Radio Rentals

This is a British Matchbox like toy – radios were commonly rented there in prehistoric times . . . 

K1EL PS2B Keyer Kit

The K1EL Practice Keyer – the PS2B (minus the built in circuit board paddle)

K1EL has several excellent PIC processor based Keyers, and they fill some niche gap areas in ham radio.

One thing that I like – they handle paddles as well as bugs.

The very cool Begali Intrepid Bug / Paddle

I have the hybrid Bug / Paddle – the Begali Intrepid, and another 100% bug and work of art is an Alberto Frattini J36

Alberto Frattini J-36 Bug

At the beginning of the year I proclaimed that I would invest more time getting my CW chops back – I was quite good as a teen, but when I got back into Ham Radio in 2001 its been nothing but 599 TU plus the call sign exchange – which is pretty pathetic, actually.

I’m seeing that I will be one of the last of an era to keep old tube rigs on the air, old bugs on the air, etc. Because I love “living history” (and way more than just radio), this suits me just fine.

Collins KWS-1

Could This Transmitter Show Up for my 60th Birthday?

I’ve got a lead on a mint transmitter to match my Collins 75A-4 receiver. Several things have to come to pass before I can commit, but I’m quite excited that this could be a future possibility.

The transmitter uses a pair of these 4CX250 tubes, and luckily there are many available NOS (New Old Stock) and at decent prices

Rather than stack the receiver and transmitter on top of the power supply – I would have the transmitter, receiver and speaker on my desk


Don’t Let Your Bottles Become Stoves!

Great SWL Memories

Shortwave Listening – my “gateway drug” into Ham Radio and a 38 year career in IT

It was all sparked by the “inventors” series that Ms. Goodin taught in my 4th grade class at Merriam Avenue School. (And yes, that is the same Merriam as Merriam Webster fame).

I was awestruck by stories of Edison and Marconi, and then in Boy Scouts, I saw a fellow Scouts Heathkit and had to build one myself. Several cold solder joints and a tearful trip to Heathkit in Fairlawn – and a few weeks later I had a working receiver!

The dial on the radio was not just a set of cold hard numbers – each band segment offered a full menu of times and locations around the globe. I remember being amazed at Radio South Africa, Deutsche Welle, BBC, Radio Moscow. Radio Tirana, etc

This graphic is exactly what was going through my head in the year or two before I became a Ham Radio Novice – with callsign WN2QHN.

To this day I listen much more than I transmit – its soothing and relaxing to just tune around and see what magic I can hear from the other side of the globe. Sadly, while commercial and state sponsored propaganda stations are very long gone – ham radio operators take up the slack and offer all kinds of silly on the air “content”.

DX Engineering DV-40-P Wins My All Time Favorite Antenna Award!

I could say that the best antenna I have ever had was the (giant) N6BT DXU-32 – which had 2 elements on 40M and 3 on 20M up 50′ on an AB-577, but when you compare what was required to get that monster up – even as “low” as it was, the DXE phased vertical array becomes nothing short of a small miracle.


With two 34-ish foot verticals spaced about 35′ apart, the performance is actually better to ZS than a dipole up a half wavelength. ZS6CCY consistently says that the DXE beats a half wave dipole up 1/2 wl by 10 dB! That’s no small feat. Getting even a dipole up that high on a small lot requires tall trees and also 67′ width. In fact, the DXE array performance is not that much down from the DXU-32  at 50′, so all in all, on a small lot, I have kept coming back to the 40M phased array.

Maintenance could not be simpler – no ladders, no towers, no trees . . .

The DXE boxes are so much better than when I followed the ON4UN Lowband DX-ing book and cut coax stubs for the Christman Array. This is because the DXE box does not require a delay line and all of those extra Tee and L coax connectors – instead, you plug a cox stub between each vertical and the remote phasing box and a lead into the shack – plus a control line – and it can’t be much simpler.

Yes, I do have bonded radials on the ground and 44 of them, but its on the side of a slide hill on a ledge over a creek – so not optimal in location, and my QTH is in a bowl – so this antenna system seems to “defy gravity”.

If I were only to have one antenna – this would be it. 40M is also my all time favorite band.

2019: Bottom of Cycle 24?

Predicting the sunspot cycle seems to be even less accurate than predicting the weather, but it’s still fun to at least “ponder”

The sunspot cycle on average is usually 11 or 11.5 years, but some years its shorter and some longer – in fact it has ranged from 9 to 14 years in the past.

I’m going to go out on a ledge and predict (muse / ponder) that Cycle 24 will have 2019 as its bottom and that it will last a year or two at the bottom. This means we might climb out of the trough in 2021 or so.

I could be wrong – maybe we will not have the long minimum we had at the bottom of Cycle 23. Maybe Cycle 25 will upswing in 2020? That would be nice.

Until then, try the DXE DV-40-P, because 40M is the new 20M and because a phased vertical array on 40M fits in a small lot and offers an incredible bang for the buck.