All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Revisiting "Field Day" . . . 1981!

The year is 1981.  I had been a General for one year.  I was also an amateur photographer who wanted to freeze time on paper.  The idea that a shadow freezes permanently, for all time, simply because a plus power lens focuses whatever is in range and leaves a permanent record was fascinating to me.  Like.... like looking in a mirror, and your image freezes there for all time.  Photography is the closest thing we have to time travel.  It's not an electrical reproduction, it's the actual physical object, preserved by natural processes,  the action of Silver, the medium of paper and the action of acetic acids and bromium.

People have been freezing time on paper since 1827.  I was doing it in 1981.  Using both medium format 70mm and 35mm black and white.   Black and White is also timeless.  The only calibrator of time is what may or may not appear in the photograph.  The technology frozen in time.  The dress.  Take dress and technological implements out of the Black and White photo, and you really don't have a reference.  You can't tell when the photo was taken.  An Alex Gardener photo of the Grand Canyon shot in 1875, the same canyon shot by Ansel Adams in 1948, and one shot by myself in 1970 all look alike.  Unless, of course, you are a photographer who can tell wet collodian prints from dry, from a 8x8 wooden view camera image with a spherical lens to a Graflex 4x5 to a Mamya C330..... &c.

Add colour, and for some reason the "timelessness" is removed.  Colours fade on prints faster than Black and White images, and some B&W images never fade!  I once visited a colour Autochrome exhibit at the Smithsonian, "Indian Summer, 1898".  The colour glass transparencies were wonderfully vivid, very, very true colour.  And.... it looked like a bunch of folks got dressed up in 1890's outfits and somebody shot them in Kodachrome!  It looked . . . . fake.  Black and White seems more definite to me, more authentic, more....

.... more real.

On this fine day of June, 1981, I set out to do two things.  Attend my first Amateur Radio Field Day, and to record the event.  The Club that sponsored this location (Ben White Raceway, Lee Road, Orlando Florida) was the Orlando Amateur Radio Club, W4PLB - pretty little blonde.

The location at the time was somewhat remote, close to the intersection of Lee Road and the Orange Blossom Trail, Hwy 441.   The sun was bright.  The temperature was typically warm, high 80s.  Several large screen enclosure tents and a truck camper was set up for the various stations, and several antennas were erected for the event.  Some on towers, some strung between poles.  Some wires sloping down from the towers erected for the event.

What is field day?  It is an event that requires stations to operate "off the grid", that is, not on commercial power.  The idea is Emergency Preparedness.  These events have been sponsored yearly by the American Radio Relay League, since 1938.  Batteries, Generators, portable equipment and antennas are the name of the game.  The time spent doing this: from Saturday around noon till Sunday around 2pm or so, time may vary.

Field Day is actually a contest, with different portable set-ups positioned all over the United States and Possessions, each contacting other eligible stations for points.  The idea of scoring points is to help gauge the effectiveness of your particular station under emergency conditions.  Hams in Florida are particularly interested in Field Day, owing to our Hurricane-prone environment, and the fact that so many of us have gone for weeks without power or telephone, with communications almost entirely being handled by hams on remote power.  Florida has a long legacy of Ham Operation corresponding to weather emergencies.

To be sure, in 1981, Hurricane David was a fairly recent memory.  As was Hurricane Frederick.

And so, without further adieu, Field Day, 1981:

The Ben White Raceway had a Club Building on the premises, but we used only their parking lot.  All food, drinks, and fuel was brought in by the club members and the ops themselves.  What you see in this photo is one of the Winnebagos, a portable crank up tower and, I believe, a monoband 20m yagi.

This is a wire beam on a guyed tower.  That palm tree is in the background.  A close look shows a sloper antenna suspended from the tower's top.  That building in the background is part of the stables for the race horses and storage for the sulkies.  This raceway was a horse track.  It no longer exists.  This whole area is now built up.

A ground mounted 4-BTV.  Radials are spread out around the area, probably almost to Lee Road, visible behind the hedges.

This photo shows an interesting dipole lash-up.  The tower is about thirty feet with a ten foot mast.  A cross member "T"s at the top.  Each end of the "T" supports an inverted vee, and, if you notice that white cord at the bottom center of the photo, an 80 meter inverted vee, arranged 90 degrees from the  two inverted vees on the pulleys.  A lot of wire coming off that pole!   The inverted vees on the T pole are raised and lowered by a pulley arrangement.  The tower is painted red - white - red.

