Tom K6TS gone silent key

Tom K6TS has gone silent key on Jan 21 as Tommy W6IJ let me know. In the reply to my mail of condolence to his wife, Modene, she told me he fell quite ill with emphysema last Nov. I know he has got through cerebral infarction or myocardial infarction for the past several years. But this time, he could not go through the exacerbation of emphysema. Modene told me she won't have Tom experience the same agony since last fall again. It tells me what a real care giver to him she has been.

I have known Tom through QSOs in 1980s. We have had hundreds of QSOs. A cheerful and warm hearted person. We have exchanged some photos then. In my 2nd visit to the Bay area in mid 80s, I had a chance to see him at his home in Livermore. He was always smiling and was a person whom I had the quite same impression as I had on the air. I still remember coming into the living room equipped with the radio at his home and having a nice eye ball with him, his wife and his grandson. His keying was the same as his character. A little bit short tempered but always warm and cheerful.  It is surprising that keying reflects the sender's character in this way. I liked talking to him through our loving mode.

He used to work for Navy immediately after the WWII. He used to stay somewhere in Japan as a Navy crew those days. That may be why he has been interested in our country and the people so much. One time, he made a plan to visit our country on a Navy plane, which he could fly here as a Navy veteran with pretty reasonable cost. It did not come true unfortunately. But it has made us excited.

Sometime in mid 90s, I have recommended him for an FOC member. With the other members' sponsorship. including his ex CW teacher at Navy days, I believe, Bob W5GEL, he could enter the club. I am sure he has enjoyed it much. But a couple of years ago, he made up his mind to quit the club since he had a stroke and could hardly operate radio. He has written me a courteous letter letting me know of his quitting the club and expressing his appreciation for my sponsorship again. He told me he had been glad to be able to say thanks to Bob before he went silent key as well. I was sad to know of his decision. But I know it is difficult to retreat in life and was impressed at his decision very much.

Tom and  Modene have been very punctual sending me the season's greeting in the end of every year. Two or three years ago, they have sent me a couple of their photos with one of the greetings. One showed them in their honey moon days while the other was taken recently for the token of the 60the anniversary. Both of them were very impressive to me. The long interval between those photos meant they had been blessed with a happy marriage. Even though I know his last years were not very plain with such sad events as losing their 2nd daughter a few years ago. I am grateful to him for the long lasting friendship to me and my family.

I am missing this good friend of mine whom I knew through this hobby 

I really wish him eternal rest in peace.


Clarinet trio by Brahms

One of my favorite composers is Brahms. His chamber musics are excellent works without any exception. Especially, the works composed in the latest years in his life attract me much. They sound as if Brahms were whispering to me that he had something to tell me in private. His works are different from the outstanding structure of universe in Bach or the ardent and expansive enthusiasm in Beethoven. But Brahms' best character seems to be in the intimacy to the audience, needless to mention of his neoclassical background.

This performance featuring viola for the place of clarinet sounds great. This viola gives us a warm feeling in the pathetic melodies. It is making a big success comparable to or even more than clarinet.  The cellist, Wendy Warner, being not very famous in the music world yet, is a pretty proficient cellist. Her decisive and wide scaled performance is really fascinating.  Here is the video clip of the 1st movement of this music. The other 3 movements are of course great works as well.


I used to listen to this music so many times at various occasions. When I started cello at med school, I went to a concert held at a small shrine hall. Having the sunset through the window, they have performed this work with incredible passion. I still remember the 1st theme reproduced by cello in different tonality in the 1st movement. It has moved my mind deeply. The passion in the music overwhelmed me at that time, not understanding muc of the pathos in it.

This music has been a good friend of mine. The passion in the pathetic background in this music resonates strongly with my mind heading toward retreat in life! How will it sound to me at the upcoming new stage of my life?


Alternate singing

Now, with the increment of the sun spot numbers, there are more DXpeditions going on. It is often claimed that some callers are behaving in bad manner such as calling over without following the operator's direction etc. Such a mess has been repeated since years ago. It is not a rare discussion at all. We, callers, should listen carefully for what the operator wants us to do.

But the problem is not so simple. The operator could be partly responsible for the mess in the pile ups. The operator should give proper directions such as to spread out within a certain range of bands. He should never respond to those who behave against his direction. The operator should know how the band opens to the other part of the world. He should take those callers from the area where the band opens for limited time.

I have learned these things when I operated as XU0JA in 1990. The article by Roger G3SXW, which I translated for a JA magazine in early '90s, was also very instructive as for how to operate from DX. It was on an issue of FOCUS, I believe, those days. The operators of DX should be aware that their capabilities in operation would determine how the pile ups go on.

