Category Archives: K9ZW Just Rambled

Beware the Winds – A Bit of Tower Mischief

A week or so back we had extraordinary winds. Steady 40 mph (65 kph) with 60+ mph gusts (100 kph) for a prolonged period. Local weather recording stations noted occasional gusts much stronger, though I cannot say if my QTH saw those mega-gusts.

Checking on the new log periodic it was still up there (yeah!) and all “looked okay.”

About a week later the beam’s SWR changed and then dropped off. I figured a feedline issue or perhaps a popped lightning arrestor given we had two periods of snowstorms with heaving lightning and thunder.

Yesterday the +4F (-16c) weather improved to a nicer +28F (-2c) and I walked some of our trails. One medium sized tree down that will have to be cleared with chainsaws, and everything looked pretty good.

Just one thing was working in the back of my mind. The log periodic wasn’t pointed in the direction I had left it. And it had moved since the previous day when I had looked at it from the workshop.

Feedlines are likely wrecked as the beam is drifting. My Skyneedle has an indirect rotator system where the rotator turns a jackshaft that is coupled to the mast with a heavy chain.

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Local Clubs – Northeast Wisconsin DX Association

Northeast Wisconsin DX Association

Our area DX club is – the Northeast Wisconsin DX Association.

NEWDXA has about 110 (live) members plus a few DX honorary members and the SKs who passed while members (Total list is a bit over 130 members).

The rough catchment area in Northeast Wisconsin includes Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago counties, plus some of the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

A good bunch of folks, several who are very avid DX chasers with tales to tell. Meetings are usually at a restaurant when Virus conditions allow.




Ain’t gonna happen – Exhibitions with Mask/Vaxx-Cards/Testing/Releases/Waivers Requirements

My industry is struggling with the Virus and with holding real in-person trade show events.

They have responded with Mask Requirements, Proof of Vaccination Requirements, Virus Testing (ever 72 hours for the duration of the show) for Anyone Unvaccinated, and ominous Waivers & Releases a person must sign to even get in.

They talks about tradeshow floor “Virus Police” who will do something or another to you if your Mask is Down unless you are taking a drink or bite of food. They tell us that attendees must mask up or they will be sanctioned/arrested/fined/thrown in the Jan 6th Gulag (ok I made that last part up, but for a reason to invoke your concerned attention), and that you have to show your Vaccination Card to get food or attend events.

Most of that stuff is pushed on them, but off their own backs they have come up with tat if you don’t sign their release/waiver that you won’t get in.

So they feel they are creating a dangerous situation, enough that you are expected to sign a release/waiver!

2021_12_22 – CRCA COVID Release is the Waiver from a Medium sized regional event I often attend.

Some of this is pushed onto the event organizers by the location’s ever changing requirements. But the release/waiver is a second level of madness.

Professionally this over the top set of event rules saved me time and money – as I am not going to any event that has these rules. What I want to see or learn about, I can do later from online resources. The people I would like to socialize with I can reach my phone or video chat.

Big question is will our Ham Radio events end up doing “Virus Games” to attend events?

If they have to, or chose to I again will save a bunch of time & money.

I’ve ended up wonder if my revulsion is getting grumpy with age?  Or is it purposely induced “cognitive dissonance” that I may be a bit more sensitive about than others?

Different people have differing tolerances for these sort of rules. I keep thinking of “We want a Rock” from They Might Be Giant’s Flood where peer pressure causes nonsense actions – But everybody wants a rock, To wind a piece of string around! is the Big Kahuna in my industry, which apparently already knows how much the rules will curtail attendance, as they are having an in-house Keynote Speaker rather than an expensive celebrity Speaker.

If our Ham Events follow suite, I’m okay as I am already planning to only be “virtually there.”



Local Clubs – Lakeshore Amateur Radio Service Club

Lakeshore Amateur Radio Service Club

Manitowoc County has a small radio club. Roughly about 25 members of the 200+ radio amateurs QRZ says live in our county. (QRZ says there are 222 but they list some SKs and club calls, suggesting 200 is closer.)

Of the club’s listed 25, really about 10-15 are active with the club in a meaningful fashion (I am more a supporter than an active club member myself.)