One of the generators.  These are placed a safe distance from the operating tents, as you can see.  Why?  Carbon Monoxide from the exhaust, not to mention the noise.  Some of these generators were not all that loud.  But the place did smell of petrol.  There were no diesel generators.

Wow.  Memories.  These rigs were brand new, then.  A Kenwood TS-520, matching speaker, Swan watt meter, an electronic keyer and the good ol' J38.  I do not know the name of the op.  I did not know many of the hams at OARC.

This op worked at Amateur Electronic Supply, Orlando.  I forgot his name, although I can tell you he sold me his HW-8 at a super deal, and was one of the three guys that was pretty excited about my work with regenerative receivers.  Now, check out the equipment.  It looks like the TS-520 kinda ruled the tents!  He is using a Turner power mic.  A Swan SWR bridge sits on the Kenwood, and... a wind-up travel alarm to keep time for the log.  Remember paper logs and notes?  This was REAL operating.

Op and Logger.  I haven't talked to Rusty, KD4NT since the late 1990s.  I forgot who the fella to the left is.  I am sure somebody will embarrass me by reminding me, but you know?  Thirty-six years is a long time.  It's hard in this photo to identify the rig Rusty is using, here.  But one thing I can say, everything here is the latest state of the art as of 1979-80.  This scene is taken inside a pick-up truck camper.  Rusty is doing the talking, his partner is doing the logging.  To me, this is the quintessential Field Day photograph.

This was the one and only Field Day I ever attended.  I did operate from midnight on, for a couple hours, on 40 cw, using a straight key until I was replaced by a fella who came in with, what I think was a HAL code reader/ sender.  It had it's own CRT, that's all I remember.  That was the end of my operating, I guess I was too slow.  Anyway, I'm sure they got a ton more contacts from that operating position.

It was a lot of fun.  It was a long time ago.  I'd almost hesitate to see a Field Day setup these days, I wouldn't know what button to press!  I wouldn't know PSK31 from WD40.   I might guess that's why my station is, itself, locked in time.  :)

Wishing y'all a great Field Day 2017!!

de wd4nka.

Restoring (more or less) the Siltronix 1011-D: Part Two.

Before I start this installment, here are the "instruments" I used for tuning.  I don't have much test equipment at my shack, I share it with my Print Shop, so there's not a lot of room.  Here is what I used to work on the 1011-D:

My Antenna Tuner.  Its a Dentron MT3000A, which has a built in dummy load.  That is what I am using to both load into, read the power output, and also tune my 40m vertical down to 10m.

My Hallicrafter HA-5 vfo.  After about half an hour warm up, she's very stable.  I calibrate her against the xtal calibrator on my Drake 2B.  I kept her parked on 28.5 MHz during this whole process.
In addition, I used the mA meter on the Siltronix 1011D itself, along with it's S-meter.  Unless the radio is radically unadjusted, normal tune-up uses peak tuned signal at the front end to align the receive (it's only a single conversion superhet, the transmit output tuned circuitry takes care of the other receiver tuned circuits).  Tuning the vfo means sending a known signal into the front end, and tuning the output is a step by step affair following the manual, using the on-board mA meter.  That's really all you need!  A Dummy Load, a way of reading output, which can be done on the rig itself, a way of reading signal input which is also done on the rig itself, and a frequency standard or reference.  I might add that if my FD1011 was working, that would also be a handy tool.  But at this point it's not seeing my vfo output, so that is not being used.
*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

I decided to spend a good part of the afternoon bringing at least one band back to Ten Meters.  There is a dearth of information regarding the relationship between the parallel shunt caps and the vfo calibration cap.  Having mentioned in the prior installment that the 1011 is essentially a Cygnet, and locating the vfo on the Cygnet's downloaded manual, and identifying the parts and values as basically the same, I determined that 10pF is the approximate value needed for 28 MHz.  More or less.  

Shown below is the vfo calibration caps, indicated on both the 1011D and the Cygnet manual as being 5pF (I will assume full mesh.)   If the shunt capacity is 10pF, we're talking 15pF total.  The lower the capacity, the greater the ability of the calibration tuners to vary the frequency because the ratio of values.

On the left is what was once the 28.5 MHz vfo calibration tuner, and the 27.0 MHz on the right.  Note that the 11 meter vfo is shunted by two caps.  They look to be a total of 15pF.  The 10 meter side had four caps in shunt, I removed one, a 5pF NPO cap.

