Imagine, you own a small Jewelry Store, closing time is near, and after a busy day of repairing watches and dealing with customers, three want-to-be Hams show up in the store lobby that being myself, George Bailey, and my boyhood friend Bill Stewart and USAF Maintenance Chief at LRAFB & ex-WWII Pilot- Russell Ballinger. All three are filled with enthusiasm and charged up with lots of new questions about Ham radio and electronics. You greet your students with a smile, while you put a CLOSED sign on the door, and then you setup chairs and a long folding table for the 3 hour class. You plug in the tired looking table radio, the one you converted into a Code Practice Oscillator- (CPO) by adding positive feedback to the audio stage. Then you hook up an old army telegraph key to the radio and you caution your students, "Now, don't get your hands across the brass key because it's connected to a high voltage tube circuit." This warning was directed to me and Bill.
This is testimony to the dedication of K5VPM - Lyle Armstrong and his volunteer work of tutoring newcomers to amateur radio, training them to a level where they could pass the FCC Novice test. For my class of three, he did this faithfully, once a week, for about two months, and through those years he had other classes too. Later, I would advance to General Class but I would not have a Ham Ticket today, if not for his effort.
Going to a Hamfest these days is like going to an old men convention. You see very few young faces in the crowd and I fear this is a sign that Ham radio is dying. The appeal of Ham radio has slipped because of advances in wireless telephone technology and the computer/Internet thing. So what's so exciting about contacting someone in another country via Amateur Radio, when you can flip open your tiny cell phone and talk to anyone on the planet? And, perhaps Ham radio is dying, in part, because there aren't enough men like Mr Armstrong.
I still have the tiny voice box that he removed from a broken cuckoo clock. It worked like a whistle and was used like a portable CPO, when you blew into it, and while actually sending the code with your tongue. It worked well and sounded like real Morse code and you didn't need batteries. I questioned the benefit of this practice technique but actually, it's all in the mind. You can send Morse by hand, foot, tongue or by blinking it with your eyes. My favorite "blinking Morse code" story comes from the Vietnam War era. When, for propaganda purposes, a shot down American airman was paraded before worldwide TV cameras. Just prior to this he had been tortured to make him confess to bombing civilian areas. While making his forced statement on TV, he also blinked out "TORTURE" in Morse code, unrecognized by the enemy, but American intelligence officials picked up on it. -also see Pearl Harbor
Mr Armstrong had a one of those calls, K5VPM, that was easy to associate with a "catch phrase". Using catchy phrases was popular back then, instead of official phonetics, like "A-Alpha, B-Bravo", because it helped Hams remember each others callsign. When answering another Ham on AM phone he would often say, "This is Kilowatt-Five-Very-Poor-Modulation" or "This is "Kilowatt-Five-Very-Poor-Man". I still remember his call by those unique phonetics . Whenever I fire up my code transmitter, I check the frequency, and then I usually warm up my fist by tapping out VVV TEST DE WA5HRC AR, and sometimes I start out like, VVV K5VPM DE WA5HRC K, calling my friend Lyle, as kind of a remembrance to him.#
Thank you Mr Armstrong, from George Bailey -WA5HRC
# NOTE- In Morse code shorthand, DE means THIS IS, AR means END OF MESSAGE, K means GO AHEAD
Fist - Every Morse code (CW) operator has a distinctive style of sending just like people have different hand writing styles. In radio jargon this is referred to as the operators "FIST".
Silent Key - radio jargon for a deceased Ham operator - Silent Key, meaning his telegraph key is silent.
CPO - Code Practice Oscillator - a CPO, when hooked to a telegraph key, is used for off-the-air sending of Morse code by generating a high pitched note which mimics the code sound as it would be heard from a radio. For practice purposes, it is best used by 2 of more persons who alternate between sending and receiving, thus, sharping the skill of all.
The Volunteer Work of Lyle Armstrong K5VPM Helped Fill the Ranks of the Amateur Radio Community.-- READ MORE BELOW