Author Archives: k9zw

Ham Radio, the old school BBS, Echomail and How the Past can be part of the Future

Ham Radio, the old school BBS, Echomail and How the Past can be part of the Future

I am going to guess that if you are less than a certain age in terms of how long you have been on the internet, that you may be the most comfortable with using a browser to access remote content?

A lot of us won’t even remember that there is much more to the WWW (World Wide Web) than http and https, or that these are HyperText Transfer Protocol (Secure). (See: and )

Unless we have something techy in our background we might be a bit sketchy on what is telnet ( or ssh ( – or even if you are using a windows machine how to get a command window open ( or all the way you can get to on – see ).

Facing screens with increasing higher resolution, depth of colors and features we may not always remember ANSI displays and ASCII limited character sets for screen “art” ( , and )

Or before we had, Yahoo Groups, or Reflectors, how we used the EchoMail part of FidoNet ( and ) to share information across the country and around the world.

Perhaps you haven’t heard the squeal of a modem navigating a connection – – back in the day mine was USRobotic Courier HST v34 (

Back in day I ran a FidoNet node 1:154/110 and node 1:154/154, shutting them down thirty years ago in 1991. The exact start is a bit hazy, as I had been running variants from England since 1986 and had first experimented as a private node and point stateside from 1988 on. Officially I had a public facing FidoNet system running Opus-CBCS from 1989 to 1991.

Then a series of house moves, an expanding family and my own planes filled up my time. I had also had my fill of BBS trolls who basically polluted the BBS every time the snuck on, thinking it funny to be juvenile uploading nasty pictures and pirate software, or calling everyone bad names in every forum they found a way to access. With the way officialdom was cracking down by holding system operators (Sysops) responsible, I wasn’t having it. So “SPOT BBS” (Node lists said “Spot, Up the Road” but the board itself said SPOT BBS) was shut down.

One of the worst trolls has since passed on, a couple years back. I was surprised to read in his obituary that he had found religion and really gotten right with the people is his world. A good reminder to never ever give up on people.

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Gifted an awesome Station Sign, Lost Shoveling Mulch, and Antennas Still Need Assembly

LED station sign made by N6JSX

Actually two but this is the illuminated one, as the other is a raw carving of my callsign into a piece of “purple heart” wood.  I’ll post a picture of that CNC carved sign when I my finish work is done.

Dale N6JSX has some new toys, 3D engravers, printers and and CNC hobbyist level gear, and is making a lot of items for relatives.

Much appreciated and looks rather cool on my operating desk!  THANKS DALE N6JSX!!


My hiatus from blogging is not complete, as I am 75% through spreading 36 yards of mulch which is around 500 garden center sized bags.  Had a bulk delivery which the XYL claims is more about being able to use the skidsteer and lawn tractors than the savings (in bulk my cost was about 30% of buying it in bags, though the savings would be less if I waited for a garden center sale.)

A lot of Garden Mulch

A lot of Garden Mulch!  Right in front of the Radio Room, so I can’t ignore it either!

I do have a couple drafts that will be finished up and posted while I am still shoveling and of course involved in the important project that I need to do.


The Antennas still need to be assembled, as the mulch was a very overdue “honey do” that threatened to interfere with radio activities if I put it off any longer.

I think the T-28 will be easy but the T-12HD really need a set of helping hands.  Any volunteers?



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FlexRadio 4o3a TGXL Ship Date Announced – Q3 2021

The new FlexRadio TGXL TunerGenius Antenna Tuner

FlexRadio made the announcement last night via a FlexInsider announcement – the TGXL Tuner Genius antenna tuner developed in the FlexRadio Systems/4o3a working group, is ready to roll out.

The FRS link: The 4o3a page hasn’t been updated but can be found at:

Two models in the initial launch, an SO2R version at $2499 and a single-path 1-input-to-3-output version at $2199.

Early PGXL Power Genius Amp buyers who had a TGXL included in their early adopter package should receive their PGXLs by early summer, with new orders to follow.

Looking forward to receiving mine.



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Hams and Exercise

My recumbent bicycle (stock photo)

Yup, going to talk hardcore fitness for Hams.

