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Friday, July 29, 2011

Amateur radio at PAR (W4OP)

An e-mail exchange on QRP-L this morning about using ceramic resonators in 455 kHz filter circuits (great idea Grayson!) led me to the ham radio corner of the PAR electronics web site. PAR is the company run by Dale Parfitt, W4OP.
That's a nice looking 2-B Dale! Please send us the serial number! Even more impressive is Dale's award-wining homebrew solid state version of the 2-B (on the far right). Visit his web site for more info (on his site you can hover your mouse above the pieces of gear for more info).

I'm proud to say that I have a piece of gear in my shack that was built by Dale Par
fitt. The story is told in SolderSmoke The Book: I'd built my own version of Doug DeMaw's Barebones Superhet and had liked it a lot. When I saw another one (this one built on a FAR circuits board) for sale on e-bay, I bought it. It stayed on the shelf for a while. Years later when I started working on it, I turned to QRP-L for help and this fellow named Dale Parfitt came to my rescue. It was only after a long series of e-mail exchanges did we realize that the receiver we were discussing had been built (and sold to me) by... Dale Parfitt.

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"http://soldersmoke.com/book.htmOur coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmokeOur Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Walford Electronics' "QRP In the Country"

A stiff wind and occasional drizzle did not put off the large attendance of QRP and home building enthusiasts who attended QRP in the Country on July 17th. Hundreds of people from all over England and Holland found their way to Upton Bridge Farm, Somerset where the farm barns provided cover. About 25 stalls and displays showed off or sold everything from components to large construction projects. Apart from a few traders selling components, most displays were from Clubs publicising their activities or of ancient domestic and wartime radios, with a few individuals selling items to make space for new projects! There were also practical construction projects to be seen as ‘students’ built their Cary RXs with occasional help from the Bath Buildathon team led by Steve G0FUW. The catering team led by Tony G0GFL cooked a prodigious amount of special local burgers and sausages from the host Tim G3PCJ’s farm served in rolls baked locally that very morning, and washed down by village beer and cider, under the careful eye of Robert PA9RZ!

A raffle raised £200 for those suffering in East Africa; the main prize being a year’s subscription to PW kindly donated by Rob G3XFD which was won by Graham G4DPH. George G3RJV was asked to select a couple of displays that ‘appealed’ to him for two other prizes. The GQRP Club had kindly donated a special edition of Drew VK3XU’s latest project book which was also won by G4DPH for his PW Sprat project; a Walford Electronics Radlet CW TCVR kit went to Colin G3YHU for his valved superhet. A years subscription to BYLARA was won by SWL Mike Jones who is about to take his Foundation licence course.

After the event Tim G3PCJ said he was said delighted with the increased attendance and wished to thank everybody whose hard work had made the event so successful. He urged all Clubs within reasonable distance to plan their displays for next year! Watch the press for announcements of the date!

Any questions to:-
Tim Walford G3PCJ

Designers & suppliers of kits for radio enthusiasts

Proprietor Tim Walford BSc MIEE CEng G3PCJ

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"http://soldersmoke.com/book.htmOur coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmokeOur Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How Curiosity Will Land on Mars

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"http://soldersmoke.com/book.htmOur coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmokeOur Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Regens: A Complex Relationship; AA7EE's WBR

Bill -
I've been following your blog for a while now and am moved to let you know of my recent experience with regens, a subject that I know is dear to your heart or perhaps, more accurately, the basis of a complex relationship!
Anyway, the last time I built and owned a regen was as a teenager in the UK in the late 1970's when I had a one-tube HAC Model DX one tube regen. Recently I've been looking for a fairly simple receiver to build that would
receive CW and SSB on 40M, as well as AM. I'm developing an interest in AM on 40, a rather impractical mode in some ways, but one that I have an attachment to. A regen seemed an obvious choice, so after seeing the
reprint in "More QRP Power" of the QST article describing N1BYT's WBR regen, I decided to have a go at it.
In short, I'm so glad this was the first regen of my adult life. It is sensitive, suffers no hand-capacitance effects, has very little radiation from the antenna port due to the oscillator tank circuit being in a Wheatstone Bridge arrangement,
no microphony and to make things even better, is very stable in frequency. I can set it to a net or long-winded CW QSO and it stays there with no easily discernible drift (after a short warm-up period of course).
I know you're probably aware of this receiver, but have you tried building one? I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.
The blog post about my version of this great little receiver is here:
Dave Richards

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"
Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Dish

Our man in Dayton, Bob Crane, W8SX, sent us a really beautiful picture of my favorite antenna (not the one above). Check it out: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110721.html

We talk about "The Dish" from time to time on SolderSmoke. That's the name of the movie about the role of this antenna in the reception of the TV signals for the Apollo 11 moon landing. This is -- without a doubt -- the best movie ever made about an antenna.

