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bumfuzzle[ buhm-fuhz-uh l ]
verb (used with object), bum·fuz·zled, bum·fuz·zling. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S.
– to confuse or fluster.

Origin of Bumfuzzle

1900–05; bum- (expressive prefix, perhaps to be identified with the initial syllable of bamboozle) + fuzzle to confuse (perhaps expressive alteration of fuddle)

This is how I would characterize my reaction to this item appearing on the ARRL website on January 19, 2020. Just confused and flustered:

My own belief was that CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX was doing a necessary and deliberate job in changing the operational focus of the League’s office and services. The main goal as he stated publicly was to increase the value of League membership. He was a very successful CEO of the much, much larger and more complex association, IEEE.

As a Presenter on the ICQ Podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to regularly interview Howard after each Board meeting of the ARRL so as to get our listeners updated on Board actions that had occurred and were being rolled out. I put him on the spot each time, asking what he had done to increase the value of membership. He always responded with an articulate set of accomplishments and plans. As a Life Member of the League, I thought he was doing a great job, especially walking into an opening where his predecessor was ousted after only a couple of years, amidst much rancor and consternation by members and non-members alike. So I’m bumfuzzled.

League officials, including the just re-elected President, have stated that it’s a personnel matter so there is no public comment. Others engage in conjecture, based upon the nefarious “I heard…” source of information that always occurs in the absence of factual source-based statements. I’ve heard a lot, too. And from a wide range of sources. But not much that is public.

The recent emergence of a “backlash group,” coming on the heels of the previous CEO hiring, censure of a Board member, and the attempted change of officers getting a vote on matters in addition to the long-standing votes of Board members, has pressed for greater openness in League business. This group stated that transparency in League actions is paramount. The myARRLvoice group states the following on it’s web-page:

This group had a couple of supporters get elected to the Board in a recent election. We will see how these two Directors, especially, act to publicly announce how they voted regarding election of the CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX. It’s on the “I heard…” rumor mill that the vote was 9-6 to not re-elect Michel. How did each Board member vote? I asked my Director, David Norris K5UZ, how he voted. Note: I serve as one of his appointed Assistant Directors. He told me that he voted to retain Howard and thought he was doing a fine job. So that is one vote now made public.

How did your Division Director vote? If you don’t know, ask them! And why? Did they take your views into account in the run-up to this Board meeting? They are your voice on the ARRL Board, if you’re a member of the League.

George W5JDX Sets Rig on Fire!

Channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis, George Thomas W5JDX set his dual-band rig on fire at the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association on Tuesday evening. All for demonstrating DIY Projects with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Not everyone is aware that W5JDX is an accomplished musician. George brought the house down, to say the least, with this Arduino Grand Finale. But let me explain.

The only fire involved was W5JDX using a lighter to dramatically raise the temperature of a heat sensor attached to an Arduino. But, the voice chip in an Arduino “hat” very audibly announced: “Your rig is on fire!“. All done in the fine instructional style that led the Dayton Amateur Radio Association to give him a Special Achievement Award in 2013 for his tutorials on AmateurLogic.TV and the Smoke & Solder segment on Ham Nation.

The presentation was exceptionally well received. We were fortunate to snag George for a talk since he’s very, very busy. Not only with AmateurLogic.TV, the very first video podcast in the world of any genre, but the highly popular Smoke & Solder segment on Ham Nation, but as an RF Engineer for a chain of radio stations in Central Mississippi. This talk was streamed via Facebook Live at the club’s page there. For followers of AmateurLogic.TV, one may recall a mishap that a former podcast member, Jim Burrell (N5SPE), had with a propane torch. Jim has taken much grief over that episode for years. Hmm. I guess that Jim now has good company, with George’s rig “on fire!”

Here’s my produced version of George’s talk, shown below. The brightness of the projection screen’s reflection made my HD camera go darker than I’d have liked. I’ll remember that and move it to the side to avoid that next time. The Facebook Live stream was just to my right and didn’t suffer this situation.

Smoke & Solder Host to Kick-Off Banner Year of CMSARA Speakers

January 11, 2020. (Brandon, MS): For Immediate Release

Information Contact: Frank Howell K4FMH [email protected]

A fan favorite from the internationally known video podcast, Ham Nation, kicks off the 2020 programs for the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Club. “We are delighted to have George Thomas W5JDX, star of the Solder Smoke segment on Ham Nation and founder of, give our first presentation on January 14, 2020,” said Frank Howell K4FMH, Vice President for Programming. Ham Nation Founder Bob Heil K9EID says that Smoke & Solder is by far the most popular segment of the show according to email and other feedback. George’s topic will be, “DIY Projects Using Arduino and Raspberry Pi,” beginning at 7:00pm at the Rankin County Extension Service and EOC Building. CMSARA President Quinton Frasier KW5TON added, “I’m excited to see George W5JDX in person this month at our meeting. It’s unusual that we could get him to give a live talk since he’s so busy with Ham Nation, Amateur Logic TV, and his day job of RF Engineer for many radio stations in the Central Mississippi area.”

