Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

My son Joshua is a boyscout in Troop 114 in Valatie, NY, and they host a 5K run in our village of Valatie, NY every Veteran's Day that is followed by a ceremony in the town park to honour veterans and is hosted by the VFW.
It was my honour to be asked as a veteran to stand with the brave men and women from our village that are veterans going back to WW2. I was humbled and felt inadequate. I was an Army nurse in the reserves and I was mobilized to active duty during the war in Afghanistan for a year and sent to Ft. Sill Oklahoma where I worked in the ICU and cared for soldiers and their families, many of whom were just back from the theatre of war. I had joined the Army with the intention of going to Iraq or Afghanistan to take care of soldiers in theatre, but found myself in Oklahoma instead. I felt like I did not do enough, and not what I signed up for, but in retrospect I feel I did that which I had signed up to do, and I took care of soldiers, it does not matter where I was.

My wife and I recently went on a trip to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary in October 2014 and we had the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor and go to the Arizona Memorial. As I stood today in the village park with those Veterans I was pondering how I felt standing at the Arizona as I looked down into the water at that rusting wreckage of that great ship. I thought of those who lost their lives in service of our country that were on board. As I stood there I could smell the oil that was bubbling out of the wreckage to the surface of the water. The park ranger there said a quart of oil a day leaks from the ship and is considered by Veterans of the war to represent the tears of those who died.
I took this picture from that spot, you can see the oil slick;
So, This Veterans Day, whether or not you served, or not, and whether or not you went to war, or not ,we can all honour and remember those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice, and continue to serve ourselves in whatever capacity we are able, and wherever we find ourselves.
Blessings and 73,

More on the 1938B Mac-Key

According to tracking I will get the Mac-Key tomorrow 11/12/14 (my son’s birthday!). The seller on eBay was reluctant to provide his call sign because he said he had been inactive in the hobby for years, and he did not recall the call sign of the man he got the key from.
Tom French,W1IMQ did confirm it was a 1938B Mac-Key and that it had a replacement paddle, and the one piece brass pendulum weight is not original either. The Mac-Keys had 2 weights right next to each other. From what I learned from the seller, these two changes in the key were made prior to him acquiring the key. So, for the key's history sake I will leave it unchanged for now.

I would be hard pressed to locate an original paddle and weight anyway, unless I found a very poor condition “parts” key to get them from.
Tom French, W1IMQ did add the key to his database of known Mac-Keys and you will find the following entry  listed on his page by order of date and serial number by clicking below;

"1938B 2000 deluxe, thin dot stab, ckt closer. wrong paddle & weight. (ebay nov 2014)" 


Moore Later,
Tom, K2BEW

Sunday, November 9, 2014

1938B Theodore R. McElroy Deluxe Model Mac-Key

I did not expect to post another blog entry so soon, but..., I just won an eBay auction for a 1938B Mac-Key!
I have wanted one of these since before I was licensed as a HAM.
As I mentioned on my QRZ page I am in the process of learning CW, and as someone that has always appreciated vintage radios and equipment the famous Mac-Key is one I learned about early on, and have always wanted.

So, when I saw this one on eBay in good working condition along with a very interesting story of the history of this key, I knew I had to have it!
Here is the history of this key as posted by the seller on ebay;

This MAC-KEY example is the top of the line Deluxe model sporting a simulated black marble finish and chromed upper parts as well a locking bar to “tune” your transmitter.  It bears Serial Number 2000.  It is well used but is complete, clean, operable and with the exception of the “dot” paddle it is original. 

These keyers have a solid and heavy 4 lbs plus base.  Practically everything you can imagine is adjustable in terms of spacing, tension and feel.  The speed of the dots is set by moving the brass colored pendulum.  I have always kept the adjustments a bit loose as it was fun to adjust but I am sure a pro telegrapher would have it locked down.

I have had this key in my possession for over 35 years and have used it at length.  I originally got it from the estate of a retired amateur radio operator who I understood served as a civilian telegrapher before and during WW2.  I do not know the age of the key but I would estimate it was made in the 1940s maybe earlier.  

He did not know the age of the key, but from looking at the pictures and comparing it to the pictures posted on the following website, I am 99% sure it is a 1938B key. I have sent pictures to the author of the web site to register it in his data  base of Mac-Key serial numbers, and to confirm with him that it is in fact a 1938B. More on his response later.


Here are a few picture of the key from eBay, I will do a future post on the key when I get it;
Finally; here is a YouTube video of this key being demonstrated by the seller himself. I downloaded it from YouTube because I suspect the seller will delete it from YouTube, since the key was sold;

Can't wait to get it and post more about it!

Until then, 73!
Tom, K2BEW

The new blog, and refurbishing the Kenwood TS-520


I love reading other Ham's personal websites and decided to start a blog about my own amateur radio activities. So, since I already have a Google account, and they are linked to blogger, this was my quick and easy solution.

I am currently refurbishing the TS-520 that you can see on my QRZ page below, and is in my shack picture that is set as my blogs background image.


I have stripped and primed the cabinet and ordered the matching Kenwood  paint color from eBay.

While I had it opened I went all through it and cleaned and lubricated everything, including pulling the VFO and cleaning and lubricating the VFO gears and shaft.

It had been hanging every couple times I turned the knob and felt like it had a flat spot where if I let go of the knob it would move slightly off frequency as soon as I took my hand off the knob. I have heard of others having the same problem with the 520, and some people on the Kenwood Hybrid Yahoo reflector suggested the shaft was bent, I found that was not the case. I found the old grease that lubricated the VFO shaft and gears had gotten thick with age and dirt and was binding up the post. With a cleaning and re-lubrication it is silky smooth now and does not hang at all.

I also just bought an old Heathkit Mohawk / Apache tuning knob for it. They are made from solid aluminium and nice and heavy. I will add an Elecraft Finger Dimple to make it  complete, here is a picture of the knob and the FingerDimple that will be applied;

Next I want to go through the radio electrically following the Service manual and align it and adjust everything to original specs. I found when I opened it that it looks like a previous owner has replaced the ceramic caps and resistors in the high voltage cage, and under the finals.

I don't have a picture under the High voltage caps, but it looks like they may have changed the high voltage electrolytics, since the solder joints look new on the stubs underneath, and there are pliers marks on the wires. I can't see the actual high voltage caps to see if they are new, because they are in cans.

However, I still think I am going to buy a full recap kit from http://www.hybridrestore.com/parts/
and recap it myself. Then I will know I changed them and will feel better about it. I also noticed when I was going through it that none of the other electrolytics in the radio were ever changed and are all original. So, they will all need to be changed too, and the re-cap kit has all the caps needed in it.

Well, that is all the updates for now. I do have more ideas of what to post in the future, including my progress on the Kenwood. I will post the cabinet pictures too, and let you see how well the paint matched the original.

73 for now,
Tom, K2BEW