Home again

After just short of eight weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN my wife I returned home this past Saturday. I was there for a stem cell transplant as the next step in treatment for my lymphoma. It was a very long process with a number of phases. There were elements of it that were very rough but I made it through and am on the road to recovery. I had a major reset on Monday involving the rescue squad and another hospital stay but am slowly inching back. I’m as exhausted as one can be but see small incremental improvements every day. It will be many many months of recovery. I’ve been keeping up on the world of Amateur Radio (and some photography) through John, AE5X’s blog and links. I’ve been off the air for quite some time now but as my stamina returns I’ll reconnect some antennas and get back on the air.

73,

Tim

KA9EAK

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A bit more on the M6

For any number of reasons there aren’t a lot of camera stores anymore so getting to see a camera before you buy it is a challenge. During my senior year in high school and for a couple years of college I worked in a little camera store called Brown Photo (later Black Photo.) We sold a lot of 35mm film cameras (Nikon, Canon, Minolta) as well as all the film-based point-and-shoots of the day. It was a lot of fun, probably the most fun job that I’ve ever had. This was well before the Internet. If you wanted a camera you went to a camera store and there were a fair number of them in those days. Not so much anymore.

One day my wife and I were driving home from a doctor appointment in a suburb of Milwaukee and on a whim we pulled into a Best Buy to see if there was a chance that they might carry some of these mirrorless cameras. To my astonishment they had quite a few, including the Canon M6. The first two things that surprised me when I held it was its size, it was a lot smaller than I expected, and second its weight\build quality. I expected a relatively light and plastic feel and that is not at all the case. This thing is well-built and has a very solid feel to it. I was impressed. The next thing that was immediately noticeable was the nice grip as compared to the M100. I was sorely tempted to walk out of the store with a camera that day but some vestigial remnant of self-control was enough to get me out of there empty handed. Plus, I had pretty much talked myself into the M100 and holding the M6 really got me re-thinking that decision. After a bit more thought and research I started to watch the used market and eventually found an M6 in mint condition for a bit less than I would have paid for a new M100.

I found these reviews helpful as I did my research:

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-eos-m6

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-eos-m6/canon-eos-m6A.HTM

https://www.cameralabs.com/canon-eos-m6-review/

I’ve added the following pictures in the event that they are helpful to anyone considering one of these cameras. I wasn’t prepared for the size of the camera and having some items to compare it against might be helpful.

Canon M6 and Nikon FE

Canon M6 and Nikon FE

Canon M6 and Nikon FE

And the lenses are smaller as well. Here’s a comparison of my old Nikkor 80-200mm F4 to the Canon 55-200mm F4.5-6.3:

Nikkor 80-200 and Canon EF-M 55-200

The M6 uses an APS-C size sensor so the 35mm full frame equivalent of the new lens is 88 – 320mm (Canon APS-C multiplier 1.6x.)

Finally, here’s a comparison to something reasonably well-known in the Amateur Radio world:

Canon M6 and ICOM ID-51

I realize that it’s not a pocket camera but when compared to a DSLR (0r even an old film SLR) the difference in size is quite noticeable. Combined with the size differences in the Canon EF-M lenses I can fit a comparable amount of equipment in about one-third the space with an appropriate weight savings as well.

In reading reviews of the camera the two biggest cons were the lack of 4K video and the lack of a viewfinder. Neither of these things mattered that much to me. I’m not a vlogger so 4K isn’t an issue. Though it’s nice that the M6 has provision for an external mic. I have a Zoom H1 that I’ve used for music that might be re-purposed if I get the urge to vlog but I’ll have to wait until my hair grows back. As for the viewfinder, thus far I’ve not been missing it. The touchscreen is more than capable but should I find the need for one Canon offers the EVF-DC2 which slides into the hot shoe albeit it is a bit pricey.

As I said in my previous post, this camera likely has more features than I’ll ever need. I especially like the connectivity with Bluetooth and WiFi. It connects to an app on my Samsung tablet and smartphone and allows control and transfer of pictures. There are a ton of exposure modes, the autofocus works very well, and the menus are well thought out and easy to navigate. Overall, I am very pleased with this camera and expect that it will serve my needs for quite some time.

