IC-7200 -> IC-7300 Upgrade

I'm excited. I didn't expect this, but I jokingly said to my wife when I showed her a photo a friend posted on Facebook that September was "Buy Your Husband a Radio Month" and that she should buy me my dream radio. Imagine my surprise when she said "Go buy your dream radio, Honey!"

Well, that was quite unexpected! I realize that there might be many better radios out there than what I chose as my "Dream Radio", but I had to keep it realistic, so I opted for an IC-7300 by ICOM.  I currently own an IC-7200, which is a great radio, but the new IC-7300 is the latest technology and SDR based, so there's a lot of room for upgrading with (hopefully) new features as time goes by since it is software defined. Also, it was a reasonable price. ICOM calls it an "entry level" radio, but I think it's an order of magnitude better than what used to be considered an "entry level" radio.

The unexpected upgrade didn't come without strings, however.  I had to agree to recover as much as I could with the sale of the old radio. I thought that was reasonable, so I am prepping the old 7200 for resale. Glad I saved the box! 

As an added bonus (which will benefit me and the future owner of the IC-7200) there is no change in the accessory plug pin-out, so I won't have to re-make the accessory plug to mixer cable for this rig. I will also be able to offer the new owner a brand new set of power cables from the new radio's box along with the little bag of accessories (unless they contain different accessory items, then I will only replace what I used from the IC-7200's little bag of accessories.)

What I haven't decided yet is whether to sell locally through a Yahoo Group of local hams or through eBay. I might do the local group just to help someone locally get what they're looking for and save on shipping hassles.

Anyway, the new radio is delivered tomorrow. If I had only timed it a little better, I could've had the new radio for this long weekend (Labor Day weekend 2016) but instead, I get to write about my anticipation. I'm definitely  not complaining. I've been blessed with a wonderful XYL...


Kevin N5PRE

Interview with B-17 Pilot Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

World War II pilot, Jimmy Fitzpatrick was part of the 388th Bomb Group out of Knettishall, England and flew 36 missions (one more mission than a normal tour) and didn't lose any of his crew. He was on the 560th Squadron and was dispatched in May of 1943 to help win the War there.

Jimmy was a former news photographer for the Birmingham News in Alabama before he joined the War. Before joining up, he was taking photographs of Southeast Conference Football.

560th Squadron Logo

560th Squadron Logo

His longest mission was 11 hours and 15 minutes, flying from England to Poltova, Ukraine to refuel for a mission based out of Ukraine. Just before his arrival in October of 1943, the Germans had destroyed 60 B-17's in the second Schweinfurt raid. 

Jimmy had an opportunity to meet a few famous people on his tour. Jimmy Stewart and Joe Kennedy.  You can hear him talk about those experiences here:

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

I met Jimmy when I was commuting home from work in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 and learned about his Wartime experience through amateur radio. We met on a 2 meter repeater and talked every now and then. I heard that there was a Special Event coming up in October of that year and thought he might be interested in coming along to it because the Aluminum Overcast was going to be there. Jimmy was excited about the prospect. I offered to take him there, but his son ended up hearing about it and was interested too, so his son brought him to the event.  

Jimmy enjoyed the trip and I ended up recording almost an hour of interesting discussions about his experience in World War II. You can listen to the entire interview here:

In 2009, Jimmy was about to turn 93 on October 13, so that'll put him at 98 years old if he's still around as of this writing. I did a search on the Silent Key database and couldn't find his callsign there, so I pray he's still with us and just as sharp as ever. 

I posted this interview years ago on my previous blog, but realized it wasn't there anymore so I decided today to repost it for everyone to enjoy. 

73 de N5PRE


UPDATE: I just heard that Jimmy was active in the North Fulton Amateur Radio League until his passing in 2014. RIP, Jimmy.


Travel Buddies? It Depends on Your Technique!

I’m not much for shave sticks or for shave cream in a tube, but I recently got the opportunity to try out two that I haven’t seen before.  Thanks to a generous fellow wet shaver, I was given a couple of sample (read full size) products that came with a learning curve.

The products I received were a La Toja Jabón de Afeitar from Barcelona and a 1 ounce travel sized Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream from Paris.  I felt very Continental the mornings I tried these lathering lovelies. 

