Tag Archives: KC9JGD

Young Hams Improvised and Built Computers

‏A bit of a contrast between these two pictures and specifications:

KC9FVR’s Feb 2021 Computer Build

The contemporary build is a “production machine” build Winston KC9FVR is building to help his work-from-home experience.

  • A very nice case (“Be Quiet” is noted for cooling management without fan noise.
  • A 12-core/24-thread 3.7 gHz (4.8 gHz boosted) processor.
  • Dedicated coolers.
  • MSI Meg X570 Motherboard.
  • A couple 1TB SSD drives.
  • 32 GB of fast RAM (for a start)
  • Big nice graphics card.
  • and so on…

KC9FVR, KC9JGD and KC9NWB’s circa 2005 Improvised Computer

Quite a contrast to the improvised machine he and his brothers Thomas KC9JGD and Victor KC9NWB assembled secretly roughly 15 years earlier.

  • VIA C-3 single core at 900 Mhz
  • A salvaged no-name motherboard
  • A 3 GB Mechanical Hard Drive
  • 256 MB of Ram
  • A VGA to NTSC Video Adapter
  • A Root Beer Soda Box for a “case”
  • and not much more….

The back story on the cardboard box computer was that I said no more computers in the house, as homework was suffering. At least that was the official line I put out.

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A bit of Station GAS at the K9ZW Shack

GAS is sometimes defined as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or other descriptives to describe how one somehow keeps acquiring more radio gear.

I’m a learner when it comes to tube radios – boat anchors – and had been looking for a small transceiver to get started.

From Kurt WA9KMB I was able to acquire a Swan 350 with its XC117 Power Supply.  A couple pictures of this type of gear I grabbed off the web are:

Swan 350 Transceiver

Swan 350 Transceiver

Swan XC117 Power Supply

Swan XC117 Power Supply

Again thank you to the hams who put pictures up on the web, appreciated as I didn’t grab the Swap.QTH.com photos before they came down.

The Swan is pretty basic and radio that is noted to need to be steadied by being allowed to fully warm up.  Kurt WA9KMB certainly keeps his gear in fine shape and has helped encourage me in getting my feet wet with tube rigs.  Making the acquisition work smoothly was an opportunity that my eldest Tom KC9JGD had to pick up the radio & power supply in the course of his travels.

My good friend George W9EVT has for a few years been encouraging me to acquire a Collins station.  I’ve been putting this off as I know less about Collins than I would need to know to make such an investment.  I know the method to George’s plans to see I get a good start with Collins gear, as in the course of other trades/swaps and just out of his kindness he has seen to it that I have a start with a Collins 75S1 and Speaker.  Again borrowing a photo, here is what this receiver looks like:

Collins 75S1 Receiver

Collins 75S1 Receiver

I’ve been trying to find a matching 32S1 (2 or 3) Transmitter with its power supply, which look like this:

Collins 32S1 Transmitter

Collins 32S1 Transmitter

So far I have not found a 32S that either was high risk (untested, or “all sales final” with weak descriptives like “loads on the one band I tested, but I didn’t put it on the air…” or higher priced minty collector radios.)  Patience I guess.

GAS has also lead to a couple tool acquisitions – nothing expensive actually, just a new Dymo Labeler that will emboss metal tape labels and a very neat tech’s pocket screwdriver (I bought a couple to give one each to the boys).

Now to get on the air with the Swan….




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Dayton Dust – Hamvention Reflected

Some closing Dayton Hamvention thoughts before I move onto other topics.

The pluses of Dayton 2011 People! I had the fantastic opportunity to spend time with my friend George W9EVT traveling, visit family who made Dayton the focus of a long overdue reunion, met lots of old and new friends, spent time talking first hand with developers & vendors of products I’m interested in, learned much first hand from those presenting.

The downs of Dayton 2011 Logistics! It is a day’s run to get to a place that bluntly is substandard. Living in the present, rather than taking on the rose colored glasses of a nostalgia for Dayton’s Past, the place simply isn’t “destination quality.”