Because of how tightly the caps are soldered together, I cannot tell the values of the three remaining, but having placed a calibrated signal through the receive chain, I was able to easily calibrate the receiver at 28.5 MHz, dead on the nose.

Now, having done this affected the drive tune to the finals.  Now that the 11m side and the 10m side are one full meg distant (as they originally were!)  I found I had to re-tune L201 (mixer output) and L301 (driver plate tune)  Both of these, as well the carrier null, are located on the bottom of the rig via access holes.

L201 is on the left, L301 is on the right.   These perked the 10m output quite a bit, reading the power output off the watt meter on my dummy load.  However, this was at the expense of the 11m output.  It would appear that I have a choice, either operate 10m or 11m.  Now, when these rigs were built, the whole point was operation on 10m.  It was receive only on 11m.  Which tells me that when (what we call today "Freebanders" today) converted these rigs down to 11m, they had to not only alter the vfo by the addition of caps, but they also had to re-tune the whole transmit train for 11m.  So I am, essentially, reversing the modification.

Since the above is true, that tells me something else: I need to bring the 11m section also up to 10m.  It's just a matter of which range.  28.0 - 28.5 MHz or 29.0 - 29.5 MHz?  I am leaning toward the latter.

So as it is right now, the 10m portion appears to be back where it was.  The maximum output in tune position is about 45-50 watts.  In the AM position, I am getting about 30 watts with forward deflection on the output meter, on SSB (I had to re-null the carrier after the re-modification) I am getting in the vicinity of 60 watts on a hard whistle.  I don't have a tone generator, but I can get an idea by sending sound through the mic.  Also, I can get a good idea of carrier suppression and modulation quality via using the Drake 2B as my service receiver.  Maybe I should have shown it as part of my "test" gear.

From what I can hear, the 1011 sounds great on both AM and SSB.  The acid test is when I actually talk to somebody on the air!

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Restoring (more or less) the Siltronix 1011-D, Part One.

The Siltronix 1011 series of transceivers was something I knew about for many years.  Before I became a Novice, most of my CB friends were using Ham rigs, modified to take them above the regular 23 CB channels.  In those days, the early 1970s, this region was known as "HF".  I remember how I wish I could afford a rig like these CBers had.  Tempo Ones.  Yaesu FT-101s (which came set up for 11 meters!), or even those CBers who had the really old rigs like the Johnson Rangers and Hallicrafters HT32s and 37s, with their big impressive receivers, the SX-101s or the Hammarlund HQ145X or 180s.  Some CBers even ran the KW Johnson Invaders!  Oh, and the antennas they had!  The towers.  The quads and yagis.

One rig that was included in this category is the Swan/ Siltronix 1011.  Although these transceivers came with Ten Meter transmit only (28.5-29.0 MHz) and a 27MHz range that covered 26.0-27.5MHz set up for receive only, it was an easy reconfiguration of the band switch that enabled transmit on 11 meters.  And while Swan took a lot of heat for this.... so much that they had to set up a daughter company, Siltronix, to produce the 1011B, C and D series, lest they lose QST ad space.... leave us not forget that other rigs, notably some Japanese rigs which were then becoming very popular with the Amateur Radio Market, came to our shores with NO modification required!  Oddly enough, Yaesu, whose FT-101 models came with 11 meters already installed,  never took this sort of heat, as far as I know.

I was not only well aware of this rig, it was one of the ones I drooled over at the local Ham Radio outlet, Amateur Electronics Supply.  I'd go into their old show room and just.... spin the dials.  (before they remodeled in 1980, they had about 1000 sq ft. of show room space with shelves and shelves of used and new rigs.) And yet, when I finally procured one just recently, I discovered I knew, in reality, nothing about them!  Fortunately there is a site that fairly covers a lot of the Siltronix Story and details about the 1011 in particular.  So I need not go into a lot of background about this rig.

I was recently gifted with a complete Siltronix 1011 set up, the "Comanche" transceiver itself, the SP1011 outboard speaker, the FD1011 digital read out, and a Shure 444 microphone.

It was stored in a garage for quite a while.  The power cord was missing, so I ordered one from eBay, which came in short order.  The paint was ok, but was dull, with some major chips.  But no dents, and no rust beyond some easily sanded surface rust.