The first one I tried was the Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream. People have raved about their shaving soap, but this was not the same… it is in a tube and a cream instead. I thought I’d try an almond size amount and put it in my trusty shaving scuttle that never fails to deliver and work myself a lather. It made a nice looking lather, but when I put it on my face, I noticed it was mostly air and water. It felt thin and not very slick. I was severely disappointed with the feel of the blade across my cheek and by the time I finished one side of my face, the lather that was on the other side of my face had lost its bubbles and was just a white smear on my face.  I finished my shave, but it left me with sort of a rash because I was insistent on making it work for me. The next time I tried a different brush and more cream in the mix. It was not much better, but was a little more slick this time. The last time I used it was yesterday. I was out of town and realized I had forgotten to pack any shaving brushes. I thought, what the heck, maybe I’ll just try to smear some cream on my face and see if I can get a decent shave that way. Well, I have to say, I am sort of glad I forgot my brush because it forced me to rethink this cream. I had to use an almond size schmear on each side of my face (twice as much as my normal amount) but what I got wasn’t lather, per se, but a thick cushion that was easy to shave with. The glide was great! It had a great feel under my FatBoy set on 6 with a new Ladas blade. I finished my first pass and felt my face. It still needed that second pass, but the slickness was still very present on my face. I added just a tiny bit more cream on each side to get my second pass and came away with a BBS shave and no irritation! Serendipity! The only downsides were that it used more cream than I was expecting to use and it was hard to rinse all that slickness off my face. I can live with that if what I get out of it is a great shave not at home with all my equipment. This would be a perfect travel shave cream!

I had a similar learning curve on the La Toja Jabón de Afeitar in that I had to change the way I was used to working with soap to get good results. The first time I tried it out, I rubbed the handy travel sized stick onto the sharp ridges of my shaving scuttle to get some hard soap to sort of end up like grated cheese in my bowl. I made a decent lather with it and enjoyed the smell, which was clean but subdued, sort of like Arko.  It wasn’t as easy to lather as Arko, while we’re comparing the two. I had a similarly disappointing first few shaves with the La Toja until I changed the way I used it.  I never was into face lathering that much, so I didn’t have much experience in it. I thought it was time I started to develop that skill, so I rubbed the crap out of that stick all over my ample stubble and got a layer of dry but visibly white soap all over my cheeks and throat. I took my soaked brush and started making circular motions on my right cheek and throat. Pow! Instant thick lather! It just kept getting better with every additional square inch I added to the swirls I was putting on my face. The soap WANTED to be face lathered! How could I know? I don’t speak much Spanish!? It worked like a champ once I figured out what it wanted me to do! I got a great shave with the new method and my brush was still loaded enough for a second pass and could have given me enough for a third pass, but I didn’t need it. This soap also performs much better on slickness and cushion if used properly… so there was definitely a learning curve for this one too.

I know I haven’t gone into a lot of details on scent or quantified the amount of slickness or glide with these soaps, but my intent on this review is to provide encouragement to those who haven’t perfected their technique. Don’t throw away a soap or cream if you don’t get results the first time. Try a different method of achieving a lather. I left these two guys in a drawer for over a month before I revisited them and figured out what they were trying to tell me to get them to work. Diligence is something you also have to develop when working with wet shaving supplies. Sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but if you try changing your technique, you might be surprised by the outcome… in this case, it was a positive outcome for me!

Happy shaving!

Further Adventures in Shaving

I just won an eBay auction today for a DE (Double Edged) safety razor that may be older than me!  It's a Gillette Super Speed vintage razor. Here's a few photos of the razor swiped from the auction: 

I also found a site that has a fabulous forum about the topic of shaving and signed up on it today as "Radiotube".  It's called The Shave Den. There are a multitude of shaving enthusiasts that are ready to help you figure out how to better enjoy what many men consider a curse... having to shave.  I admit that ever since switching to a DE razor about four years ago (a Parker 96R), I do enjoy shaving more... and saving tons of money by not having to buy 3,4 or 5 blade cartridges at the store that won't even last but a few shaves. Single blade double edge razors are the way to go for me.  I was ready to try another razor, though so I bid on a vintage razor and now anxiously await its delivery.  