Manitowoc County’s percentage of Radio Amateurs is about the national average, and is slightly higher than the Wisconsin percentage.

The area ham population has seen a few hams go inactive with age/illness and too many SKs (deaths). Demographics and engagement shortfalls have not really kept up with the losses of the older generation of hams.

The local club has an ARES/RACES side, which is semi-active, has an HF station in the old Armory building, and a couple 2m repeaters. They can be found at: LARSC incorporated the ManCoRad (Manitowoc County Radio club) a few years back.



Little touches make a big different – Das Keyboard and KeyChron

Old enough to learn to type on some nondescript Smith-Corona in school. Then later Army trained on an IBM Selectric that I typed so many reports on that I can still feel the IBM keyboard under my fingers.

Computer keyboards I used were initially part of the machine or pretty much paired with a particular setup. The teletype keyboards of the first terminals, to various chunky keyboards designed by unemployed torture instrument designers, to various chicklet/membrane keyboards perhaps never intended for more than two minutes of steady typing when they were conceived.

Thinking who more than gamers to harshly evaluate keyboards? Informally surveyed several hams and several family who were gamers for their suggestions.

Lots of differing suggestions – learn Dvorak, go for an ergonomic design that looks like it came from Star Trek, try one of the battleship vintage keyboards, or have the early IBM unobtanium model xyz123 restored for me… lots of differing suggestions.

Commonality was found in looking for keyboards that use superior switches, as the switch is where much of the feel comes from, get one that is heavy enough to not move while typing, possibly remappable to allow PC/MAC & QWERTY/DVORAK changes, and has low latency, in many of the suggestions I received.

A few keyboards came an went, including a “Das Keyboard 4C TKL Wired Tenkeyless” which had such low contrast key labeling that it was exchanged.

Das Keyboard 4 Pro

Main keyboards both work and home, where I wanted the ten-key numeric pads ended up “Das Keyboard 4 Professional Wired Mechanical Keyboard, Cherry MX Brown Mechanical Switches, 2-Port USB 3.0 Hub, Volume Knob, Aluminum Top (104 Keys, Black)” and where I wanted the smaller ten-key less format (at the iMac mostly) as “Keychron K8 Tenkeyless Wireless Mechanical Keyboard for Mac, Hot-swappable RGB Backlight, Bluetooth, Multitasking, Type-C Wired Gaming Keyboard for Windows with Optical Brown Switch, Aluminum Frame.”

Keychron K8 TKL

The transition has been marvelous. These keyboards type like the Selectric I am used to, though with a slightly less of a key stroke. Having an extra USB hub on some of the keyboards is also a plus.

Good Stuff and Recommended!

(For links you can check Amazon, the direct Manufacturer’s Website or do a net search.)



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State of the K9ZW Stations – January 2022

Mentioned in my end of 2021 posts, a special project reduced my on-the-air time and all but eliminated by station building time the last few months of 2021.

So where at the stations at?

Island QTH

  • Flagpole Vertical is up and running, and needs the hole left for radial attachment backfilled.
  • Tower and Log Periodics are on the ground, ready to be erected.  Will 2022 be the year?  Need concrete, contractors and some of my time to finish the directional antenna off.
  • Rack is done.
  • Collins station needs to be brought home, the KWM-2A serviced/checked out, and that station sold.

Work QTH

  • Time to add some IoT controls to the setup.
  • Considering replacing the elevated vertical, but not a must.
  • Repeater hardware needs to be swapped out and tidied up.

Home QTH

  • Flagpole Vertical has been working really well.
  • Big Log Periodic on the Skyneedle is physically nearly completed (a couple of tower detailing tasks remain) and works blistering well.  The Rotator not so much, as I didn’t finish the wiring & calibration when my project swallowed so much time.  Lots to do here.
  • The RBOG (Reversible Beverages On Ground) were fully installed but remain untested.  Ran out of time.  Pretty certain one leg needs some rework or checking out, following a series of very strong storms which flooded its remote location washing some soil out.
  • Racks are close to done.
  • The Collins 32S/75S based station needs to be sold, along with much extra gear.
  • The Collins HF-380 station while in the rack and up and running, needs to have extras like the RTTY add-ons checked out.

Portable Setups

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