Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little Look-up

Today, I took some time out from my volunteer gig at the ARRL Laboratory to explore the League's files of Amateur Radio Callbooks that go back to the founding of the hobby -- when giants strode the earth. As far as I know, no one publishes a printed Callbook any more -- there are CD-ROM versions, and the information is available through quite a few online services. The print volumes are great as archives, but unfortunately no one has undertaken the big (!) chore to scan and OCR the volumes for general access. ( will let you look up a callsign for 1960 and a number of the more recent yearly databases.)

Anyway I found the first Callbook instances of my 4 callsigns: K5MXF (1958), WA1OCT (1971), WB6YBQ (1974), and AA6E (1979). Like many old timer hams, I did not keep my early license documents and my memory of exact dates was fuzzy. It's good to have them now.

The League has a great archive, but alas there is no one tasked to retrieve data for members. It might make a good service job for the right volunteer in the Newington area.

Note added: If you try for historical data, you need to be registered (free) and logged in. Go to, enter the call sign and check the box "Look up this callsign from all available database years".

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'm coming off the high of finishing the BARTG RTTY contest this weekend. I had a near 50 year record of not contesting (apart from a couple of Field Day "non" contests), but for some reason this was the time to dip a toe in. Upshot: > 440 QSOs in many countries. Finished up with a burst of Japanese stations on 20 M. (Japan has been very elusive from this QTH.)

Maybe it was partly because I've just been reading up on RTTY history.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Visit to Cable & Connectors

One of the features of having a volunteer gig at ARRL in Newington, CT, is getting to drop in at this store. To my mind, it's what Radio Shack should have been - a great place to browse for doo-dads for the next building project.

What stopped me in the aisle was an item hanging on the rack - An "11-pin octal socket". A weird concept, that.

You can search for them, too. I also find a listing for 4-pin octals.

Note added: Latin lovers and computer geeks will realize that "octal" means eight. See Wikipedia on tube sockets. I find sockets named "Septar" (7 pin), "Noval" (9 pin), "Decal" (10), and "Duodecal" (12). There was a brief time when engineers still knew some Latin! Now, an 11-pin octal doesn't raise an eyebrow.