My goal is to eventually find a Gillette Super Speed razor made the same quarter I was born: 4th quarter of 1959.

If you haven't made the switch to shaving this old-fashioned way... consider it. You'll never go back to those multi-blade cartridges again!

Clues in the death of Kreskin

I remember about 15 years ago, when the internet was young... the mentalist known as Kreskin shared with the world an innovative "contest" of sorts (this was around 1999) on his website.  It had within its pages hidden 13 clues in the death of the performer.  I excitedly hunted and tracked down every clue and saved the results to a floppy drive and to my Palm Pilot.  

I've thought about that list every once in a great while and wished I could have located it.  Well, apparently in the transition from my handheld computer to various others during the years since, I must have kept a copy on a USB thumb drive. I just found it again today!  I'm glad to say, I have the 13 clues again that will occur (according to Kreskin) before he can die.  Considering that these haven't happened yet, I'd venture to say he's safe (if his predictions are true).

I now present to you.... the

13 Clues in the Death of Kreskin

  • 1.Three days before I die there will be a serious financial drop.
  • 2.During the month in which I will die a set of twins will begin to make headlines.
  • 3.During the year in which I will die a silver vase rumored to be on the table at the last supper will receive public attention.
  • 4.During the month in which I will die a highly publicized wedding will end in disaster.
  • 5.During the month in which I will die there will be a devastating fire in a New York nightclub.
  • 6.During the month in which I will die four lines in a diary will reveal an astounding insight into the life of a famous rock musician.
  • 7.During the year in which I will die two chests will be found containing a wealth in gold and jewels.
  • 8.One of the key words surrounding my death will rhyme with the word SKY and the word LIGHT.
  • 9.Days before I die a famous sports figure will make headlines with an unprecedented scoring record.
  • 10.During the year that I will die there will be a famous prison escape.
  • 11.During the week in which I will die a famous treaty in Middle East will be signed.
  • 12.During the month in which I will die there will be a fatal disaster in the sky.
  • 13.If there is snow on Sulpicius Day (January 17) you know my end is near.

I wonder if Kreskin still feels that these are valid or if he wants to update them?  Perhaps I'll ask @Kreskin on Twitter.

New QSL Cards from Kiev!

It's hard to believe, but 1000 QSL cards will fit in my mailbox! I just got my new QSL cards from UX5UO today and boy, are they well done!  I love the glossy front  and thick card stock. Gennady will be getting a rave review from me on exceptional quality and service. Excellent work. Now to get on the air!!!


Again, thanks to Gennady Treus for the great job. I will keep you and your family in my prayers that you all stay safe in Ukraine.  

73 de N5PRE, 


Procrastination, or Just Busy?

Good grief! it's been over a year since I posted anything. Well, to be frank, it was a heckuva year in 2013. I wasn't in much of a mood to post because of my job situation. I got laid off from my employer with less than 72 days remaining before my 30th anniversary with them.  Fortunately, they didn't throw me to the curb. I was given a fair severance and the last 60 days of my employment, I was able to search and find a replacement job. It forced me to relocate, however.

Now I am living in Aiken, South Carolina.

It's funny how I just got 500 QSL cards from a printer in China with my Cumming, GA address on them and then find out not long afterward I will be moving to another state!  I didn't immediately replace those cards. I have been somewhat busy with the new job, packing, selling the old house, closing on the new house and life throwing things at me in general that it was a low priority. I only recently got my HF rig back on the air even though I've been in the new house since January.  A few weeks ago, I started looking for a new supplier for QSL cards. I did some research and found Gennady Treus (UX5UO) of Kiev, Ukraine was the best out there. I sent him a preliminary request for a new set of cards using an image familiar to this website, the Radio Active Geek character.  After figuring out that his emails were defaulting to my Spam folder, I was able to respond and offer additional requests for tweaking the design. In spite of the political situation there in Kiev going on currently, Gennady has come up with a good design, I think. I asked him to go ahead and print them. Here's how they'll look on the front:

N5PRE QSL Card Design (Front)

N5PRE QSL Card Design (Front)

I used the Radio Active Geek theme from my site (drawn by my friend N2EST, Jim Massara of Hamtoons.net ) along with the same font I used in the titles for my site (Comiccrazy) to give it a comic book flair.  Jim started off editing at Marvel and I really like his work. You can see some samples at his other site jimmassara.net.  