George W5JDX is only the first well known ham to headline this year’s program agenda, added Frank K4FMH. “We will follow George with the prolific author, broadcaster, and ham radio operator Don Keith N4KC in February.” Don’s recent book, Firing Point, was made into a very popular movie, Hunter Killer, with others on the way. He is a prolific author of books about shortwave and amateur radio, one of which is The Amateur Radio Dictionary: The Most Complete Glossary of Ham Radio Terms Ever Compiled. Don’s February presentation via Skype will be on Ham Radio Lingo. Our year will backend with Rob Sherwood NC0B, producer of the Holy Grail of receiver measurement ratings, the Sherwood Tables. Rob’s talk, also via Skype, is titled, “How to Use My Tables.” These are very well-known amateur radio operators but we have much more during the year planned for presentations.

“We wanted to blend some well-known ham speakers that we do not regularly get to experience in a club setting with informative topics from both our own members and other area hams,” Frank K4FMH said. “I think we’ve done that.” Topics and speakers include operations on six meters (Mike Duke K5XU), WSPR (J.D. Toony K5HH), APRS (Mike McKay APRS), and digital modes on HF (Eddie Pettis N5JGK and Carolyn Irons KJ5RC). We will also cover preparing for contest operations (John Struemph  K1JHS), establishing basic test equipment on your workbench (Tom Brown AE5I) and a festival of pictures of CMSARA member shacks during a program called Shack Night!. Frank K4FMH said, “I’m very pleased to have area hams who are affiliated with the Jackson ARC and the Vicksburg ARC to deliver top flight presentations to our membership and meeting attendees.” The ability to have an interchange of ideas and experiences from area hams is a real benefit to maintaining a vibrant club.

CMSARA welcomes non-members, hams who are visiting the area, and groups from nearby cities to join us at the Rankin County Extension Service auditorium where we have plenty of seating, good audio-visual equipment, and Internet access. We keep the “business” end of our club to a minimum and include a half-hour of pre-program fellowship as well as after the program itself. VE Testing is available every month with the exceptions of June and December due to Field Day planning and our Christmas Party respectively. The club has periodically had car pools of hams from as far away as the Starkville and Columbus areas attend CMSARA programs.

J.D. Toony K5HH, Vice President of Special Events added, “This will be an exciting year for radio amateurs in the Central Mississippi area. Not only for this month program agenda but for the multiple outings we are planning, a group Field Day, our new involvement with the Girl Scouts program, and a new repeater Net for new hams.” CMSARA welcomes visitors so get a car pool together and come visit us! Our website at has updated information as well as via our Facebook group (, e-mail ([email protected]) and telephone (601-345-1654).The Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) status Mississippi  corporation serving counties in the Central Mississippi area. We focus on promoting having fun within the hobby and serving our communities through emergency and public service communications. We meet monthly on the second Tuesday at the Rankin County Extension Service / EOC Building, 601 Marquette Road, Brandon, MS 39042. Contact us at 601-345-1654 or at [email protected] for additional information. Any program changes will be communicated via the club website and Facebook page.

Is the ARRL Listening About Shipping? Or is it just me…

A few months ago, I challenged the ARRL’s new mission to serve members in a more effective way by bringing “value” to members. I suggested that one quick “win” would be to stop selling through Amazon (at a 55% discount) and use that money-per-book to fund “free shipping” for members who purchase books. Many readers just didn’t read beyond the title of “free shipping” before raining down the it-will-just-be-passed-along-to-members rhetoric. This does not understand that the League would make a greater profit margin by selling at the 100% retail price (even with whatever discount the member may receive by being a Certified Instructor, etc.), charging no shipping, and still recouping a higher profit than the automatic 55% “loss” through the standard wholesale discount.

In one of my interviews with Howard Michel ARRL CEO on the ICQ Podcast, he said he ran the numbers and that it wouldn’t work out. I did not directly challenge him on that issue since it’s clearly his call. My thought was that it was a pure and simple strategy to demonstrate his new vision of “increasing value.” But enough with my recommendations, already!

