Wednesday, December 29, 2010

QSL Bureau

Yesterday I found a nice surprise waiting for me in the mailbox.  These QSL cards are the first ever batch of DX confirmations received at KD8JHJ via the QSL Bureau service.  The majority of these contacts I made during my first year as an amateur radio operator.

19/05/09   UR5ZEP          Ukraine                       14 MHz  CW
06/03/09   EB7ABJ          Spain                            14 MHz  PSK-31
01/11/09    EA7ACU         Spain                             7 MHz  PSK-31
21/11/09    PE0TS              The Netherlands     21 MHz  PSK-31
09/04/09   DL6KVP/p    Germany                    14 MHz  PSK-31
07/02/09   DD3FS            Germany                       7 MHz  PSK-31
24/10/09    DL8SDS         Germany                      21 MHz  CW
12/02/09    TG9AHM      Guatemala                    7 MHz  PSK-31
02/01/10    EA1EVA        Spain                            14 MHz  CW
23/01/10    HB9AAA       Switzerland                14 MHz  Feld Hell

QSL Bureaus are volunteer staffed organizations found in most countries that allow amateur radio.  The bureau system allows hams around the world to exchange QSL cards for a minimum postage cost.  The more avid the DX'er or card collector the more beneficial this system becomes.  

In 2009 after I began digital operations at KD8JHJ and had accumulated a dozen or so DX contacts in my log I filled out QSL cards for each foreign station I had worked.  I then sent the cards all together in one envelope to the out going bureau at ARRL headquarters in Newington, CT.  My cards were sorted by country and shipped in bulk with other QSL cards.  Once the bulk shipment is received by the Foreign bureau the cards are sorted again by callsign and delivered to the individual operators.

Here in America the incoming bureaus are divided up based on callsign areas.  Callsign areas are designated by the numeral that appears in all callsigns.  I had previously sent my QSL manager a half dozen stamped, self addressed envelopes to keep on file.  Once the bureau had received a dozen cards from foreign hams confirming contact with my station the QSLs were packaged up and mailed in one envelope.  Obviously saving me a bundle in postage.  The only caveat to using the bureau is the one to two year lead time as the cards work their way through the system.

The QSL Bureau is an ingeniously devised system and another unique facet of my favorite hobby- amateur radio.         

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SKCC December Straight Key Sprint

Yesterday morning I surfed over to the SKCC website and noticed that the SKS was scheduled to happen later that evening.  I'm glad I looked or I probably would have missed the sprint entirely.  The SKS is a bit of a different animal than the more relaxed Week End Sprint that offers a whole 24 hour period to make contacts.  Until recently I have not participated in very many of the 2 hour sprints because the speeds are much faster than I am used to.  Many of the regular sprinters use bug keys and now that I have some experience under my belt I am beginning to enjoy the faster pace.  I stayed on 80 meters (3.5 MHz) for the whole event and used my Vibroplex Original bug and 75 watts of power. 

December SKS 80 meter (3.5MHz) Log

3.547     WT2W          New York
3.553     KB4QQJ       North Carolina
3.554     K8IJ              Kentucky
3.551     N2JNZ          New York
3.551     W8WTS        Ohio
3.549     W2AGW       New Jersey
3.549     N8BB            Michigan
3.547     NE0S            Missouri
3.550     K0LUW        Nebraska
3.552     K0RWL        Missouri

Although I am always meeting new club members during the sprints one of the most interesting aspects of contesting is working some of the regular stations and observing how propagation affects familiar signals from one event to the next.   For example I heard Randy KB4QQJ calling from North Carolina and he was loud.  I remember thinking to myself he must be at his club station using 100 watts or an amplifier maybe.  Randy is a hard core QRP operator usually running five watts or less.  After reading Randy's soapbox comments after the sprint I was amazed to discover he was running only 1 watt!  In contrast,  Werner N8BB, another QRP'er in Michigan whose 1 watt is usually perfectly readable here in Ohio was so low down in the noise that the only way I recognized him was by the sound of his unusual call sign.

My ten contacts put me at about the middle of the pack out of 79 entries in the contest.  As I have mentioned before I don't concern myself  much with my score I just enjoy the fast pace QSOs and handing out some points in the events that the club organizers work hard to put on each month. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cross Country Skiing

Colder than usual temperatures have kept the 5 inches of snow that fell over the past week loose and powdery.  Midday Sunday I was able to get away for a couple hours on my back country skis.  When it's too cold to ride my bike I break out my skis, poles and boots and head outside for some winter recreation as I have done for the past couple decades.  The best way to avoid cabin fever I have found is to stay out of the cabin.