The ROI (Return on Investment) and CBA (Cost/Benefit Analysis) is still working for Dayton because of the people. Really if I wanted to see “stuff” I would be money ahead to order everything that interested me, have it shipped to me, and return what I didn’t like or want. But with a hobby that is about communication – about sharing a personal interface with others – it really is the people that holds Dayton together by overcoming the squalor.

Having done trade shows, including hobby shows, in several countries I am embarrassed that we pretend that Dayton is a “nice place” to meet & show our good side to fellow amateurs from around the world. We can blow all the smoke we want, but it is simply isn’t much of a place compared to how many of these other shows run.

On the CBA basis there are alternative – Hamcation, Ham-Com, and overseas, then a great number of regional and/or focus events. Last year I attended the W9DXCC which remains on my radar for this year.

Now there is a bit of personal focus – I am not a Flea Market person by temperament, and am busy enough that I really appreciate easy, clean, well run recreational events. I know that this is different for folk who have have the smarts & interest to sift through the bargains in the swap meet.

Dayton Past may have been better – though most of the nostalgia I hear centers on People, which remains a highlight.

Dayton Present is what it is – a bunch of great people meeting in a facility that in many other places would have long ago been condemned. Again the People make up for so much.

Dayton Tomorrow – is a for me a “Big Maybe.” I’ve skipped several years, and mostly had people reasons to return (friends and/or family). My son Tom KC9JGD wanted to go a couple years ago, and if I get a chance to spend time with George W9EVT I am always happy to be the driver. Another son Winston KC9FVR asked about this year, though his school schedule conflicted, where next year it looks like he would be free to go. I still have family in the Dayton area.

That said perhaps it is time to see if the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” and pick one or more alternative events to attend? Maybe one overseas and combine the travel with catching up with friends & family there?

Look at that question – again it comes down to “the people” and perhaps no matter what that it is “the people” that make an event, wherever & whenever something special?



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Bits & Bobs Around the K9ZW Shack

Rambling smattering of small items:

Have started planning the Dayton 2009 trip. Encourage & reminded by Mark W9OP I guess it is time to get off dead-center and get Dayton planned. Have not 100% decided on Contest University or perhaps taking in another opportunity. Have invited George W9EVT to again be my Dayton Elmer. If he cannot make it, I may ride the BMW Motorcycle if the Weather looks good enough (likely not) and I feel up to it (it is a mostly boring Interstate Drive, which is my least favorite motorcycling).  Actually I hope he will go, as then I have a better excuse to run the truck (which I can fill with purchases!)

Gave a presentation on the Flex-5000 to NEWDXA (Northeast Wisconsin DX Association) last Saturday. Was a test run for new presentation equipment at work, and of all thing the supplied Universal Power Cable for the projector failed. Sending middle son Winston KC9FVR to the nearby Office Depot fixed the problem. Presentation went very well and running the PowerSDR software in Demo-Mode was well received. For the core I used the PowerPoint Flex-Radio has in their download section.  I’ve been asked to repeat the presentation for one of the Michigan based NEWDXA meetings later this year.  My youngest son Vic KC9NWB and a ten year old nephew Cole were good lads sitting through the presentation & meeting.

FedEx dropped a large parcel containing the homebrew Buddipole Paul AE5JU built for me. Can’t wait for this week’s rehearsals and Big Band performance gig to be over so I can get into the Buddipole. Expect more and a write-up with build pictures on this antenna project.

Likewise should finally get to set up the 6m amp. Several family needs and houseguests having departed make way for getting at this soon as well.

Ordered a NUE-PSK Type #11 Cable for use with my SGC SG-2020 Transceiver. Easier than trying to find time to wire one myself.  Details at http://nue-psk.com/manuals/Radio_Cable_Guide.pdf (see page #13)

Just got in a TG Electronics N8XJK Boost Regulator for use with the Aircraft Gell Cells I’ve been using for portable. The N8XJK Boost Regulator will maintain a usable voltage even when the Battery has dropped lower. Should improve my operation time, specially in cold weather.  Interestingly TG Electronics is located in Houghton, Michigan where my eldest son Tom KC9GJD is an ROTC Cadet studying Chemical Engineering.  



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