands Attention when You have None

An Example No-Escape Upgrade Demand – This one took three minutes to complete 

Nags, popups, banners and other notice of user update input being required are unhelpful if you try to script/automate certain tasks, let someone else use your device, or have additional software running that might not be ready for the forced update.

They are also awful if you need to get something up and running right now!

Rarely there is an overriding security need to do a “must-do” update, but often it is just sloth or worse the marketing people at play for marketing games.

The super annoying are ones that have to resolve with a remote server when you are on no/low internet connection.

Some software offers choices to do some control, per example you may be able to let it tell you there is an update available but to not download it, queue it up, or install until you tell it do so.  Operating systems may impose a time limit on the deferral.

Certain hardware updates require fairly strong and stable internet to avoid “bricking” the device mid-update.  I often have brought gear off-island to better internet to do critical updates.

I make a point of complaining when updates are needlessly demanded, not only to the company involved but in any current reviews and starting now in this blog.

You should too!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Bob Heil Passes the Torch – Heil Sound sold to lead Team Members

Bob [K9EID] is one of those really nice guys you meet in Ham Radio, to whom I was introduced by Bob’s buddy George W9EVT many years ago. [Lots of Bob Heil background at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Heil ]

It is really nice that Bob’s homegrown team members taken over Heil Sound.  [Ash KD9JQS is Bob’s stepson, so it is great to see the family connection!]

Wish everyone of them well!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Links:
https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/bob-heil-announces-new-ownership.799749/
https://heilhamradio.com/heil-sound-announces-new-owners/

Press Release:

HEIL SOUND ANNOUNCES NEW OWNERSHIP
by Michelle Levitt  Feb 7, 2022

Heil Sound, the Fairview Heights, Illinois-based manufacturer of professional microphones, has announced the successful transfer of ownership from Bob and Sarah Heil to current President and CEO, Ash Levitt [KD9JQS], and Director of Operations, Steve Warford. Sarah Heil has retired, but Bob will continue to do outreach work and product design within the amateur radio space under the title Founder and CEO Emeritus.

When discussing the transition, Heil said, “My life has been about achieving great sound, whether on the concert stage or in the amateur radio world. I’ve watched Heil Sound go from a regional sound company to a world-class microphone manufacturer. This company has been my passion but it is time for me to step aside. There is no better team to carry the company forward than Ash and Steve, and I have the utmost confidence in them.”

Both Levitt and Warford started working with Heil Sound as teenagers building and packaging products. Levitt took a different career path in academia for a number of years but continued to regularly consult with Heil Sound during that time. Levitt returned to Heil Sound full-time in 2017 and assumed the role of president in 2020. Warford worked his way up in the company during his tenure and has been responsible for daily operations for the past several years.

“Steve and I are honored to carry forward the legacy of Heil Sound,” Levitt responded. “We care very deeply about Heil Sound’s role in the industry and intend to build on that going forward with new products and greater distribution. An important part of that role that we pride ourselves on is the connection we have with professionals and end-users. As a musician and former broadcaster, I have spent a lot of time on stages and in studios in front of a microphone and understand our users’ needs. I and everyone at Heil Sound share a passion for what we do because it helps others achieve their creative endeavors.”

[Additional links/information added 09FEB22]

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TenTec Service Hiatus

Received from the email list today (05FEB22):

F Y I —

In a phone conversation this date with the owner of Tentec, he stated all radios presently in the Sevierville facility for repair WILL BE returned to their owners. This is being done at Tentec expense.

Be advised most if not all radios are being returned as NOT REPAIRED. There are no parts orders, no technical assistance, no phone calls, and no e-mails available from the facility. Tentec ham radio service is therefore terminated. The Sevierville operation is suspended until further notice.

73

Bob, K4TAX [Moderator TenTec List]

Google lists TenTec as “Temporary Closed” at the Sevierville Facility also.

Service has been disrupted since 2020 with Chinese Virus rules in Tennessee and the knock on effects of being forced to close for the virus.

That customer radios in for service are being returned rather than moved to te parent company’s Ohio headquarters, suggest this is not a minor issue.

Without official service capabilities the TenTec models where schematics and service information is publicly available may be easier to keep running, and the undocumented new models may be now a challenge to keep on the air long term.

More information is likely to come out before Dayton, and hopefully the Chinese Virus hasn’t resulted in another long standing USA based Ham Radio manufacturer biting the dust.

The same company also owns Alpha Amplifiers who’s Alpha-4040 Tuner, a project that appears to have become a Chinese Virus disruption casualty as well.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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