Attend a hamfest and it is pretty obvious a significant portion of hams trend to the sedentary.  Very sedentary to say the least.

There are exceptions – a Ham I know started running marathons as he approached retirement after he had decided to take grasp of his health. Let’s call these  types of hams the “Proactive Fit,” reflecting their commitment and goals.

And there are plenty of hams who fall into the “Working Fit” category where genetics, employment and lifestyle leaves them relatively fit, though often as an afterthought rather the result of anything purposeful.  These are the guys who often turn out for the field side of Emcom/Emgov activities.

But then we have the “Great Unfit” whose residual fitness comes from having to move their unfit bulk around. Often the “Great Unfit” imagine themselves as “Working Fit” despite not being able to hang in there if they were actually working.

For the point of my discussion I am not including the “Medically Challenged” as they best not take advice from anyone other than their doctors. Whether an ailment or something orthopedic or any of the other ways we end up medically challenged, their special needs are outside of the general fitness observations I’m sharing.

Also little point in addressing the “Proactive Fit” as they already “get it” concerning fitness.

There is is little fitness is required to participate casually in our hobby.

That low level of required fitness is actually a wonderful aspect of the hobby that allows handicapped and disabled participation in Amateur Radio. It is also a lifeline providing activity if your health changes to the worse, as unlike other hobbies you usually can still do radio.

A Recumbent Elliptical (stock photo)

Our “Working Fit” hams often become part of the “Great Unfit” when employment changes (retiring, or early perhaps being promoted to a supervisor becoming desk-bound), personal health changes, or life situation/stresses change. Yes there are some who stay “Working Fit” regardless of what life sends their way. Lucky rare are those folks.  Most “Working Fit” suffer some sort of decline over time.

Addressing the “Great Unfit” is the biggest concern. This is a fitness level where your lack of fitness starts to curtail your hobby participation.

  • Too heavy to walk the aisles at the hamfest?
  • Not possible to do a DXpedition?
  • You’d love to attend club meetings but can’t do the stairs?

You can do something about these sorts of issues!

Even if you find yourself in the  “Great Unfit” category, do not despair – for most this is changeable.

There is a primary tool you will need to address the issue, a tool that by definition of being a Ham Radio operator you already shown you have superior skills using.

As a ham you already have held yourself to standards by being tested, have the persistence and patience to be on the air, and are thinking at a good level.

So you are already set to effectively use the number one fitness tool you have  – your mind!

Yes you have to vision yourself as more fit, as your attitude, determination and mental commitment are the building blocks of the physical efforts that will follow.

If you don’t have that vision, you are unlikely to make sustained substantive progress towards fitness.

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Antenna Building Time – Blogging Hiatus as a result

A brief post that despite having over four dozen draft posts waiting to be finished, it is antenna building time.

Has finally warmed up enough to make it decent to assemble the two log periodic antennas at the main QTH. They are a Tennadyne T-28 6m to 1.3 gHz and a T-12 30m to 10m models.

Have a lift already lined up to the antennas on the tower, and hopefully it won’t be too long before they are ready to go.

Goal is to get things up on the tower before the buggy season starts.

At the same at my Washington Island QTH plans are to get the tower base in so the tower can go up right after Memorial Day. As the entire setup is a transplant from my former home QTH, everything was working and only needs minor post-transport reassembly. Meeting with the concrete guy this week, and once the base is in I can do this one with my tractor-loader.

So as a result my slow down in posting will be continuing until I get these chores completed.



NW Digital Radio DRAWS in its Correct Case

The K9ZW #1 NW Digital Radio DRAWS is in its correct case.

Started putting my ARRL email on gear in case we get separated.

I’ve started into labeling ports on my equipment in an effort to improve “self-documentation” of gear. Why have to scramble later to online or paper documentation to confirm what voltage and polarity is required? Or whether the Right/Left port naming is by looking “out” from the ports or “looking inwards” at them?

Upper L-R – GPS, Left Radio, Right Radio then the Lower L-R – 5vdc, HDMI 1 & 2, Audio

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