Silent Key 
Greetings from the shack...
In case you’ve not heard the term before, a ‘Silent Key’ is a deceased amateur radio operator. The ‘key’ is a reference to a telegraph key used to transmit morse code (CW). Over the last few years we’ve lost a few local radio operators, but most recent is Peter Rosamond G4LHI.
A member of Huntingdon Amateur Radio Society (HARS) Peter gave so much of his time and knowledge to the hobby and assisted countless people on their quest to learn CW.
Although active for many years as a shortwave listener (SWL), Peter was not licensed until 1981. Aged 54. And for the following 40 years he honed his skills and shared all he knew.
Today saw the funeral of this ‘true gentleman’. An inspiration to many, Peter will be sadly missed by club members, family, students and friends across the world.
I’m sat in the shack having just uploaded the audio embedded above which was captured on my Icom 7100 during my first CW lesson with Peter. Radios are currently off and there is an angry pigeon sat on the roof. It’s been loudly cooing at me for ages. If you listen carefully you can hear it in the recording. Weirdly it sounds a little like morse code.
This is the same pigeon who’s life I saved earlier this week when a bunch of professional hedge trimmers asked me if they could shoot it an eat it. I said no, and this is the gratitude I get.
Still, I think I know why the pigeon is still mad at me. In preparation for the sky loop I have not only paid people to reduce the height of a hedge, but I’ve made it a personal mission to trim a few trees. In order for me to get access to one particular tree I needed to climb onto the top of another.
This is not as dangerous as it sounds as on the top of a large evergreen I have installed a pallet covered with a grid of copper wire and a metal panel. Why? Good question. Back in the day, when I knew even less than I do now, I wanted a high spot to stick a CB antenna and rather than sticking a car roof up a tree (or buying a massive twig) I went for the pallet + panel + mag mount set up.
It worked! I trailed the coax into the garden bar and I had a decent few miles of range to at first work 27MHz and then when licensed my ATAS and HF.
Anyway. Getting to the tree required some innovative ladder placement. Innovative meaning creative but not necessarily safe. It got me into the tree no problem. But when I stepped off it the tree sprung back and pushed the ladder over.
Luckily I not only had my phone in my pocket but I also had a cheap HT round my neck with a bunch of repeaters programmed in. So there was no shortage of communication options. Besides the neighbours heard the crash of the ladder and were also aware. Not that they could get in to help me.
I decided that as I still had some tree trimming to do, I’d snip away and join the morning net. The guys on GB3OV found the fact I was ‘stuck’ up a tree highly entertaining. Especially when I called my better half to help and after taking one look at the shifty ladder set up, she took a photo for Facebook and returned inside. (That’s the image above right).
I decided that climbing down into the bowels of a dark, dusty, spiky tree was the best option and that’s what I did. I got shouted at by a couple of wood pigeons whom I think have not forgotten.
And so I’ve left the trees as they are. I’ll try, as we all do, to just get the antenna higher.
Outside of a trip to the Wirral I’ve been pretty much travel free this last week. I did also get out on my bicycle with my HT and after repeatedly passing some interesting antennas behind a house in St Neots, my curiosity got the better of me. As I was on the pushbike it was easy to pull over and knock the door. On last years ride from London to Edinburgh I did the same and love that you can just rock up at someone’s front door and as it opens give your callsign. It’s like a password only a specific geeky fraternity can know. A verbal handshake for the Brethren from the shack of Ohmic Resistance.
I rand the bell and the door opened. Despite sporting semi-mamilian attire all I needed to do was mention my callsign and I was greeted warmly before being invited across the threshold.
Marc M0YWO smiled and we walked through to the back garden so we could talk antennas. His homebrew sky loop was the crowning glory and I was pleased to hear that it gives him great results. We had a lovely chat and I thanked Marc, chuffed that I’d made a new radio buddy.
After the chat I was even more excited to get my own lesser shop-bought sky loop out of the box and up in the sky, where it belongs.
Somewhere in the post a parcel is winging it’s way to me. It contains a second hand MFJ-926B HF Automatic Remote Antenna Tuner, with the MFJ4117 Bias Tee. (No idea what that is. Some kind of controller I hope) It will take 200W but I only have the ability to do 100. (Got a spare power amp you don’t need?)
In other news, there is a lot of speculation about the possible spec of the Yaesu FT-710
It looks portable-ish but it’s not as small as the FT-911 and is certainly not an iCom IC-705 killer. Looks like a weird addition to the Yaesu family.
Chemists use DNA to build the world’s tiniest antenna - The fluorescent Nanoantenna.
And just incase you wanted to see the world’s largest antenna, here it is.
Learn Morse code in 15 mins? Hmmm back in my day this kind of claim would be met with an “Ichy chin!”
Raspberry Pi converts encrypted messages to Morse code.
Here is a podcast for those who would like to hear the news in Morse code at 15wpm
Thanks for reading and I hope subscribing.
I’m new to all this and sharing my discoveries and musings keeps me interested and curious. Please comment on the web version of this email or if you’d like to contribute something more in depth, like a personal project or story, reply to this email and we can chat more. Supporting subscribers get a mention/ad/section to plug something they care about.
Maybe you knew Peter and would like to share a story. The comments are open.
Also, please share this wherever you think it might resonate. You are a select and curious few who read this. Thank you for your time.
Till next time.
“Don’t be afraid.” ~ Peter Rosamond G4LHI
73 de Christian G5DOC