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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pete Juliano Adds Yet Another Great Word to the Homebrew Lexicon

We've talked many times about the pleasures associated with a rig that is still just a collection of parts and boards, all still spread out on the workbench, unboxed, perhaps held together by clip leads and bits of duct tape.  They seem to sound better this way.   This is the condition under which we experience that magical moment of "First Signals"  (similar to First Light with a new telescope).

We haven't had a concise way of describing this (note my long-winded description above).  Well, this morning the Sage of Newbury Park has, on his amazing blog, provided us with the words that we have so long needed: 

Al Fresco! 

That's it!  Perfect.  When a new rig is put into operation in this way, we will henceforth say that it is being run "al fresco."  Thanks Pete!

Check out the blog post that gave us this wonderful phrase:

Monday, November 28, 2016

'Tis the season... To Worry about Electrostatic Discharge

Read and heed, or you'll be sorry.  The cold weather causes us to spend more time in the shack and to work on new homebrew project.  Some of these projects may involve sensitive, delicate, solid-state components that can be instantly wiped out by that little winter spark from your finger...

Take a look:
I have to be especially careful this year, because Northern Virginia is now officially in a drought.  So that spark-friendly dry winter air is likely to be even dryer this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Moonbounce on 40

Well, we were talking about it on 40.   This just proves that there is more to 40 meter SSB than the never-ending quest for audio "brilliance," "presence," "body"  and "sparkle."   I was working at the bench yesterday when I heard Frank NC1I telling another fellow about his 35 years of experience with moonbounce.  Wow, you don't hear that kind of talk on 40 every day.  Frank also said that the contact I was listening to was one of very few HF contacts that he has made in recent years.  I just had to jump in to encourage him to get on 40 more regularly.  He seemed impressed with my BITX40 Module (which I was using).  I warned him of the buffoonery that can be found on the band, but told him not to be deterred by it -- there are a lot of FB hams on 40.

Above you can see Frank's amazing antenna farm.  The dish is for 23 cm EME. Behind the you can see his 70 cm array.  That is 48 (FORTY EIGHT!) end-mounted Yagis, aimed into space. 

Check out Frank's page:  He has some great pictures of his shack.  In case you are wondering why he has so many rotator control boxes, remember that the dish and the Yagi array need two each (azimuth AND elevation).

Thursday, November 24, 2016

HB2HB: Butch K0BS with a KWM2 and a Hombrew 4-1000 Amp

Wow!  Now THAT is a shack! This morning I heard Butch K0BS and his friends on 40 meter SSB.  I knew I was listening to the voices of kindred spirits when I heard them talk about a drifting VFO and the need to heat up the filaments of an ART-13.   As the group was shutting down to begin their preparations for Thanksgiving dinners, I gave Bruce a call with my BITX 40 Module. He was on a KWM-2 (the rig that had been drifting a bit) and a homebrew 4-1000 amplifier.  I told him that I think a bit of VFO drift is a sign of good character. 

You really need to check out the pictures on Bruce's page:

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating the holiday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) on Making Things and Making Mistakes

Driving home from work the other day I heard this NPR interview with the woodworking guy from the TV show "Parks and Recreation."  I've never seen the show, but I really liked the comments on the benefits of what we would call homebrewing:

MCEVERS: I feel like there are a lot of people out there listening who have spent exactly zero days being handy, like, their entire lives. Is there hope for people like this, and does your book provide it?

OFFERMAN: I think so. I mean, a lot of my own woodworking education comes from books and periodicals like Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking magazines. They're great teachers, but they're very somber. They're very sober. So it was important to me for this book to be really friendly and gentle and fun to let you know that whether you're getting into woodworking or making anything with your hands, it's really important to know going in that you're supposed to make mistakes. You're supposed to screw it up.

And not only do I think this is a very friendly introduction to woodworking, but I really have become a little bit of an evangelist to encourage - find something to make. If you make stuff for your house or your loved ones, you're curating your life in a way, saying, I don't have to just limit my choices to what I can buy at Amazon. I can also choose to make a table myself. And even if it looks crappy, it's still so much more charming because you've made that gesture.

You can listen to the 6 minute interview (it is funny) by clicking on the "PLAY" arrow in the upper left of this page:
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