The obverse of the card has all the details, including a photo of me, QSO details, the website and even room for a stamp and address.  It looks like this:

Obverse of N5PRE QSL Card

Obverse of N5PRE QSL Card

If you are interested in obtaining some excellent QSL cards, check out Gennady's site at ux5uoqsl.com and don't forget to also check out Jim Masssara site and commission a unique ham radio related image for yourself also!

Direct, from China... via slow boat, methinks...

Good thing I was home today to receive this... my order from QSLprinter.com came today via USPS and required a signature. 500 new QSL cards ready to send out! They weren't as vivid as I was hoping on the color and the paper stock isn't as stiff as I had hoped, but they still came out nicely, I think. This is my first attempt to have QSL cards printed, so I'll learn that next time I might bump up the contrast a bit and perhaps make the text stand out more, maybe with a drop shadow or embossed effect.  All in all, not bad for less than $50 for 500 QSL's!  The only other drawback was the amount of time it took to receive them. I ordered them over a month ago. This printer waits until they get a few orders in and then does them in a batch. This saves them money, which they pass down to the buyer.  They didn't print them for two weeks after I paid, but they shipped them the same day they printed them and it took about 18 days to arrive to my door.  In this internet age, where people want instant gratification, it is sometimes hard to come by the patience to wait for something worth waiting for.

Now it's time for me to make 500 contacts...

500 new QSL cards from QSLprinter.com for less than $50

500 new QSL cards from QSLprinter.com for less than $50

Photo of the back of the QSL card.

Photo of the back of the QSL card.

A Design that Hams and Musicians Would Love

I was inspired to post a design on spreadshirt.com to appeal to Hams and musicians alike. It's an octal (8-pin) tube socket diagram that can be emblazoned on a T-Shirt or a coffee cup or phone case. On the right T-shirt, it could resemble Iron Man's Arc Reactor! I thought it would be fun to wear to a hamfest, so I designed it for myself and thought I'd share.  Buy one if you're so inclined!

They're on my spreadshirt site here: http://klystrontech.spreadshirt.com/

2013 GARS Techfest

I went to the 2013 GARS Techfest in Lawrenceville, Georgia to try out a famous chili recipe by a good friend N4EWT, who put his entry in the running for the cook-off at the event.  Once I got there, I saw a lot of other cool things and really enjoyed the event.  
One of the cool things I saw was an old teletype set connected to a computer that was a two way communication port for SMS.  You could text a message to it and you could reply to that message using the keyboard.  It impressed a lot of young people there that had never seen that old technology used before. It also was nice to hear a teletype working again... something I haven't heard in years.

Another demonstration that was quite popular was the Tesla Coil demo. It made a lot of noise and the purple discharge was fun to watch. Kids were asked if they wanted to try it out by holding a wand close to it or a crescent wrench to attract the electrical discharge.

Demonstrating a Tesla Coil

Demonstrating a Tesla Coil

There were young people learning to solder by putting together small kits with electronic parts they had never seen before.  This generated a lot of interest...

Learning to Solder

Learning to Solder

What I enjoyed most about the event, besides seeing some of my friends, was the opportunity to see and hear Bob Heil (K9EID) in a Skype video call in one of the conference rooms. He talked about his early life and how he progressed from working with organs to ham radio and how he happened to help a lot of rock bands before they were famous. His stories and advice were well received and useful.  I recorded most of the talk on my iPhone. It suffers from being too far away from the speaker, so it isn't the highest quality but you're welcome to listen: 

Bob Heil on Skype.jpg

Enjoying HF Again After 20 Year Hiatus

Life gets in the way sometimes.  I had in the early 1990's, two HF radios. I had an HR-2510 and a Yaesu FT-101E (but not at the same time). I enjoyed working HF on 10 meters, being a Technician (with code).  In fact, you can look at a few of my old QSL cards and a slideshow (with a pause button) of my logbook here (external site).

