Wednesday, December 29, 2010




Time has flown by these last few months, hope you're enjoying the Holidays, and perhaps some DX. I haven't had the chance since my last post to check conditions, and where I used to check every day, I didn't get around to it until last week (the day of the eclipse). Still moving stuff, and while we didn't have any snow - we did get a cold, windy Christmas!
Last week was slow, with very few calls but a lot of walk-in traffic. A virus had done something to wreck the boot record so the computer couldn't boot. My Boss had me type in two separate commands and it was back in business. I wrote those commands down and circled them on my scratch pad I carry with me.
Yesterday I visited someone whose Daughter had run a file called Xmas.exe, and shortly afterwards he was left with a blinking cursor on his laptop. After trying the usual stuff I was about ready to tell him I'd have to take it back to the shop when I remembered those two commands. I had a disk to get me to the system and ran the two commands and it booted to Windows fine. After the boot, I used the usual stuff to eradicate the Trojan. Good thing I wrote those down eh?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

There may be a disruption on my website (but not the blog) this month as I move it to another provider, timing depends on my physical move, hope yer all enjoying those Sunspots!! - Woody

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sorry for lack of posts. Have been busy getting readg for relocation for job, and other issues.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Much like the Babysitter who receives disturbing phone calls - from an upstairs extension, to girls who find the body of their boyfriend hanging above their car in the woods, there is a persistent "Urban Legend" about how frequently you should change passwords on a computer, that has yet to fade away.
At one place of business not only the length of the password, but the frequency at which it was forced to be changed became a misery of many an end-user, when in fact, experts are reversing their opinion on this practice from the "DARK AGES". I recall many times seeing a persons list of passwords of everything from network login to EBAY and PAYPAL written on a piece of paper conveniently scotch-taped to the monitor or often, under the keyboard when in fact there were far worse things to worry about when it came to their personal and business security.
If an end-user requires 4 different passwords, each different, to access the network and do their job - and is forced to change them every four or six weeks, memory (and we're not talking about PC memory here) overload becomes an issue and passwords get written down and stored in places they usually won't forget where they were placed. At one company I worked for, at least a third of the users used 123456 for a password, until the password rules were extended to eight digits. Suddenly 123456 became 12345678. Other examples abound such as adding a number or alpha character to the end of the current password, so if your password was geopet, then when the next change came, "geopet" became geopet1, followed by 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. [ed. - either you get the idea by now...or you're already password Zombies].
Knowing what I knew, after many years of end-user/server support, I could see that as hard as a network security policy could be, end-users could find an easy way to comply, yet not compromise any further grey matter which could be used for better things. Over that past 18 months I've read numerous articles on this same subject, the consensus being - frequent password changes do little to secure your computer, data, or network. Just today I ran across yet another article CLICK HERE which prompted me to finally write what I wanted to write sometime go but forgot to write it because I have too many passwords stored in my head.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Robin and I were at a local wireless phone store last week so she could replace her semi-working RAZR. This is a good reason to get another phone, as opposed to many people I know that change phones like they change underwear. There are several reasons for this: Some have to own the latest and greatest technology (whether they'll even use it or not), call it "Bragging Rights". Others do it because someone they know got the newest phone on the market, and so they had to "Keep up with the Joneses".
As I perused the various selections I wondered if we really needed a phone to watch movies, music videos, or browse the Internet on. I could see some reason for "MIFI" feature, allowing up to 5 computers access the Internet via the phone, but many other bells and whistles seemed overkill. When I replaced my phone several years back, it gave me the option to store MP3 music on it. I've never used that feature - I like my "Classic" IPOD.
Phones aren't the only target in this post as the same applies to computers, software, and yes...HAM Radio. As an IT person, it's hard to get an end-user to believe he or she really doesn't need to get a new PC, just because a co-worker in the next cube did. Sure, it was .4GHz faster, but unless they were a power user, most people use their work computers for E-Mail, Web Surfing, Instant Messaging, Word, occasional spreadsheet. Nonetheless, the end result would be another new computer and of course, "Bragging Rights". Servers are another example. If your server is used for storage, and user accounts only, it doesn't make sense to buy the biggest, fastest box on the market. Software? Microsoft is up to Office 2010, yet I have no issues with Office 2003, and if truth be told (ed. - it's about to), I've always preferred Wordperfect. I could bend your ear with other examples but I've picked on computers enough.
HAM radios. They get smaller, thus the knobs or buttons decrease in size - and quantity, while menu's get deeper and deeper with a steep learning curve. They're also built to die off faster (and this isn't just an Amateur Radio issue - it's an issue with most electronics and Chinese quality control). Parts become obsolete in 4 or 5 years, whereas you can find what you need to repair rigs that are half a century old. To bad there weren't as many HAMS as computer users because I have a dandy of an idea for a business - something along the lines of a "HAM GEEK SQUAD", ready to be dispatched to your QTH and program your new radio for you. They'd pull into your driveway with a sleek black SUV, with so many antennas mounted on it the vehicle would look like a shrimp boat on wheels. Impressive.
It's not that I woke up in a foul mood this morning and decided to write this post, it's just a thought, born from a visit to a cell phone store that's been circling around my brain ever since. It was merely coincidence that I woke up early in a foul mood...
'Nuff Said, Woody