ARRL Cyber Monday FREE SHIPPING on $50+ Coupon

However, perhaps it’s just me, but has the ARRL increased their free or discounted shipping stance in marketing publications? Like other League members, I’m sure, I received the above coupon code for Cyber Monday (after Thanksgiving). It’s FREE SHIPPING on $50 or more. That’s an incentive, especially with the new Handbook out and discounted temporarily at $40. So, I thought I’d grab another discounted book to reach $50 or more and get a FREE SHIPPING discount. On my daily driver desktop, I run Linux Mint on a Dell T-5500 8-core CPU with 72GB of RAM and a gigbit Internet service via ethernet to my commercial class switch. I rarely ever have buffering of websites from my end. Ever. But, boy, did I on this Cyber Monday order at! It took several HOURS for me to get the order through to checkout. I tried several different machines, in addition, just to ensure it wasn’t on my end. It wasn’t as I did a network speed operation test on getting packets to and from the server. It was on that end…because, no doubt, there was a boatload of customers ordering. So that’s the point of marketing offers, no? And I’m very happy to see evidence of it drawing a crowd at the virtual checkout page at the League’s website.

And, here are several more adverts e-mailed to members, all with $5 discounted shipping. So, has the ARRL been rolling out a version of this “free shipping” strategy? Well, only some offers reflect actually free shipping but a cap at $5 shipping is also a winning offer, too. I’m delighted at this marketing move by ARRL Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. Keep it up, Bob! This increases value to members who receive the code coupons.

W9DYV Symposium Line-Up Finalized

The line-up of speakers for the Wes Schum W9DYV Radio Symposium at the St. Louis area Winterfest 2020 has now been finalized. Nick Tusa K5EF, coordinator for the Symposium, was pleased to announce that long-time boat anchor operator and aficionado Lynn Fisk, K5LYN is the final speaker.

Lynn K5LYN

Lynn Fisk grew up in the Texas Panhandle in the 1950s/early 1960s and enjoyed playing with radios since an early age. Amateur radio has been his life-long passion after earning his General Class ticket at age 15. Lynn was drawn to the early Central Electronics exciters developed and sold by Wes Schum W9DYV that were on the air everywhere in those days. However, he had to grow up, go to college and become a professional in Latin America History first! He eventually moved into the healthcare industry, later retired from the State of Texas in 1997 and resides in Austin, Texas.

Since retirement, Lynn has been a full-time restorer of vintage radio equipment and avid homebrewer. His more recent projects have included the design of transceiver adapters for 9MHz phasing exciters and the construction of medium-power linear amplifiers.

Lynn is extremely active in the vintage radio community while serving as one of the net control stations for both the Boatanchors Unlimited and Vintage Sideband HF nets. His nets are quite lively and often start off with a short description of how the early days of single sideband progressed in the 1950s-70s.

Nick Tusa said, “The Symposium is enhanced significantly by Lynn’s agreement to speak in the final slot on the program. His long background and standing in the ‘boat anchor’ community will supplement what our other fine speakers contribute to this year’s program at Winterfest 2020.”

Nick K5EF

K5EF also has a lengthy history with Wes Schum’s SSB and Central Electronics equipment. Nick started his adventure into Amateur Radio in 1963 as a novice class attendee at the Jefferson Amateur Radio Club. First licensed as WN5NID and later WA5RMC, Nick’s interest in Ham Radio led to an Electrical Engineering degree from Tulane University and a 40-year career in Radio/Microwave system engineering. K5EF also has a lengthy history with Wes Schum’s SSB and Central Electronics equipment. Nick started his adventure into Amateur Radio in 1963 as a novice class attendee at the Jefferson Amateur Radio Club. First licensed as WN5NID and later WA5RMC, Nick’s interest in Ham Radio led to an Electrical Engineering degree from Tulane University and a 40-year career in Radio/Microwave system engineering.

A life-long resident of the New Orleans area, Tusa Consulting Services – the firm he founded – has developed and implemented numerous public safety conventional and trunked analog and digital voice/paging radio systems throughout the US. Nick’s hobby interests – aside from Triumph sports cars – include antenna system design, homebrewing of HF equipment of all types, and the restoration of vintage radio gear (Collins, Central Electronics and TMC) and mechanical Teletype equipment.

All in all, this year’s W9DYV Symposium could be the best one yet! See videos from last year’s speakers for a flavor of the event held then in Slidell, LA. Make you plans now as this is a growing hamfest sponsored by the St. Louis and Suburban Radio Club.

