Monday, September 13, 2010

Great to be back on the air

After a few months of being off the air, it is great to fire up the amp to burn the dust off of the 572Bs.  The good news is that everything seems to be working just fine in the shack.  The reason I have been off the air is because of typical summer type stuff.  I usually have gaps in my logs that indicate periods of inactivity like this.  But usually, around this time of year, I start filling the log back up.  Contest season is just around the corner and my favorite contest of them all, CWSS, is not far away!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My new SKCC Key Arrives

I walked into the door when I got home from work and I noticed a package sitting there waiting for me.  I knew it must be what I have been waiting for: My new SKCC Club Pump Key!!!  You would have thought I was 10 years old again on Christmas morning because I quickly opened the box to reveal the treasure inside.  After unwrapping the well packed key, the first thing I noticed was that the key was bigger than I originally thought.  And heavier!  The Ohio Slow Net was about to start so I figured what a great way to try it out.  So I brought it down to the shack and hooked it up.  After a quick adjustment, I checked into the Ohio Slow Net.  My new key was on the air!  The net operates at about 13 wpm so this would be a good test to see how it operates when doing some slow code.

While waiting to be called to check out, I started looking at the key some more.  The key ships with a piece of rubber to keep it in one place on the operating desk.  It does not have any rubber feet on the bottom.  The base is finished beautifully!  It has a speckled-copper look.  The finish appears to be very durable and have a hammered feel to it.  The brass is polished well, but it is not a complete mirror like finish.  At certain angles, you can see some polishing marks so I would say it has a semi-mirror like, brushed-brass look.  The adjustment knobs are large and easy to adjust and smooth to turn.  The front knob adjusts the tension of the key while the back knob adjust the gap between the contacts.  I like to set mine to a nice, snappy, and quick feel that requires a light touch (more on that later).  Wait a second, they are dismissing me from the net.  I will be right back.

After a quick QNX from the net, I changed frequency to the Buckeye Net that starts in 30 minutes.  The Buckeye net runs at about 25wpm.  Let's see what this key can do when operating at higher speeds.  Now, I am not a speed demon when it comes to straight keys, but I can operate at 25wpm easily on a good key.  Ok, the net is firing up.  Time to check in.

Ok, they key feels nice at higher speeds.  I am pretty lazy when sending on a straight key so I usually rest my wrist on the desk and use my wrist motion to send the code.  However, with a pump key, they are designed to have the entire forearm make the movement.  When I send this way, I find the key to respond very well at high speeds.  When sending with my wrist on the desk, the key does not feel as well.  I loosened the tension (using the front knob) and it feels better with my wrist resting on the desk.  Using this arrangement, I switched back to using my entire forearm and I found that I had trouble controlling the key.  Adding more tension eliminates this problem.   The back knob provides a locking nut to lock the contact spacing.  The front knob lacks the locking nut. I would think that because the front knob is under tension with the spring, a locking nut is not needed.

I logged into the SKCC page to work some fellow club members.  My first contact was Jim, KK7YJ.  A couple dits felt like it did not get a good contact.  I then worked Art, WB8ENE.  Only once did a dit feel like it did not get a solid contact.  Next was Willie, N4XE (what a great call!), and the key felt fine.  Larry, AE4LD then called and we had a great contact.  Imagine, working the CEO of the company that makes the new key!  He let me know if I had any questions to call him.  He also warned me about dropping it on my foot. HI!

In my excitement to use the key, I neglected to get the instruction manual out.  I should have done this first because it gave some instructions on how to adjust the key properly.  Once I did the adjustments, the key felt better than before and felt fine both with my wrist resting on the desk or by using my entire forearm.

In conclusion, I really like this key!  It is well made, very solid, looks wonderful, and has a very smooth action when adjusted correctly.  Don't do what I did and neglect to read the instructions.  My new SKCC key is a wonderful addition to my key collection.  Thanks Key Concepts!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My First Boat Anchor

A good friend of mine, Fred, W8FDD, gave me a wonderful National NC183D receiver.  I hope to get it on the air soon.  The caps in it still work, but are weakening and will need replaced.  Here are some pictures of this radio.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SKCC 4th Anniversary Event Sweep

Last night I completed my K3Y sweep.  The Straight Key Century Club is celebrating our fourth anniversary by activating the K3Y special event call.  Each call area is represented /0 through /9, /KL7 and /KH6). I was able to finish off all sections for my 12 section sweep!  I am now attempting to work as many sections as I can using 5W.  I am giving the OHR500 a good workout.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Straight Key Night 2010

Another Straight Key Night has come and gone and it was fun as usual.  Many great fists and some nice sounding old radios on the air.  My first contact was with N8TI up in Michigan on my favorite band, 160M.  Enjoyed a nice chat with him.  Second contact was on 80 with KY4Z in Kentucky.  It was pretty late so I decided to head to bed.  The next morning I operated K3Y/8 for three hours and worked 29 contacts.  Most were SKCC members.  Afterwards, I just started calling CQ SKN and worked 6 more stations on 20M.  My vote for best fist was Frank, KA4JQZ.  I could copy his code all day.  Also, N6KN's Collins was wonderful to listen to.
I used my HiMound HK-802, My 1936 Martin Junior, and my 1946 Blue Racer Deluxe (in the picture).

A fun time!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


In December, I purchased a new IC756ProIII from a fellow club member.  I am not used to having such a nice radio in the shack!  My first contact on it was KC4AAA in Antarctica so I think the radio is doing well.  I used it in the recent Stew Perry 160M Contest and was amazed at how well it worked in crowded band conditions.  I have found the band scope a nice feature to use to see how the band is performing (like on 6M.)

What a radio!