Sunday, August 16, 2015

On a scale of 1 to 10

Today was about a 30 - maybe even more.

The day started sunny and bright. As soon as I walked outside at 7:00 AM, it was easy to tell it was going to be a hot one. Summer! I love it!

I set out one of my 12 Volt SLA batteries on a patio chair in the backyard and hooked up one of my small solar panels to get it charged up.  I had used the battery as a power source so I could program the Juentai VHF/UHF radio in the house, as well as to do some test transmissions.  At 20 Watts out, I depleted the battery rather quickly, so I took the opportunity to use sunny days both yesterday and today to get it back up to full capacity.

I had gone to Mass on Saturday evening, so I used the quiet time (and "cool" morning) to install the Jeuntai into the Jeep. I mounted it "sideways" to the front console in the Patriot, where the transmission gear shift stick is. This is a really lousy photo, but it will show you what I mean:

I had to go to Home Depot to get some shorter sheet metal screws. The ones that came with the unit were about 3/4" long. I put my hand up and in behind the housing/fairing and could not feel anything vital behind my proposed mounting area, but I still wanted shorter screws. I got some 3/8" ones that did the job magnificently. The unit will sit a few inches from my right knee, but it is completely out of the way and non-interfering with the operation of the car. Not that I use it that much, bit it's great to have VHF/UHF in the car again.

Shortly after, I went down the basement shack to see if I could work any lighthouses during International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.  The bands were terrible!  I managed to hear and work one - W8F, the Fort Gratiot lighthouse at Port Huron. Michigan.  QSB was terrible, but I gave Stan a 579 and he gave me the same.

Then at 1:30 PM, I left to take a short drive over to Dave KD2FSI's house. Dave was hosting the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club's Digital Rookie Roundup effort.  He had his two Yaesu's hooked up and raring to go. He also had on display a Heathkit transciever that he recently bought at the Sussex County Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in July.  Talk about pristine!  Dave "lifted the hood" and let us take a look inside - it looked like it was built yesterday. It is immaculate, and looks like brand spanking new. And on the table next to it was an HW-8.

The bands were as terrible at Dave's house as they were at mine (surprise!). There wasn't a lot of Rookie RTTY activity, so Dave graced us with demos of PSK31 and the other digi modes and we had a great time shooting the breeze. Marv K2VHW and Drew W2OU were there in addition to a couple of Dave's neighborhood friends.  I think between Dave, Marv, Drew and I, we gave his friends a good enough rundown on Amateur Radio that they could have passed the Tech test had we given it to them!

I had to leave at around 3:30 PM as I had promised my son Joey and my wife Marianne that I would accompany them to the community pool this afternoon. They've made use of the pool a lot this summer, and I haven't - so I promised I would go today. As I was leaving Dave's house and saying my good-byes, Dave says to me, "Make sure you don't leave without your radio." All I could do was shoot him a "?????" look.  "The HW-8 ..... it's yours."

I was speechless. He had said that he had read somewhere (guess where?) that the HW-8 was my first QRP rig and that I had very much regretted parting with it years back.  He had his son scour eBay for a good deal and acquired it for me.  I was still speechless.  I managed to croak out a "Thanks, Dave - you shouldn't have". But that is soooooooo inadequate. Dave has a heart of gold and as much as that HW-8 means to me, Dave's frienship means even more. I can't ever re-pay his generosity, but that sure doesn't mean that I'm not going to try - somehow, someway, someday.

As you can see, the rig is in pristine condition, besides the writing on the power supply, there's not a mark or scratch on it.  Whoever had it made one modification that I can tell, they traded out the original RCA connector that was used for the antenna connection with an SO-239 - so that's perfect! This baby is going to get a lot of use. Yes, it's a HW-8, but I now have one back in my hands, and it's also a testament to the generosity of a great Ham and better yet, a great friend.

I did go to the pool with Marianne and Joey and even went in the water. I stayed at the shallow 3 foot end as I never learned how to swim as a kid.  Even so, Marianne, Joey and I stayed there for about two hours, enjoying the cool water and we played a game of catch with this "Wubba" pool ball (small, soft, floats, unsinkable) that Joey had purchased when we were up at Lake George.

The evening was rounded out with a delicious dinner of grilled Teriyaki chicken, baked taters and corn, all consumed while leisurely sitting around the patio table in the back yard. We were able to enjoy the cooler evening air and each other's company.

So, yeah, on a scale of 1 to 10, today was about a 30 - heck, maybe even a 50!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. You know Heathkit was very much a part of my early ham career -- I practically had those catalogs memorized. While I'd admired the HW-8, I never owned one. However, I've heard it said that the receiver in the HW-8 "sucked canal water."

    I came very close to buying an HW-16, but it was already sold when I called. (And that was fortunate, because I had about $100 less in my checking account than I thought I did). Since then, I've always been curious what it would have been like to use one.

  2. Larry, congrats on the HW-8! What a great friend you have there. I hope to work you on it sometime. I never owned one, but they have always intrigued me. Actually, I enjoyed your entire story very much, from going to Mass on Saturday (leaving playtime for Sunday morning.....been there, done that!) to pool time and teriyaki chicken. Sounds like a great day. I loved seeing the install photo of the Juental dual-bander.....I had no idea how small they are. Makes for an easy installation. Very neat! Have a great week.