The Greatest Invention: The Relay or Switch (?)

from “Lightning Man, the accursed life of Samuel F.B. Morse” by Kenneth Silverman

While working on my Inverted L switched transformer circuit:

And simultaneously reading how Alfred Vail helped Morse create a way to make the Telegraph viable, it occurred to me that without a relay – an electromagnetic switch – Telegraphy would not have taken off. The relay is what let you daisy chain circuits together that could power each segment with batteries up to a certain distance, and that the distance was greatly increased because the relay was the link between chained circuits.

One thing leads to another, and my circuit has logic to it – and so I started remembering that computers are nothing but massive chained circuits that is a set of switches. The switches being tiny inside semiconductors, and programmed just as I have programmed my little antenna matching circuit to behave based on chaining relays:

Some may say the battery – DC power – or AC electricity was the greatest invention, but without a switch, these would not be practical. The relay and Telegraph are certainly two of the most important inventions in human kind..

I grew up near the very historic Morristown, NJ and Speedwell Village, home of the Speedwell Ironworks where Morse’s first relay circuits were perfected by his assistant Alfred Vail – and with a design based on Joseph Henry’s work.

I am almost sure we went to Speedwell Village in Morristown on a field trip – we went to Morristown a lot and also went to Menlo Park, NJ where Edison had his lab. In fact, the first three semesters of College were spent at County College of Morris – also very close by. Synergy? There were so many great inventions from NJ – Bell Labs and AT&T, and the work by Major Armstrong in Alpine, NJ, etc, etc

Living history, when combined with building stuff in the Ham Radio hobby has a way of giving some very interesting perspective on the achievements and evolution of technology.

KY6R Inverted L Switched Transformer Match

I’m very pleased to have it all wired and working. My original plans did have a logic – wiring bug – the first relay really needed to be in a default NC mode (no power), and I needed a third voltage line to activate it to be in the 1:1 current choke – or direct feed to antenna mode. I tried to get away with 2 positive wires plus ground but that was wrong.

and the control box:

I’ll just need to fashion an antenna and ground “bus” out in the box and basically screw this plywood “breadboard” circuit into its home first thing Saturday morning.

The big test is to see if this circuit obviates the need for the Palstar AT2K. My gut feeling says maybe – it all depends on how broad  banded the transformers are. My theory is that I will be in the ballpark on all bands to make the SPE Exper 1.3 FK’s insternal ATU happy on the narrower bands, or at least within a segment of each band. I think I will need the AT2K tuner for “band excursions” – like going from the low CW end to a high SSB end on bands like 80 and 40.

Word to the wise – ALWAYS use spade lugs that are crimped and soldered for wiring relays – you will save your self a lot of hassle!

160M #92: JG8NQJ/JD1 – Minami Torishima

This one was so ESP, I can only hope I end up in his log. This is one of those where you always hear the CQ, part of his call and a fade happens in and around the return. You hear the right “cadence”, but its not the most solid QSO’s. But this is part of Top Band.

He is there for a few more days and while I can hear JA’s almost every morning on TB, this fellow is rumored to be running 50W to a low dipole.

I will keep trying with the hope I get a more solid QSO. But at this point – I just want to get to 100, so if its a “Forest Gump QSO” I’ll take it! K7ZV did hear my QSO, so there’s that anyway.

2018: My Year of Telegraphy

Cool items for a shadowbox that I will be putting together to kick the new year off right . . . 

2016 was my “Year of the Low band Receive Antenna”. 2017 was my “Year of Ham Meets Maker”. Inspired by a very interesting biography on Samuel FB Morse, and the pivotal role Telegraphy played in history, I’m calling 2018 “Year of Telegraphy”.

Sure, I will continue to work whatever I can on Top Band, and also hope to work 3Y0Z, and sure, I’ll putter around with antennas and electronic circuits, but since my wife Kat found a great book on the work of mid 1800 solar scientists and physicists, I’ve been wanting to read biographical histories of the people who invented or discovered things that we now take for granted in the modern world.

I will also combine this with the socio – economic aspects of how early technology shaped and formed the world as we know it today. I feel looking back will give a better perspective on where we might be headed. I have already found some things in the Morse biography where there were parallels to some of the craziness we have experienced politically in 2017, so in a way its a source of comfort.


Make America Sane Again

I’ve witnessed three pathological narcissists “hold court” for far too long and then, as these people always seem to do – implode under their own weight. Its agonizing to watch – about along the lines of the infamous OJ Simpson slow speed White Bronco chase.

Yesterday’s news gives me the first hope in a year that the tide is about to change in a yuge bigly way, and that sanity will again be fashionable in America.

At least I sure hope so.


V51B S9 +10 – With Glancing Solar Storm

Conditions tonight are noisier than normal, there was a glancing blow from a solar storm so there was some noise but Andre was very loud on 40M. He is the same distance as Bouvet and very much “close enough” path wise.

Its encouraging because tonight on just about all bands there is a noticeable solar disruption, and I have been worried a bit about solar storms for 3Y0Z, but this path is just so strong to the West Coast, and I mean every day of the year it seems.

By far, 40M is my favorite band – it consistently delivers like no other band does. I thought I would love 160M, but its starting to get tedious – mainly because there just isn’t much variety due to the small number of people who are on Top Band. At this point, I can’t wait to finish DXCC there – but when I get frustrated with Top Band 40M delivers big time and keeps me turning on the radio.


KY6R Inverted L Switched Match Wiring

I worked up the wiring plan for the relays and UNUN / Current Chokes.

There will be 3 wires needed to control everything. The control wire is already in place. Next up is to lay it out and wire it up.