I began my refurbishing by simply taking off the cabinet of  both the SP1011 and the rig itself, and whatever pieces needed it, went into the dishwasher.  Then, when I got a clear look afterward of what needed sanding, what paint was peeling, what was what, I proceeded to treat those areas alternately with 100 grit sand paper and / or steel wool.   I then gave the top cabinet shells a new coat of wrinkle finish jet black, dried under a heat gun.  The lower shells, or bottom plate, in the case of the transceiver itself, had the front lip painted gloss black.  The wrinkle finish and gloss bottom is pretty close to the original paint scheme.

 Here are the cabinet parts awaiting the dish washer.  Left to right: the speaker top clam-shell, the transceiver's bottom plate, the speaker enclosure chassis, and the transceiver top clam-shell.

Also included in the cleaning was the speaker's polished metal grille and nameplate.  These items were actually pretty good as they were and only needed a little polishing when dried.

These are the top clam-shells after painting.  The top is the speaker, then the transceiver, and the bottom shot is a close-up of the finish.  These cabinets turned out very nicely!  And if you haven't figured it out by now, after reading my radio restoration posts, I am a really huge fan of black wrinkle finish.  Not only does it look authentic even when it isn't (in this case, it is.), it covers a multitude of sins, and does not require priming!

A few basic replacement items were needed: some filter caps in the power supply, one or two more electrolytic replacements beyond the power supply, and a relatively easy receiver and transmitter alignment, courtesy the downloaded 1011D manual.  After ramping her up on the Variac, she seems to behave well.  On her original 8950 final she does show 20 watts AM, adjusted to a slight forward modulation swing to bring her to approx 30w at modulation envelope peaks.  On SSB, she shows about 50 watts on an average voice level input with the mic's audio set at 9 o'clock, with 75 watt modulation peaks at a whistle,  at what I am guessing to be 1000 cycles. I don't have perfect pitch, but it's a rough estimation.  Works for now, anyway.  I was able to completely suppress the carrier following the manual, which actually fails to tell you where the mode switch should be when doing preliminary tune up!  It may not matter, but that being the case, it should have indicated so.  I plan to modify the final to a less expensive tube, these 8950s cost over a C note!

The FD1011 digital readout, which is an outboard unit made by Siltronix specifically for this radio, turns on and shows 25.500 MHz on it's red LED read-out, which is it's "no signal" default reading.  But it does not see the VFO output.   It does see and registers RF from other sources, like my Dynacom Walkie Talkies, so it does respond and read RF accurately, just not from the 1011D itself, currently.  There may be a ground fault or an open in the FD1011's feed line.   That is something I will be looking into.

Opening her up, I was pleasantly greeted by a fairly clean radio.  While a little alignment was necessary, she was, actually, functional.  I had to re-calibrate the CB channels to correspond accurately to the dial markings, which is normal for old rigs.  The one light bulb was burnt out, but I replaced it from the local Auto Zone, a No. 57 14.3v bulb that works nicely. It's a 14.3 volt bulb that burns rather cool. I got that bulb (and the wrinkle finish paint) from Auto-zone.  One tube, the VFO amp seemed a bit weak, I replaced it, but the FD1011 still does not see the output. 

Since the FD1011 wasn't reading the transceiver VFO output, I had no way of finding out where I actually was on the 28.5-20.0 MHz range.  Using my HQ129X receiver, I discovered at length that instead of 10m, it was altered to cover 27.5 - 28.0 MHz.  So I went on a search to find out what to do to put the original range back.  The calibration variable caps for each band are shunted by small NPO caps.  It was pretty obvious when I saw four, instead of two such caps on the 28.5 MHz VFO that here is where the altering happened.  It was a clean job, whoever did the soldering did a darned good job.  But which caps do I remove to put her back on her original frequency?

This became a challenge.  While the owners manual (which does contain alignment procedures) contains a lot of detail, the schematic had to be downloaded separately.  Once I printed out an expanded view of the schematic so it wasn't so small, I identified the VFO and searched for the shunt cap value for the 10 meter VFO, only to discover that the values for all VFO shunts were listed as "Select".  No value given.

The 11 meter VFO was left alone by the prior owner(s).  Two NPO caps are shunted across it's calibration variable. The four NPOs across10 meter VFO calibration variable was presumably to drop the frequency  from where it was, a complete 1 MHz decrease in frequency, from 28.5 to 27.5 MHz. Each of the four cap values are different.

As I perused several web sites in search for the missing values, I discovered in my readings that the 1011 was really a modified version of the Swan Cygnet!