The most important thing for the operator of DX, I believe, is the capability to copy code accurately in limited time. Nowadays, I am afraid, some operators are not able to copy calls in one time. Of course, there should be much QRM there. As told above, the operator might minimize QRM by instructing to spread out or moving the response frequency little by little away. But there could be much QRM all around. In that mess, he should copy one call in limited time. It will prevent the so called endless calling. Most experienced operators know of this fact. But, I am afraid, there are less number of operators capable of this type of operation.

I often remember, as one of the most proficient operations, HK0TU in 1990 operating 28MHz through the long path. The operator, I dont remember who it was, responded to a station in one or two call interval. No more intervals. No one went on calling and their band stayed perfectly quiet while HK0TU transmitted. It was like two choirs singing one afer another in Matthew's Passion by Bach. It was an art. I was going on listening to that admirable show over the world for some time.

Though I have had least interests in chasing DX now, I still would like to listen such an operation if somebody could do it.


We should not take it granted.

The high bands were active again this morning. I have worked a number of statessides on 15m. Unfortunately, the most QSOs were so called rubber stamp type. I could hardly keep anoyone who would quit soon telling me he would do something else or he guessed I might have other callers etc.

One of the pleasant exception was a QSO with a veteran doctor, Dave, W0FBI. Last spring when we were in the terrible mess due to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear power plant accident, I have run across with him for a few times. He used to stay in Japan as a member of the US Army years ago. He and his wife were worrying about the nuclear power problem so much that they would return to Japan  and volunteer for the sufferers. I told him not to come to Japan since he could do only little for them at that time. He also even offered me to send anything necessary for me. I was really impressed or, I should say, was touched by his serious concern and kind attitude toward us.

 This morning, his signal was not very loud. It seemed he had moved to Ariz. from W0 area. I was almost shocked to hear that he had finished the 2nd course of chemo. He told me that he had had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which eventually complicated lymphoma recently. He had to undergo the chemo due to the latter illness. I know that type of leukemia itself could be managed by a cutting edge drug. But lymphoma is another issue. I hoped he could get through the chemo and recover from it soon. I am sure he would do it.

As a general rule, however, we should remember each QSO could be the last time ever with that particular person. Too bad losing a chance to know more of someone in a QSO. We should never take it granted as if we could see again easily.

It could be the last time.



Randy W6SJ has sent me a "Haiku" .  It sounds like an ode to CW as well as to FOC.

"Pure form we treasure
But more than that we all love

Haiku is a short poem composed of 3 short sentences/phrases or words. Three sentences/phrases or words are composed of 5,7 and 5 characters in japanese Katakana. Since Katakana is essentially different from alphabet in function, it may be impossible to make Haiku in English.

The essence of Haiku may be the suggestive idea or emotion left with this simple structure of poem. In this regard, you may make poems in English comparable to Haiku.

I apologized Randy for my inability to comment of his work due to my little knowledge of Haiku telling him that he has asked about Haiku to a wrong person. But it still sounds like a Haiku. A warm and heartfelt idea of brass pounders.


Northwest FOC Weekend 2012

I have registered the meeting titled above held in Seattle this summer. The site is here.

I was told to attend it by Steve W7QC last spring, I guess. My answer was that I would go there if I could retire by this spring. It came true. So far, everything is going on straightly for retirement. I owe much to Steve, Bill W7GKF and Alan AC2K who are preparing this event and eagerly asked me to go there.

It has been a dream for me to see old friends before we get so old that I could not recognize them. It will be a reality soon this summer. When I told Joe KC0VKN I had been a shy boy, he was laughing at me. But it is true. I hope they won't treat me like a special guest or something.

I and my wife have spent very busy lives as doctors and could not travel abroad together yet. This will be our 1st ever trip. She looks forward that so much. She has already got the passport. She only hopes there will not be only ham nuts like me there. They say Seattle in summer is a great place to visit. Both of us are looking forward this trip very much. We are planning go down to the Bay area or LA. To Az as well if the time permits.

Only sorrow is that I haven't heard anything from Gary W5ZL who promised me to see each other at the meeting after finishing his chemo protocol for his cancer. I hope he and his wife Leslie would surprise us showing up there. I also worry about Gary W0CGR who has been under treatment for the advanced cancer as well. He could be there also if he did not develop that problem.

So see you in eye balls this summer, friends, either old or new.


Shameful conducts by bureaucrats

A recent paper article told that the governmental administration office had delivered the data of SPEEDI, the predicting sysytem for the nuclear contamination in the nuclear power plant accident, to the US Army as well as to IAEA in a day or two after the accident happened. The other mass media told that the personel of the Min. of Education, Science and Culture had started measuring the radiation in the environment around the disaster area as soon as it occurred. They were aware that certain areas where some refugees had stayed following to the governmental warning had been heavily contaminated. But no warning was given to the refugees according to the real measurement data by them at that time. Those refugees had not known of the fact until they were interviewed and informed of the fact by mass media a few days later.