I learned how to alpine ski in Loveland, Colorado in 1990.  During the next three years while in the military I had the good fortune to ski down mountains in Montana, Idaho and eastern Washington state.  During that time I also learned about and enjoyed cross country skiing.  Through the Air Force MWR,  or Moral, Welfare and Recreation we could rent our equipment and hit the slopes. A full day lift ticket could be had for eight dollars for the nearby Mt. Spokane ski area, about a 45 minute drive from my Base.  After my military service I moved back to Ohio and knew I would pretty much have to give up downhill skiing.  There are a few ski hills around the state but elevations are measured in hundreds of feet instead of by the thousands like out west.  So for me it's just not worth it. 

However once back in Ohio I knew I could still have fun in the snow with boards strapped to my feet.  I did some research and settled on a type of ski called a back country ski.  These are a bit wider than the typical cross country ski and have a sturdy binding system.  The increased width, while making the skis slower, provide more stability off  groomed trails.  Think of them as the mountain bike of the skiing world.  I bought the back country versions without the steel blades mainly to save weight.  With a general lack of hills I did not think the bladed versions would be worth the extra cost and weight.  Without the blades it is much harder to carve turns telemark style but that opportunity doesn't present itself much in the places I ski.  The one time I wish I did have bladed skis is when I am traversing rugged wooded  country.  Often skiing through the woods one is crossing sticks and logs of all sizes and it would be nice to have the extra bite of the steel blades.

The place in the photographs is a park only five minutes from my home.  This area has a nice mix of wooded terrain and grassy fields.  I easily spent two hours and did not ski all the area available.  I was lucky enough to be the first person to put down tracks this year so that was rewarding.  I usually follow someone else's grooves when I happen upon them.  Cross country skiing is a great way to skip out on the gym yet still augment my winter fitness.  What I like most is the fact that after the initial expense of purchasing my gear 12 years ago I have not had to spend another dime.  After the first ten minutes or so I am fully warm and able to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the frozen landscape and the rhythmic swish, swish, swish of my skis through the powder.    

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vibroplex Iambic Standard

Santa Claus was correct in assuming it was high time for a set of iambic paddles at KD8JHJ.  This Vibroplex Iambic Standard I recently received from Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg, Ohio per Santa's directive.  This handsome key is of the latest production from Vibroplex under the new owner Scott Robbins, W4PA who moved the company to Knoxville, Tennessee earlier this year.  Remember Santa and the elves are very busy this time of year so he delegates gift procurement for us older kids to his trusted subcontractors and retail establishment.

Vibroplex began producing iambic paddles around 1978 after electronic keyers had become all the rage among radio amateurs.  As is the practice of Vibroplex The familiar yoke assembly was carried over from the bug line displaying the lineage of the Vibroplex family tree.  Unlike Vibroplex's Vibrokeyer,  with the iambic I believe the company really nailed the concept of what a dual lever key design should be.  The Vibrokeyer developed a decade earlier is basically a shortened bug key without the spring steel pendulum and the lever has the looser and more sloppy feel characteristic of the bug keys.   The iambic key differs mainly because of it's dual levers and it's symmetrical design.  By nature of it's use as a speed key I believe an iambic paddle must be a very precise mechanism.  The two identical levers each riding solidly on it's own trunnion provide the needed precision to allow for tight clearances of the electrical contacts and a crisp feel at the finger pieces.

The "iambic" title refers to the method of keying also known as "squeeze keying" that developed as electronic keyer circuits were invented and put into use.  I do not use the iambic technique but simple push left with my thumb for dots on one lever and push the other lever with my index finger for dashes.  Very much like when operating my bug key.  For a detailed analysis of iambic keying please read the article "Iambic Keying - Debunking the Myth" by Marshall G. Emm, N1FN who is very knowledgeable in the subject of Morse code and radio telegraphy.

My first on the air contact using the new Vibroplex Iambic Paddles  was Rick, W2QJH from Watertown, New York.  We had a great QSO for nearly 45 minutes exchanging our club numbers and general shooting of the breeze.  This was our second contact this year, the first being back in May.             

