[AMRadio] Shocking Stories (was: amazed...)

John Lawson jpl15 at panix.com
Mon Jan 19 23:53:21 EST 2009

   I lived in a coastal canyon for many years. Right after I got my ticket, 
I amassed the typical 'impossible dream of electronic childhood' - a nice 
Collins S-Line set-up.

  Before I had any antenna smarts, I stretched an enormous long-wire down 
to one end of my property, very nearly 500 feet of copper. And, I end-fed 
it, with coax. (Well, I used RG8 - what could go wrong???)  No 
counterpoise, no grounds (three-story house perched on a 50-degree slope).

   This mess was matched to the transmitter with a horrible home-brew tuner 
I got at a ham-fest - a huge butterfly variable cap and a 4-inch tapped 
coil and switch on an open aluminum chassis.

   One afternoon, I tuned 'er up, made a few contacts, chewed a rag or two 
- then it was Dinner Time.  After relaxing a bit, I returned to the shack 
to see what Night would bring....   one of the things Night brought was a 
15-degree drop in outside temperature.  And the 500 feet of copper reacted 

   I had a footswitch attached to the PTT line, and, after checking that 
the transmitter was still in tune, listened for a bit and called CQ - got 
a station right back.

   When it was again my turn, I hit the footswitch and leaned into the 
microphone, whereupon a nice fat little 1-inch RF arc leapt from the mic 
to the side of my lip.  Seems a voltage node had 'backed' back into the 
shack with the change in length/tuning...

    "Okay, Station X, FB on the..." zzzZZAAp!  "*&{}#&*$*!!!$*(*@~!!!!"

  What I screamed into the open mike cannot be reproduced here, and 
certainly has no place on the ham bands...   HIHI!!

    For months after that I cringed every time I opened the mailbox, 
expecting a nice little note from the FCC inviting me to explain myself... 
but, I'm still here, as is my ticket.

    Someday I'll tell the story of the 300-watt guitar amp and the metal 
screwdriver...    it went to 11, alright...



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