Hans Solves Exploding Power Transistor with Siglent’s Help! And a New Product…

Exploding power amplifier transistors! Hmm…that’s not a good start to any ham’s operating session. But it happened to Hans Summers G0UPL as he was doing development work on the firmware (version 1.03) designed to accompany his very popular QCX transceiver sold through his company, QRP-Labs. Hans, the recipient of the 2019 Homebrew Heroes Award, was doing some firmware enhancements for CAT control of the QCX (version 1.03) to drive an external amplifier when the amplifier’s power transistor …. well, see for yourself.

RF510 power transistor blown apart

But what on earth caused the explosion? Here’s where a product donated to our Hero for 2019 came to the rescue. Siglent Technologies donated their SDS1202X-E oscilloscope to Hans as part of their sponsorship. He documents how he used the Siglent oscilloscope to diagnose the power spikes that led to the complete component failure in certain circumstances on his blog.

I had switched the QCX off and on again with the toggle switch on the my front panel, rather fast. There was a bright flash and a loud bang. My QCX is connected to a 0-30V 0-20A linear-regulated bench power supply, capable of supplying a lot of power. Investigation revealed that one of the IRF510 power transistors had blown up quite spectacularly. This photo shows the result. Note that the explosion did not blow the IRF510 pins off; my safe removal strategy for replacing components, is to CUT the component out then remove the pins one-by-one from the board by de-soldering them.

Hans G0UPL

Hans explains his diagnostics further, “Investigation with my nice new Siglent SDS 1203X-E oscilloscope (thanks to kind donation by Siglent, sponsors of the Homebrew Heroes award 2019), revealed the following different power-up characteristic, depending on whether the QCX is switched on by turning on the power supply, which is what I normally do, or by switching it on at the toggle switch.

The Siglent SDS 1203X-E oscilloscope has storage features where the display can be frozen by pressing the Run/Stop button at top right. So it is possible to capture an event in “human scale time” with the horizontal timebase running at something like 100ms/div or 200ms/div; then with the display frozen you can scroll it left/right using the horizontal position control, then zoom in on the feature to be investigated, using the Horizontal Zoom knob. Once the display shows the section of waveform of interest, you can use the cursors to make precise measurements of time difference, voltage difference etc. This is very useful to examine and understand features which happen too fast to be seen or captured normally. Screenshots can be captured easily by plugging in a USB flash drive and pressing the “Print” button.”

Siglent SDS 1203X-E in action on Hans’ Workbench
“…this is what the voltage at the PA supply connection pad looks like, when I press the On/Off button on the 0-30V 0-20A bench power supply. It rises nice and gently to 20V, reaching 90% of its final supply voltage after about 56ms and the full 20V supply voltage another 20-30ms after that.”
“(This) is what happens when the toggle switch on the QCX enclosure front panel is switched on (with the power supply already on). The combined effect of the smoothing capacitor in the power supply and the 2200uF capacitor in the QCX enclosure, is that the voltage at the Power Amplifier pad rises extremely fast, and with a significant overshoot; the trace shows a rise to 33V 364us after power-on. There’s another very short spike 2ms after switch-on.”
“Here is a zoom of the first spike with the overshoots. Pretty nasty!”

Hans gives more technical details behind his diagnosis on his blog post but the “nasty” spikes were detected through bench testing and then diagnosing the issues producing it using his new Siglent SDS 1203X-E oscilloscope. This provides a cogent illustration of how our Hero for 2019 goes about his development and testing work for his product line. Like a fine wine, it takes time to ensure that the finished product, whether it’s hardware or a firmware update like in this instance, is working as the higher level block diagrams are intended for it to.

Hans G0UPL diagram of why the IRF510 self-destructed

Hans states, “My theory is, that the first PTT signal, at power-up, when coincident with all those nasty spikes at switch on (via the toggle switch), and with the PA circuit not yet settled down (all its capacitors charged up, solid state Rx/Tx switching in stable state, etc), creates the right conditions for catastrophic positive feedback in the PA to set up a huge spurious oscillation which is sufficient to self-destruct, via the explosion of one of the transistors. This does NOT occur in my normal power-up sequence via the on/off button of the power supply. Neither does it occur if I switch off with the toggle switch, wait a second, then switch on again. It only occurred when I switched on and off quickly.” The hand diagram above illustrates his theory of the self-destructing PA transistor.

This does NOT occur in my normal power-up sequence via the on/off button of the power supply. Neither does it occur if I switch off with the toggle switch, wait a second, then switch on again. It only occurred when I switched on and off quickly.

