Thursday 30 January 2014

Vintage J-38 telegraph key.

Its finally arrived. My Lionel J-38 Morse key from the world war 2 era.

I found the key on Ebay at a fairly reasonable price but because the auction ended in the middle of the night I decided to set a stupidly high bidding amount so I cold hopefully win the auction.

In the end I really didn’t need to bother the price never increased at the end of the auction so I won the key for $61 and $42 for shipping. So not cheap, but the condition of the key really did warrant the price.

It had been stuck in customs for 3 weeks in the UK until I got the bill from UK Customs asking for yet more money due to a calculation error on the VAT oh and this letter will cost you £8. So another £20.41 was spent unlocking the key from the customs.

Anyway. Its here now.  After a very long and quite awful day of work I decided to break out the Brasso and have a go at cleaning the key. I did learn 1 thing about stripping these things down, and that is to keep the left / right parts of the key separate. That proved really useful advice and everything went back exactly in the same place with no fuss.

These keys are lovely to use. Thus far I haven’t plugged it into a radio (that happens this weekend) but just getting the gap spacing, feel and tension right really makes this key a true pleasure to get your hands on.

The first portable outing with this key will be with my newly constructed FOXX3 transceiver. I’m really looking forward to sitting outside and using the key to talk to the world. Albeit slowly and quite quietly. But that’s some of the joy or going out portable.

I did make a small video of the before and after the cleaning processes, I think you will agree the key looks a lot better.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Outdoors GPS fun

Ok so not strictly a radio topic, but I recently purchased a hand held GPS unit for when I am out & about playing radio or just having a day camp in the woods. I did my research and decided a Garmin eTrex 30 would be the one I would go for. 

The only issue I foresaw was the cost of getting the OS maps on top of the purchase cost of the unit. So I’ve ended up not using OS maps but instead I’ve gone down the Open Source mapping community ( . So far so good. 

The maps are clear, accurate and above all FREE ! the maps are great – as depending on your  activity the maps change. So for instance I’m walking most of the time and being able to see public footpaths and Bridleways is awesome.

A couple of other great features include its amazing battery life (2 AA’s for 20hours)  The ability to see Maidenhead locators, and its seamless Geo Caching integration.  I went out with the family yesterday with my Youngest looking after the eTrex for the days treasure hunt. We had a blast finding 7 Caches in total.

And the little GPS unit was a delight to use. Its now a key part of the radio Go Pack.

Friday 10 January 2014

Something different for a change.

How about making your last 200 contacts in your logbook look a bit special, or even your most memorable contacts look like a piece of artwork?

Well I did just that. After seeing a Facebook post by John (KK4EQF) he showed how he logged over 400 call signs on a map of the US (Click here to view) I decided to take my last 200 QSO’s and overlay them on a map of the UK.

After a little fiddling I settled on this configuration. I’m really quite pleased with it and I might even print a copy & frame it. It’s a lovely way to show off your QSO’s – Even the wife agreed its quite pretty !

You can create your own by clicking on this link