Monthly Archives: August 2022

Non-Radio – Saxophones and Sax Quartets

For decades I’ve played Baritone & other saxophones in various groups.

Occasionally I get out my Bass Saxophone, and regularly will play Tenor Sax.

It is less common to find me on Alto or Soprano, and it is only doing vintage charts or church music that I will play C-Melody sax.

Until about 2016 I fronted “The Skunk Hollow and Carp Town Saxophone Conspiracy,” a four to six part saxophone ensemble featuring recreated vintage charts.  Most of the library is SATB or AATB (Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Baritone or Alto-I/Alto-II/Tenor/Baritone) and the group did civic functions, private parties and church services.

As several of the group’s regular players were transferred, one passed on, and a few got sick/busy/old, the group has been on hiatus well before the virus hit. Other than Christmas time nursing home gigs and a few museum gigs, mothballed as they say.

With a lot of tutorage and encouragement from a few music professionals, I added to the library with mostly early music additions updated from the mediaeval krumhorns and rackettes to saxophones, or modern songs.  All good fun!

When we did cameos, our typical playlist would be pretty simple – an example:

  • Wizard of Oz – Overture
  • Wizard of Oz – Follow the Yellow Brick Road
  • Wizard of Oz – If I Only Had a Brain
  • Wizard of Oz – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Beer Barrel Polka
  • Chicken Dance
  • Intergallactic Rag (from Star Wars)
  • Joe Jordans/The Darkey Todalo
  • Amazing Grace
  • Muppets Theme
  • Purple Haze

Presently I own Bass, Baritone, Tenor, C-melody, Alto and Soprano saxophones, along with an EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument).   The Sopranino (too small for me), keyless sax (really just a training aid), Contrabass Sarrusophone (large paperclip saxophone like instrument) and other oddities all found new homes over the years.

You have to have something to do when you are not on the radio!



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OM You’ve become Spam – Misuse of Social Media

OM (Old Man in ham-speak) You’ve become Spam – Misuse of Social Media:

Recently a spent twenty minutes thumbing down LinkedIn “unfollowing” masses of folk that somehow got elevated to clutter.

Used the basic guideline that if I have not spoken to you in years, don’t expect to speak to you anytime soon, and the content I end up with from “following them” is not high value/interest, the get muted/unfollowed/deemphasized.

A lot were radio amateurs who while we share a hobby we otherwise haven’t crossed paths.

That someone with a callsign “likes” a charity in Podunk Someplace it neither an actionable bit of information for me, nor bluntly beyond being empathetic on the most abstract does it impact my life.

Business Social media has become crap actually.

Where once 98% of what was presented to you was skills, careers and opportunities, it has largely become disconnected from anything business.

You want to talk about Cancer, tell me what is happening, where I can invest to support efforts and maybe – just maybe – you own story if it has a professional angle.

That someone down your streets grandchild has a classmate that is sick with Cancer is maybe something you share at your coffee clutch, as I can neither do much about it nor with the sketchy information send the words of encouragement that spin off from my prayers for them.

Those who post, repost and do mostly this sort of thing got axed.

Likewise with those who I can’t even recognize their names.

Some ham changed from posting ham information from their world to social stuff. Really don’t need several posts a day from your company’s PR team congratulating employee-X for their services up to retirement. Or if you all went to a ball game.

Honestly those sort of posts are talking to yourself and virtue-signaling, and dilute both what you and your company is about.

If your social media includes pronouns, mostly likely I gave you the axe. It is less about the pronouns, but more about the arrogance that you expect to tell me how to address you. A bit presumptuous that I would join into your panderings. Doesn’t matter much as I changed your pronouns for you – to Done/Gone and unfollowed you lest I get crossways with your haughtiness.

That leads to a few other scoundrels like your old school for an example.

Most of these organizations have so changed over the decades as to be weak shadows of their former selves. They collectively have forgotten that when I attended not only did I live or die by my scores and grades, but that my fees were fully paid and as a “WASP” they reduced my scholarships to $50 where a non-white would have gotten tuition (I refused the check, said they could give it to one of the needy) and my entrance scores were burdened because they had just started the EO programs. They forget that I worked, in most cases full time, to earn my way, and even traded computer programming skills to the University for tuition to earn my way through.

They likely never knew that I finished undergraduate and grad school with minimal debt, the amount that was cleared within the first year of employment.

Yet they use Business Social Media to lobby how I should send them money now? This is so stupid, almost like the wedding hall where your reception was held asking for money years later, claiming “you had a nice party, now pay for someone else’s party now please.” Ain’t happening.

Some of the nonsense I guess will continue as I avoided nuking clients, vendors and truly pivotal industry figures. I guess so that they feel like they have joined in the non-business frolics they post endlessly on non-business topics. No I really don’t care much about how you had a Elbowian physical/cultural/social exception as an intern at one of your overseas affiliates, and corporately are wishing them well. If you didn’t hire them it was never about their actual contribution in the first place. It sadly was about who you treated them as a “thing” with special shiny attributes and a now flying around like a crow with a bit of foil in its beak, just showing off the shiny.