 

Rekindling an old hobby

It’s partly John AE5X‘s fault. John has several digital photography sites linked from his blog and I’ve been reading them for a while with growing interest. It’s been a very long time since I delved into photography at that level. Many years ago it was my primary hobby, even before Amateur Radio. I had some nice 35mm equipment and even my own darkroom equipment (though the “darkroom” was the dark basement at night with my equipment by the washtubs.) I would process my own black and white film (Tri-X and Plus X as I recall) and make prints with a Beseler 23C enlarger. I also did some color prints from slides using Cibrchrome.

Old Nikons – FE and FM

From 1981 to about 1987 I spent a lot of time at Road America and an occasional trip to Mid-Ohio photographing things like this:

Porsche 935

And this:

Porsche 956

Lots and lots of rolls of Kodachrome went through those old Nikons. Through this time school, marriage, and later kids happened and other than photos of kids and some canoe and hiking trips, photography sort of fell to the wayside.

Cameras for quite some time have been mostly point-and-shoot or variants thereof. In 1998 I bought a Nikon Pronea S and two lenses. This was an APS film camera. While it took nice photographs it was too late, digital was coming fast. I bought my first digital camera, an Olympus C-3000 Zoom in 2000. It had a whopping 3.4 megapixels. Quite a step down from the approximately 140 megapixels of Kodachrome. I hemmed and hawed about a DSLR and about five years ago I bought a Nikon Coolpix P600. It’s seen a fair amount of use and I’ve been quite pleased with it. It’s not a DSLR but it has served my purposes well. Woven in there were a pair of Canon point-and-shoots. the Powershot A3000. We ended up with two in order to increase the chances that you could find one of them when needed. These were nice little cameras that could easily be stuffed in your pocket and probably carried the bulk of kid photography for a number of years. And of course there was the onset of cellphone cameras. While they are cameras in the technical sense, I don’t know that they are tools for actual photography.

Over the last several months there has been a lot of time for reading and not much radio station operation. I’m not real sure why other than cancer has a way of getting your attention and changing your focus. I’ve been spending a lot of time coming up to speed on the world of digital photography. I’ve been away for a very long time and it’s been fun to rekindle thoughts about an old hobby with so much new technology. So all this reading starts one to thinking…maybe it’s time to get back into this with something other than a point-and-shoot.

As many of you are aware there is well more than a plethora of digital cameras on offer. Even though cellphones have put a significant dent in digital camera sales there are an enormous set of options for the person wanting more than a cellphone can offer. One of the newest things that caught my interest were mirrorless cameras. These were all new to me. I read a lot about the pros and cons of mirrorless versus DSLR. One of the things that appealed to me was their size. I wasn’t all that interested in a big DSLR. The P600 is nice but you can’t really put it in your pocket. Even a large pocket.

So after a bunch of thought and no small amount of research I narrowed my choices down to the Canon EOS mirrorless offerings and was mostly set to get an M100 but then found a very nice used M6. What tipped the balance? A bit more ability to control the camera combined with a very nice grip.

Canon M6 and EF-M lenses

In addition to the “kit” lens, the 15-45mm, I have since added the 11-22mm and the 55-200mm. All Canon EF-M lenses. B&H Photo have become my new friends. They have everything you need, good prices, and ship as fast as lightning.

Thus far I am exceedingly pleased with this new camera. My first new camera with this level of control in a very long time. The size is wonderful. Much smaller and lighter than a DSLR and while it won’t fit in a pants pocket it will fit in a jacket pocket. It is packed with more features than I’ll likely ever need and it all fits nicely in a Tenba DNA 8:

Tenba DNA 8

Tenba DNA 8

All in all much less size and weight than the old Tenba bag I used to carry around:

Old Tenba P795 bag

And a lot more functionality.