Hans G0UPL

The solution? He says it’s an easy fix. “This situation can be resolved very simply by adding a 10K resistor (value entirely uncritical) between the RX signal and +5V. When the processor pins are floating while the processor is starting up, the RX signal is therefore pulled to +5V, until the processor has started and is ready to take over the job. In this fragment of the schematic (below) the additional resistor is shown in the yellow box. I simply soldered it between IC3 pins 13 and 14 which is convenient and easy.” The diagram below illustrates the remedy shown in yellow.

Hans told me by e-mail that, “The QCX + 50W PA is now back in order and I had 9 nice QSOs this morning, with YL Elvira ZA1EM, then E74LZ, UR5MUY, IK7XJA, LZ1HDA, OM3CAZ, R7BW, EW8CP and RW3KE.” So a 10K resistor plus the workbench savvy with a new modern oscilloscope came to the rescue.

Psst…New Product!

The 50W Power Amplifier is a new product that QRP Labs has in very late development. No, it’s actually almost ready to announce with this final change. Hans wrote me today, “Yes, This 50W PA is a new product…This 50W amp is designed as a low cost single-band amplifier for the QCX (which is my flagship 5W CW transceiver ).”

New 50W Amplifier Kit to be announced soon!

The description of the new 50W amplifier was sent to me earlier today and should approximate what will be on the QRP Labs website (always subject to last minute changes, of course). Hans says he is finalizing the manual now and expects an official announcement in a week or so from today. So watch his website for the official announcement. The description is in Hans’ words to me by e-mail earlier today.

This 50W Amplifier includes the Low Pass Filter. It can be built for any of 40, 30 or 20m using the supplied components in the kit and therefore covers 95% of QCX owners. Any other bands would be possible too if suitable inductors and capacitors were substituted in the Low Pass Filter.

Inside the box

The amp kit also includes two substantial heatsinks, which are the same design of custom-made heatsink I use in my 10W Linear kit Each heatsink is black anodized aluminium and sized 130 x 28mm, with 25mm fins. ALL the connectors are also included in the kit.

A key feature of the amplifier kit is that it has solid state PIN diode Transmit/Receive switching, which is fast, reliable, low cost and silky smooth quiet… it enables full break-in operation (QSK) which is very important for many CW operators (hearing the band during the tiny gaps between your own dits and dahs). Perfecting the transmit/receive switching took 80% of the development time of the kit.

Front panel board

I have used the prototype for over 500 QSOs over the summer on 40m, working from US to New Zealand, Japan, Northern Europe to Middle East. With band conditions in the doldrums they are, or if people wish to have a sked with a friend at a particular time and location, that little extra power can be very useful! QRP has its place, QRO does too.

The custom-manufactured enclosure kit is extruded black anodized aluminium, size 130 x 63 x 25mm and the heatsinks bolt on the top. On the rear are BNC in and out connectors, DC power connector, and a jack for the PTT signal from the QCX. It is designed to match the QCX but could easily be used for other QRP CW rigs too; it may even work well in Linear operation (with the bias adjusted correctly) but this remains to be seen and tested.

50W amplifier rear view


This is the type of bench work that great designers go through, largely unbeknownst to amateur radio operators who purchase their products. Of course, there are issues that get by even the most careful workbench. But here’s a case of precisely why the corporate donors to the Homebrew Heroes Award program have chosen to participate: to give our recipient tools to help that person to do their best work on what they do in the homebrew maker space. To see more of Hans’ illustration of this episode in homebrew development, see his website for a forthcoming video.

Here’s to you, Siglent! And, to Jason Chonko who believed in the HHA program immediately and signed his company on as a sponsor. To see this 200 mhz oscilloscope in action, go to this link.

If you’d like your company’s equipment on the workbench of our next Homebrew Heroe, contact us through the HHA website. We are accepting sponsors for the 2020 HHA now and will announce a new one soon.

Windfall for Winterfest 2020!