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"Buddy", was Robin's Aunt Argie's cat. Argie asked Robin to take care of him after she passed away, and now he's here - complete with half a mustache, and a very interesting personality......

Friday, August 13, 2010


It's been so busy in the last month I've hardly had time to make a post, so I bit the bullet this morning and got my pictures and thoughts together to fill you in. I'm pretty sure this is mostly in chronological order, except for the very beginning (this part). I'll start with a couple weeks ago: Robin and I were at one of those Japanese grill-while-you-watch places and we'd just sat down when I looked across the room and suddenly my neck rotor came to an abrupt halt. There, some twenty feet away, appeared to be a slightly older version of a friend of mine (and also a former co-worker from back in the 90's). I told Robin that I thought that guy was him, and instantly came up with a brilliant plan - I'd walk slowly down the aisle towards his table, then stop behind him and in a calm voice repeat "Calling Mr. Fink, come in Finkto", and if, after ten minutes of talking behind his back didn't work I would slink away and back to our table. But he saw me when I was about ten feet away and began to stand up - Yep! It was Todd. I now have his contact info so I can keep in touch with him, and I also found out that he's been a faithful reader of this blog for many years!

On another occasion, Robin and I were out at a club (you'll read about it later) when she pointed out the woman in front of me, and the tag hanging out of the back. We couldn't understand why her husband hadn't told her about it, but the bugger for me was that I just couldn't ignore it. Once it was pointed out to me, my eyes were constantly drawn to it as if it were a giant ZIT. I spent the rest of the night wondering if I should discreetly tell her about it, or not.

Okay, now on to the catch up part of the Blog. I've tried to keep the pictures down to a minimum so as not to bore you with non-radio stuff. We start our journey at the Church where Robin's Aunt had her service. We thought the church looked cool and took a few pictures:

From there we travel to my Dad's house where we made a long overdo visit. We combined general visits with a late Father's Day trip. My brother Glenn, in the first picture was getting ready to take a picture of Dad, Robin, and myself.

We also went to the Houston Dog Show and I saw more dogs than I ever thought I would. We had a great time (I liked those Frizbee catching dogs the best), and I think we'll be going every year from now on.

I had to get a picture of this poor fellow because he had a look on his face that just said "OH GOD, SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE".

I found a scruffy looking fella in the "Meet the Breeds" section.....

(I think Robin liked "Scruffy" too.....)

About a week from Robin's Birthday, Glenn took us downtown to see the Broadway-across-America version of "Wicked", a humorous musical about the "TRUE" story behind the wicked witch of OZ. The sets were great, the costumes were great - and we had a great time.

Afterwards, we went to a really nice steak house, that had a great view of an outside garden. Mario, our waiter, was the one manning the camera.

And here a quick shot that Robin took of the great view from the dining room!

Thanks "Bro".....

YEP!! That's Pauly Shore on stage at a local comedy club. Robin surprised me with tickets to see him, and I guess I didn't really look that happy, but I've never been much for surprises, and the tickets were for that very night. Robin likes to surprise me, and by golly, I'm going to try my best to change, because she's so wonderful.