I’m glad that I waited to jump into the digital photography world. Perhaps I was waiting for mirrorless cameras before I knew that they even existed. Thanks John!

As for my health, I finished the sixth round of chemotherapy four weeks ago with some side effects but nothing overly debilitating. On our recent trip back to Mayo another PET scan was even better than the one back in December so the disease is headed in the right direction. Next step is a stem cell transplant in a few weeks. After that our hope and prayer is that I can start to string together days, weeks, months, and years without cancer. I can’t wait until summer when treatments will be over and I’ll be on the way to recovery. I’ve got a new camera to use!

New Oscilloscope – Siglent SDS 1202X-E

Since I’m going to be here a bit longer I decided to get a new oscilloscope. I pushed the “Buy It Now” button while receiving my third chemotherapy treatment this past week so some of this might have been drug induced.

I’d actually been hemming and hawing for a bit over a year about getting a new oscilloscope. It’s a Siglent SDS 1202X-E. Prior to reading the posts by John, AE5X I had been considering a Rigol DS1054Z but John’s posts persuaded me to choose the Siglent. It just arrived yesterday and thus far I’m pleased with it.

What’s in the box?

The scope comes well packed and is much smaller than I anticipated.

Siglent SDS 1202X-E

Included with the scope are the power cord, a USB cable, two 1X\10X probes, and a quick start manual.

Probe accessories

Each probe includes colored ID rings, a BNC adapter, tip shrouds and a compensation adjustment tool.

Siglent SDS 1202X-E

For years I’ve used a Tektronix 2215 and it has served me well. For whatever reason, on occasion I’ve wanted to capture a waveform but the only way to do it was to photograph the display. It reminded me of the days of using a Polaroid camera on the old Tektronix scopes that we had in the R&D lab in which I worked summers when I was going to school. Then we obtained some Nicolet Instruments storage scopes. Suddenly no one wanted to use the old Tektronix Polaroid option.

NIC storage scope

Now you could save a whole waveform on a 5.25 inch floppy. (And if I recall correctly it was one capture per disk.)

Things have progressed quite a bit since those days. This Siglent has an amazing amount of features for the price. I expect that it will serve me well for a number of years. Now off to capture some waveforms.

 

The second best Christmas present

My wife and I were at the Mayo Clinic this past week for some doctor appointments and the third round of chemotherapy. The first appointment of the week was a PET scan. The external indicators plus lab work indicated that things were progressing in the right direction but the doctors (and my wife and I) wanted the internal view.

Tuesday afternoon we got the results from the PET scan and it is all clear. The areas of concern from the scan prior to treatment are all gone. The doctors call it complete metabolic remission. (Dark areas except the brain and kidneys were areas of cancer.)

PET scan

Obviously we are overjoyed at this result. We had hoped and prayed to hear this after the sixth round of treatment. To hear it after only two rounds is the second best Christmas present of all.

Dawn and I

We need to finish up the rest of the chemotherapy to be sure that everything is gone in order to decrease the risk of it returning as there is a 40-50% chance of it doing so.

So what’s the best Christmas present of all? The Reason for the Season.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly therewas with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 8-14

We have much to be thankful for this Christmas. More than any Christmas past.

May your Christmas season be filled with joy in the Reason for the Season.

 

Diagnosis

Little did I know that this post:

https://outbackofbeyond.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/merry-christmas/

that I made just before Christmas last year in which I mentioned having a cold was the beginning of a heath roller coaster that has lasted all year. After countless doctor visits to all manner of specialists, tests on gallons of blood, multiple x-rays and various scans, multiple biopsies, and multiple hospitalizations, culminating in the last 12 days in the hospital at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN I now have a diagnosis. I have a rare form of lymphoma called T-cell Lymphoma. I started chemotherapy this past Wednesday at Mayo. My wife and I arrived home last night. (Mayo is thankfully only a 4.5 hour drive from our home.)