Those informations, which were vitally important for the refugees, were not passed to the government. It is really surprising but they were shelved by some bureaucrats.

This is a crime to the people. We should find out who was responsible for this criminal affair. What sysytem enbled them behave this way? Our bureaucrats have had a principle of behavioural policy since preWWII period; do not give the informations to the people but make them rely on the bureaucrats.

I am afraid that this event was another example of this shameful conduct by the bureaucrats.  



The other day, on the FOC member reflector, someone has asked how Tim, VK3IM, was doing. The other guy replied to him that Tim had suffered from a serious illness and had had his radio gear stolen while he was in the hospital. I have been concerned about Tim since I read this conversation about him.

Drew, VK3XU, another FOC member, has given me a call on 40m this evening. I thought he was the right person who could let me know how Tim had been doing. So far as I heard from Drew, Tim had a prostate cancer operation which left him lasting pain. In addition, Tim has met a traffic accident, which has injured his spine. It was another cause of chronic pain to Tim. Tim has had surgeries on spine twice without good results. He also has had his equipments stolen as told in the reflector.

It was a really sad news to me. I have met Tim as VK3AZY in 1960s. Since 1980s, we have talked many times, especially when he used to commute to the city of Melbourne from Mt. Eliza on an old Mazda Van in 1980s. He used to put out a big siganal from his old FT101B and a whip with a big top hat on the roof of his car. For the past decade, he has been retired and won't be so active on the radio. I haven't had so many chances to talk to him recently. I knew he had had health problems for the past years.  I still hold fond memories of good QSOs with him. When I came back on the air at a dorm of a med school hospital in early 80s, I had only 14AVQ on the roof. He has given me an idea to utilize the metal roof for the radial. We shared old friends like JA5AI or VK4CC, who went SK years ago. We used to have a big round table with them those days. Though Tim is a little bit older than me, I felt so close to him like a brother in ham radio.

There should be so many CW operators all over the world who remember a little bit chirpy but stable his signal from his mobile set up and his way of operation, very sociable and kind. Keep ears open to Drew, who told me he would try to get in touch with Tim and give us the up date on Tim in the FOC member reflector or somewhere.


Spacing in Morse code

For a CW operator, the spaces in Morse code are quite important. The spaces between dashes and dots, those between words and those between sentences make up Morse code. They are as important as dashes and dots themselves. Imagine that these spaces are irregular or inappropriate. It could be almost impossible for us to read the code. Appropriate setteing of spaces, that is, spacings, is crucial for beautiful and efficient CW.

I would like to mention of two issues related with the spacing.

The problem of "BK" sent in the end of messages which I questioned in the previous article could be a kind of, or an extension of this issue. In the end of messages, there should be appropriate spacings.  Sending IDs could be a kind of spacings. It will enable us read the message comfortably as well as fluently.  Without this "spacings" between transmission and reception, we could hardly go on communicating.

The other point is the minute but still substantial variation of spacings. CW is often compared to music. Silence in music should be comparable to spaces in Morse code. When some phrase or motif is accentuated in music, a minute pause of silence is often put immediately before it. It is called "Auftakt" in German. In sending Morse code, we put a bit of exaggerated space before some word which we would like to emphasize, if consciously or not. For example, when calling CQ, we often wait a bit before giving our call following DE. It is to emphasize our call sign, which is most important in this message. If this "Auftakt" sounds proper, the Morse code could be a real music.

CW is an art. It is not so complicated as the other arts like music. It sounds, however, like real music in our mind. It delivers our idea and emotion directly. Why won't you send it in a beautiful and efficient way?


Hartmut DK2SC

Hartmut DK2SC had been active from Rwanda for several years in 80s through 90s. I first heard him as DK2SC/9X on 40m in the late 80s. It was long before the UN related ham radio activity became high. 9X was a real rare one for us. At that time, Hartmut was ragchewing a homeland guy in moderate speed of code in German. He was not a ham who enjoys only pile ups. His main interest seemed to know well of the comrade through every QSO. His operation was so impressive to me that I still clearly remember of his signal on 40m I first heard.  

Around 1990, when I was keenly chasing rare entities, I often heard him ragchewing on 20m or 15m. There were some guys who broke in him going on chatting. Some of them called him "Racist!". Because he won't reply to the callers in bad manner. Hartmut always replied them, in a sense of humor, telling to behave themselves and to get disciplined. One day I have finally acquainted with him. Since I also loved chatting on CW, it won't take us too long to become good friends each other.

