FREQ 300: 3D2AG – Fiji

#45 Towards the FREQ 300 – Fiji

Its been a long time since I bothered turning on the radio more than checking the AM BCB with the KY6R Big Mag Loops. 40M is in great shape this morning, and I do need Fiji QRP, so what the heck.

Win4K3Suite Panadapter Display – Nice!

Ham Radio QRP DXing is a lot less involved than the music writing and recording that I have been doing lately. Its still occasional fun – and CW is a “musical” ham radio mode – more than any other, that’s for sure. Its percussive and it does have a “swing” – or personalized sound to it. Everyone’s timing and emphasis – if they are hand sending, even with a keyer – is detectable, because unlike computer generated CW – its imperfect.

That imperfection makes it fun, and is why it’s the only mode I’m interested in any more.

Ham Shack and Recording Studio

Sundays are Music Days at KY6R

My ham shack has been great, I built it when I first moved in March 2006, after a divorce.

The KY6R Ham Shack and Studio

It’s in the garage, and when I moved into this 1950 ranch house, there was this great small window paned door under the house. Perfect for the shack, and it has a ton of character.

The KY6R Ham Shack is also a great Music Recording Studio

Turns out, while I love writing initial song ideas in our sunny living room, when I get serious about recording parts, it’s out to the shack / studio.

Sunny Living Room

The Zoom R8 is great in the living room when I’m just practicing and trying to get inspiration, and it is also useful in the studio, because it is the analog to digital audio source for Steinberg Cubase and my recordings.

After playing music, Kat and I listen to KPIG – to Kianas fine Americana show and Henry Rollins show on KCRW at night.

I’ll stay here at home enjoying life safely. I’m in no hurry to go back to that shit we called our “normal” life.

This is way better.

Dr. Plague

Plague Doctor

Steinberg Cubase LE / AI Project for “pandemic”

I’m writing a new song idea called Dr. Plague after a creepy but very cool Bubonic Plague doctor outfit where the mask was a birds beak.

Plague Doctor

The synth line is a monophonic Arp arpegiated line that syncs with a drum beat.

Plague Doctor

I’ve added a guitar and mandolin part as well as two tracks of vocals. I have been using Cubase for a month or so – and this is the “free” version that came with the Zoom R8. I might try a music video soon – maybe stop animation or something like that.

This was inspired by some person in the UK walking around wearing a plague doctor outfit:

This is a gothic part of my songwriting challenge. The music as it is is too upbeat, but it’s a start. I need to transpose it to a minor key.

Let’s see where this goes. My mandolin and guitar parts will be very different than the last 3 song challenges.

KY6R Big Mag Loops Update – Spring 2020

The KY6R Big Mag Loops – January 2020

We had a very dry Winter this year – only 50% of the normal rainfall, so I made hay while the sun shone – and experimented with mag loop receiving antennas, Wellbrook Preamps and my DX Engineering NCC-2. I have the best receiving antenna system that I have ever had – especially for the BCB, 160 and 80M bands, but these loops (2 separated by 70 feet or so and with Yaesu G450 rotators) work well up through (at least) 20M.

I had wondered what might happen as we go into the Summer months – especially on the AM BCB, and I have noticed (as expected) that the D Layer is with us a lot longer – very much based on the longer days. However, the D Layer does disappear fairly quickly after sunset – just as it does during the Winter. I have noticed a little more QSB and QRN, but its not as bad as I had expected.

I haven’t done any comparisons with any other band (yet), but will.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Its been quite a while since we have seen a Sunspot number of 35 – with multiple sunspot groups – and two from Cycle 25 and one from Cycle 24. I used to get excited about this sort of thing – but I’m not feeling it this time. I suppose if I get back into the FREQ 300 maybe I’ll at least get a whiff of the good old DX-ing days, but it does feel a lot like “Been There, Done That”.

It reminds me of 2008 or so – when we dropped into the Great Recession under a GOP President. Here we are again – on the upswing, and in a Depression under a GOP President. Will we elect someone who will spend the next 8 years fixing this avoidable mess?

We shall see.

The sun does mark time though.

Covid-19: Lock Down Week 7

The KY6R Ham Shack, Music Studio and Home Office – there’s no place like Home

I have finally gotten to the point where I love this Lock Down thing. There is really nothing that I miss – although – maybe lifting weights at the gym. But even that – riding my bike again like I used to – almost every day of the week has been an absolute Godsend.

I don’t miss riding BART to work or having to commute anywhere. There are days – like this week – where work gets many more than 40 hours a week – and others where its not even 40, but all of the work gets done – and without any of the annoying meetings that just wasted my time. I do not miss that.

My shack is an ultra – awesome home office. I can listen to music or the ham radio while working. Because my work involves lots of data moving around with jobs that take hours – I get plenty of time in between my work to play a bit, weed the garden, or go on a bike ride. I don’t have any hours anymore – its whatever I need to do when I need to do it.

California has flattened the curve, and we will be in lock down with some restrictions lifted in May. I’m in no hurry to get back to the way it used to be – this new way is better (except the toilet paper part).

I actually feel sorry for those who (like President Lysol) will rush back into the world and their impatience could get them very sick or even killed. This is one time where patience truly is a virtue – your life could depend on it. I ain’t goin’ anywhere until I’ve been tested. Period.

It reminds me of the song “Fools Rush In” . . .

New Song Idea – With AKAI MPK Mini

Inexpensive Mini Keyboard and Midi Controller – the AKAI MPK mini

Back in the day I played either a 6 string Rickenbacher 360, a 12 string Rickenbacher 360 or a nice Roland or EMU sampling keyboard. Always through a Roland Chorus Amp.

I’ve gone budget now – but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what you do on a budget. My guitars are about 1/3rd the price of the Rickenbachers (which were made in the USA – my new guitars are Chinese made to American specs – and they have come a looooong way). The Cubase LE/AI software came with the Zoom R8, and I have everything I need for my “demo tape” level recordings.

The synthesizer sounds are now software packs – just add synth content when you need new sounds – but what came with Cubase LE/AI is more than what I will ever need.

OK – its fun to try new things. This song is the result of my friend Jeff challenging me to write in a minor key.

My playing is very rusty, I’m learning new instruments and techniques but the whole point is to write new song ideas. I have zero interest in pursuing anything more than doing it for the fun of it. I’m only doing single takes. If I screw up a part, I have to re-record that track until it’s correct, but I’m ok if it’s not perfect.

I might just end up with notebooks with song ideas in them, but like my Ham Radio stuff, I never quit my day job over it – heh heh.