It is not only Hams who encourage you to connect and they go off into other topics, but among my industry some of the once “pundit types” have become so lame in their activities and posts that they were first in the “nukem” category.

If all you have to say to me is travel to somewhere else in the country to get free drinks (I do not drink, thank you) or to gamble at our association’s mock-casino (I am not a gambler), you have made yourself unimportant enough to be unfollowed. That after being posted their “message” gets no comments and perhaps a single “like” confirms that it is not just me that considers this Spam rather than useful communications.

Outside of ham events periods the radio companies seem to have stopped posting on Business Social Media. Guess they found getting their message out from the clutter a poor ROI?

OM, try not to become Spam, eh?



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Real Radio History – What Is It?

In radio and amateur radio history, one sees a lot of conflicting accounts.

Who was first to do this or that, who was the first to invent something, and so on.

As has been said:

history becomes fiction in the… act of being written down” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

So perhaps a bit or poetic license is par for the course?

How does a ham figure out what is right?

First the whole idea of “what is right” needs review.  At best historical accounts indicate who was first “recorded” as doing/inventing/thinking-of something, rather than the “hard fact” of who was absolutely the primary first one.

Once we understand History is all about the recording rather than the actual event, things become a bit clearer.

The heat of arguing disappears, as statements like “first recorded transmission of this type was….” or “records show that XYZ demonstrated the device on the date” – rather than overly strong absolute claims to primacy.

These sort of statements allow for parallel, earlier and later similar events better than absolute statements.

So again Radio History is what is recorded, nothing more nor nothing less.



A Quiet Scream – The Inequality of Handouts to Forgive Student Debt

Congrats to everyone who didn’t have a college debt. Now you do!

 – anon. taken from the internet [added 26AUG22]

On August 24th 2022 it was announced that $10,000 to $20,000 of student debt for certain students will be forgiven.

The funding for the forgiveness is government funds, which means from taxes.

I am having a private quiet scream, as while I will receive my share of the tax costs to fund the program, that multi-generational family discipline has left us with plenty of University graduates, but as all were paid in full, no debt to forgive.

Years back when I finished Graduate school I had accumulated a modest amount of student debt, that was a fly in the ointment until settled. Actually my parents teamed up with me to make the debt go away within the first year out of Grad School – something that could happen because the debt was not huge, as I had earned my undergraduate while in the Army and had used my accrued education benefits with work wages to fund most of Grad School.

When it came time for my sons KC9JGD, KC9FVR and KC9NWB to attend university I wanted top make sure that any debt they accumulated for education would be minimal. Like gone or quickly retired level gone.

This meant we sacrificed to save up for then to pay university bills.

If it meant family vacations ice fishing locally rather than flying to Disney for a big family vacation, that was okay.

If it meant driving second hand cars rather than buying new cars, that was also okay.

If it meant that trips to see Grandparents and Family (overseas) had to be spaced out widely, that was okay.

If it meant a very used Yaseu FT-101EE that had to be sold before I could buy an orphaned TenTec Pegasus, that was okay.

All the savings for education mattered, as we were going to our collective best to avoid any persistent student debt.

When free money was offered as schools are prone to do, they were encouraged to take it, and hopefully invest it.

I know that when one of my then recently graduated sons went to the student loan people after graduation to see them, they expected to set up payments , and were floored when he was prepared to pay his debt in full. That he had actually invested their money helped, and that he was being paid more as a student intern than the loan administrator helped more. That his new job was rather good finished off the decision to pay in in full within ninety days of graduation.

Flashing back, even my minor debt was actually offset by savings from the jobs I worked while in Grad School. Having student debt was more about that I wanted a car to go with the diamonds, both for the best part of my Graduate School experience as we married months after graduation.

Returning to today and the forgiveness programs. All three sons have no conventional student debt, all have cars that are paid for, have their investments and savings, and none will receive any forgiveness.

Actually all three will be paying for the forgiveness of debt for others – something they all have concerns about.

The costs to forgive this amount of debt is said to be in the $300,000,000,000 or when divided by government number of 144 million individual taxpayers in excess of $2100 for each of paying taxes.

So instead of a cheer hooray, we are having a quiet scream – as those who pay their own way are being punished.

I wonder what people who never went to university nor had children attend feel about their new tax burdens?

Perhaps their scream won’t be so silent?



(NB For the record I still would never suggest anyone go into debt for education, and would still pay for everything upfront. There may be some special programs – like becoming an MD – that would be an exception. Actually the Money is the least of investment, as you can always make more money. But the time you spend in education is forever gone once spent. Perhaps that is why I raced throughs school? All thoughts for another post.)


Is your Radio Vulnerable to Outside Control?

To what extend are your really in control of your radios?