While it’s certainly not what we would have chosen it’s apparently part of the plan. We don’t believe anything happens by accident. There’s a purpose in this though we may not fully understand it. I don’t say this as a coping mechanism. It all is of a piece for me. If we’re floating about on this wonderful blue marble, unique in all the universe, and that wasn’t an accident then our existence and all that it entails isn’t an accident either. The Lord wasn’t surprised by the pathology report. He has something in this for me and we’ll walk in faith through it blessing others in a very difficult situation though I suspect there will be times ahead when he may have to carry me.

The care at Mayo was well beyond fantastic. Every single person there from top to bottom was wonderful. The medical personnel were clearly very good at what they do, had done their homework on the pile of information from the preceding months, intently listened to our responses to their questions as well as to our questions and concerns, and most of all showed a very genuine interest in caring for me and solving this problem. My wife and I cannot say enough good about the care that I received. Every day there were multiple visits from both individual doctors as well as the team of specialists assigned to me. Everyone was interacting and the teams all knew each other on a first name basis which made for the perfect method in which to solve a difficult case like mine which had thus far stumped all local doctors.

I have a long and likely difficult road ahead. The good news is that the doctors at Mayo have seen this cancer before in patients with circumstances similar to mine. They have a plan that they are running and will be monitoring along the way to determine if changes are required to achieve the desired goal of remission. Additionally and equally important, I have a most wonderful wife that has been my constant companion for over 35 years, three wonderful kids, and a host of family and friends that are helping with their hands and with their thoughts and prayers. I’m not going through this alone. Any thoughts and prayers you wish to add to the pile would be most appreciated.

As you can well imagine situations like this have a tendency to focus one’s thoughts. You start to consider more things in the light of eternity and frankly find some things wanting.

As I am able I intend to keep plugging along in this wonderful hobby. It certainly provides a nice distraction from thinking about all manner of negative things and will keep my mind sharp. If there are periods of quiet it’s most likely that I’m having a bit of a rough spot. I plan to keep writing as I am able. This is all new to me so I’m not sure what to expect. I made it to 55 years without ever being in the hospital a day of my life except the day of my birth.

Thanks for reading my posts over the years and for the comments and camaraderie that has developed. It’s all part of this wonderful hobby.

 

Current consumption for various HF rigs

In working out some additional battery power for portable operation I wanted to know the current consumption of some of the HF radios that I own. While I have a KX2 I didn’t include it as I’m not all that concerned about power consumption as it sips electrons.

Sometimes more than 10W may be necessary so taking a 100W radio for some portable operations is a nice option. I measured the current consumption in 5W increments for the following radios:

Yaesu FT-857D
Kenwood TS-590SG
Icom IC-7100
Kenwood TS-480SAT

While I would never use the TS-590SG for portable operation I included it just for comparison. The results are in the table below (current in Amps):

857

590

7100

480

Power (W)
5 3.77 6.43 5.66 5.08
10 4.93 7.47 6.77 6.34
15 5.42 8.23 7.46 7.08
20 6.02 9.02 8.07 7.88
25 6.62 9.77 8.67 8.67
30 7.18 10.09 9.35 9.22
35 7.76 10.51 9.93 9.85
40 8.34 11.18 10.53 10.40
45 8.90 11.81 11.19 11.02
50 9.47 12.50 11.80 11.64
55 9.75 12.90 12.21 12.13
60 10.08 13.23 12.58 12.63
65 10.49 13.61 12.94 13.12
70 10.82 13.94 13.40 13.62
75 11.17 14.30 13.79 14.03
80 11.58 14.67 14.16 14.26
85 11.93 14.99 14.53 14.36
90 12.27 15.32 14.92 14.37
95 12.70 15.59 15.31 14.45
100 13.07 15.75 15.72 14.49
Receive 0.68 1.39 0.65 1.00

Current consumption vs. Power level

The measurements were made using a Samlex SEC-1223 power supply and a Powerwerx Inline Power Meter.

Powerwerx meter

Measurements were made in CW mode on 20m into a Drake DL1000 dummy load.

Drake DL1000

Current consumption was a bit higher on lower frequency bands. For instance, on 40m most of the measurements were anywhere from 300-500mA higher.