Oh - and yes, Pauly was pretty darn funny that night!

Her Birthday arrived, and she picked a popular Jazz cafe with live music to go to. It wasn't quite what we expected ($20 just to get in), and had a limited menu, but I can tell ya - those red beans'n rice were excellent (I got a second helping). The band was a bit late starting but once they did, all was well, EXCEPT, the stupid tag (mentioned earlier) on the back of the woman's dress in front of me.

Not quite last, nor least, we went out one Saturday night to see a Pink Floyd cover band. The place was crowded, but Robin got a great table and seats right at the edge of the dance floor. Like any amateur band, some guys in the group play really well, and others...just get by. We had a lot of food to put away and somewhere along the line I guess I went into a food coma.

Robin's Birthday week ended on a Sunday at her folks house, where everyone got together and sing off-key a rousing chorus of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY".

Robin met her friend Angie for the traditional Birthday lunch get together, and catch up on things that may have happened in the last six months or so.

And that's where my "What have you been up to lately Woody" ends. Liner Notes: We did see the movie "Inception" and recommend it to anyone who would like to see an originally conceived, intelligent movie that is a lot of fun, and keeps you thinking about it for sometimes afterwards. I'm working with the Publisher on my book, and it's going at a nice slow pace which allows time to think various options over. My Son Chris and his wife Ada came by for a visit during this busy period as well, and they're "expecting". If you haven't noticed, Sunspot numbers have been climbing (several days into the high 50's), so dust off those rigs you have stored in the closet - it's almost time!

WHEW!! The only thing left to say is 'NUFF SAID...


Sunday, July 25, 2010



The answer is "of course not". While it's true, if you want to get the best price (as a seller), or find that oddball oldie that you've been pining away for, EBAY is number one. As a seller, you "give" EBAY about 9% of the total sale price, and then Paypal takes about 4% of what is left over. EBAY has a feedback system which should give you warm fuzzies when buying from someone but I've been ripped off at least a dozen times from people with good feedback.
There are other HAM (and CB) related websites that offer free postings, and as a seller, you benefit from keeping that 9% while still being able to accept Paypal. It's a bit more risky when you are the buyer because you are making your purchase decision by the description/picture of the item, and faith that the HAM won't rip you off. It's a tough decision as a buyer, especially when your talking big bux ($1,000+) and a no-brainer for the seller (no 9% EBAY payout), but you don't reach as many people as you would via EBAY.
2m weekly nets. Yep, they're alive and doing well thank you, and locals are still listing what they want to buy, or to sell. It's a local sale, you get to check the equipment out, no surcharges or shipping, but it's an even smaller market share.
Tailgate Meets. Ditto, ditto, and ditto. Unless power is available, you won't have the option to test it (faith-in-fellow-ham), and pricing isn't much better than EBAY because they've usually checked the site to see what their rig is fetching, and price it as such. I don't go to many of these any longer, but I listen to the repeater traffic and usually hear the same thing: "There was a good crowd, and some nice equipment, but it seemed like no one was buying much of anything". Too bad; I used to enjoy going to those.
CRAIGSLIST. Occasionally you'll find CB and HAM gear listed on CRAIGSLIST in you locale. I've never bought nor sold anything from it, so I couldn't tell you how successful it is - have you?
If you're a regular reader of my Blog you know very well that CB is not dead. Many people who got caught up in the CB "FAD" of the 70's have assumed that CB went the way of the "PET ROCK" but we know differently. Because licenses are no longer mandatory it's hard to keep track of the numbers, however if you look at the amount of CB Radios being sold each year it's easy to estimate several million users (and that's not including those who are still using their 20-30 year old rig!). This proves that Citizens Band Radio was not your typical "FAD" that fades out quickly, but an inexpensive means of communication that will be around for many decades to come. Long live Citizens Band Radio, 'Nuff Said.


It looks like we're slowly entering the next sunspot cycle as numbers continue to improve. Today's reading:

Sunspot Number = 41
Flux = 83
What this means to you - DX or "SKIP" conditions will become more frequent so those frequencies that have been somewhat dead in the last year (both HAM and CB) will start filling up as operators come out of the woodwork once they realize conditions are favorable.

