Saturday Spent Yelling at Old Guys…

I do not do that much SSB con­test­ing. My sig­nal sucks on CW, my most effi­cient mode so I bare­ly mess with SSB. I told myself long ago that I would just avoid the humil­i­a­tion. That…except I real­ly enjoy the NAQP series of con­tests. Aug 15th (UTC) is basi­cal­ly 12 hours long and I can par­tic­i­pate in up to 10 hours. Good dura­tion, good activ­i­ty. So what the heck, why not play in the SSB contest.

So Fri­day evening, my first mis­take was to wait until the last minute to get N1MM Voice Key­er to play through my Sig­nalink USB. I fig­ured it would work, it’s a sound card via USB after all, and it might work but not for me. I am sure to exac­er­bate the sit­u­a­tion by insist­ing on using Vista and the wonky sound han­dling. VMWare for XP for con­test­ing is a top­ic for anoth­er day. So, I could hear myself and N1MM log­ger doing just fine through my head­phones, but the key­ing of the rig was wonky. I final­ly gave up think­ing I could just use the hand-mike…shudder. Then off I drift­ed to dreamland.

Actu­al­ly, before I drift­ed off to sleep I remem­bered I had an old Heil BM-10 head­seat that I could try to con­nect. That would be my project Sat­ur­day morn­ing before the con­test. I would splice it to a hunk of CAT5 (for PTT and Micro­phone input) and use it in lieu of the hand-mike. Night night.

Found the BM-10, rough shape as it was. I did­n’t remem­ber what the ele­ment was so I undid the mouth­piece. Gen­tly I pried the ele­ment back so I would be able to view the mod­el hid­den on the bot­tom of the ele­ment. Advice: Don’t ever do that. I snapped the ele­ment away from the very small con­nect­ing wires. It is an HC4 by the way. Should work great in the con­test IF I DIDN’T BREAK IT!

OK I am handy with a sol­der­ing iron and I had a tip already installed from my last sur­face mount project. In a mat­ter of min­utes I had sol­dered the leads back onto the unit and thread­ed the think safe­ly into the pro­tec­tion of the mouth­piece. I chopped off the DIN con­nec­tor from the radio end of the cable and stripped it back in order to splice onto one-half a CAT5 cable. For push-to-talk I found the need­ed wires. I ful­ly intend­ed to cob­ble togeth­er a great foot switch from an old tran­scrip­tions machine. I could­n’t find it in the pile-o-junque. Anoth­er rev­e­la­tion occurred as I scanned my workbench…I could use a J‑38 straight-key as a foot switch. A minute lat­er (and one knob removed so I did­n’t ruin it with my foot) and I have a great lit­tle set­up. And when I say I am run­ning bare­foot I mean I actu­al­ly am: I can feel the foot-switch much better.

So fast for­ward to now. I am tak­ing a half-hour break to clear my head and use up some off-the-clock time. If I break 250Qs it will be a mir­a­cle. Hav­ing fun but my throat is a bit sore. Only an hour to go so I am going to tor­ture myself with try­ing 160M…yelling at old guys until they answer me.

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