Monday, December 13, 2010

News from A.R.S KD8JHJ

Photo by LeeAnn

This is what it looked like outside this weekend after the first major winter storm of the season past through.  I stayed warm inside and played ham radio.  On Saturday the Feld Hell Club celebrated the birthday of Rudolph Hell with the annual 24 hour Feld Hell Sprint.  Here's a list of  9 contacts I made during the event.  Not terribly impressive but one more than last month's tally.

Green-  3.5 MHz   (80 meters)
Blue-   7 MHz   (40 meters)
Red-   14 MHz   (20 meters)

3.573     K3QIA              Pennsylvania
3.571     KI4UKF            North Carolina
7.077     K0PFX              Missouri
7.077     WA2HOM        Michigan
7.078     W8LEW/qrp     Michigan
14.062   N7ESU             Idaho
14.062   KZ1Z                Florida
14.064   NX8G/5            Louisiana
3.584     WF7T               Tennessee
Straight Key Century Club Week End Sprint

Saturday evening the SKCC Week End Sprint started but we went out to dinner as a family to enjoy some Mexican food.  We got home late but I did head down to the shack to listen for a bit and see what was happening.  I heard a few stations on 80 meters calling the familiar CQ WES in Morse code.  I was tired and called it a night looking forward to getting up early and giving it a go on CW.

Amateur radio is full of awards and distinctions if one is so inclined to pursue these goals and the Straight Key Century Club is no exception.  The first certificate one can earn in the SKCC is the "Centurion" award.  Once an operator has contacted 100 club members and exchanged name, QTH (state/province/country) and SKCC member number he or she submits this log to the club's awards administrator.  Upon approval the operator amends their SKCC number by adding a "C" at the end. 

Once an operator has earned Centurion status he is worth an extra five points to any club member worked during the sprints.  The freshly minted Centurion now begins to compile a new log by attempting to contact other Centurions and Tribune members on the air.  Basic members don't count towards the Tribune award so it becomes a more difficult endeavor to attain Tribune status.  Once the Centurion has a list of 50 different C's and T's the award application process is repeated.  A Tribune member is worth 10 extra points to any member contacted during a sprint.  These bonus points are the incentive for complying with the paperwork aspect of the awards process.

After a year as a Centurion I finally got my Tribune award.  My SKCC number is now 4877T and this was my first sprint participation as a Tribune.  I was very happy to pass out the extra points.  The SKCC member list is up to 7,356 members and of this number I am only the 357th club member to apply for and receive the Tribune award. 

KD8JHJ Sprint Log  SKCC WES:

7.055    K8WSN              Michigan
7.050    W9DLN              Wisconsin
7.049    K0LWV              Missouri
7.050    K8KIC                Michigan
7.115    N8KZH               West Virginia
7.056    W9HLY              Indiana
7.056    WA8BIJ             Michigan
7.051    WA1AR             Massachusetts
7.051    WA2JSG            New Jersey
7.051    AA9KH              Illinois
7.051    VE3WMB          Ontario, Canada
7.051    N3EIN                Pennsylvania
7.112    VE3AKV            Ontario, Canada
7.111    N8BB                 Michigan
7.114    KU8L                 Michigan
14.053  W7GVE             Arizona
7.112    W4FOA             Georgia
7.054    KB2RAW          New York
3.554    W3NP                Pennsylvania
3.554    W4TMW           Georgia

Not a big log but still lots of fun working the stations with my NT9K Pro Pump straight key and Vibroplex Original bug.    

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Postage Stamp with Bicycle Racers

A cool stamp with vintage bicycle art.

When I was a kid I collected postage stamps.  I was never too serious and eventually moved on to other things.  However I did manage to hold on to this collection over the years and will eventually hand it over to my son if he is interested.  The other day I stumbled upon the stamps and by chance I noticed this one in a large envelope containing a thousand or more loose stamps from around the world.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homebrew Antenna Update from A.R.S. KD8JHJ

Things are progressing slow but sure on my first ever homebrew amateur radio antenna project.  I documented this project earlier in a couple posts that can be found here and here.

I've constructed the sleeves that connect the two sections of the main mast and also made the fiberglass insulator that separates the main mast from the top mast.  This fiberglass section also acts as a coil form on which I wound the loading coil from 20 turns of #16 magnet wire.

I drilled an extra set of holes in the fiberglass tubes so that I could wind a coil with more turns for a lower frequency in the future.  Once the coil checks out and no further adjustments are needed I will cover the loading coil with shrink tube and silicon to protect it from damage once in use. 