You can get the movie at the Gadgeteer Book Store:

Check out "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Steve "Snort Rosin" Smith: Silver-Tongued Devil! Dual-band "Vlad the Inhaler" RX

You'll see in the comments attached to my last blog post that our man on the left coast, Steve Smith, gave that cute little Doug DeMaw/Vlad Polyakov receiver a name that might set American-Russian ham relations back a bit: He called it "Vlad The Inhaler." Good one Steve! (But you might want to stay out of the diplo game!)

It occurred to me that with the installation of one little switch in the diode part of the circuit, we could turn this into a dual-band RX. Take a look here:


Check out "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Doug Demaw and Vlad Polyakov

I was looking through W1FB's Design Notebook the other day and I came across the above schematic for a direct conversion receiver (page 111). Note the Polyakov detector. One strange thing though: Doug was running the oscillator at the operating frequency. I thought the big advantage of the Polyakov design was that you ran the oscillator at half the operating frequency (that's why it is sometimes called a "subharmonic" detector). Any ideas on why Doug did it this way?

Check out "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Royal Order of the Sputnik Clone Chasers

Kettering Group, UK

From the Chief Designer (AA1TJ):


I came across an online blurb for the recent book, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, by Paul Dickson; a worthwhile read, judging from the introduction and first chapter.


"Someone brought out a shortwave radio, and soon a beeping noise filled the room. A Russian scientist, Anatoli Blagonravov, confirmed it was Sputnik. "That is the voice," he said dramatically. "I recognize it." John Townsend Jr., one of the scientists at the party, recalled watching Blagonravov: "I knew him quite well, and I could tell that he was a little surprised and quite proud. My reaction was 'Damn!'"

And so an abstraction now had a voice. It also had a name - Sputnik.

Many of those at the party adjourned to the Soviet Embassy's rooftop, attempting to view Sputnik with the naked eye. Several of the American scientists drifted over to the American IGY headquarters in Washington, where they began speculating on what impact the satellite would have. They feared that the American people would be disappointed.

It also dawned on them that they had better start tracking the satellite's orbit. They got in touch with the American Radio Relay League in West Hartford, Connecticut, asking its 70,000 members-all "ham" radio operators-to lend a hand and help track the Sputnik. In less than twenty-four hours, reports on the satellite were coming back to the National Science Foundation, where a temporary control room had been established. Eventually, these hams and other amateur and professional trackers would consider themselves part of a great international fellowship known as ROOSCH, or the Royal Order of Sputnik Chasers."

That's right guys...ROOSCH...the Royal Order of Sputnik Chasers. And to think that fifty four years later a second great international fellowship would rise from the ashes...ROOSCCH, or the Royal Order of Sputnik Clone Chasers! ;o)

(BTW, October 4, 1957 is an important date in American history for a second reason. On that evening the first episode of Leave it to Beaver made its debut.)


I thought we should also at this point remember the intrepid lads of the Kettering Group, pictured above. (Some of those dudes look like they would have been right at home in "Leave it to Beaver.") For more info on their amazing Sputnik adventures go here:
and here

Check out "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sputnik QSL from the Soviet IGY Committee

I like the reminder of Sputnik's IGY connection. This is from an article by John Foley. W7ETS, in the October 2007 issue of QST. Be sure to read the translation in the caption.

Yesterday Billy and I were at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Dulles Airport center. (We volunteer to take visiting relatives to the airport IF we get to go to the Smithsonian afterwards.) We checked for Sputniks. Nyet. I think they have one on display in the main Air and Space building.

I was thinking that listening to a signal from a spacecraft should be part of the Sputnik event. The packet 2-meter signals from the International Space Station are probably the easiest to receive these days.