I noticed on the Yaesu that the chassis seemed to be hot and would sometimes shock me. I never grounded the chassis before this point and thought it might be a good idea to do so.  Well, when I did that, it hastened the death of the Yaesu. I let the smoke out of it when turning it on one Saturday morning and it never came back to life. I had estimates done on how much it would cost to repair, but it wasn't worth the cost when compared to the value of the radio.  So, it sat dormant in my garage for nearly 20 years.
I sold it at a tailgate sale and the guy that bought it I later found out got it working with about $20 worth of parts for the internal power supply circuit... with a net cost for him: $45.  I was so disappointed in myself for not attempting to fix it instead of letting it languish.  Meanwhile, in those nearly 20 years of no HF in my life, I divorced, remarried, divorced and remarried again.  How life does move on.

Well, this lovely woman I am married to knew my passion for ham radio and found it in her heart to reserve a significant portion of a recent windfall rebate check to allocate for a new HF radio.  I would need to sell some of my unused things on eBay or some other method to make up the difference, but I had a radio fund!  I got to work right away on figuring out what I could sell.  First thought was the Epiphone Les Paul Standard guitar I had in the corner gathering dust. On eBay it went. After a few times of listing it, it sold.  I also had a DSLR I was no longer using... a Canon 40D. I cleaned it up and got almost full retail value for it at a local camera shop!

With the HRO (Ham Radio Outlet) in Atlanta having its annual Customer Appreciation Day sale on December 15, I went armed with enough funds to get what I wanted, an ICOM IC-7200.  I stayed there all day in hopes of winning something like a discount for the radio or the grand prize. There was only one IC-7200 left in stock though, so I made sure if I won the grand prize or got a discount for a radio in a drawing they'd back out the amount I payed to make up for it, then I bought the radio!  I didn't win any discounts or the grand prize, but I did win an MFJ dual band mobile antenna 2m/440 that I don't really need. I may donate it to the club for a raffle. 


Being in an antenna restricted community, I'd rather the community not know I have a radio, so I opted for a stealth setup. I already had a Transworld TW-4040 antenna in the box for the last two years (I've been preparing for awhile), so I set it up in the attic and dropped coax down the wall with the help of a friend and it looks good.  While I was there, I ran an extra run of coax for 2m and 75 Ohm coax for TV and attached a J-Pole and TV antenna up there to use in the shack as well.... leaving a fish line in the conduit in case I want to add more coax later.

I hooked up the radio to an old power supply that I have had all this time and it powers the radio, but I dare not use more than 50 watts until I can upgrade. It's only rated at 12amps and I need a 22amp power supply at minimum to use 100w output on the ICOM.  That's my next purchase.

So far, I'm taking it slowly and have only checked into one net so far. The Corn Cobber's Net, on 7274.10 Khz. Their story is quite interesting on the origin of using that particular frequency. A nice bunch of hams there.

Revamp of radioactivegeek.com

I spent a little time researching new templates for this site and decided on this one. I also discovered a way to automatically publish photos I put in specific folders on my Dropbox site to make it very easy to update this site as well. Actually, I still have to log on here and click a publish button, but all the folder structure and contents are set in Dropbox. I like that.

I'll try to pay more attention to this corner of the web and not leave it hanging so long. In the future, I'm hoping to do more with Amateur Radio. I still update the arnewsline.org site every week to make it possible to have stitcher play the shows and the podcast to also update. I no longer keep the podcasts here locally... they're at their official site now, but I still get to post them, thanks to Bill Pasternack.  

If you see something that doesn't work or want to know more about something you see here (or if you have suggestions) let me know and I'll see what I can do to update the site to make it better.

73 de N5PRE,

So Long, Dad...

I lost my Dad on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. He was ready to go home. I miss him so much already. I created this video in his honor, please watch and know he was so loved.

Amateur Radio Newsline Podcast Change

To those of you who relied on the weekly Amateur Radio Newsline podcast that I have hosted here for the last 3 to 4 years, it is still available. In order to transition to the official site, I had to create it as a new podcast in iTunes.  The links are available on the official website for Amateur Radio Newsline or you can add the link to the new podcast from here:

iTunes Link

RSS Feed

Amateur Radio Newsline™ is Now On Stitcher Radio

You can now hear Amateur Radio Newsline™ while on the go with Stitcher SmartRadio.