As such, I downloaded the Cygnet manual from BAMA, and found the self same solid state VFO schematic, I found it was, in fact, an expanded version of the 1011's,  covering four ham bands, instead of two bands.  And, like the 1011 manual, the shunt capacity for the calibration variable capacitors were listed as "select", but the values were also given!   And since the calibration variable is the same in both rigs, I have something that should get me into the ball park: 10pF.   So I now need to identify which two caps were added to the collection of four NPO caps added by a prior owner.

My ultimate goal is twofold: First, to get the 1011 so I can operate it on ten meters.  Second, to get the FD1011 to see the 1011D transceiver.

I told the Siltronix Owners Group on FaceBook that I would post a series of blog entries as I progress along with the restoration process.  This is installment No. 1. I should add that there is also a Yahoo Group that treats the Siltronix 1011.

So, that's the view from here.  She is getting good reports on both SSB and AM on 11 meters.  In fact, this ham here has worked three states on the 1011D in 11 meter mode just trying to get somebody to tell me how it sounds!  All on SSB, of course.  She tunes as if less power is coming from LSB than USB, but on key down, it's the same PEP on both sidebands.  Oh, and the reports are all very positive.  The Shure 444 apparently sounds very nice.  I have heard that the Astatic D-104 element actually does a better and brighter job with this rig, but I think I'll just stick with the 444 that came with the station.

That's it for Part 1.  Stay tuned.  

de wd4nka.

Monday, March 27, 2017

DIY Low Profile Gauge Pins for Boxcar Bases.

Those of you who run standard or deep relief bases know that standard gauge pins, such as the Megill adjustables, cannot be used because there isn't enough clearance.  They get crushed.  Most printers either cut their own guides from chip board or thicker card stock.  Some use Henry Adjustable guides which are, essentially, double sided foam adhesives, like Tiger Tape or Carpet Tape.  

They all work, of course, but the devil is in the resetting and adjustment of these guides which have one thing in common: they are adhesive.  Some how they are either taped down or glued down or in some way adhesed.  To adjust, the adhesive must be worked loose which tears into the tympan paper, creating a rough surface and reducing the ability of the adhesive to adhere for the second, third, and fourth time.  Using the same tympan paper for multiple jobs becomes rather challenging due to the upbraided surface of the tympan cover.

The Henry's work great, btw. I still have mine. But being a foam pad, the stock does not glide smoothly, as with traditional gauge pins.  Some talc can take care of that, for a while. After a while during long runs, I discovered the stock being fed managed to find it's way between the foam tape and the tympan sheet, so I would have to stop the press and push the guides down.  What was happening was the adhesive was giving way, slowly but surely.

Traditional gauge pins can be used off the base area.  For this reason, some printers either get a smaller base, or they keep their pins in an off base area safe zone quite a distance at the bottom of the platen, and set up their print area accordingly.  And that's good.  Sometimes, for short guys like me, it's a pretty stiff reach for hand feeding.  Great for the Windmill folks, or the Automatic Kluge folks, but to us manual folks, we like to hand feed . . .  not bottom feed. 

After enjoying some of these frustrations for a few months, I thought I might try to adapt my own low profile gauge pins.  This post is the result of what I came up with.

The Idea

What gave me the idea were my spare Megill standard gauge pin guides.  I had far more than I needed!  They are made from brass so they are easy to cut and to bend.  They had no inherent 'budge', save for their native springiness. As I looked at the smaller sliding tongue, I began thinking "what if . . . ", and a low profile gauge pin took shape in my mind as I reached for my flat nibbed snipes.

I began with the sliding brass Megill sliding tongue itself.  I needed to do something to make it grip the tympan when inserted, and hold, not permitting the fed stock to slide under.

Using flat nosed snipes, I straightened out the slide grips of the brass Megill tongues. This is step one.  Flatten the sides.

Notice that little tab thing in the center of the "T"?  That will come in handy later.  For now, all we need is a straight brass "T".

Next, I used wire clippers to cut the "T" bar edges as shown.  Note the angle.  This is purposeful, to create two gripping points when slid into the tympan paper.

The two sides of the "T" are now bent down.  Note where the bend is.  Also, care is taken to ensure the bend is perpendicular to the main shaft body.

Here is another close-up showing the generally low profile of this pin.  Can you see that even if contact where to be made, the flat of the pin is flexible and will give way.  The sides are spread apart enabling them to flex further outward in case of a miscalculation of depth is experienced although, using a standard relief base, I have yet to make contact with the pins.