Sometimes things just drop in over the transom. But it’s usually when the transom-owner is effective, organized and the opportunity coming along is looking for such a place to land. In short, those who are effective tend to get unsolicited opportunities. And a true windfall does come along some time. What the recipient does with it depends on their vision. That is what’s happening at the hamfest hosted by the The St Louis and Suburban Radio Club (SLSRC) in Collinsville, IL. Called Winterfest, this annual hamfest appears to be blowing-and-going and, not surprisingly, growing. The unexpected opportunity that represents a Windfall for Winterfest 2020 is the Wes Shum W9DYV Radio Symposium is moving from it’s temporary home this past year in the outskirts of New Orleans to Winterfest in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Here’s how it happened. This past year at the Huntsville (AL) Hamfest, Bob Heil engaged me in a conversation about the recent Slidell (LA) Symposium to help figure out a great permanent location. Some hamfests want to shoehorn “new” program activities into Sunday, to keep traffic on the sales floor so that vendors will want to remain open before breakdown and departure. But attending hams generally have to depart for home on Sunday since most work, too. This would kill such a whole day program. Along with Nick Tusa K5EF, Bob Heil K9EID was able to find an ideal situation with the SLSRC as Winterfest added the Symposium on Friday January 24th starting at 8 a.m.
The opportunity for the St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club Winterfest event to work with the W9DVY Radio Symposium is a fantastic chance for us to help promote vintage radio and the history of the Amateur Radio hobby. We are looking forward to this relationship between the two groups to bring Amateur Radio operators together. We hope to have a strong attendance and we are looking forward to hosting the great Symposium forums. Rebecca Carroll, KC9CIJ – Winterfest 2020 Chair
The Winterfest is located in The Gateway Center, in the shadow of the St. Louis Arch on January 24-25, 2020. No winter weather worries inside the Center! Lots of hotels at various price points nearby. And there are many other activities, such as Contest College with 10+ hours of forums, presentations, Q&A and contesting discussion, as well as the DX & ARRL Banquet and…the ARRL Midwest Conference with CEO Howard Michel and other staffers from Newington. Ward Silver NØAX is the Banquet speaker along with Craig Thompson K9CT on the Pitcairn VP6R DXpedition. Flex Radio Systems will be there as a vendor with their newest SDR technology, among other popular vendors. See the Winterfest website for more details. There is a lot going on, competing with most any regional ham fest in the U.S.
So there’s an additional day-long set of forums at a hamfest. What’s big about that? OK, fair question. Do you use phone when you transmit? If so, you likely use Single Side Band (SSB) most of the time, especially on HF. The Symposium is named for Wes Schum W9DYV (in Chicago, as Bob Heil says he always signed). Wes W9DYV was instrumental in getting SSB adopted in the amateur radio community. Some say he’s the Father of Single Sideband (see Ham Nation, Episode 86). Now that’s a big deal, no? A little bit of history, provided by Nick Tusa K5EF. “The Symposium was formed to honor one of amateur radio’s key advocates of the then-new technology, Single Sideband, and his company’s ground-breaking ideas that culminated in the Central Electronics 100V Transmitter. Wes Schum (W9DYV) introduced single sideband to amateur radio in a very big way, beginning in 1951 with is Model 10A sideband exciter and continuing though his company’s eventual ownership by Zenith Radio, Inc.
Wes Schum W9DYV and early SSB transmitter
This picture shows Wes with one of his very early SSB transmitters. I vividly recall hearing the 75 meter AMers calling them “mush mouth” operators. I immediately understood since the old RCA “winking eye” floor model shortwave receiver I heard them on did not have a BFO so as to tune to one side of the bandwidth. Those cat-calls soon faded into obscurity. Today, AM aficionados and SSB mode operators generally habitat HF bands without quarrel, appreciating what Wes Schum’s “appliances” did for the ham radio market and ham radio itself. Nick K5EF continued, “Initially, a group of Central Electronics enthusiasts decided the time had come to try a true boatanchor field day, with Wes Schum as the guest of honor/celebrity roastee. Thus, the first Boatanchor Field Day was born in Jonesborough, Tennessee – June, 2013. Later, and with two vintage field days under our belts, the group next sought to include technical SSB workshops into a Field Day setting and with it the encouragement of homebrewing and documenting the history of the many wonderful and colorful amateur radio manufacturers of the 1950s and 60s. Wes always encouraged learning and creativity in the amateur’s workshop, thus the W9DYV Radio Symposium was born.” Think about that legacy for a moment. Starting a “field day” to honor a member of your club or employer where hams are prevalent just doesn’t happen that much. When it does, it’s because the legacy being continued is a big deal. Like the development of Single Side Band.
Bob Sullivan W0YVA operating Wes Schum’s Central Electronics 200V/600L combo
