I do not do that much SSB contesting. My signal sucks on CW, my most efficient mode so I barely mess with SSB. I told myself long ago that I would just avoid the humiliation. That…except I really enjoy the NAQP series of contests. Aug 15th (UTC) is basically 12 hours long and I can participate in up to 10 hours. Good duration, good activity. So what the heck, why not play in the SSB contest.
So Friday evening, my first mistake was to wait until the last minute to get N1MM Voice Keyer to play through my Signalink USB. I figured it would work, it’s a sound card via USB after all, and it might work but not for me. I am sure to exacerbate the situation by insisting on using Vista and the wonky sound handling. VMWare for XP for contesting is a topic for another day. So, I could hear myself and N1MM logger doing just fine through my headphones, but the keying of the rig was wonky. I finally gave up thinking I could just use the hand-mike…shudder. Then off I drifted to dreamland.
Actually, before I drifted off to sleep I remembered I had an old Heil BM-10 headseat that I could try to connect. That would be my project Saturday morning before the contest. I would splice it to a hunk of CAT‑5 (for PTT and Microphone input) and use it in lieu of the hand-mike. Night night.
Found the BM-10, rough shape as it was. I didn’t remember what the element was so I undid the mouthpiece. Gently I pried the element back so I would be able to view the model hidden on the bottom of the element. Advice: Don’t ever do that. I snapped the element away from the very small connecting wires. It is an HC‑4 by the way. Should work great in the contest IF I DIDN’T BREAK IT!
OK I am handy with a soldering iron and I had a tip already installed from my last surface mount project. In a matter of minutes I had soldered the leads back onto the unit and threaded the think safely into the protection of the mouthpiece. I chopped off the DIN connector from the radio end of the cable and stripped it back in order to splice onto one-half a CAT‑5 cable. For push-to-talk I found the needed wires. I fully intended to cobble together a great foot switch from an old transcriptions machine. I couldn’t find it in the pile-o-junque. Another revelation occurred as I scanned my workbench…I could use a J‑38 straight-key as a foot switch. A minute later (and one knob removed so I didn’t ruin it with my foot) and I have a great little setup. And when I say I am running barefoot I mean I actually am: I can feel the foot-switch much better.
So fast forward to now. I am taking a half-hour break to clear my head and use up some off-the-clock time. If I break 250Qs it will be a miracle. Having fun but my throat is a bit sore. Only an hour to go so I am going to torture myself with trying 160M…yelling at old guys until they answer me.