Check out "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Australian Antarctic Antenna Archeology

Macquarie Island

I caught half of a report on “The 7:30 Report” on Australia’s public broadcaster ABC TV. Not knowing the full Mawson expedition story, I found this interesting. A conservation group is working to conserve the old halfway point radio repeater mast and whatever other bits have survived on Macquarie Island.

The links are to the transcript and the actual report video.

Story Transcript:


Vodcast videos. They are about 26MB in size. Theyr’e both the same video. Just two different formats.



John Dowdell

Yet to do the test

Sydney Australia

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cutting Edge Spectrum Analyser Video

From Alan, W2AEW. That's some great test gear! We'll have to watch our steps with Alan around -- he can ID us from the moment we hit the PTT! I hate to think what some of my creations would look like on that screen. I'd probably be immediately arrested by the FCC!

"The Early Days of SSTV" by Copthorne MaDonald

The Early Days of Amateur Radio Slow-Scan TV

by Copthorne Macdonald

I got my ham license in 1951 at age 15, and like many hams of that era, the bug hit hard. I worked my way through the University of Kentucky's engineering school, taking 5 years to go through, working nights and weekends out at the transmitter of a local 5 kW AM station. Naturally, I was hamming on the way to and from work in my oil-guzzling 1948 Chrysler. The rig was a 15 watt surplus WWII AM rig that took up most of the leg room under the dash.

One day in 1957 I was in the engineering school's library, thumbing through the Bell System Technical Journal, when I came across an article on some Bell Labs signature transmission experiments using ordinary phone lines. For the first time I realized that picture transmission didn't necessarily mean extremely wide bandwidth. And being the ardent ham I was, I instantly wondered if some sort of practical SSTV system could be worked out for ham radio.

I spent my spare time during the next few months looking into the feasibility of the idea. What sort of display tubes were available? (Ans: P7 phosphor.) How did you get frequency response down to DC if ham rig audio response cut off at 300 Hz? (Ans: Modulate an audio subcarrier.) I kept waiting for the fatal flaw to appear, but I saw none. The idea looked feasible.

I took my paper feasibility study to the head of the EE Department, and asked him if I could design and build such a system as part of an independent problem course. (This would give me a few credits as well as legitimize my use of school facilities for the project.) He agreed, and I ordered surplus CRTs and power transformers and such from surplus houses like Fair Radio Sales in Lima, Ohio. During the next 6 months I designed the unit stage by stage, built a "tank" of a flying-spot scanner in the school's machine shop, and put it all together. I still kept waiting for the fatal flaw to appear, but it never did. The system worked!

What is now the Citizen's Band was at that time the 11 meter ham band. All sorts of strange emissions were allowed on 11 meters then, and the first on-air tests were conducted on that band. Since only one set of SSTV equipment existed, audio tape recordings of the SSTV signal were transmitted on the air by one ham station. At the receiving station we listened to this weird sound coming out of the receiver's loudspeaker as we watched the transmitted pictures being painted in light on the screen of the P7 (long-persistence phosphor, radar-type) cathode ray tube.

I wrote a paper describing the system, and entered it in the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE) student paper competition in 1958. It won national first prize that year. The ham community first heard about the system in articles that appeared in the August and September 1958 issues of QST magazine.

Shortly thereafter we hams lost the 11 meter band to CB, and had no long-distance HF frequencies on which to use SSTV. I spent the next 10 years working with hams like Don Miller, W9NTP, and Robert Gervenack, W7FEN in specially authorized on-air tests to convince the FCC that slow-scan would cause no problems to regular ham activities and should be permitted in the 75- to 10-meter voice bands as a regular operating activity. In 1968 the FCC finally authorized SSTV operation on a regular basis in the HF bands. In the 1970s my interests shifted to the USES of ham radio -- to "New Directions Radio" -- ham radio for personal growth and social change. Since 1985, I've been spending most of my time writing -- some of it for rent and food money, some on dear-to-my-heart subjects like the development of wisdom, and strategies for living the most effective life possible.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sputnik Madness! But was it CW? or AM?