He was a broadcasting engineer maintaining the relay station in Rwanda. He seemed to have a decent station on a hill near Kigali. His beam always put out a great signal to JA via the long path. It was amazing his signal always went on coming through for several hours on either 20m or 15m. Despite of the breakers or even jammers for us, we always enjoyed talking for a long time once we started a QSO. His interests about Japan has extended to various aspects. Once he knew of my profession, he has introduced about the blood smear specimen of Malaria he collected. The topics went on to our career, our families and other hobbies etc. I was hesitating to go on with him for long time but he never stopped his own way of QSO. 

His operation had to come to an end all of a sudden due to the tragedic riot in Rwanda. He had to come back to Germany, where he could not put up any good antenna. We could  not make QSO  any longer but corresponded a few times by postal mail. He told about his dream to go for a voyage on a boat all around the world soon. I haven't traced him any longer since then..

It was last winter that I had a call from him on 20m CW. I must say I have almost forgotten of him then. Hearing his same fist as years ago, I was so excited. He told me he had actually departed for the voyage by himself in 2001. But, when he was harboring in Greece, he had a cerebral vascular illness, that caused hemipalsy later on.  He had to give it up and was sent back home from Greece. He has been settled down in a countryside. He said he had become a grandpa now. It was when he put up a new antenna there that we made that QSO. The QSL shown above is for that QSO. 

The friendship with Hartmut for the past decades tells me that CW communication should be not only for signal report and QSL card matter but for sharing our lives each other, I believe.    


Formula of CW QSO

A portion of CW QSO is comprised of a series of formulae which have been formed for the whole history of CW communication. Some of them are regulated by our law such as how to call another station etc. These formulae may seem overregulated or simply too abundant to some CW operators now. They are going to neglect certain formulae in CW QSO.

One of the examples is omitting sending the callsigns of own and the other's;IDs in the end of transmission.  I have mentioned of this recent trend of operation in this blog before. I would consider what it means in this article.

They finish their messages abruptly with a word "BK". It always surprises me and makes me hurried somehow. It sounds like being compelled to hurry up. Actually, those guys seem to want to go away sooner. I always tell them that he/she seems to rush somewhere so I won't keep him/her any longer. In a minute, we go on into the end of the QSO as the guy wants.

This omission of formulae may simply mean they would cut the time of a QSO portion which seems unnecessary to them. But lessons of QSOs with those people tell me a bit more. They won't exchange other than reports/QTH/handles. Exchanging these informations is good enough for them. Finishing transmission with "BK" always means they won't go on to exuberant possibilities of further steps of a QSO. They may be concerned about getting a QSL only or recording a QSO data in his log.

This could be a way of enjoyment in ham radio, I should admit. But I am not for this way of omission in operation. It could lessen the possibility of communication. Meeting a guy through ham radio is not an ordinary routine in the world at all. A rare and valuable thing in our lives.We should take such a chance of meeting a person in that way. I would like to ask those neglecting the operation formula "So what after getting a card or a QSO record?"

Further, omitting sending IDs in the end of transmission prevents us preparing for answering to him/her in our turn. For a few seconds spent for sending IDs, we could compile in our brain the data or the informations we give to the other in the next transmission. And, of course, sending IDs could help the audience to know who we are. There could be a number of audience for a particular QSO all around the world in radio communication on HF bands. Omitting sending IDs could discourage them very much.

In the history, formulae in culture have been sometimes neglected or even denied by some people, mostly, young and not experienced. But there could be reasons why such formulae exist. CW communication is not an exception in this regard.


Long path on 40m

Early in morning on yesterday, 40m was quite open to the East Coast through the long path. The window opens only for an hour or two but is still a pleasant to make QSOs with the East Coasts. Just before the sun rises, the band opens up all of a sudden. The opening is so impressive.

I have talked a few stations in the East Coast. One was Al W1FJ, whom I have known since '80s. I have met him in person twice, one time at my QTH in his business trip in mid 80s and the other time at K1YT in my visit to Mass in 1991.  He kindely asked me, hearing a rumor of my visit to Seattle next summer, if I would visit there again. So far, I should say no for my wife could not have a long vacation yet. I told him I would return to the New England area in the near future. His rotary dipole was doing a great job. His signal has been S8/9 all the time. John W8FJ also called me with his vigorous signal. He seemed to have spent a pleasant Christmas with his family. His new grandchild must be a real pleasure for him this time. His signal from a 2 element was also very loud all the way. He told his location opened quite well to the direction to JA through the long path.

There used to be quite many stations working through this path. A barefooter with a wire anntena was actually coming through well enough for a decent QSO. But so far as I watched around, the band was pretty empty. The hams must be busy doing the other things or I have missed a good chance to watch it. But I am still afraid there are decreasing number of hams enjoying ordinary QSOs through such an attractive path.

No use complaining of the modern trend that they enjoy ham radio just like a game. I could do little against such a movement in this hobby. I would go on enjoying it in my way. It is the only thing I could do. One of my New Year's resolution should be that I would go on my way!

See you often in 2012, my friends.