The last step is to cut and file or hone the back end of the shaft to a point.  This is what is going to be inserted into the tympan sheet, exactly like the Megill singles, securing the pin and enabling adjustment by sliding the whole pin itself back and forth..  These pins adjust like most Megill pins, actually, save for their larger "single-slice" mounted adjustables.  The 'stab' point should be sharp indeed..  I used a smallish metal file to make a sort of pointed blade.  Once adjusted in place, they can be taped, although sometimes I found they held good even without taping or using sealing wax.  (do any of you all still use sealing wax?)

Here is a mounted low profile pin, the very one shown in the photos above.  Ideally, the entry point should be a few millimeters back from that edge line... to provide some slip-way should the need to adjust present itself.  Best to use an Xacto Knife with a pointed blade to create the entry and exit holes for these kinds of pins.  Makes it easier to slide the tongue in and out.  I do that for the standard Megill pins, too.

This is a 90lb card held in place.  That little lip across the "tee" zone that I pointed out early just covers the edge of the paper, but is surprisingly effective for holding on to the card during the printing process. You can see that there is still enough room for thicker calipers of stock.  I was able to set thicknesses of up to 2.5mm effectively

A parting shot of the low profile gauge pin.  So far I have completed three print orders using these pins, all with a good results.  Once taped down, they do not budge.  Not a single mark on the Boxcar Base.  

Do they feed exactly as a standard type Megill gauge pin?  Yes and no.  The regular gauge pins provide a long, flat edge which the stock rests, and can slide easier.  These provide a stop, not a smooth edge.  So the slide and drop technique of feeding is no better than the Henry adjustables or any other paper or foam edge.  So, there is NO improvement there.

My goal, however, was to A: provide some sort adjustable stop with a low profile so as not to jeopardize the pin, the stock or the base, and B:  provide a stop that would not permit stock to slip under or beyond it.  Once these pins are in place, the pointed edge digs into the tympan sheet like cleats

So, they are certainly not perfect, but for me, they are simple, inexpensive, and most of all, re-usable.  

There are those, apparently, who oppose my use of these brass tongues in this manner.  One gave me a mini-course on the use of the sliding tongue on the Megill adjustable gauge pin, I thiank you for the short talk.  It was a great refresher.  I've used them for about 45 years, but sometimes it's good to be reminded.  I do not believe I am not destroying a valuable resource.  There are oodles of these, they were sold separately by the pack, most shops I know that use gauge pins have them quite in excess.

Recently, Ally, printer at 9th Letter Press came to visit. She tried out these pins, and they held firm for the entire run. They do take a little "getting the feel".   We did about four hours of printing on the Open Kluge, double rolling.  each cycle.   The stock slid into place well.  We did have to pay attention to the feeding pressure on the bottom pins because there is no flat surface.  If you push too hard you can dimple the edge!  We had to develop a fairly light touch.  Once established, you can feed these pins to your heart's content with no edge anomalies whatever.

Here is a shot of one of the cards coming off the platen.  Looks like it's just laying there with nothing holding it, doesn't it?

To be sure, on occasion I did lose a couple cards which landed in the "basket" behind the Kluge, that also happens on every other gauge guide, quad or pin I've ever used at one point or other. 

Another observation: they stayed put!!   In all, I'd say "mission accomplished"!

That's it for today's blog entry.  Thanks for joining me.

gary // Paper Wren Press.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ally, Kluge, and QSL cards

Ally, the primary printer at 9th Letter press, the person responsible for their awesome Letterpress impressions, paid us a visit at my invitation recently.  I wanted her to try her hand at one of the rarest letterpresses around, the "Open Kluge".  I have not only what I believe is the only one in Florida, but also very possibly the last one to roll off the ways at Brandtje Kluge.  She was built in 1966.  By letterpress standards, she is a baby, a brand new press for all intents and purposes.  Interestingly, BK foresaw the existence of OSHA, and provided not only full covering of the most dangerous areas of the press, but also provided warning decals, lock down and tag out features.  As far as a Gordon Style platen press goes, she is probably the safest around.

We worked on the red-run of a three colour QSL card order.  The order was for WD4NKA, the station that I maintain directly in the 'Pigeon Hole' print-shop itself.  What Ally printed was the call and address information, in deep red (crimson-process black, 25:1)

The Kluge, affectionately referred to as "Brother John", named after it's former owner, the late John Moran, runs a tad faster than the 1890 era 10x15 C&P used at 9th Letter Press, which required Ally to develop a "feel" for the feeding cadence.  Since we were running some pretty broad areas of colour as far as text goes, we double-rolled each impression.  Of course, with four rollers and two vibrators, the Kluges have one of the finest ink distribution systems in the world of platen 'job presses'.  Some would even place them ahead of Heidelberg Windmills in this regard.

