Monday, May 30, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Today is Memorial Day--a time to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our nation.  Despite a full weekend of drag races and other holiday events that kept our radio station staff busy, I welcomed a return to the news room this morning. This time gave me a chance to grace my newscasts with some heartfelt thanks to veterans and their families for their service to this still great country.  Like many vets, I don't care to share war stories...some memories are best forgotten.  I was fortunate to return alive with most of my faculties intact.  Others were not so lucky.  The tie between my service and amateur radio goes back some 40 years or more when many of us stationed in remote, deservedly forgotten areas of the world kept in touch with our families through MARS stations.  Those were the days before e-mail, skype, iPhones, or any other high tech communications marvels.  I owe a debt of gratitude to those MARS operators who kept us sane in a world gone crazy.  Perhaps the best known of the MARS opertors was the late Barry Goldwater, a United States Senator from Arizona and former presidential candidate.  Of course, there were many others who reached out to our service personnel during that time....many thanks for making our lives a touch better.   When I finally retire from the news business, I'll reactivate my past Air Force MARS license and give back to those serving today.

When that day arrives, I'll have to modernize my amateur radio station which now resembles a radio museum.  Most of my rigs are old Kenwoods, Yaesus, and Swans.  Perhaps I have the ideal excuse for buying that Elecraft K3.  I'm saving for that little gem as fast as I can.  Of course, my minimal antenna system will have to be upgraded.  That will be an interesting project, considering the space limitations presented by my current QTH.  Once the XYL and I get our house built on a larger piece of land, antenna issues will be lessened.  I don't know about a tower, since erecting a 100' metal mast with monobeams would severely tax my aging bones.  Rather than take a chance of falling onto a hard lava flow, I'll most likely opt for a vertical beam.  I have a good supply of fiberglass masts, so anything from a full-wave loop to a 3-element 40-meter vertical beam is possible.  For now, I'll improve what I have until a move to a more spacious location is done.  The recently-erected inverted 40-meter "v" seems to be working well, despite propagation problems. 

After wrapping up the newscasts for the day, I'll head home for some late afternoon cw and a few SSB ragchews, propagation permitting.  Have a good holiday...and warmest aloha to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms.  Although I was never a marine and only "flew a desk" in the Air Force, I salute the spirit of "Semper Fi".   May God bless all of you.   73 de KH6JRM