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: "....in 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.