On demand News, Talk and More on your mobile phone.

The latest episode is always available for you- no syncing needed… and no memory or storage wasted!

Available for your iPhone, , Android phones, Kindle Fire, WebOS phones  or your BlackBerry.

Downloading is easy, go to Stitcher.com  or check out your app store.

Stitcher SmartRadio- The Smarter Way to listen to radio.

Stitcher brings radio & podcast listeners a better way to listen to their favorite shows and helps them discover new content they’ll by delivering personalized audio streams, on-demand, right on your smart phone.

  • ·       Stitcher is also available in some car dashboard systems (GM & Ford)
  • ·       Stitcher is available on SONOS systems
  • ·       Over 5000 shows on Stitcher
  • ·       Find new shows with the recommendation feature

LINK to Amateur Radio Newsline™

Ham Radio Outlet Atlanta's Manufacturer Day 2011

I spent the day today at Atlanta, Georgia's finest (if not only) Amateur Radio store, HRO. As soon as I got there, I saw WB6NOA, Gordon West, working the crowd and making certificates of Achievement for hams to take home and display stating they are a Licensed Amateur Radio Operator.  What a cool guy, Gordo is... he was so energetic all day and was friendly to everyone he met.  Gordon has been around a long time as a champion of Amateur Radio and his teaching books, tapes, DVD's, etc. have brought many into the hobby. He can currently be seen weekly on the video podcast Ham Nation

I also got to meet another Podcaster today as well. Tom Samacicio of HQARadio!  While neither Tom nor I won anything from the raffles, we certainly enjoyed seeing all the support HRO has in Atlanta and enjoyed the free food and soft drinks. Thanks for all the free food and drink, Mark (KJ4VO)! 

I decided I just HAD to hang around to see who won the grand prize drawing... crossing my fingers it would be me. It was for a Kenwood TS-590, which is the radio I have had my eyes on since it was introduced. What a great prize! Well, guess who won... that's right.... Santa Claus...
73 de N5PRE,

Stone Mountain Hamfest and Computer Expo 2011

I went to the Stone Mountain Hamfest today held at the Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville, Georgia and picked up a few small items I've been needing for a mobile mounting solution for my VHF/UHF radio in my car.

While I was there, I saw a few items worthy to photograph and this box is one of them.  I didn't see until I got home what the articles were, but how interesting they were. I should have bought them both.

Compare and contrast... 
73... May 1975... $1 unidentifiable (homebrew?) Handie Talkie... Rolls Royce, Mink Coat, Dated fashion... and on the cover it tells you there's a story on how to write for their competitor!

CQ... January 1975... $1 unidentified ham with equipment still being used to this day at a field day or contest outdoors. This could have been shot yesterday! Interesting that they were talking about no-code licenses back then and it actually came to be, but almost 31 years later!

Seeing these made me smile and remember when I was young and looked up the bound copies of these magazines in the local library because I couldn't afford to subscribe. 



New Ham Radio Information Source

I was listening to the RAIN Report podcast on Friday and heard about an easy to remember site that offers a lot of benefit to amateur radio operators everywhere... including those with smartphones.  The site is simply qsl.fm 

Some of the features for qsl.fm include callsign lookups with the ability to use wildcards. This would allow you to search for all hams with a particular prefix or suffix.  Also you can search by zip code or name as well.

Want to know what repeaters are active in a particular zip code, State or Province in the USA or Canada? That's supported as well. Filtering by band is also supported. 

Future upgrades will include the ability to search for hamfests in your area.  I'm looking forward to this feature.  

The best part about qsl.fm is that there is a matching iPhone and Android app for it, with much the same features, including the ability to determine your search by geo-location of the phone instead of having to input your zip code or State.  Check below for obtaining your copy of the app. (Note, there is a nominal charge for the app)

Direct Link to iPhone App - Click Here 

For Android, scan the QR Code below, or search "QSL" in the Market

Please also note that I have no connection to this new site or app other than to be a happy user of them and wanting to share with my fellow hams.

Visit QSL.FM