Our worldwide team of Sputnik enthusiasts continues to seek out the elusive schematic diagram of the spacecraft's 20 MHz transmitter. American, Cuban, Russian and German radio amateurs are involved. Recently Bruce, KK0S, visited the Kansas Cosmosphere in an effort to get a look at the innards of Sputnik's "flight spare." The picture above is his -- it shows the Sputnik antenna connection. (More pictures from Kansas here: http://s747.photobucket.com/albums/xx120/trader_vic/Kansas%20Cosmosphere/)
There was bad news and good news from the visit: The bad news was that the spacecraft on display was a hollow sphere. The good news is that the internal parts --including the transmitter -- might be in storage someplace, just waiting for our reverse engineering. Stay tuned (to 20 MHz!).

Speaking of which, I have a question: OK so the crafty Soviets picked 20.oo5 MHz for some good reasons: Being so close to the WWV freq, it would be easy for hams and SWLs to find it with precision. In the November/December 2007 issue of "Break In" (from NZ -- thanks Jonathan-san!) ZL3DW notes that this frequency selection would allow a receiver set to exactly 20 MHz to "produce an audio tone plus or minus the Doppler shift without ever going through zero beat." But zero beat with what? Most of the receivers out there would not have had BFOs, right? So the Soviets wouldn't have been using ordinary CW, right? Were they using AM, with the beeps produced by an audio oscillator modulating the carrier?

Here is a update from our Chief Designer, Comrade Mike, AA1TJ:

I currently have a prototype for a simple "Sputniker" transmitter on the bench using a 1sh29b in the oscillator and a 1p24b working as the PA. As in the original, the input
DC PA power is 1watt. The crystal-controlled oscillator uses an inexpensive ESS 21.060kHz xtal. So far, all systems are GO.

BTW, here's an example of how inexpensively these lovely little tubes may be purchased. Oleg, RV3GM, and his pals might be able to do even better.

Although there are only so many ways one can build a two-tube, crystal-controlled MOPA transmitter, we'd still very much like to nail down the original transmitter circuitry. Bruce, KK0S and Peter, DL2FI are following up leads to that end.

Once we're a bit further along I'm hoping that someone will step-up to produce a kit. Actually, last evening someone raised their hand to ask if a kit were already available.

Mike, AA1TJ

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Please Put Drake 2-B Serial Numbers Here!

Let the count begin! Folks have been sending in Drake 2-B serial numbers. They've been coming in via the blog, via e-mail, twitter tweets, Facebook messages, carrier pigeons, etc. I'm afraid I might miss some precious numbers. So let's put them here. If you have some, and I don't have them below, you can post them as a comment to this blog post. When we get enough, we'll turn them over to Scott, K6AUS, for analysis using the same mathematics used to determine the number of German tanks during WWII.

Mine: 11976
Aramand's three (scandalous to have THREE!):
2599, 5149, and 12038
From Rogier's e-bay search: 8069
Another from Rogier: 5153
More from Rogier: 11222, 9041, 9180
From WB4HFN's web site (thanks Rogier!): 2008, 4025, 9289, 11059, 12060
N5JKY's: 10616
Stephen NM7J / HS0ZHB 12955, 10328
Pete, VE2XPL's: 8873

Armand's 2-B (X3)

Good morning Bill!,

Let me start of by letting you off the hook (a little anyway), by saying that I no longer hold you responsible for the escalating values of the Drake 2B. After acquiring one, cleaning it , recapping and tweaking it, it's pretty clear that the 2B doesn't need anyone to sing its praises. It sings pretty well all on its own! Having said that, I really have to thank you for nudging me into finally getting one for myself. After a lot of searching I finally found one that was in not too bad shape for its age. I also found two others that were in less than working condition. For a while I was troubled as you were about having more than one Solid State Design. Is it really ethical for someone to have more than one 2B? Fortunately I can rationalize with the best of them. It's obvious that I will only own them for a while and am saving them from the scrap heap. Maybe we could start a 2B rescue organization?
Also thanks for the WARC and 160M tuning template - much appreciated!
The serial numbers for these sets are

2599, 5149, and 12038

Will be neat to get an estimate for the final count. Good luck!

Also wanted to mention that I really enjoyed SolderSmoke "the book". Will there be a second volume? Enough for now.

Keep the solder flowing and the podcasts and blogs comming.
Thanks again,
Armand WA1UQO
p.s. If you have an extra set of crystals for a 2B that you would be willing to part with, let me know.

Sale on Books 20% Off!