Marge Schum K9EMP, Wes Schum W9DYV, and Nick Tusa K5EF at a former Radio Symposium
Today, the Symposium is taking an exciting step forward by holding its event last year in the New Orleans area and now more permanently at Winterfest 2020, to facilitate access to the forums without having attendees travel more than a day’s driving distance. It is important for the Symposium to be affiliated with a hamfest and flea market as its target audience is for those who are: (a) interested in the history of amateur radio and its innovative technology; (b) would like to get more involved in the restoration/collection of vintage equipment and to preserve our heritage; (c) are looking for encouragement to homebrew and experiment; (d) are interested in hearing ideas that can improve every ham’s HF operating experience. Besides … what ham can resist a good radio boneyard? See for more photos and information on previous Symposia and the history of this important company, Central Electronics, later part of Zenith Inc. I learned a lot when I spent some time on that website. Like this picture from 1956, when a little dab’ll do you (Brylcreem slogan).
Predecessor to the W9DYV Radio Forum, the SSB Dinner, 1956
The lineup for the W9DYV Symposium at Winterfest 2020 contains a host of well known speakers. Hollow state technology is the theme but—surprise, surprise—high performance SDR kicks off the Symposium. This latest innovation in amateur radio reflects the legacy of how W9DYV launched SSB back in the day! So innovation continues:
  • A High Performance SDR Receiver for the Ham-Bob Nichols W9RAN
  • HF Receiver Performance-Rob Sherwood NC0B
  • Understanding of Human Speech Articulation-Dr. Bob Heil K9EID
  • The Collins S-2 Line History and Evolution-Dave Beckler N0SAP
  • Wes Schum (W9DYV) and Central Electronics-Nick Tusa K5EF
  • Drake T4XC: Low Power Output and Why-David Assaf W5XU
  • ARRL, AM and the story of the Gates BC-1T-Bob Allison WB1GCM
  • Another “major homebrewer” presentation is pending
The BC-1T story should be most interesting. Bob Allison WB1GCM works in the ARRL Test Lab at HQ. He’s visible in every issue of QST in one or more places. What’s the ARRL’s connection to the Gates BC-1T? Bob will tell us. How the Collins S-2 line developed by Dave N0SAP will surely be a favorite. The Collins S line has such a proud place in the history of amateur radio manufacturing. And, the history of Central Electronics by one of W9DYV’s close friends, Nick Tusa, will undoubtedly be informative and reveal the nuances of just how SSB came to be prevalent. Videos of many previous W9DYV Symposium presentations can be viewed on the Youtube Channel maintained by W5Video Productions. This set of videos are well worth watching. I learned so much about my own Drake TR-7 through Dave W5XU’s video from the Slidell (LA) Symposium last year. You should take a few minutes to see what you’ll learn there, too.
Planning a successful, and growing, hamfest takes vision and the willingness to engage “over the transom” opportunities. You might be surprised at the reticence of some well-known hamfest Chairs and Committees to see beyond last year’s program. Frank Howell K4FMH
Planning a successful, and growing, hamfest takes vision and the willingness to engage “over the transom” opportunities. You might be surprised at the reticence of some well-known hamfest Chairs to see beyond last year’s program. Online sales are eroding the ROI that major manufacturers, their resellers, and the small ham radio business companies get by committing thousands of dollars just to get to a hamfest. Individual sales through boneyards can yield surprise inexpensive purchases but, on the average, hamfests face a similar battle with eBay sales, too. It is programs—the continuing education of hams who spend money to attend a hamfest—that bring’em in, repeatedly over the years. And the Winterfest 2020 team is doing that in spades.
Rebecca Carroll KC9CIJ, Winterfest Committee Chair
I asked Rebecca Carroll, Winterfest 2020 Committee Chair, about this year’s events. Here’s what she said, “The St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club Winterfest has added some great events from previous years. We have added floor space to include Education Alley, doubled our forums and increased our operating hours to 4pm. In addition to these changes, Winterfest has been selected as the ARRL Midwest Conference for 2020. The weekend starts on Friday January 24th with the W9DYV Radio Symposium during the day and a DX/ARRL banquet that evening. Saturday January 25th Winterfest kicks off at 8 a.m. with the opening of the sales floor, VE testing, all day topical Forums, and Contest College starting at 1 p.m. with 10 plus hours of contesting forums and discussion hosted by top area contesters. We invite all hams to come to Winterfest for a weekend of Amateur Radio fun.” If you can’t make Tim Duffy’s big shindig at Xenia, the famous Contest University, the St. Louis Contest College is a great option on Saturday at Winterfest. That leaves room for the free Schum W9YDV Symposium on Friday and the (pay) DX/ARRL Banquet that evening. Plus, the next day (Saturday) when the sales floor opens, there’s another set of Forums for the price of entry to Winterfest. Most impressive. As I stated earlier, you’d be surprised at how many hamfest Chairs just follow last year’s