But not quite "GONE". If you have pictures of yourself, or shack from the 60's/70's during the CB boom and still would like to have them included in my book, please e-mail me.

'Nuff Said,(and good dx to you)

Monday, July 19, 2010



Friday, July 16, 2010



Sure, there's more than 10, but I tried to stick to things that were at least 30 years old, and most, but not all were bid up to unrealistic prices (as if they were "rare"). So here are my picks:

  1. Astatic D-104

  2. E.F. Johnson "Whiteface"

  3. Turner Plus 2

  4. Turner Plus 3

  5. Courier 23

  6. Lafayette HE-20

  7. E.F. Johnson 250 Anniversary Base

  8. Midland 23 channel AM Mobile's (any of 'em)

  9. CB SAMS

  10. Realistic TRC-30

Of the ten items listed, I think it's a tie between the D-104 and the CB-SAMS. The Astatics will always sell for more than they're actually worth, while the SAMS will linger until a law is passed banning the sale of paper items - there's just too many of them out there.

Friday, July 09, 2010




Thursday, July 08, 2010

This past weekend I was up in Texarkana with Robin to attend the services and funeral of her Aunt Argie, who passed away early last week while fighting cancer at her in-home hospice care in Pearland. It was a quick attack, lasting less than a year, and the speed of her downward spiral took us all by surprise. It was just a week before that Robin had brought a cassette recorder down to capture some of her stories and early family memories on tape. We didn't know it would be our only recording.
Robin and her mom drove up on Monday, while I stayed behind until late in the week. My mission: to scan and retouch as many photos of Argie as I could before the service. Partially due to my erratic scanner, and the age of the photographs, it could easily take two or three hours just to get one picture ready for printing (or presentation). If any of you have undertaken this type of restoration, you know that you spend a lot of time editing at 300-400%, then dropping down to 100% to make sure you got it right; then back up to pixel sized editing again, over and over.
As I dropped down to normal viewing, from time-to-time I couldn't help but look at the picture, Argie (at various ages), her surroundings, and wonder about things like: "Was that her first puppy?", or a black and white Christmas photo taken in her teens as she holds her brand new folk guitar and thinking "What were her plans and dreams at that moment?", and so it went, right up to the last photo I had time to do before time itself ran out. I emailed the photos and left to join Robin.
This week, I'm still scanning photos and doing the best I can to restore them, and eventually when I'm finished, I'd like to use a service from Walgreens photo that I've used before: a cloth-bound photo book - this one filled with pictures from Argie's life. And now that I've gone through this process I've promised myself to take a little longer when looking through someone else's photo book(s), because I've learned that if you take the time and really look you'll find, it's true what they say: that "Every picture tells a story....".

P.S.- While away, I received an e-mail that said my oldest Son's wife lost her brother around the same time (no idea from what). I can't imagine what that would be like - I only have one brother, but I know that I wouldn't want to see him depart so soon.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I had a long road trip to make last week and I knew I'd have two choices of entertainment: My IPOD (which I couldn't find) and my rigs. The IPOD would have lost out in any case because: 10 meters was open, I had plenty of time, and my QRP rig was eager for some use.
In many cases, I didn't have to tune around to look for someone - I would just finish my contact, then sit there for a few minutes before someone else came along to call.
Everything was stateside, and my goal was to make a QSO with a station that I heard (for the longest time) in Canada, but even after 30 minutes of driving and calling, it was not meant to be. I did get close, with a quickly fading conversation with Nebraska, and then everything else was just a little bit lower. At one point I even heard Brownsville and Amarillo Texas while trying to work the Canadian station. So... "TNX" to: Nebraska, Naperville Illinois, Iowa, Cleveland Ohio, Kentucky, and a couple other stations for making the drive quite enjoyable!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