Loading coil for 40 meters (7 MHz)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feld Hell Contesting at KD8JHJ

On November 20th I participated in the Feld Hell Club's monthly 2 hour sprint.  It has been a while since I got on the air using one of my favorite digital modes called Hellschreiber.

Hellschreiber, or Feld Hell as we call it in ham radio didn't start out as a digital sound card mode.  In fact it's been around for 80 years and only in the past 20 years has the technology been adapted into amateur radio software and allowed us to use this early forerunner of the fax machine in our radio exploits.

So what's with the funny name?   

Rudolph Hell (1901-2002)

Rudolph Hell was born on December 19, 1901 in Eggmuhl, Bavaria.  His father was the station master of the town's stop along the Bavarian State Railway.  Obviously young Rudolph was exposed to Morse Code then the pinnacle of communications technology.  As he successfully progressed through school he knew his future lay in electrical engineering.   Hell attended university at the Munich Technical College.

By 1930 Hell had started his own business and developed a system called the Hell writing telegraph.  This electro-mechanical device broke down text into dots for transmission then reassembled the data into readable text at the receiving end.  In time the system was refined and found to be suitable for radio communications. By 1934 this technology was in use by news agencies and by the end of World War Two more than 50,000 units had been produced.

Hellschreiber works by dividing a line of text into columns in which each column is 7 pixels tall. the data is then transmitted from the bottom pixel up.  Black pixels are transmitted as a signal and white pixels are sent as silence.  This takes place at a speed of 122.5 baud.  Because the incoming text was printed out on continuous paper rolls the number of columns a message could contain was indefinite.  

Take a close look at the screen shot I made during the Feld Hell Contest at the top of my post.  Pictured are both my transmissions and those of WB2HTO.  They are easy to differentiate because we each have a different font style selected in our software.  The original Hellschreiber machine printed the incoming message onto a narrow paper strip that was adhesive backed.  the message could be transcribed by hand as shown in the picture below or the strips could be cut and assembled onto a sheet of paper like a telegram.

As a modern digital mode Hellschreiber is unique in several ways.  The incoming text feeds onto the screen from left to right at a speed that I imagine is very close to that of the original mechanical print head. This preserves the look if not the feel of the original Feld Hell mode.  Once the screen is full the uppermost strip disappears as the next line begins printing at the bottom.

Because Feld Hell is based on Facsimile it does not suffer certain conditions that plague the other sound card modes. Other digital modes employ forms of error correction to counter the negative effects of  atmospheric conditions and weak propagation.  The software does the best it can to decipher the received message but often the text is garbled or characters are missed completely.  With Hellschreiber there is never a missed character or annoying misspellings caused by the error correction.  Again the screen shot shows WB2HTO's signal to be strong and clear -nearly solid black on a white background.  If the incoming signal is very weak or propagation is not favorable the signal will show up on an increasingly gray background.  Notice on the top line is a section of gray space between each of our transmissions.  This is just the static present on the frequency while neither of us is transmitting.  A weak signal can be so faint that it blends into the gray "noise" and may be only partially visible or not at all. 

Hellschreiber prints all of the received columns twice one on top of the other.  This is done to make up for small timing errors that can be present in the equipment.  The text can print like WB2HTO's two identical lines or like mine with one readable line of text in the middle with the other line split some on the bottom and the rest on top.  The print can also be slanted running off the "strip".  Regardless enough characters are present to get the message copied complete.

It's the fascinating history behind this mode that makes it one of my favorites.  
Although this post deals with Feld Hell,  patented by Hell in 1929 this man's contributions to information technology as we know it today are amazing.  Here are some of Rudolph Hell's inventions and innovations:

1925  Hell and Max Dieckmann invented the scanning tube.  The first step in developing the ability to break a picture down into dots for transmission.

1927  Hell invents the first radio location device for aviation.  For the first time in history aviators could fly through inclement weather and find their way to a destination by following radio beacons.

1950-60s  Hell developes the Digiset.  A virtual "typeset" of electronically produced characters.  For the first time in  500 years since Gutenburg invented moveable type and the printing press, the three dimensional letters which had always been physical objects in a typecase were now electronic symbols broken down to dots and stored in a computer for use as needed. 

1960's Hell invents several prepress systems that revolutionized the graphic arts industry as well as color scanners, faxes and engraving machines. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recumbent Ride -- Kokosing Gap Trail

Today I decided to cap off the long holiday weekend with a recumbent ride on the Kokosing Gap Trail.  When I got up this morning the sun was shining so I jumped at the chance to skip the indoor workout and get outside.  My cycle computer indicated a chilly 37 degrees Fahrenheit with just a light breeze from the south-west.  By the midpoint of my ride the temperature had risen to a balmy 42 degrees.

