Sunday, April 23, 2017

Return To Peru

     To the Peru Hamfest, that is -- it's an amateur radio swapmeet, officially the North Central Indiana Hamfest, organized by ham radio clubs in Cass, Maimi and Grant Counties and the city of Kokomo, which includes a lot of my "old neighborhood," neighborhoods being kind of large in rural Indiana.

     It's always a good one, not huge but full of interesting items.  I passed up a few I probably shouldn't, like big variable capacitors and roller inductors, but I came away with several vacuum tubes (6BG6s, a kind of 6L6 with a plate cap or an 807 with an octal base, a "sleeper" beam power tube that is often overlooked) and a wooden-boxed Western Union-tagged AC voltmeter built by Daven, with a nice Weston meter.  If the meter itself is still good, it may be a useful item.  If not, it'll at least be decorative.
     Here's the meter.

     One the way back, Tam and I stopped off at the Grissom museum.  Grissom AFB (formerely Bunker Hill) was a big SAC base, now AF Reserve, and the little museum there has a nice assortment of unusual aircraft -- including one of the odd-looking drones intended for the SR-71!   Tamara got a lot of photographs before we proceeded onward to Kokomo and dinner at a chain steak joint,* and the on to a good-sized antique mall on the south side of Kokomo.

     I found an interesting device -- while the little buzzer/light/code key toys aren't uncommon, this one is, an "Official Scout Signaler," with a wrinkle-finished metal case.
     Good luck trying to signal a Scout with it: Boy Scouts haven't been required to lean the code in decades and from my experience, Girl Scouts never were.  The water-slide decal is starting to curl and I'm not sure what to do about it.
Tamara Keel photo

     I also bought a set of full-sized "gas burner pliers" in good shape.  Small ones are still made and either size has two or three sets of jaws milled into the gripping end, intended to grip round surfaces.  They're pretty handy.  The same seller had nice small green-shaded hanging lights, fully restored.  I bought one for my hamshack and it looks like it will be a better fit than some of the ones I have looked at in the past.

     A fun day!  We got home around 4:00 p.m. and I laid down and promptly fell asleep for four hours: quite a lot of driving, and it does wear me out.
* The Amish place across from the museum looked pretty darned busy. Plus I think Tam harbors a secret fear they'll kidnap her to a life of children, kitchen work and the church.


Mack Culverhouse said...

Wow! That's neat! The Boy Scouts briefly returned Signs, Signals, and Codes as a merit badge in 2010. And just as quickly did away with it. So much for Be Prepared.

pigpen51 said...

Just about the time that I started to get pretty good at cw, it fell out of favor and I quickly lost my passion for it. I only recently got back into it, and just got a qrp kit for 40 meters in the mail this week. I am going to put it together soon, and try and get back into it soon. I plan on doing it the old fashioned way, copying code with a pencil and paper, instead of a computer. We will see how that works out. I will of course change if that is not a reliable option. Glad you had a chance to get out and enjoy a little time away from work for a change.

Raz Raxxaffian said...

CW was always my favorite mode, though goobered up hearing has always made it problematical. Was a real struggle getting up to the 13WPM required back in the day I was originally licensed. The 20wpm needed for Extra Class was beyond my capabilities, but when the requirement dropped I was able to gain my much desired Extra. I always considered it cheating though...

Had my ticket for nigh on 50 years now, not much active but still enjoy the hobby.


Roberta X said...

On HF, I have operated CW exclusively since I got my first license. When I upgraded in 1996, I went from not-very-active Novice to 20 wpm Advanced, having got my code speed up by playing maritime CW traffic as "background music" at work and copying ARRL over-the-air practice sessions occasionally. I knew I was copying 13 wpm consistently -- pencil and paper, just as I was first taught -- but when I aced the 13 wpm test, the examiners insisted I try the 20 and I passed it. Alas, I didn;t know enough about the VE system itself to pass the Extra then, but I brushed up and took it later...not too long after the CW requirement was scratched. So I still have my "Certificate of Successful Completion" for 20 wpm CW and an Extra-class ham license, but I'm not exactly a 20 wpm Extra.

The only way I know to get "over the hump" on CW speed is to immerse yourself in it as much as possible, while maintaining moderate levels of focused activity. If you can do that, it'll just happen. I wonder if there's an all-CW Internet Radio Station?

D.W. Drang said...

I'm way out of my league and/or lane here, but: INTERNET CW - Home?

Found myself discussing this post with a couple of other folks at the Communications Academy this weekend, started out as the purchase of vacuum tubes, migrated into the use of CW. Being the Seattle area, we have many hams coming from the tech world who don't seem to savvy about older technology, and seem to be bewildered about advantages of tube technology. I had to explain the term "boat anchor"...

On use of CW, I pointed out that I knew many hams who had earned their Advanced or Amateur Extra Licenses, but had never really used CW after that. Also, that CW seemed to make a bit of a comeback once it was something you did because you wanted to, not because you had to.

Would I like to be able to copy code? Sure. Am I going to put in the effort? Again, that is, after failing to pick it up as a Boy Scout and again as a SIGINT geek looking to expand his horizons?
Maybe, after retirement.

Anonymous said...

" The water-slide decal is starting to curl and I'm not sure what to do about it."

OK, here goes - They make 'blank' water-slide decal materiel, just ink-jet print a quality image on it and you're good to go.

The meter - If the coil 'ohms-out' good but the movement is sluggish or frozen, find a high-end watch repair person. Old watches get gummed up with oxidized oils, they can properly clean it out and re-oil it. Those old movements were jeweled like watches.

How goes the restro on the 20-watt AM X-mitter? Instead of buying crystals to feed it, direct-digital synthesizers are stable and dirt-cheap nowadays...