We used the laser cut standard relief polymer dies made by Concord Engraving, which holds up to an approx. .02mm line width, exceeding copper and magnesium!  Polymer dies are something new to me, having incorporated it only within the last couple months.  I also use the standard relief Boxcar Base.  I have been unexpectedly pleased with the results!

Ally is a pro.  But then, she has a lot of experience with heavy iron under her belt.  It took no time at all for her to get the cadence.  Of course, she was a tad bit nervous with me standing there taking photos, so I tried to get out of the way as much as I could.  I could tell she was enjoying working with Brother John.

We used the low profile custom made brass "adjustable" gauge pins, which provide sufficient clearance with the base to enable easy positioning of the stock anywhere on the platen we wanted.  Ally also showed me a technique of positioning the die on the base by placing a bit of tape on the front side of the die so it would hold to the tympan sheet just enough so that when you closed the platen against the type bed, the die would transfer onto the Boxcar base.  This made prepositioning of the gauge pins and stock very accurate, requiring only a very slight horizontal touch up.  Thanks, Ally!  You can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

My hope is to eventually have a brick and mortar location where ALL my presses, my stitch binder and my heavy cutter, the imposing stone, the type cabbies and galleys can all reside together instead of traipsing back and forth between my home shop in Deltona and the "Heavy Equipment" shop in Orange City (Florida).  We'll see how that goes.  I am considering doing a smallish version of what the Arm does up in NYC: give workshops and possibly rent out press time for folks to take advantage of my resources.  Especially, Stetson U., Seminole and Daytona State College arts students.  Who knows, maybe we can find someone with deep pockets willing to invest.... or..... bite the bullet and try a Go Fund Me page.  
You never know....

Ok, so how did the finish product turn out?  Well, considering that these cards ran through the press three times, they came out spot on positioning!  

This card is part of my special series especially designed for Novice Rig Round-up, which I have offered at a special price for members of the group.  It sports the NRR diamond logo in blue-green, a J38 Speed-x hand key silhouette (taken from one of my own keys!  It was hand drawn, it's not clip art!) and QSL date field in black, and my address info and call in red.  Since the green and the red compliment (opposites on the colour wheel), the card itself is a fairly vibrant rendition of a classical QSL card design.

That's about it for this entry in All Things Wireless & Letterpress.   I want to sign off with something special for Ally as a thanks for visiting the Paper Wren.  It's a video I made a few years back.  I told her about it, and I said I would send her a link, but I thought I would do one better, and provide that link right here.

The video's sound track is a homegrown recording written, performed and recorded by myself called "The Printer & His Devil".  It's a song that plays on historical events and the printer's mission to disseminate the news to his community.  I wrote the song to commemorate the home town printer and the important roll he or sometimes she played in the life of their community.  Oh, and just a head's up: a "Devil" is what a printer's apprentice was referred as.

See if you can identify the historic events based on the hints mentioned in the song.  Also, if you can, listen through earbuds or headphones.  Computer speakers tend to have poor fidelity.  My voice is pitchy enough, it needs all the help it can get (sigh).

(tech note: we had to stretch the intro out to about two minutes to cover the whole eight minutes of video.  No professionals, here.  It's all home-grown.) 

The video captures the set-up and printing of a two colour business card on my C&P at the home studio/ shop.  If you go to the YouTube page, I believe there is a link to the lyrics, if anyone is at all interested.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Mission: Berlin, 2017

This is the support letter that I am sending out to certain individuals who have expressed interest an upcoming missions opportunity which I hope to engage in June of this year (2017).  I feel moved to post this letter to this blog as well.  I don't normally do this sort of "advertising" regarding my missionary and ministry activities, so this is rather unusual for me, but I feel led to so do.  Obviously this has nothing to do with wireless OR letterpress.

A little background: along with being a Radio Amateur and Letterpress Printer, owner of Paper Wren Press, I, along with my sweet wife Cindy,  am also a lay minister, sponsoring our Church's College & Career / Young Adults department (Christian and Missionary Alliance/ Deltona Alliance Church).  I also have a burden for people to meet and come to know Jesus, the single most significant person in my life. 

In fact, He IS my life.