Total Distance:  28 miles
Ride Time:  2:06
Average Speed:  13.3 mph
Max Speed:  18.9 mph

Stone arch  -- Howard, Ohio

Here is some interesting history I copied from a sign along the trail:

Howard Township was created March 9, 1825, with the village of Howard platted in 1836 as Kinderhook.  A few years later the name was changed to Howard.  The area was a favorite camping and hunting ground for several indian tribes which had settled along the banks of the Big and Little Jelloway and Owl creeks.  Here they cleared timber and raised corn. The first white man to settle in Howard Township -Abraham Welker- came to the area about 1807, having emigrated from Harrison County.  Due Primarily to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and with the arrival of  more white men, the village of Howard soon became a thriving community.  A principle livestock shipping center for Chicago and Pittsburgh markets, the village blossomed with a hotel, two grocery stores, a bank, mill, blacksmith shop, barber shop, dry goods store, undertaker, pool room, two doctors' offices and a post office.

Kokosing River, Knox County

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tim Easton -- Rumba Cafe -- November 20, 2010

The main purpose of our recent trip to Columbus, Ohio was to hear some tunes by musician, singer songwriter Tim Easton.  Tim is originally from Ohio and around the holidays he usually shows up and plays a couple shows at smaller bars or a cozy cafe.  The last time we saw Tim play was nine years ago so it was great to finally see him again.
Tim's label is New West Records and his style is rooted in acoustic blues.  I'm not a big follower of the genre but "Alternative Country" and "Americana" are some buzzwords associated with this style of music.  "Dylan-esque" is a fitting description of Tim's style I saw in another review.  The real treat is to witness with your own ears how Tim can fill a room with just vocals and his guitar.  For this show at the Rumba Cafe Tim was joined by a excellent drummer who provided percussion and rhythm further broadening the sonic brush stroke.
Often I mention Tim Easton to people and they have never heard of him.  It's really too bad because Tim is an incredible guitarist and performer.  I highly recommend checking out some Youtube videos of Tim at the very least and if given the opportunity to see a live show I wouldn't miss it.   

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


On Saturday to celebrate my birthday my wife and I spent the evening in Ohio's capital city, Columbus.  At night most big cities look the same but walking around downtown I think we did find some unique after dark images.

Probably the best veggie pizza I ever ate.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recumbent Ride

The weather on my birthday turned out to be a mild 65 degrees with a mix of sun and clouds.  It was a bit windy but I could not have asked for a better afternoon for a little spin around town on the recumbent.  As usual I packed the camera and did manage to take a neat shot or two. 

This water tower is scheduled to be dismantled soon so I decided to try to get some shots of it before it is gone for good.  Symbols of the once burgeoning industrial complex in my small Midwestern town are slowly one by one falling into decay. 

My average mph was way down on this ride but my purpose was not to put down a bunch of miles in the log but simply enjoy the sun and fresh air as you only can from the back of a bicycle.  I also traversed a couple miles of gravel road surface so this brought down my overall speed.  Even with 1" slick tires at 100 psi the front and rear suspension of the HP Velotechnik Street Machine makes the bike surprisingly easy to control even on coarse railroad bed gravel. 

Route:  urban/ rural mix
Ride Time:  1:43
Total Distance:  17.92 miles
Average Speed:  10.4 mph
Max Speed:  22.8 mph

Insulator Post -- Verreries de Folembray

For my 40th Birthday my thoughtful and lovely wife surprised me with this very nice French Gingerbread man.  The insulator measures 5 1/2" inches tall and 3 1/2" inches in diameter and was made by the Verreries de Folembray (Glass works of Folembray).   The glass works was located in the town of Folembray in northern France and operated from 1899 to 1954.  This is about the extent of my knowledge of this particular insulator and the company that made it.  A casual search online does return some information but many of the entries are in French so I cannot read them.

The Gingerbread man is a unique addition to my collection and is a special piece to me because it was given as a gift.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November SKCC Week End Sprint

KD8JHJ Homebrew Straight Key

This months SKCC "Craftsman key sprint" was a great opportunity to put a special key on the air for  the first time, and make a few contacts.  I am a casual contester and sometimes I'm not feeling all that competitive but I still like to check in with some of the regular amateur stations that are on every sprint and possibly meet a new member if propagation allows.  The Homebrew Straight Key worked great and it was quite a satisfying experience to transmit Morse code with a tool I made myself.

