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Messages - Sparks

Digital Modes / Re: Ultra-Portable Digital Kits
October 07, 2016, 07:35:35 pm
Quite interesting, except this operator is not and will not be into things Windows and/or Android.

I already own a Yaesu FT-817ND, and the day I see it configured with a MacBook Air, an iPad, or an iPhone, I will read closely.
Thanks for this note about the Yaesu FT-817ND! I bought one over the counter at my (European) country's major ham outlet this summer, with a 10% discount because there was a special event for our capital's hams.

It's the first radio I have handled since I sailed the high seas as a Radio Officer (1963-73). In addition to my Merchant Marine First Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate I also had a ham license, not used for more than 40 years. When I definitely retired from later occupations at age 70 I renewed my ham license (same C/S, the proper authorities never forget you). The Morse Code that was drilled into me at the tender age of 16-17 never left me, though, and I believe it will help me to stay mentally fit for service to start using my CW capabilities after these more than 40 years.

I have long since decided: CW only and QRP only. So for years I wished for an Elecraft KX3, and lately, KX2. However, I simply cannot afford any of them, yet. So when I had a chance at a new but affordably priced Yaesu FT-817ND, I grabbed it, to get started.

The vendor also sold me the LDG Z-817 Autotuner for FT-817 (a must, they told me). In addition, a balun which I so far don't understand how to use, and some other more or less useless (to me, so far) antenna stuff. So I am still not on the air!

I hope I may use this forum to ask for good advice. Essentially, I was exactly where Gil was this year when he lost his sailing vessel and all his radio equipment, so I have followed all the threads in that connection. The exception is, I finally acquired a QRP transceiver, and I need help to get it on the air.
Quote from: gil on July 02, 2016, 04:28:10 pm
You can't switch from USB to LSB and vice-versa within the same band using the band button, WTH!?

Seems to be related to the problem(s) discussed in this public FB group (Ham Radio Outdoors):
Technical Corner / Re: Crystal set cat's whisker
June 16, 2016, 12:33:23 am
Quote from: NavySEAL on June 14, 2016, 09:04:11 pm
It has been said that the reason "foxhole radios" came into being was that the Germans developed a way of detecting our receivers oscillators not the transmitters but the receivers.........didn't know that was no radios with oscillator circuits were allowed......thus the foxhole radio

Wikipedia has this explanation:

There are links to these articles, one of them I referred to in my foregoing post:
Here is a DIY:
Technical Corner / Re: Crystal set cat's whisker
June 16, 2016, 12:20:47 am
Quote from: NavySEAL on June 14, 2016, 03:49:49 pm
Another over 60 radio buddy and I have been discussing crystal sets and remembering our first one when we were kids is where the trolley leaves the rails..........he swears that a living cat's whisker can be used for the crystal sets whisker which is usually fine springy wire.......I told him that I didn't think a living cats whisker would conduct and he said that his father who was a double E told him that there was a nerve that ran down the center of the whisker that would conduct and that the two of them made a crystal set using a whisker from the neighbors was touchy to run but did work.........I find that hard to believe.......anyone else ever heard about using a living cats whisker on a crystal set?

I tried to do a little research. Seems that it was just a way of speaking about crystal receivers (and one of its components):

Quote from:
What is a Crystal Radio
• Crystal Radio Receiver
AKA "Crystal Set", "Cat's Whisker Receiver", "Foxhole Radio"
Cat's Whisker Detector

Step back in time with a galena detector kit and experience the soft detection that comes from minerals.

Delight in the first broadcast reception using the galena as a replacement for those 1N34 diodes

Wood base, mounted galena, phosphor-bronze cat whisker, 3- inch brass rod, compression spring, and brass parts.

So the cat whisker could made of "phosphor-bronze". A few links to corroborate that it was not an animal product:

Quote from:
The cat's whisker wire was generally of steel to allow more force to be applied to the carborundum.
Quote from: gil on May 22, 2016, 04:19:31 am
I have no idea if there are special Morse accentuated letters!

There certainly are, they are listed here and numerous other places:
While I was composing my posts on the Elecraft KX2, this new radio was mentioned elsewhere in the forum:

Quote from: Wayne on May 18, 2016, 05:59:31 pm
Hi Gil,

I took your post of a year ago as a challenge to be met :)  The result is pocket-sized: the Elecraft KX2. It's the size of the KX1, but covers 80-10 m, with SSB/CW/data modes, and has 10 watts output. Most of the same features as the KX3 at a much lower price. Current drain is about as low as physically possible with 32-bit DSP -- 135 mA minimum with the preamp and backlight off.

You can use it table-stop or hand-held, like an HT, with a whip. Has an internal wide-range ATU, internal 2.6 Ah Li-ion battery, built-in mic and speaker. Weighs 13 oz. less battery. 1.5 x 2.8 x 5.8".