To those who know me, and share this Gospel burden, and in particular my burden for die Deutsche Volk, the German People, and as well, those unfortunates seeking asylum in their country, this letter is directed to you.  To wit . . .


I am writing this letter to you because I am stepping outside of my comfort zone and am seeking support for a missions opportunity I hope to participate with in Berlin, Germany.

This mission opportunity involves working with Fl├╝chtlingen, or refugee families who are on a concentrated “holding pattern”, waiting processing and legal admission into Germany. 
The majority of these displaced persons have suffered privation, separation,and mental and physical trauma resulting from a long and on-going civil war ravaging their homeland.  Many families are separated, many have lost touch with other family members, some having seen their loved ones die before their eyes.  As the son of a German mother who herself experienced flight for life during the bombings of WW2, I grew up with the stories of her ordeal. Having lived in Germany myself as a pre-teen with German family, I was surrounded with many such stories.  I saw the places they fled to.  I had a chance to meet those who sheltered them. I am here, because they sheltered my mother.

The trauma of dislocation and fear can create what I came to know as the “Foxhole Effect”, which is, in short, the observation of front-line GIs during WW2:  that there are rarely  atheists in foxholes.  When all protective barriers are stripped away, and people are placed in a very disruptive, vulnerable and desperate situation, they are very frequently open and receptive to the Gospel. It is in such Holy Spirit rendered moments of open-ness through which we seek introduce Jesus.  It may be the one and only opportunity in their lives.

Our CMA missionaries (Christian and Missionary Alliance) have established a missions house “safe zone”, a place of ministry to these refugees.  A place to come for help, for advice, for help in learning the German Language (which is necessary for admission into the Republic), a place to help connect with each other and with services available, a place for the children to be cared for as needed,  where refreshment and other services are offered.  The name of this outreach is “Lichtturm Berlin”, or “Lighthouse Berlin”, which can be found on line at:     

The specific activities we will engage as team members will entail serving alongside our Missionaries in a helping – hands capacity, helping with organizing events, helping serving in the kitchen, helping with special English learning sessions (English is Berlin’s “official” second language, providing additional witness possibilities, as opportunity presents.)

Included in our itinerary is a traditional ministry activity in Berlin, the “Prayer Walk”.  Very often, ministry outreach is predicated by teams of prayer warriors walking the streets in the ministry area, praying as they walk, praying for the residents, praying for protection for the ministry outreach and outreach team, and praying for those who would be recipients of this outreach.  In our case, our prayer walks will take us into some fairly unseemly areas, so prayer for our own protection might also be considered.

We will also be working with refugee youth in a city Fu├čballkamp, or “Soccer Camp”.  This has also been shown to be a successful means of engaging both youth and parents in a positive and neutral environment.

I am also seeking out means and ways of engaging Berlin residents.  As you may already know, Christianity, and indeed, Religion in general, is almost wholly disregarded in Europe in this post-Christian era, and is often met with resentment and hostility.  This is the result of a social “depression” incurred by two devastating wars and their aftermath in the 20th Century. A social upheaval and devastation unknown on our shores, at least, since our own Civil War.

One of the challenges of our ministry is the resultant irrelevant status Christianity and Personal Faith holds with the average German citizen.  Less than one percent of Berliners will identify with any form of Christian denomination, a metric which corresponds with the rest of Germany.  Added to this is the fact that the former communist East Germany had dismantled the war-ravaged Church infrastructure since the Soviet Occupation in 1946, continuing up until the wall came down in 1989.  Two full generations have grown up in a wholly controlled atheistic environment.  When the wall came down after Glasnost,  a sizeable percentage of the East German population flooded the former West Germany – as if the wall would close again – leaving areas of population depletion and abandonment.

Mission activities have entered into East Germany in response to these conditions, re-seeding urban areas with neighborhood home church plants, introducing creative outreach programs, and re-introducing local residents not only to the Gospel, but in so doing, their own legacy and history!  After all, it was in East Germany where the Reformation began five hundred years ago when Dr. Martin Luther nailed his 99 Thesis to the door at Wittenburg October 31, 1517.

The funds I need for support total $1700.00, plus personal expenses. Please prayerfully consider your possible participation in helping me raise this amount by June 1. If the Holy Spirit should so move, funds can be sent to:

Gary Johanson / Berlin Mission
1125 Elgrove Drive
Deltona, FL 32725.

I do accept PayPal, if this is more convenient.  Send to:

I can also be reached by text or voice at 386-490-5160.

In His Grip

Gary Johanson