By now you've all probably heard about the ICOM IC-706 being discontinued. Whatever stock remains - is "IT". By the same token, you'll find a lot of 706's coming up for sale or auction as some operators are taking this time to either get something else, or, start a bankroll for whatever replaces it. I've heard that the IC-7000 is the replacement (makes sense, as ICOM has slowly slid the price upwards in that last couple years making the monetary difference between the two not as great).
I've owned several incarnations of the 706 so I wanted to make sure that if you were looking to pick up a used one, to know there were more than a couple versions. Many original 706's are still on-the-air, whether it be base or mobile and usually can be found for a good price. I may be incorrect (any 706 aficionado can email me for correction) but the biggest thing to know when buying the first model is that the finals (the same ones the Yaesu FT-100 has) were discontinued years ago, and while a few still lurk about - it can be a very expensive repair once you've jumped through hoops in finding them. If memory serves me right, they're in the $150-$300 price range depending on who is selling their dwindling supply. This isn't quite as bad as the FT-100, which had VHF-UHF from the get go, and the VHF-UHF finals are definetely nowhere to be found, unless you pick up another used FT-100 for parts.
The ARRL has announced that they now have a FACEBOOK page, so I wonder if they'll supply additions to the game-for-the-inane - "Farmville" (like towers, antenna farms "Hey! so'n so needs helps raising his tower", etc.) Naturally, I'm joking about Farmville add-ons because it would be the low point of our hobby. I read an article in a popular PC magazine recently that really laid into the online game with a final thought that if Farmville people spent as much time doing REAL things as they did on Farmville chores (imaginary), they'd get a lot more real life items done with less roundtuit's. Another ARRL note: They have posted a complete report on new equipment on display at Dayton, in PDF format, which can be found HERE.
"I knew I was poking a stick into a hornets nest..."
HAM-LITE. I got quite a few emails regarding that post, so thank you! Some were concise, others funny, and few the deep end, but I was expecting a variety of responses because I knew I was poking a stick into a hornets nest! Once again, tnx for the emails.
READER MAIL. I'll have some reader mail posted soon, and several may have questions that you can answer (I couldn't, but someone can).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I needed about 18ft. of coax cable to complete a project so I turned to EBAY. My criteria was to get BELDON cable with soldered Amphenol PL-259's as there are several dubious/unknown brands being listed everyday. I ran across Electronicscheapo and their ad read like this:

CB Ham Coax Cable. 18'
RG8X (Mini 8) Coax Jumpers
Made From High Quality Belden Cable
95% Shielding
Hand-Soldered Amphenol PL-259's
The price was good and the feedback decent, so I bought it. Imagine my dismay when I received the package with 18ft. of gray coax cable, complete with PL-259's BUT - the cable was not Beldon and the PL-259's weren't Amphenol. My first thought was "I guess they shipped me their cheaper product by mistake", however, after sending an email to them explaining what I received was NOT what they advertised I got a simple reply: "This is the correct cable and the ends are PL-259's". When I get back from a road trip I will take the time to inform EBAY that these guys aren't sending you what they say they are selling, but in the meantime - BE AWARE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I remember quite a few, if not most of the CB and related equipment from the olden days, but I guess I was sleeping in '68 when Radio Shack sold this strange - yet innovative product called "CB SLAVES" (ed. - could be a movie eh? 'Nuff said).

I guess they never really took off, and I've never seen a pair for sale, but if you had these back then, let me know what you thought of 'em! (click on the smaller image to get a readable full size ad).




Friday, June 18, 2010


Another new Sunspot has appeared today, and the Solar Flux is decent. All signs point to a great RF weekend - so be prepared.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


[RAY-DEE-OH ZOM-BEES - 1.Elitist 2. To look down upon. 3. NOS, or bust.4. Picky]

I came across this thought the other day while perusing some equipment ads on a popular website which sells used HAM gear. Some ads had pictures, others only with descriptions. Most of the advertisements having pictures allowed you to click on them to allow you to see it all up close and I found myself mumbling stuff like "Hmmm, scuff mark", "Scratched bezel", or, "Looks more than only 3 months old to me". Suddenly, I realized what I'd been saying to myself, and fervently began to look for bite marks on my body! I didn't see any, yet still I wondered: "Had I become a Radio Zombie?"

