“Electricity is NOT a toy”
The ARRL 10-meter (28-MHz) contest was a couple of weeks ago. Given that I had bothered to install a 10-meter antenna at this QTH and that conditions seem to be improving, I thought it would be fun to play.
I fired up CQing on Saturday and after a few minutes, Sarah appeared at the shack doorway. This usually means that something is broken or I’m causing RFI to something she wants to be using. Since I’m not KT0R, who used to tell his neighbors that he was “busy and please come back on Monday,” I obliged her. It was the CO detector again. I unplugged it (it’s battery-backed, so it just means that contesting burns through 9-volt batteries) and returned to the game. Peace reigned again in the Miller household.
Sneaking in a little bit of contesting before church on Sunday morning is a long-standing habit of mine, although it seems that the Sunday openings are usually better than the Saturday openings. Today was no exception. I was working hard to extract a few QSOs out of what appeared to be a mostly dead band and Sarah again showed up at the shack doorway—this time with wet hair and quite agitated.
“The outlet is popping when I plug the hair-dryer into it!”
I assured her that I would take care of it, adding that it was “probably just the radio getting into the GFI. Let me send a few dits and see if it starts clicking.”
“No, you stay there, I’ll send the dits. How do you do it?”
“Just press the left paddle.”
And so, Sarah made her first ham radio transmission on 10-meter CW this morning (after which I did identify, for the record). I confirmed that the outlet made a little click. She was not completely convinced, but I told her I would shut down while she dried her hair so I could monitor the situation.
The hairdryer (a prior unit), Sarah, and I have had run-ins before. Several years ago, when we were poor graduate students, a loose screw was causing a nasty vibration in the old hairdryer. So, I tightened it up and gave it back to her, not knowing that there was another screw floating around inside the case. One morning, that screw found its way into the motor and sparked. When Sarah called me on the phone, I thought she’d burnt the house down. As much as it pains me, I no longer attempt to fix any appliances that cost less than $50 as a result of this episode.
Still worked up, Sarah took the opportunity to grill me about the compatibility of contesting with family life…”When have children, how will you hear them if they’re in trouble and you have your headphones on? (In jest, I later proposed wiring a baby monitor into the SOnR audio chain.) Can’t you listen with the speaker? How will we keep them from eating your little parts, bits of wire, and globs of solder? Electricity is not a toy!”
We laughed at the last one. And she added, “I hope they’re all girls who want everything hot pink—so much hot pink that we want to barf.”
I suppose if someone makes a hot-pink Hello Kitty AK-47 (the photo actually looks like a painting of an AR-15) and the Sarah-cuda bow, we can find hot-pink solder irons, paddle finger pieces, headphones, and even radios (I seem to recall that there was a BabyPhat mod’ed hot-pink Motorola HT floating around the web a few years ago).
Anyhow, this post is for Sarah because she puts up with a lot of tinkering, RFI, and headphone time and gets very little blog recognition in return for it.
(The photo above is of Ft Rock, Oregon, taken by me when I was on assignment there.)