Save 20% on SolderSmoke -- The Book. http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More on Merrill Budlong, W1MB

K1KT's recent e-mail alerted me to the interesting life story of Merrill Peckham Budlong, W1MB. Wow! What a guy! Killed a Great White Shark with a spear gun! Homebrewed his own diving gear! Insisted that the hams he was Elmering actually UNDERSTAND the circuitry! And -- most importantly -- he was obviously a very good person.

We don't run many obits here on SolderSmoke, but even though he passed away four years ago, we thought it would be a good idea to reprint W1MB's. His story can be an inspiration for us all.

Bob, W1YRC, wrote this about him: He was responsible for launching a great many Amateur Radio careers in Rhode Island. He was uncompromising in his teaching and demanded that all his students understood why a circuit performed its function or why it was essential to know how to solder correctly. He was respected and loved by hundreds of hams that knew him.

Here is a para from his obituary:

An active, athletic man, as a teenager Mr. Budlong made his own surfboards and sailing kayaks. In high school and college he was on the wrestling teams, played trumpet in dance bands, and was a lifeguard at Bonnet Shores. He graduated from Cranston High School in 1931 and from the University of Rhode Island in 1935 with a bachelor's degree in business. He was a member of Phi Mu Delta fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. During World War II, he held a second job at Kaiser Shipyard in Providence. As an avid amateur radio operator (call letters W1MB) and proficient Morse Code operator, he enjoyed contacting radio hams throughout the world. He founded the Fidelity Amateur Radio Club, which met for more than thirty years at his home. He was a Major in the R.I. Civil Air Patrol and a director of the New England Wireless and Steam Museum. Mr. Budlong was an alumnus of Fidelity Chapter DeMolay in which he was a Chevalier. He was a member of the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen and, into his 70s, participated in bicycle races and 100-mile rides. He was often seen riding his bicycle around Edgewood and Pawtuxet Village. He was a pioneer skin diving and spear fishing enthusiast. In the 1940s he built much of his own equipment before it was commercially available. In 1964 he speared a ten foot great white shark in Narragansett Bay. He was also a frostbite sailor, member of the Edgewood Yacht Club, and member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Read the comments that people attached to his obituary:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Merrill Budlong's Drake 2-B

Hi -
I just listened to Soldersmoke 134 and was delighted to hear the reading from Peter Doherty, W1UO.

I first met Peter just before his transcendent 2-B experience. He joined the Fidelity Amateur Radio Club, then K1NQG, of Cranston, RI, which was started by Merrill Budlong (SK), then W1QLD, later W1MB, in 1958. Merrill had a 2-B at that time, so I am almost certain Peter was referring to Merrill's receiver.
Peter received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Rhode Island. He was an adventurer. After college, we briefly worked together at Merriam Instruments, which was owned by Robert Merriam,W1NTE. (Bob is the founder and curator of The New England Museum of Wireless and Steam in East Greenwich, RI.) Peter soon got wanderlust. He loaded his backpack and took a 1 year trot around the globe. I was astouded when I got a Nepalese postcard from him! Since then he helped deliver vessels from the east coast to Seattle via the Panama canal, worked at the Voice of America, worked in marine electronics in Port Townsend, Washington, and has worked for at least two communications equipment manufacturers. I'm sure he had many other adventures.

The Fidelity Amateur Radio Club is still alive and doing well. Some of the original members are still active with the club, but most of us are gray/bald, fatter, and move slower, but we still love the hobby and appreciate what Merrill did to get so many of us started in our careers. Since Merrill's passing his callsign was transferred to the club and we used it this past Field Day.
Keep up the good work! We ARE listening!
Ken Tata

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beautiful Shot of Three of Saturn's Moons

(Photo from NASA, text from New Scientist)

A study in contrasts, this photo captures three illuminated moons as a darkened Saturn looms in the shadows. Only the planet's rings are visible but its shape can be traced from the way it partially obscures its rings and one of its moons.

The large foreground moon is Rhea at 1528 kilometres across. Nearly a third of Rhea's size, sunny Enceladus is on the right. Dione, at 1123 kilometres wide, rounds out the trio to the left with a night-cloaked Saturn obstructing part of it.

The photo was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in April. Cassini has been exploring Saturn's 62 known moons since it reached the ringed planet in 2004.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Copthorne's Heathkit HW-8

Here's evidence that I am moving ever further along the ham radio hippie trail: This week as I was browsing through the 1970's era columns of Copthorne MacDonald, I came across this gem about our beloved Heathkit HW-8. (The photo is of Cop's rig.)


Inspired, I connected mine to my salvaged and solar-charged gel-cell battery and made a number of contacts on 40 meters. It was all really groovy.

Peace, Bill

Saturday, July 2, 2011

WOW! The Reverse Beacon Network

In the European dispatches of Mike AA1TJ I saw mention of this new thing called the Reverse Beacon Network. Then SPRAT shows up in my mailbox (HOORAY!) and I see mention of the RBN there. So this morning I figured I'd give it a little test: I called CQ on 40 meters using my Heathkit HW-8. WOW -- it didn't take RBN long to get me! See above. That's after only about 3 minutes of CQing.

This is a really amazing and innovative development. The network makes use of "skimmers" that use Software Defined Radios connected to the net to search for CQs. When they hear one, they automatically post the info on the web. It is sort of like WSPR, but it is aimed at ordinary CQ calls. Fantastic. Check it out. You will like it!

Big T-Shirt, Coffee Mug, and Bumper Sticker Sale!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Copthorne MacDonald and New Directions Radio

I mentioned in SolderSmoke 135 that somehow I feel myself becoming a bit of a hippie. I'm riding a bike to work. I now have a compost pile and a vegetable garden. I'm enthusiastically helping Billy fix his electric guitar... Mike, KC7IT, wrote in to let me know of an important ham-hippie connection that I'd been completely unaware of.

Starting around 1973, a fellow name Copthorne MacDonald (what a great name!) wrote a ham radio column for Mother Earth News. (Further evidence of my drift: I've recently been buying this magazine!) It is an interesting mix of radio technology (much of it homebrew and QRP) and what at the time was called "alternative lifestyles" (communes and all that). Lots of info about sustainable and eco-friendly living, solar power, etc. Here's a good example:

Copthorne MacDonald is the inventor of Slow Scan Television.

I really like Copthorne's writing and I was really pleased to find out that much of it has survived and is available on the internet. Mike KC7IT points us to more of the articles:

Cop's writing constitutes another treasure trove of ham radio literature for all of us!

I found an archive (infoark) that seems to have his "New Directions Radio" newsletters:

I was please to find that OM Copthorne is alive and well. He posted this on eham.net back in November:

« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2010, 11:01:41 AM »

Hello all. This is from Cop Macdonald, now VY2CM, his very self.

Many thanks to Benn Kobb AK4AV for alerting me to this page, and thanks for the supportive comments above from a number of you.

A brief summary. I'm not currently on the air, but as Benn noted I was at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention where I gave the talk he mentioned and received that year's Technical Excellence Award for the SSTV development work I did some 50+ years ago as an engineering student at the University of Kentucky. While doing some Googling for Hamvention info I discovered that in 2007 I had been inducted into CQ Magazine's Ham Radio Hall of Fame. Perhaps CQ, too, had trouble tracking me down, as this was news to me. If anyone is interested in the details of that initial SSTV system, the Kentucky Engineer article on the subject is online at http://www.copmacdonald.com/KYEngineeerSSTVArticle.pdf. The QST articles on that first gear appeared in the August and September 1958 issues, and are available online from the ARRL digital archives.

The Mother Earth News column ended in 1983 when the magazine changed hands for the second time. I continued to do much writing after that. A lot of it dealt with energy conservation and energy alternatives --- some examples at http://www.wisdompage.com/SEUhtmDOCS/conservation.htm. In the late 1980s I developed an interest in wisdom, and have written three books on aspects of that subject. Connected with this, in 1995 I started a website called The Wisdom Page to make wisdom-related resources available to people worldwide. It has become quite popular. Last month the site had 14417 visits by people from 149 countries who viewed or downloaded documents, podcasts, and videos some 36159 times. And if you Google the word wisdom, http://www.wisdompage.com
consistently comes up on the first page of the search returns — out of some 75 million+ pages containing the term. Anything else you might want to learn about my doings over the years is probably at http://www.wisdompage.com/aboutcop.html
Best wishes to you all. Cop

Thanks Cop!
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