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Topics - vwflyer

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Morse Code / My Econo Keyer is fun but not working right.
« on: May 14, 2014, 06:21:47 PM »
Hi guys. I decided to finally learn how to use paddles. Because of my tight budget I bought what came up at good prices. I wound up with a Ham-Key iambic key and an MFJ-401C keyer. I've been using the keyer's sidetone off the air to just practice using a paddle for the first time. I can tell it's going to be nice having QSOs with this when I get a little better. Hopefully others will understand me better with this than my straight key too but right now I still make too many mistakes with the paddles. I often key to many or too few dits. As it stands though, I can't get on the air with this even if I wanted to. It continually keys up my Kenwood TS-140S as soon as I plug it into the key jack. I measured the resistance of the MFJ's key output jack while not keyed and it is about 1500 ohms. Apparently that is too little for the Kenwood and it sees it as a closed circuit. I know that a few of you here are kind of electronic savvy so I thought I'd throw this problem out there and see if anybody has any obvious answer to my frustrating situation.

General Discussion / Tribute
« on: February 10, 2014, 03:30:17 AM »
My son was born today; John Logan. He's not really named after me. He and I are both named after my grandfather who has been SK since 2001. When I think of a ham I think of him. He started out building radios from kits when he was a boy in the early '30s. His love of electronics and his desire to use his knowledge and skill to help others stayed with him all his life. When he went to war he did so as the radio operator on a B-24 Liberator in Europe. After the war he got work as an electrician for a lumber mill. He started raising a family but still had time to get his ham license and study for an engineering degree by means of correspondence classes. After getting his degree he got hired by Martin Marietta at the hight of the space age. He worked alongside my other grandfather there. Grandfather Roger drew up the plans for the rocket components and grandfather John used the plans to build them. He always stayed abreast of technological developments.

He wasn't a good teacher though. When I was very young I remember riding with him in his car. He was holding a conversation in CW while driving. I remember him driving along and listening to the dits and daws as if he was listening to the oldies station on the radio. I must have shown how impressed I was because he later decided to help me learn CW. He lent me a solidly built key and oscillator and told me to go practice. He didn't give me anything to listen to to learn to copy and it was before a guy could get online and find training aids. Needless to say, I never learned CW that way.

He taught everything that way. Learn by doing. I guess it's how he did it and it worked for him. Grandma about had a heart attach when grandpa taught my brother to drive the snowmobile. The lesson consisted of these words, "squeeze this lever with your thumb and she'll go." So he squeezed. My grandmother saw my brother shoot past the kitchen window, barely dodge two parked cars and a large tree before my frightened ten year old brother thought to release his death grip on the lever. My grandfather thought it was  a hoot.

He was the handiest guy in town. Everyone said he could fix anything. The school, ferry boat, and lumber yard would all call him up on a regular basis long after he had retired when they couldn't get something working. That is how he died. He was backed over by a log mover while he was troubleshooting another machine. He lived on an Indian reservation and even though he was not a member of the tribe, or even an Indian for that matter, they gave him a plot in the tribal cemetery and a tribal burial.

I inherited his ham shack, the heart of which was his Collins KMW-2. I'm just now dusting it off and firing it up. I'm a bit scarred of blowing something up in it. It's been sitting for so long and I know nothing of old tube radios.  It still seems to grab the signals though and I've measured 80 watts out of it. Now I'm learning CW and am anxious to start CW QSOs with my grandfather's old rig just like he did. I've had my ham license for ten years now and it's come time for renewal. I decided that grandpa's old call sign should be what comes out of his rig and so I've applied for his call sign. I hope they give it to me. I'm looking forward to the day I can teach little John how to operate CW on his namesake's radio.

Morse Code / First CW QSO
« on: January 17, 2014, 07:25:55 PM »
Well, I did it ;D
I answered someone's CQ on 20 meters. He copied me fine but I made a couple of mistakes and my ability to copy went down by at least 3wpm under the stress of it. I didn't catch everything he said but I got most of his call and skcc number. It was good that I copied his skcc number right. I looked him up there to fill in the missing call letter. Hey raybiker73, it was good that I had registered with skcc myself. I don't know why he assumed I was registered with them, perhaps because I answered his CQ but he wanted me to transmit my skcc number. I told him I'd have to look it up as I didn't know it and asked him to stand by. After I came back with it he thanked me and signed off. I must have been trying his patience or taxing his brain to much trying to copy my loose fist. He didn't seem to want to rag chew.
But in the end, he was courteous and I am stoked.
Thanks to all for all of your encouragement.

General Discussion / Another Introduction
« on: January 15, 2014, 06:40:56 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm John. I've been lurking around these forums and really enjoying them for a few months now and I thought it would only be polite to introduce myself before posting my own questions. I don't usually do that with forum boards but the atmosphere here is different than most other boards. It's more like a gathering of friends than simply a place to pick other people's brains for their knowledge.

I've been a general class ham for almost 10 years. I'll be having to do my first renewal in the next couple of months. I marginally learned CW at 5WPM in order to pass my general exam and then promptly forgot it. I purchased a 2 meter mobile rig and a couple of HTs to play around with but until recently that's all I've done with my license.

The knowledge I gained in becoming a ham has been helpful at work though because until 3 years ago we used to use HF radios at work to keep in touch with our coworkers. Now that satellite internet is so easy to get in remote areas, we have retired all our HF rigs at work. Most of us used single freq. crystal controlled radios because we all used one common freq. around the 80 meter area. One coworker had been using a ham radio though and after he got satellite internet he gave his radio to me knowing I am a ham. Long story short, I've recently started into the world of HF.

It didn't take long to discover though that HF voice is no more interesting than 2 meters, maybe less. So my interest in relearning CW (for real this time) began to grow. Than I found these forums and that sealed it. I had to lean CW! These forums have been a huge help to me in finding CW learning aids and I continue to find great advice and encouragement here in my ongoing struggle to learn CW.

I've been pecking away at it for about 3 months and I can copy 10-12WPM when it is sent by a good fist (computer) without much (any) QRM. I have a $15 straight key I've been practicing sending with but I have yet to make a real contact. A couple of times I've heard people calling CQ at rates I can copy and have been very tempted to answer but when I start to think seriously about answering I get too scared and I don't. I think I may wait until I can copy 15WPM at near 100% with static and everything before I make a contact.

Anyhow, I'm excited to have found a forum that focuses on two interests of mine, radios and prepping. And what makes it completely awesome is the quality of people here.

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