Living History (KAFA)

I’m going to wax philosophical today, hopefully in a practical and pragmatic way.

Yesterday I watched the wind blow many of the last colored leaves off the trees. I’ve always been a little sad to see the beautiful leaves go, but they turn into mulch for the garden. The circle of life.

Since I just planted quite a few new plants and three new trees, and since two old trees in my garden suffered from the drought and won’t last much longer, I realized that in a way, it’s never the end as much as a beginning. The new (young) replaces the old.

I think it has to do with man being a wanting animal, we seem to be more inclined to wonder what’s next and only lament about the past for a relatively short time.

I feel sorry for anyone who dwells on one snapshot moment in time – the “Make America Great” idea that is absurd since as long as America continues to be the “An experiment in democracy” we will be as great as we always have been. There was NEVER any one point in time where we were great(est), in fact, we have always been striving to be great – try to define when we were great to the extent its a time period where you’d want it to be just like that now. See – its really a silly notion – great marketing slogan – Nixon used it. It’s always been a work in progress, and I hope this continues.

The key to advancement is our ability to ask “What’s next?”.

In my own little life, since VK0EK, I’ve been wondering “What’s Next?”. I’m pretty sure the answer is “experimentation and education”. I say this because I realize that there is so much I don’t know, in fact there are more world’s in the remainder of my life that I will not even scratch the surface.

Ham Radio is a great part of “living history”. This was my great summer read.

The main reason I got back into Ham Radio is because I was “sequestered” at home in 2001 with kids that were old enough to keep themselves happily busy, but young enough where I had to be home a lot. My ex wife travelled, so Ham Radio just fit like a glove.

In the 90’s I built QRP rigs and tried to get back into the hobby, but I was much too into cycling and QRP CW rag chews did not pique my interest.

When my kids were young, I took them to the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco. It’s an amazing gem of one of the best living history museums I have ever been to. The other is the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

In the 80’s and 90’s I travelled and visited art museums and Beat Generation hang outs. I was into photography and even had a Graphic View, Hasselblad and Leica camera. I had my own darkroom. I fashioned my work after Man Ray, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson and Atget. It was living history.

I also was in a folk rock band and played all of the dives in San Francisco. By far, my favorite place was the Hotel Utah, which is still there. It was a turn off the century one act playhouse and bar. Rumors have it that it was also a brothel.

A few years ago I got into Assemblage art, stoked by Aria in Grant Street and by Jack Howe, Man Ray and Ed Kienholz.

This is all making sense now. When I was in 4th Grade, Ms. Gooden spent pretty much most of the year on physical science and we went on field trips to the Franklin Mineral Dump in Sussex County, NJ. We then had a series on inventors and visited Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park, NJ

My friend (and now Bay Area Artist Mark Grey) and I started The Monster Club and Drew pictures of Monsters.

That was the beginning of my life long interest in inventions, discovery, art and science. I was hooked.

As an adult, I have a chance to really dig deeper and learn ” the rest of the story” – and I have recently read a living history book about solar research and discovery, and have just ordered a book on Samuel FB Morse.

These books read more like dramatic novels because they go into the details of the subjects life that fills in so many details that would never be presented to a grade school kid.

The thread that ties all of this is that I have been amazed at how the human mind can conceive of a photo, painting, poem, book, telegraph, radio or theory of sunspots and magnetism. How man invented so many things. It’s a world of wonder that has never stopped still, there was and never will be a MAGA. It’s more like:

“Keep America in Flux as Always”


Glorioso in 2020?

I don’t know if there are more than one French team that could possibly activate Glorioso, but if the team that is activating St. Brandon – 3B7 – does try to activate Glorioso (right now its #12 on the list), then it would be activated at the earliest in 2020. I say this because its nearly impossible to activate an expensive place in any less time than 2 years in between. The other big issue is that Crozet will be #2 on the list after 3Y0Z, so you better believe that there will be interest in activating that. I am sure P5 will have no big activation in the near or even medium future – that will stay #1 for a long time – sure glad I have that one.

If all goes well after 3Y0Z I will only need Glorioso. My predicament is that if it is activated during the bottom of the cycle – or later, I will have two problems. The first is that the reason I missed it last time is at the bottom of the cycle its nearly impossible to work that part of the world – unless they do a bang up job on the Long Path. The French team going to St. Brandon would be the right team with the right know how, but I’ll bet they are more interested in Crozet.

The second issue would be my retirement and move to a place where I won’t have the antennas I do now. Because of this – it makes no sense for me to hold on to my back up station – and after I make 9BDXCC and DXCC on Top Band – there is no reason to keep the SPE 1.3K amplifier. In fact, after 3Y0Z, I doubt I will need the 20M yagi. So, the things I will probably sell by next March are:

  • KX3
  • PX3
  • KXPA100
  • SPE 1.3K FA
  • 20M yagi plus a couple Spiderbeam aluminum push up masts
  • Palstar AT2K – since I have a KPA500 and KAT500 in the closet ready to resume their “K Line” position on the bench

With 9 more to go on Top Band, the big decision will be how long to hold the SPE amp. Since I only need 9 more, I probably could just use 500 watts to get there, but it would be silly to rush it.