Confused? Let me explain -

I remember 'back in the day' when I was a). first starting out in CB and later, b).first starting out in HAM radio, and I don't recall being all to picky about the exterior condition of an acquisition. It could have electrical tape holding the top cover on, a digit or two out on the display (ed. - Hell, or no freaking digital display at all - just ANALOG), and enough dust bunnies to feed several starving dustbusters; the only thing that I was concerned with was "DID IT WORK?" If it did, and the price was right, I was happy. After all, shacks weren't usually a place you would associate with Martha Stewart, Vacuum cleaners, or Moms white glove test for dirt and dust; they were places for men to spread their equipment, miscellaneous parts, and tools around without much thought on how perfect the equipment looked as odds were that the equipment would get a nick or two while you worked on one project or the other.

But then, slowly but surely, steadfastly and fashionably, Zombism attacked from within the shack itself - yes, we were slowly becoming aware of regular bathing and grooming, and...cleanliness. We slowly turned into Radio Zombies, demanding only NOS looking gear which would be fastidiously stacked, arranged, photographed, and displayed on a web page for all to see. If you have a used rig for sale (today) that is sans original box and scuffed up a bit from Field Day use, you can hang it up right there - it will be a tough sell.

I owned an ICOM IC-725 for a time, and it was butt ugly. Beside numerous scratches and dings, it was missing the power button, forcing me to come up with a variety of creative techniques in powering it ON, then OFF, while using it mobile. Rough on the outside, yet tough where it counted. When I did sell the rig, it wasn't an easy sell but finally I found someone who was just happy to get his first HF rig. Perhaps his first shack was like my first shack - a piece of wood for the table, cut to the width of a small closet, supported by cinder blocks. It wasn't pretty, and it wouldn't make the cover of a magazine, but it served it's purpose. I've tried to maintain the same "if it works, use it" attitude throughout the years. Maybe one day in the future, I'll have a shack decked out with new looking rigs & other various gear, dusted and arranged perfectly on an expensive desk......nah, just kidding.

See the first definition of a Radio Zombie - it's "Elitist". These are the guys that (usually) are found on various HAM group websites quick to point fingers and slur a fellow HAM with their smarmy term General "Light" or HAM "Light". I don't know who came up with the term (used for new amateurs who weren't required to take and pass a code exam), comparing it to beer (REAL beer tastes good; LIGHT beer is not as good) but it's been picked up by similar minded amateurs that seem to look down upon the new breed of Amateur Radio operators who became a HAM after the Morse Code element was dropped from the exam. They're also quick to talk about how hard it was for them years ago with stories that started off with something like: " the olden days I had to do 5wpm on the way to school, and 15wpm on the way back", so any other HAM prospect should do the same.

If it weren't for the influx of all the new hams this past decade Amateur radio in the US would be facing the prospect of losing frequencies due to lack of use (and declining membership). The smarmy guys attitude is a slap in the face to those who have recently joined the ranks. Many HAM radios newbies probably wouldn't have become HAMS at all if it weren't for the FCC dropping the code requirement - not because it was too hard for them, but because it was of no interest to them. To the new tech savvy breed of Amateurs taking a code test to gain a foothold, or, further privileges, would be akin to someone taking their first drivers license test and having the person in charge say "Okay you've passed the written exam, but before you taking the driving test you'll have to demonstrate your ability to handle a horse and buggy".

But before you slap a "HAM-LIGHT" sticker on my car, let me tell you that I passed my code test back in the 80's and yet I don't feel the slightest twinge of elitism towards those who didn't have to take the exam. Personally, I like cw, but I recognize the fact that not everyone does and they shouldn't be looked down upon because they came to the dock after the CW boat sailed. The ones that do feel that way, seem to think that the CW test helped weed out the bad seeds, but from what I've heard (when the code test was mandatory) on EXTRA portions of the band, morons have no problem learning Morse code.

They also forget to mention those who, while not having taken the CW exam to get their license, chose to learn it anyways. At times it's hard to believe that I'm still hearing this nonsense, yet other times I'm not, because this "If I had to do it so does he" way of thinking is across the board; in your job, hobbies, and life in general. For those of you, who like me, bear no ill will to our new Amateur friends please remember that sometimes, the parent has to sit the oldest child down and tell them that just because he had to take out the garbage every night when he was 8, doesn't mean his younger sibling has to do the same thing now....