Be happy to have you try one.

General Discussion / Re: Ultra Portable Radios.
May 18, 2016, 06:52:22 pm
I was composing posts on the Elecraft KX2 while Wayne posted the foregoing:,1098.0.html
The Elecraft KX2 will be announced this week (May, 2016
Nothing here yet: -- Except this hint:

Quote from:
We're busy designing more exciting products for you. Check back often to see what's new!
Quote from: gil on October 26, 2013, 11:09:55 pm
[K1 vs. KX1] If only they had a K1 with a DDS VFO and SWL! Or a surface-mount KX1 for even smaller size! Elecraft should combine the two radios and call it a KX2.

Quote from:
New KX2 radio to be announced this Thursday at the Dayton Hamvention 2016

Hello to all,
We are please to announce a new radio to complement the KX3 and the KX-Line.  Here are the details.

What:  Elecraft announces the KX2, Ultra-portable radio                   
When:  Thursday, May 16th, 1300Z                   
Where:  Four Days In May QRP event, part of the Dayton Hamfest activities

Elecraft is excited to announce a new radio targeting the Ultra-portable market with a Fit-In-Your-Pocket size.  Please see the attached brochure for details.

- KX2:  $749.00

- Options and accessories:  Please see the table below for pricing.  Also see the FAQ for details.


Distributors are encouraged to order both the KX2 and accessories now.  The KX2 is already in production and early ordering will ensure your position for deliveries.

Note that the KX2 will be available in full, factory-built form only.  There will be 2 internally-installed options available immediately.  See the FAQ for more details.

-- This week's Thursday, however, is not on May 16, but on May 19 (2016). A typo I guess?
Seen from Europe  (more specific: Scandinavia), this overview of Alex Jones covers him best:

I have been more than amazed for several years that this guy is so much admired and linked to.
Just to follow up my original post: That Swiss company is now ready to take orders:

Two-and-a-half thousand dollars and up ... I'd rather go for a pre-assembled Elecraft KX3 with all possible add-ons and accesories.
General Discussion / Re: What Radios Will I Buy?
March 12, 2016, 09:29:24 am
Quote from: gil on March 10, 2016, 03:30:24 am
I can think of two radios I want to get right off the bat, an Elecraft K1, which I will need to build, and a Weber MTR, which I will need to buy from LNR Precision this time.  The Weber I want for its portability, full band coverage and 5W output in such a tiny package. Of course they are both Morse code radios only, but I consider Morse code to be the best mode ever for prepping, ya'll know me well

I am a Morse code and QRP only kind of person. More than 40 years ago I worked several years as a shipboard Radio Officer. I also had a ham license, but I have been QRT for these 40 years. Recently I found I still had a right to my license and my old C/S, so I am trying to get back in. The only pieces of equipment I have from the good old days are a Vibroplex semi-automatic bug (the Original Deluxe) and a Morse training oscillator.

I lust for a pre-built Elecraft KX3 (I am not into miniature soldering any more), but I don't know if I can ever afford it. The Weber MTR seems like a good starting point for me, but I cannot find any LNR Precision Internet site (nor elsewhere) where it is actually being sold, ready-made. Can you tell me more? (And if I acquire one, I will need advice about keying it in the field and what else I need, like a mobile antenna, of course.)
Morse Code / Re: Learning Morse on Android devices.
January 21, 2016, 06:29:10 pm
Quote from: gil on January 21, 2016, 04:16:22 pm
What better way than listening to the news in Morse code?!

I frequently listen to this on my MacBook, and it works very well on my iPhone, too:

Quote from:
• Stream Title: CNN Breaking News in Morse (30/25/21 wpm)
• Stream Description: CNN's "breaking news" Twitter feed converted to Morse Code
• Content Type: audio/mpeg
Click to Listen:

In my quote I included the link to:
• CNN Breaking News in Morse (30/25/21 wpm)

There are other links to other speeds, too:
• CNN Breaking News in Morse (25/21/18/13 wpm)
• CNN Breaking News in Morse (50/47/44/41/38 wpm)
• CNN Breaking News in Morse (15/13/10/7 wpm)
• CNN Breaking News in Morse (40/36/33/30 wpm)

There are also links to these two training sites:

• Mount Point : (/NN9U) Stream Title: NN9U's CW practice tables
• Stream Description: Tables of digraphs, trigraphs and common English words taken from NN9U's article in the January 2009 QST
• Stream URL: [This link does not work, it seems.]

• Mount Point : (/W1AW) Stream Title: W1AW CW practice
• Stream Description: W1AW practice text, from high speed (40) to low (13)
• Stream URL: