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Monday, January 1, 2018

Jeff Damm WA7MLH on QSO Today

Happy New Year!    

There was so much wisdom and tribal knowledge in Eric Guth's interview with Jeff Damm WA7MLH. It was almost overwhelming. 

You should all listen to it.  Twice. At least twice: 

My notes:

-- I sympathize with Jeff's decision to go solid state and give up on high voltage after an encounter with an undischarged 600 volt capacitor.  
-- I really like the 1700 kHz IF with a 5 MHz VFO for an 80 and 40 meter receiver. 
-- Interesting that EE degree didn't help much in his efforts to understand ham gear.  Better to read Wes's books and Doug's. 
-- Tek Spectrum Analyzers were specially made to fit down a submarine hatch.  
-- Building and measuring just as important as studying the theory.  Inked-up text books. 
-- Learned ugly from Wes as a teenager. 
--Searched for old commercial gear to gut and use as homes for homebrew solid state gear. The enclosures,  panels and controls are very useful.   Great way to avoid metal work.  These rigs are no longer boatanchors!  Again, I sympathize.  I've sacrificed many Heath Lunchboxes and QF-1s.  
-- Jeff Builds the VFO first.  My preference too. But he understands Pete's AF-first approach. 
-- Finger on the input of the AF amp!  Buzz!  Yea! Step your way back to the front end.
-- ALWAYS one stage at a time.  
-- Osh Park Boards for standard circuit modules.  Like Legos. 
-- Cubic Feet of air variables.   Jeff has a lifetime stash.   
--Thinking about what was and should have been his section of EMRFD. Go for it Jeff. PLEASE! 
-- Hesistant about chips. Analog guy.  Would have been a huge time sink.  Analog guy.  
-- Buying parts on e-bay.  Fewer and fewer RF parts at hamfests. 
-- People reading QST Tech Articles for entertainment. Editor apprach: "Nobody will build it anyway." Handbooks giving priority to entertainment and less to information and education. 


  1. Could not agree more. What a great interview. Jeff is one of the Tek/Portland treasures. Great stuff.
    2 cents worth:
    Agree 100% EE degree not very helpful to ham radio. Actually being a ham before entering EE program is a disadvantage. EE material mostly totally impractical.
    Old test equipment is a perfect candidate for gutting for new homebrew gear. There is a lot of it at hamfests, cheap, and tons of supply. Has meters, dials, switches, etc. Usually not practical to restore.
    I don't understand the lamenting from BIll, Pete, and others over the lack of air variables. People are dumping these things by the box full at hamfests. I probably picked up 100+ of all sizes, shapes, values. Every hamfest i go to usually turns up LOTS at cheap prices. Lots on ebay but prices are not realistic.
    I don't think i have every heard anyone give an honest evaluation of the QST/Handbook projects like Jeff did. I have to admit I am guilty of reading the projects as entertainment. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but he is right, maybe I have built 3-4 QST/Handbook projects (which usually didn't work) in my lifetime and I love to build stuff. Mostly the projects just give me ideas for something related or similar I was thinking about.
    I totally DISAGREE that nobody is building anything anymore. Just go to FDIM for great examples. i probably talk to more people on the air that build then I ever did in my ham past, unless you include Heathkits. EVERYBODY built Heathkits.
    My great hope is to land a QSO with Jeff in my lifetime!

  2. Gotta second Grayson's comments, that was a fantastic interview - Jeff's definitely one of the most interesting guys in the hobby!


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