Times, circumstances, and rules, all change! 73, Woody

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Years ago there was either "NEW" or, "USED", followed by "REFURBISHED". "NEW" is basically the same, although you'll see a second version of it when it's described something like: "Brand NEW in the box blah-blah-blah radio! But, I opened the box to check everything out, and take these pictures. Oh! and don't mind the stain on the owners manual or slight scratch on the cabinet because it happened during my brief test of the rig".

"USED" however is a really crazy category! I've tried to write down the variations as I run across them, but I'm sure that there are some mutations of "USED" I haven't seen in the wild yet, but here they are:
  • Used
  • Briefly used
  • Gently used
  • Slightly used
  • Partially used (??)
  • Used, but needs a little TLC
  • Used. It's not really used but the box is open so I'm calling it "used".
  • Used once.
  • Used. Have owned for a year and only used it 5 hours.
  • Used, or? Estate sale find (pass)
  • Used -almost NEW.

So..........which "USED" do you buy?



Monday, June 14, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010



HRO - 3

AES - 2

Support local dealer - 1

Thursday, June 10, 2010


For all of the "Field Day" groaners out there, complaining about the lack of modern conveniences, here's a Field Day video from 1950 to watch!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A few of you might remember the WWII movie "The Enemy Below". It's one of the movies that I like to watch occasionally, starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens (directed by Dick Powell). Unlike other WWII films, this one boils down to one man (Mitchum on a Destroyer escort) and Jurgens (in a U-Boat). Each commander has to anticipate the next couple moves of his opponent, or, he and his ship lose (kinda like a game of chess), the classic "cat and mouse" battle.
This scenario has been adapted several times on TV shows, one of them being "Star Trek". I don't remember the name of the episode but it had to do with the Enterprise vs. a Romulan ship. Kirk was getting the crap blasted outta the Enterprise because the Romulan ship was using a cloaking device, so he steers his crew into some area where sensors on either side would make them both blind, thus pitting the captain of each vessel into a duel-of-wits. Once again, like a Chess game, each captain has to figure out his opponents next moves so he can win. So where am I going with this? good question....
Chasing rare DX is very similar to this. Not only do you have to move to the other stations receive frequency, but you want to anticipate his next frequency shift so that you can beat the rest of the madhouse trying to make the same contact. It's easy to practice,just find a station doing the split frequency and as he shifts his receiving frequency, pay attention to each one because many times you'll figure out the method to his madness and predict where he will be on the next shift and then the shift after that. It can be a band you don't even have the right antenna for - as long as you can receive him, you can learn, play the game, and when you're chasing some rare Dx - be prepared.
For example: The other day on six meters I heard some DX faintly in the background. I couldn't quite get the callsign (his English was so-so, as was my Spanish) but he would call on .125 and end with "listening on .xxx". I'm pretty sure that a lot of the stations trying to get back to him either didn't hear that part, or understand it's significance because they were creating a mini-pileup on .125. You'll hear similar things on the lower bands, many times when a rare call is used. They transmit on one frequency and listen on the other, sometimes moving the receive frequency up or down every so often. So, give it a shot and practice. There is no down side, and the up side is making contact with a station you need without 1,000 watts...

Monday, June 07, 2010


These days, money is tight and if you want to purchase equipment it pays to shop around. A recent post of mine addressed new equipment and accessory purchases but what about "USED"?
Sure, there's Ebay, but there is also QTH.COM, or, HAM dealers that sell used or consignment gear (i.e.- HRO). I perused their list today and found an ICOM SP-21 external desk speaker in excellent condition for only $60. You'd pay at least $20 more on Ebay. Looking for a dual-band HT? How about an ICOM T-90A for $165? Surprisingly, I also found a Kenwood TS-50 for only $385! Nothing about that TS-50 is a real surprise except for their description:
"Description : Good condition/mod. (transmits on CB) Manual power cord."

What is surprising in the description is "transmits on CB". I don't think I've ever seen that from a HAM store listing. Ebay - YES, HAM store - NO. How do you feel about that? [lemme know].

I make it a practice to check used/consignment listings at least once a week and I've found several deals that were too good to pass up, and maybe you should too - you might save enough money to buy a new desk mic, watt meter, or other accessory.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


As Sunspot No.1072 moves towards the right (and away from Earth), a small speck has appeared higher, to the left, and may be another Sunspot emerging. See for more info (click-on-the-pic).