program like a mule with blinders, plowing a long row until their successor takes over the reins. Not the SLSRC’s Committee. When I quizzed Rebecca about her vision for Winterfest, I got an impressive response. “We would like to develop Winterfest into another ‘destination hamfest’. Future goals include expanding to a longer hamfest, scheduling more forums, extracurricular activities and growing Education Alley while supporting new and innovative ideas. We would like to build on our previous successes but also adapt to the changing hobby. With the changes in 2020, we hope to continue the momentum and build upon that for years to come. Adding the Symposium, the DX/ARRL banquet and Contest College was a big step for Winterfest 2020 and so far it’s been a well received addition. The key players in getting Winterfest 2020 to this stage include: Kyle Krieg AA0Z, Dale Holloway K4EQ and Pam Caldwell KE0OWG. It takes a team effort.
Geographic Proximity of Winterfest to Major Cities within a Day’s Drive
To examine Rebecca’s point of making Winterfest a destination hamfest, the map above illustrates how many major cities easily within a day’s drive are in the proximity of Collinsville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis. The ham population from the perimeter cities, and their constituent less populated areas, include Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Huntsville, Memphis, Little Rock, Tulsa, Omaha, and Des Moines. Add early bird discount airfares from Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, and the like, and they will come. Because of attractive programs. And, because there’s one major hamfest for the St. Louis area, not a dozen. This is a key strategic point regarding the SLSRC.
Dale Holloway K4EG
Take Atlanta as a case in point. There are a dozen or so amateur radio clubs in the 20 county Atlanta metropolitan region. And a bunch of smaller hamfests. Vendors do not attend more than one hamfest per market due to the travel and setup investment. (Ask them. I have.) Smaller hamfests tend to have poorer quality venues due to the rental fee structure. (OK, Dayton and now Xenia with Hamvention are exceptions but they have a grandfather clause an arm’s length in size due to history.) The Atlanta area once held a hamfest at the wonderful Georgia World Congress Center downtown adjacent to CNN Center, the World of Coca Cola, the Omni Hotel, the Aquarium, and a myriad of other attractions. But the clubs in Atlanta’s region will not band together to put on a single, knock-your-socks-off hamfest in a great venue, with discounted Delta airfares, and coupons for the other attractions, and major vendors. Oh, the various clubs have great talks at HamJam, Techfest, and in other gatherings but imagine what it would be if they were all at one, single, large hamfest gathering. Cooperation and what social scientists call “social capital,” the ability to make strategic decisions for the betterment of the collective, has largely escaped the various clubs in the Atlanta area. If they’d put all of this together as SCLRC has done in the St. Louis area, Atlanta could become a destination hamfest with a major calendar commitment much as Orlando’s Hamcation has over a decade or so. Of course, those clubs prefer to go their own separate ways and that’s their individual right to do so. Sometimes, though, it leads to canceling the annual hamfest, as the Atlanta Radio Club did last year. So clubs tend to be dying if they’re not growing. See the RSGB Panel discussion a month or so ago led by Martin Butler M1MRB, called Grow, Merge or Disband Your Club. Vision. Collaboration. And a willingness to see a windfall coming your way when it does.
Pam Caldwell KE0OWG
The vision of Winterfest, located at The Gateway Center and in the shadow of the major St. Louis attractions, of reaching the goal of a destination hamfest is quite reasonable. Look at how Hamcation in Orlando—say Mickey and the kids are in and say warm weather in February and spouses are in—has grown in the past decade. A quick tour of St. Louis attractions and food venues at, for instance,, makes a clear point of the diversity of non-ham radio things for the family to do. But it takes the vision of leadership by hamfest Committees to understand how to leverage these assets for the benefit of the sponsoring club. Other clubs would do well to study what this one is doing. They may be doing it better but most aren’t. Compete in Field Day but cooperate on hamfests. Like the St. Louis and Suburban Radio Club does.
Kyle Krieg AA0Z
Rebecca and her team, including SLSRC President Kyle Krieg AA0Z, have clearly been organized, progressive, and communicative. I’ll wager a guess that with the addition of the “windfall” of the Wes Schum W9DYV Symposium, Winterfest will indeed move into the destination category of regional hamfests very soon. The radius of a typical regional hamfest’s market area, especially when buttressed by a significant ARRL presence, major vendors like Flex Radio Systems and others, and significant continuing education activities like Forums, Contest College, and the W9YDV Radio Symposium, makes the St. Louis metro area a natural draw from the region. There’s more work to be done by Rebecca and her team, but this “Windfall for Winterfest 2020” is a great launching point!

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