Can someone else control them, perhaps shutting them down or limiting what you can do with them?

In our IoT (Internet of Things) world things are open to purposeful and inadvertent control.

Some examples:

A 2022 Military Action event:

“As Russian troops invaded Ukraine, alleged Russian military hackers targeted the Via-Sat satellite system, deploying wiper malware that bricked people’s routers and knocked them offline. Around 30,000 internet connections in Europe were disrupted, including more than 5,000 wind turbines.” – Wired, 18 AUG 2022

A boo-boo car issue:

“They drove a 2014 to 2017 model Mazda, and they had tuned into KUOW, 94.9 on the FM dial, the NPR station.

That’s all it took.

Somehow the signal the station sent to the modern HD Radio that’s part of the Mazda infotainment center had, as Welding puts it, “fried” a major component.

That frying made the radios only play KUOW. No chance of catching a little classic rock or some Dori soliloquies. KUOW. Forever.

Also gone from the infotainment center were such features as Bluetooth, navigation, the clock and vehicle stats — “Many of the features I paid for when I bought it new,” Welding says.” – Seattle Times, 11 FEB 2022

A personal one:

The XYL’s EV needed updating, done over the air. Update went well until two weeks later when about half of the “nice to have features” suddenly stopped working, putting the vehicle into a “basic mode” where it does drive and charge, but not much else. Dealer and Manufacturer have the “Top Men” working on it as I type.

A computer one:

…. we learned via Microsoft’s Raymond Chen that back in the olden days of Windows XP, it was discovered that a music video of a song
called Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson was causing Windows PCs to crash.

This is because the song in question contained resonant frequencies for 5400RPM hard drives which even crashed PCs in vicinity while the song
was being played.

While OEMs eventually fixed the issue, security agency MITRE has now declared it as an official exploit. – Security Discussions online and Tom’s hardware

A radio one:

If Microsoft Azure servers have an issue, or the Auth0 security part gets jiggled my remote station is DOA.

  • So what if your radio is set up to shutdown on receipt of a certain signal?
  • Or could be controlled by something through its internet connection?
  • What do we control and what is controllable by others?
  • What if the services that are needed to run your station disappear?
  • Is there any workaround when services are disrupted?
  • What happens if the support goes away or is abandoned?
  • Pretty fair questions that likely are not completely answerable.
  • It doesn’t make sense to forego all modern-conveniences to avoid the exposures.

But you should have a “Plan-B” in mind.

One strategy is to keep a set of radio gear that is old enough and simple enough to sidestep the exposure.



Collins KWM-380 with an Alpha-9500 – attenuation needed

Interfacing a transceiver (exciter in this use) that likes to run at 100w with an amplifier that expects 40w or less input is always a challenge.

Wanting to us my Collins HF-380 (the government version of the Ham Radio KWM-380) with an Alpha-9500 was going to require a bit of jiggling.

Recently the Collins Collectors Association had a short thread on the problem:

Using the KWM-380 with an Alpha 87A amplifier
From: Dennis Kidder W6DQ
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2022 14:16:34 PDT
During today’s CCA 20 meter net, Torrey, N9PY, asked how I was reducing the output power of my KWM-380 low enough to not overdrive the Alpha. I do understand that this is a common issue, having had difficulty with this myself. The Alpha 87A will produce legal limit output with about 40-50 Watts input.

The easiest way I found to do this is to insert a 3 dB pad between the radio and the amp. The pad can be a commercial unit that is capable of 50 Watts dissipation, or one that is fabricated using discrete resistors (with sufficient power handling) or one of the hybrid attenuators that are available. A 100 Watt 3 dB hybrid attenuator is available from Henry Radio, online, for $30. It will require some fabrication to add a heat sink and connectors and is probably the best solution for the attenuator. Note that other values are available at their online store, or their eplace store.

The downside in that the received signal is also attenuated. However, you can bypass the attenuator using a relay, or in my case, I tolerate the loss on receive (1/2 S-Unit — hardly noticeable).

You can fabricate a 3 dB “T-Pad” easily using two 8.5 ohm resistors for the series resistors between the input and output, and 142 ohms between the two series resistors and ground. Use 25 Watt non-inductive resistors. The values given will give 3 dB attenuation at 50 ohms. I would expect that the values could vary a bit and still function fine.

I used components I had on hand to fabricate my attenuator using Globar-type resistors.

Hopefully, someone can benefit from this and be able to safely use their KWM-380 with an amplifier requiring less drive (such as the current crop of LDMOS amps).


-dennis W6DQ
Collins Collectors Association
Inyokern CA

Like as if I needed yet another construction project?!  I think not.

Searching around there are some attenuators out there. My preferred domestic choices were out of stock or out of line ($555 for an attenuator? Perhaps not…), so an import was ordered:

100 Watt RF Attenuators DC-3GHz 50Ohm 3db

When it arrives and passes tests, I should be in a better situation to do the interface.



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