A highlight from the WES was meeting Javi, EA1EVA from Spain for the first time.  A bit later I added F6HKA, Bert in France to my sprint log.  The 20 meter band was energized and in fine shape for shortwave radio communications. 

Red - 14 MHz (20 meters)
Blue - 7 MHz (40 meters)
Green - 3.5 MHz (80 meters)

7.110    K0LUW    Nebraska
3.551    W3NP      West Virginia
3.558    W9HLY    Indiana
7.056    WQ9Z       Illinois
7.053    K2VT       New Jersey
14.053  KK5J        Oklahoma
14.057  EA1EVA  Spain
14.059  KC0VNK  Minnesota
14.056  NG7Z       Washington
14.054  K0LUW    Nebraska
14.058  KK5PJ      Texas
14.046  K4JPN      Georgia
14.045  F6HKA     France
14.051  W5ZR       Louisiana
14.050  WI1B        Massachusetts
14.055  KC3QU    Arkansas
7.113    K3MSB    Pennsylvania
7.117    W4CUX   Georgia
7.116    K4BAI     Georgia
7.108    W9DLN   Wisconsin

It is also interesting to note that participation in the club sprints seems to be increasing with the membership ranks or possibly it may have something to do with the slowly increasing solar flux that we hams have been waiting for.  One thing for sure it's nice to see the interest in hand generated Morse code done just as it has been for the past hundred years of radio and even before that in the days of the land line telegraph. Over 200 SKCC members took part in the sprint and  11 different countries were represented. To see the full results board at the club website click
From there I also recommend scrolling down to the soapbox section to view some of the homebrew keys and restoration projects submitted by club members.

Monday, November 15, 2010

California Glass Insulator Co.

At the Springfield show this year I acquired eight fine specimens produced at the Long Beach, California plant.  I did some research and discovered to my surprise that the C.G.I. Co. only existed for four years.  Founded in 1912 by Robert P. Frist and employing a work force of nearly 50 men the plant shortly reached full capacity of 15,000 insulators per day.  In addition to insulators the company also produced bottles for local sale in California. 
In 1914 C.G.I.Co. was reorganized into The California Glass Works and continued operations until January of 1916 when the Long Beach Harbor flooded and the plant was destroyed.  The California Glass Works was never rebuilt. 

Shown above are two of my favorite style of insulators known as "signals" that I added to my collection from the Springfield show.  In the past week I have digitally photographed my collection indoors using artificial lighting and most recently I set up outside under a midday sun.  Through experimentation I have determined that the sun is the best light source for capturing the truest color of the glass.  It is November now and the sun stays rather low in the southern sky as it passes overhead.  This low angle is evident from the shadow to the right of the insulator.  Next summer I will try another series of photographs with the sun directly overhead although I can't imagine much of an improvement over these images.

Here is a link to more detailed information on the the California Glass Insulator Company:
-Reprinted from "Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire"  September 1982, Pg . 6

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vibroplex Straight Key

Vibroplex Standard Straight Key

This key was my main station key for my first couple of years in amateur radio.  A great looking key with crisp yet solid action.  I have logged several hundred radio telegraphy contacts using this fine instrument which is second only in my key collection to the NT9K Pro Pump long lever key.   

The Vibroplex straight key is a unique design based on modified components taken from the semi-automatic key line. It is an interesting fact that the Vibroplex Company did not introduce a straight key until nearly 100 years into it's existence.  This is not surprising as the mainstay Vibroplex keys are semi-automatic or "bug" keys.  Production first began in 1996 and continues today catering solely to the amateur market.   

Vibroplex website:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Insulator Post -- Brookfield pony

This little Brookfield pony I picked up at the Springfield show.  It's got a few bubbles and some fine amber swirls.  Every time I see a Brookfield I am taken back in time to New York City in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.  This hundred year old insulator is a great addition to my collection. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

40th Annual Mid Ohio Insulator Show

Deep purples and honey-amber insulators command higher prices regardless of manufacturer.

A Popular style of insulator from France is known as a ginger bread man.  Several are visible in this collection.

Amber swirls add character and value.

  This collection of one specific model produced by the California Glass Insulator Co. illustrates the bewildering variations of color that came from the Long Beach factory.