While I was rummaging around through the club’s storage room yesterday, I came across an old Instructograph machine. I’m not sure how old this particular unit iss, but it looks like it has definitely seen better days.
It’s a paper tape based Morse code trainer with the Morse code encoded as holes in the paper tape. Along with the Instructograph were nine tins containing other tapes. Seven of them were rusted closed so I didn’t try to force them open. A couple were left open, including the one already on the Instructograph.
The Instructograph is essentially just an automatic straight keyer with an audio oscillator. As the paper tape moves between the contacts, the key is closed where the dots and dashes are punched out of the paper and generates the tone. The tapes are double-sided, so when you finish playing one, you just flip it over, thread it back onto the machine and play the other side.
I think the tape speed would have been controlled using this lever on the panel.
No idea if the Instructograph still works or what kind of condition the innards are in. The paper tapes are in somewhat delicate condition and I’m not sure if they’d hold up to much playing anymore if the Instructograph did work.
The special event station for the Yorktown’s 75th commissioning anniversary went fairly well. Operations started off with one of the club members operating the Waterway Net on 40m from the club room, and then we got set up to start calling on 20 m. I spent a couple hours or so working stations on 20 m, moving around occasionally because of QRM. Many stations were coming in pretty loud and clear, although at times the fading got a bit deep.
We tried to move down to 40 m after noon, but got a report that our audio had a lot of RF noise in it, so we spent some time trying to figure out where it was coming from. We ended up narrowing it down to a few culprits: noisy laptops and a noisy power supply built into the FT-897. Something we’ll have to troubleshoot further.
We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon up on 20 m doing a mix of SSB and digital, but with storms moving in, there were loud static crashes all over the place, and we only made a few more contacts. With the band dead, storms getting closer, and a tornado watch issued by the weather service, we decided to call it a day around 3ish.
Finished the day with 55 contacts in the log. Not bad for a few hours of casual operating.
Band Mode QSOs
7 LSB 10
7 PSK3 2
14 OLIV 1
14 RTTY 5
14 USB 37
Total Both 55
Even though tomorrow is the actual day of the USS Yorktown’s commissioning, I thought I’d spend the afternoon in the club room activating WA4USN and get a few more contacts in for the special event. I was joined by two other hams for the afternoon.
Things didn’t quite go exactly as planned, but still went fairly well.
After spending some time figuring out the Yaesu FT-897 that was sitting where I expected the Kenwood 570 to be, I started calling CQ on 20 m. After a few calls, we (WA4USN) got a call over the repeater from a ham at a radio station set up at a nearby Boy Scout camp asking if he could put some Cub Scouts on the air with us for the special event.
Always a good thing to get on the air with Scouts, so we talked with a group of Cub Scouts (Webelos) and then got back to HF. Spent some time calling, and then another call on the repeater with another group of Scouts. Rinse and repeat.
After the third group or so, we decided to just give up on HF and spent the rest of the afternoon talking to Cub Scouts (I was too lazy to break out the headphones).
So even though there were no HF contacts today, I still consider it to be a pretty good day on the radio. Talked to 21 Scouts in total, mostly Cub Scouts. Many weren’t terribly talkative, but a few were downright chatty. Some of them learned about the Yorktown. All got exposed to radio and it seemed to have generated some interested at the camp.
Update: I’ll be running the special event activation for a few hours in the afternoon on April 14 starting around 1PM-ish (1700 UTC). Most of the activity will happen on April 15 where we’ll be starting around 9AM (1300 UTC) or so, and going until we run out of steam (maybe into the evening). We’ll probably be operating mainly on 20m and 40m, depending on band conditions and operator preference. There might also be some digital or CW thrown in as well, depending on whoever happens to be operating the radio at the time.
My current plan is to be on the air in the afternoon from about 1-5ish on April 14 and 15. Start times may change depending on who decides to join in the fun. I won’t be able to start much earlier than 1 on each day though.
This year, my plan for the South Carolina QSO party was to head on over to the club station on the USS Yorktown to activate WA4USN for a few hours, then come back home and finish off the rest of the day playing under my own call sign.
On the Yorktown, I was joined by Tom,AJ4UQ, and we operated WA4USN for about 5 hours (I was there for 4) and had a pretty good time making a bunch of QSO in the contest. The first couple of hours were pretty slow. On 20m, there were lots of rag chews, the French REF contest going on, but not much activity for the QSO party. Found some more activity down on 40m, but it wasn’t until after noon that things really picked up. Band conditions seemed pretty decent on 20m and 40m, with stations across the country in WA and CA coming in loud and clear. We ended up the day with 167 contacts and a score of 15088 points. A fun time operating on the ship.
After getting back home, I got the antenna and the radio set up outside on the back patio and started tuning around the bands. My first contact was on 40m with OM2VL in the Slovak Republic calling for SCQP. Happy I was able to give him a new multiplier for his day.
Found an open frequency on 40m and called for a while, making a few more contacts, then took a break to tend to the dogs. Noticed the house was feeling pretty cool, and found that the AC was running even though the Nest thermostat was saying it was Off. After futzing around with the Nest a while and resetting breakers, I decided the Nest was borked and set about switching it out with the original thermostat that came with the house. That pretty much derailed my plans for the rest of the QSO party.
So, I finished off the SC QSO party with 5 contacts. Didn’t get to play nearly as long as I was hoping to. Guess I’ll have to try again next year.
Not sure what caused the Nest to fail (actually, the base of the Nest). I’ve had a previous Nest base fail on me a few years ago so it could have been a coincidence. Can’t rule out the possibility that the Nest base got zapped by some RF while I was playing on the radio. It’s not the first time I’ve been on the air here though, and none of those times seemed to have bothered the Nest.