Long Time, No See …

Has it really been last December since I last posted here? Wow! Time flies!

Last December, my boss passed away, and as you can imagine, that was a major disruption to our work process. All of us in the shop were taking on responsibilities that he had previously taken care of.

Things are finally calming down now. We have a new manager, and things are running somewhat smoothly again. Hopefully, no more glitches.

Next month, though, we’re starting an upgrade to our radio system. Every two years, major hardware and software updates occur to keep our 800 MHz P25 radio system current. What could go wrong? 😀

I had to remove one of my long-time resources from the site … Astrid’s Embroidery. The owners are retiring, and it looks like they are closing down for good. Sorry to see that … they did quality work and were a pleasure to deal with.

73 de Dick N4BC

How’s it going?

Things are going pretty well since my computer died, with a few exceptions. The replacement computer is great, and I’m back to multi-mode operating and logging. I’m experiencing difficulties with loading a new LOTW certificate, and waiting for direction fom the LOTW staff. I’ve also had issues with the new Windows 11 security enhancements and getting some software to work, but have pretty much resolved those issues. I still cannot get the latest version of Com0Com (3.0.0.0) to work, but the previous version (2.2.2.0) works just fine.

The bands have been “interesting” lately 🙂 . FT4 and FT8 continue to be the most productive modes, with some nice openings on the higher bands. CW is still my preferred mode of operation, but when conditions are “iffy”, digital is definitely the most prolific mode. Last night 80 meters, 60 meters, and 40 meters were the producers. Gotta go where the contacts are 😀 .

73 de Dick N4BC

The 7 Beeps of Death

I got home from work yesterday evening, sat down at my desk, and pressed the button to power up my Dell Latitude computer.

Nothing happened, until I heard …

The Dreaded 7 Beeps of Death!

This is the indication of a motherboard or processor failure, and was not welcome. Admittedly, the laptop in question is six, going on seven years old, so it had lived a good life, but … it’s always sad to lose an old friend. 🙁

It was not upgradable to Windows 11, so it’s days were numbered eventually, but it did advance my replacement schedule by a year or so. I just wanted a more controlled move to the new laptop.

Now, I have a formidable task ahead of me … reloading and configuring all of the software onto the new laptop. I could restore a backup image, but there’s an advantage to a clean install, and getting rid of all the clutter. Still, it’s a tedious job.

I ordered the new laptop last night from Dell, it’s being shipped today and arrives tomorrow. Then the fun begins …

73 de Dick N4BC

Easier CW

I recently purchased an addition to my portable gear that makes CW much easier. The item is a Ultra Picokeyer kit from HamGadgets.

Ultra Picokeyer - Available Colors
Ultra Picokeyer – Available colors

My favorite portable transceiver is the Yaesu FT-817ND. One of my not-so-favorite things about it is that it has no CW memories. If you’re contesting or working a POTA pileup, it can wear your hand out!

The Ultra Picokeyer solves that problem. It has CW memories, and a continuously variable speed control, in addition to lots of other features. In addition, it’s a pretty simple kit to build … I didn’t time myself, but it couldn’t have been more than an hour or so. It went very fast, and the only tools required were soldering gear and some flush-cutting wire cutters. Easy-peasy!

73 de Dick N4BC

How I Became Interested in Ham Radio …

Some have asked what triggered my interest in my radio hobby. Well, this is the culprit …

Before television, this was a familiar object in many 1940’s homes. I’m not sure if this is the actually the model we had in my childhood home, but if not, it was similar. You see, in addition to the normal AM broadcast band, it also included shortwave bands.

I would spend hours listening to the BBC, or Radio Deutsch Welle, or any of a large selection of foreign broadcast stations.

But it wasn’t only those stations to be found … there were also amateur radio stations to listen to. Those were the days before SSB, so there were lots of AM ham radio QSOs going on. I was listening to hams from all over the world. CW was also there, but with no BFO, pretty rough copy … if I had understood CW 🙂 .

Just as an aside, there was also a 78 RPM turntable connected to the audio input of the radio, and a big selection of my Dad’s vinyl records. All of the big bands, some classical, and lots of artists of the 40’s and 50’s. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Gershwin … they were all there. I think that ensured that I would have a continuing interest in good music.

73 de Dick N4BC