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The Old Geezer Himself: Working With FLDIGI and the RBN. 

The new K3s is in the background having replaced the Ten Tec Jupiter.  The relatively new K9 (Charlie) is in the foreground, having replaced Daisy the Digital Dog, RIP, (see photo below).  Charlie has trouble keeping his headphones on.

Hi fellow Radio Amateurs,

ABOUT QSLS: I use LOTW or DIRECT MAIL exclusively. I get cards VIA the Bureau, but I send QSL cards only direct IF I get a QSL direct or an email from you. Not to worry about return postage, I will take care of it.  I like LOTW, and I encourage you to subscribe; more and more hams are using it. Cards are nice, but for awards like DXCC, use LOTW. For DX hams it's free and it isn't very expensive for U.S. hams.  I no longer use eQSL, but I am grateful to that organization for getting the electronic ball rolling. 

I am about 137 years old but still operating; mostly digital modes, sometimes even a contest. Born in 1939, I became a ham in 1957 or thereabouts (I can't remember). Was inactive for many years, but now I am back at it. At one point I became a member of the Rag Chewers Club, but that certificate is long gone. I also did a 25 wpm certificate from ARRL, another piece of paper that is long gone along with most of the CW skills; too shaky for that now, except with a computer. I am working on 5-Band DXCC which, with luck, I hope to get before I die. (I now have DXCC.) I like JT 65 and JT 9 a lot, but I sometimes forget to change the frequency setting when I change bands, so if you get QSL card with the wrong frequency or time, it's my fault. That's the trouble with being old; you forget stuff and you make operating mistakes all too often. I also like  RTTY, especially for contests. My son Jeff became a ham in Junior High School, and got me involved in ham radio after a period of inactivity. We had a lot of fun doing ham radio together. He won the W0 Novice Roundup one year. Now he is KF5ALL. Radio is a genetic thing. I'm using a large font so I can see what I write.

Daisy the Digital Dog

In my non-retired life I was a physics/astronomy professor and I spent about 40 years doing that. The usual stuff: married, two dogs, cat died (RIP), no goldfish. We live on a 20 acre farm in the Missouri Ozarks. I had square loop antennas cut for 20m and 15m and a 5 band vertical. I really liked the loops. I used a giant slingshot, surgical rubber, and a croquet ball to get them up high . Fortunately, I didn't hit anyone with the croquet ball, myself, my wife, and the dogs included. These were very good antennas, low noise, and much better than my vertical, which radiates equally poorly in all directions and is very noisy.  My most recent device for shooting lines over trees is shown in the following photo; it's a spud gun described in the March 2009 issue of QST.  I received some additional help from Hal, W8HMK who suggested the project. 

Author with his newly constructed Spud Gun.

I could not resist the fun of rotating an antenna to get a better signal, so I took down the loops and put up a Spiderbeam. The following photos will show you the process I used to put up a heavy-duty Spiderbeam on a 10 m telescoping tower. I did it all by myself with a little help from the XYL and the dogs. First, I constructed a base out of treated 2x4s and sunk it about 2 ft into the ground in concrete. The picture shows the author trying to make sure the telescoping mast stands up straight, which is more than I can do at my age.

Making sure the Base for the Telescoping Mast is Vertical

The next photo shows the Yaesu rotor holding the base of the telescoping mast in the base structure.

Rotor and Telescoping Mast in the Base

After constructing the beam itself on a 5 ft section of mast from Radio Shack, I put it on the Aluminum telescoping mast. See the next photo. This was not easy because I had to hold the beam, climb a stepladder, and poke the Radio Shack mast down into the telescoping mast. Pick a quiet day as far as wind is concerned.  And get a friend to stand by to rescue you in the event it all falls on top of you.  Someone who can call 911 or drives an ambulance him/her self.

Spiderbeam on the Mast

As proof that I did this in the Fall of 2012, you can see our trees have acquired their fall colors. OK, next you will see the Spiderbeam in the air.

                           Venus Rising-Spiderbeam in Foreground                                 Star Trails behind the Spiderbeam

It was quite a bit of work for a senior citizen, but I did it. Extending the mast is near the edge of my strength capability, but it is up, some fall winds have not blown it over, and the rotor works great. (Still up: Spring 2016)  OK, so does the thing work? Yes, I have worked a lot of DX already; well, quite a bit of DX is closer to the truth.  I currently have more than 200 DXCC entities, most on the Spiderbeam but some on my two Cobras.   I live in a deep valley, so any DX is an accomplishment of merit. In most directions, the beam aims right into the trees on the hillside. But, it is neat to turn the beam and hear the signal I am hunting increase in strength. A few days ago I worked J79AL and found out this ham has worked all of the DXCC entities. Incredible! Then, a day later, I worked OG3077F and on his QRZ.com page I found out he has worked all 3077 counties in the U.S.A. I haven't worked "all" of anything. But, I like the new beam and I'm having fun. In recent days have I worked 6V7S on 20, 15, and 10m. The beam is sure to last as long as I do.

   As a Novice, I sarted out with a Knight 50 watt transmitter and an Ocean Hopper receiver. I think I did only two prearranged QSOs with my Elmer using the Ocean Hopper; it was essentially worthless. These were both Allied Radio kits and mostly I coveted B & W, National, and Hallicrafters stuff.  Collins Radio was not even on my radar, perhaps because radar hadn't been invented yet. Oh how the world has changed. Used some military surplus junk like a BC-342m (I think you could cover the entire 40 meter band with one rotation of the knob on the BC-342M, which could have anchored the Queen Mary) then Heathkits, then Ten-Tec equipment.   Until recently I used a Ten-Tec Jupiter and a SignaLink USB interface. I recently purchased an Elecraft K3s with a P3; makes everything I used before seem like a Model T Ford. 

So, be kind to everyone and enjoy the sport! There are a lot of old folks on the air, so be forgiving of mistakes. I'm not stupid, just slow.

I upload to LOTW every few weeks. I designed my QSL card myself (see QSL card at the top) and took the photo of the little Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. If you want a paper QSL from me, please QSL direct, not bureau. I respond to direct mail QSLs and I use LOTW; that's it.

Wildlife Photography, mostly birds, is another pursuit of mine.  Here are some photos from National Wildlife Refuges.

Left to right and top to bottom: Bosque del Apache NWR, ditto, ditto, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Wichita Mountains NWR, Quivera NWR. 


Marvin, K0GK

P.S. Summer 2016: I now have 200+ DXCC entities!!!!! The Spiderbeam really helped; it made all the difference!  The Elecraft K3s is also a great DXing rig.   Finally got 100 entities on 40m as well, but I am struggling on 80m.  I live down in a deep valley, and that makes life difficult.  5-band DXCC is tough.

7555885 Last modified: 2016-09-07 11:51:10, 10241 bytes

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