Part of what I have to decide is what will keep my interest in ham radio, and DX-ing in particular. I will need a new challenge, but I also still love just listening as an SWL, so maybe my goal will be just to have fun and do whatever moves me with out chasing after wall paper of DXCC. Some things I know I won’t be interested in:

  • Contesting
  • DXpeditions
  • Awards chasing

One thing that makes this hobby so unique is CW. I also still have an interest in home brewing. There is a combo that could be fun – maybe building a cool 40M QRP rig and just seeing how low I can go. I also would love to get my CW skills back up to the speed I could send and copy as a teen – which was something like 35 WPM. Of course, I can turn down the power on the K3(+) and just use my favorite key to improve my skill.”

I’m sure 3Y0Z will crystallize my thoughts – I’ve been wondering “what’s next?” ever since VK0EK was over with.




3Y0Z Prediction

The CQ WW CW Contest has had about the worst conditions that I have seen in years. One thing I have done now for many months is call ZS6CCY who has been on my night time short path – as the best propagation predictor.

Last night was the worst 40M conditions I have seen – but Bill was 59 and I was 55 and had no problem calling him with just one call. This was actually very good news – because if this is the worst it will be, I will have a good chance of getting one Q. The team will have to ask specifically for West Coast, and I probably won’t work them the first day, but I am quite confident.

We are just over two solar rotations away from 3Y0Z. In 54 days it will be January 19, and 3Y0Z will be on the air just after that – so its probably a good idea to monitor solar conditions starting about now and going for the next month or so. The team recently reports that their propagation predictions are still good, which is good news.

The most interesting thing is that 3Y0Z will get the absolute last “gasp” of reasonably good solar conditions – at least as far as sunspots are concerned, but we have to keep our fingers crossed that the solar disturbances don’t hamper things.

This is the team that had the best conditions of this cycle during FT5ZM, and they must have some magic to snag the last of workable world wide conditions – that will be just before we again slide rapidly down to the bottom of the cycle.

My biggest optimism comes from my almost daily “check in” with Bill, ZS6CCY. If I can work him daily – even with the worst of recent conditions on 40M nightly on the SP, then I do hold out hope for working 3Y0Z. I have phased verticals on 40M, so I expect to work 3Y0Z after the 40M yagi guys do.

I’m especially interested in testing my 20M yagi. I’m not hearing V51 right now at 1745z, so the best time to test this path will be late afternoon. In fact, I’ll start monitoring this path most days when I get home from work, since the path will mimic what it will be like when 3Y0Z is on that air:

The 3Y0Z web site propagation predictions confirm that both 40 and 20M won’t be a good path for the West Coast during our mornings. This is most definitely going to be a late afternoon / early evening affair. Same goes for 30M.

The “sleepers” could be 17 and 15 – they seem to offer daytime conditions – so that will be interesting.


CQ WW CW Bust on 160M

Twilight Zone – “Static”

Conditions were abysmal this weekend, so my last 9 will have to wait. I swear, Top Band is starting to torment me, but I’m soooo close, yet sooo far.

The End of an Art Era – Aria – San Francisco

On Grant Street, San Francisco, there was one last outpost that had local artists in residence, and my good friend, Jack Howe, had his art there. Aria closed its doors in September. I have to gulp on that – its a sad day for me.

One big patron of Jacks is Tom Waits. You can totally see why Tom Waits would like this eclectic Assemblage art:

Now – tell me this could be a song about a ham radio operator – or an Assemblage artist!

This was my portrait of the store front – with Bills great items, plus Jacks influence. I have been Jacks unofficial under study and friend.

My son, Trevor, is going to UC Santa Cruz, and I fully intend on visiting Trevor and Jack in the next month or so.

Jack inspired me to make this . . .

Art is Life, and Life is Art . . .

Fantastic Thanksgiving …

It was a great Thanksgiving. Just perfect.

The brightest light of my world comes from my family. That is what I am most thankful for!

5 More Weeks . . .

In 5 weeks we will start a new year. I will wait until New Years Eve to give an end of the year report – because adding Top Band counters will come down to the wire. I’m hoping to add 5 more by then, but that seems like a bit of a pipe dream, but it is possible, so I say shoot for the stars.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving – it was exactly as Thanksgiving should be – a family get together with probably the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever had with close family gathered at the table and with fun conversation all around.

I work right next to Union Square – so I will take in some of the holiday festivities since its literally out our back door.

Politically it was the worst year of my life, but I have learned how to shut that out – or at least convert the Idiocracy that we live in to a series of comedic vignettes. The political landscape can only get better – unless it completely implodes, which would be better than where we are now. We had a preview at Halloween of bigger things to come, so it will be interesting to see how our democracy holds up.

As always, I’m eternally hopeful that we will always weather the storm and that 2018 will be better than the very surreal and somewhat depressing 2017.

Until then, all eyes at Chez KY6R are on Top Band DXCC / 9BDXCC and 3Y0Z – two really big things to look forward to. I also have some really great things lined up for work and a week trip planned up to our beloved Bend, OR.