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Ham Practical Jokes




 
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K1JJ
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"Let's go kayaking, Tommy!" - Yaz


« on: March 17, 2020, 12:56:12 AM »

I thought it might be a good time to tell a few stories of Ham Practical Jokes we've witnessed or pulled off.

There's four I have in mind and will start off with three quick stories.  Feel free to post some of your own for some good laughs!


The Old Buzzard Transmission Backfire

Some years ago there was an AMer (we'll call Marvin) who made a lot of really LOOOONG old buzzard transmissions. He would breech 10 minutes and longer sometimes and repeat what he said several times. It was a big group. As he was turning it over to the next station, I told everyone to stand by for a minute. A few seconds before he unkeyed I jumped in and started talking, "well I've talked long enough - gee, I wonder what happened to Marvin? Maybe he fixed his rig by now.  Marvin are you still there?... we heard a big bang and you were gone."   (I made him think his rig crapped out and he had talked into a dead mic)

He came back irritated and started banging on the rig, thinking it might work again. Everyone was laughing and the joke came off perfectly. But then it backfired.

Marvin asked if he could now be heard and one of the guys in the group said "yes."  He then keyed up and repeated his whole 10 minute transmission almost word for word. And it was all my fault!   Grin

--------------------

Tron Gets Slimed!

About ten years ago at the Deerfield NearFest, NH flea market I spotted TimTron in the crowd.   I was prepared to punk him. In my hand I had a bottle of Purell hand disinfectant. It is a greasy, slimy clear cream. I put a big ball of it into my right hand and walked towards Tron.  I excitedly came up to him with my hand outstretched to shake his hand and said, "Tron, how the hell are ya?"   Tron couldn't resist and went for the bait.  I grabbed onto his hand and slimed him good, with the slime leaking out all over his hand and wrist.  I watched his eyes change from joy to instant disgust as he realized he was trapped and I wouldn't let go. He looked Yellafied! After a few seconds I told him it was just Purell and I was doing him a favor. He rubbed his hands together and laughed.

------------------------------

The Guru Trogladite

Tim is the star again in this story.  Chuck, K1KW and I drove out to the Rochester, NY flea market in the mid 90's. We went out with the Armstrong Transmitter crew on Saturday night and must have spent at least  $800 on food, drinks, etc.  We hit three different restaurants.  The last one was an Indian food place and the waiter had a turban on and was Indian with a thick accent. Everyone was tired at that point and Tim was known for "nicading out,"  or falling asleep sitting up. Tim used the handle "Trogladite" in his rare appearances communing with the good buddies on 27MHz.  The Indian waiter came around the table for orders and finally got to Tron. Tim, with his thick beard, was asleep and starting to snore. The waiter asked Tim several times for his order with no response. Everyone stayed quiet. I finally said to the waiter, "Please excuse Guru Trogladite. He's presently in a deep meditative trance."   The waiter nodded knowingly with an expression of respect and moved onto the next person.   Tim then woke up, not skipping a beat gave his order and closed his eyes again.  We were so drunk and disorderly - gagging on laughter at that point.


T
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Lou W9LRS
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2020, 08:39:00 AM »

Love the old buzzard gag.
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w3jn
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 06:30:17 PM »

Here's one I'll call OWEN and the College Boys:

College in the mid-80s.  The small city had a ham club and a repeater (which was on our campus) and our college ham club (4 or 5 guys) decided to pay a visit to their club meeting.  They were decidedly hostile, and one giant loudmouth (handle here is OWEN) demanded to see my license when I tried to buy a 2M rig at their club auction.  OK, fair enough.... but game on.

One three day weekend we connected a Bearcat scanner to the 11-element antenna in the college club shack.  One channel programmed to the repeater - say 147.00.  The next channel was programmed for 158.4 (repeater input of 147.6 plus the 10.8 MHz offset of the Bearcat's LO).  So when the scanner went thru 158.4 the LO bleedthrough to the beam was strong enough to key the repeater since the repeater was about a quarter mile away on campus.  Then the Bearcat would stop at 147.00 until the repeater dropped, then resume scanning.

All weekend the repeater was kerchunked constantly by the little Bearcat.  We found that the club went nuts trying to find the kerchunker, and OWEN brought out his Doppler DF while the other guys were spread out all over the county trying to foxhunt the weak LO.  They never figured it out, but were glad when it stopped.

Emboldened by our success at pissing off OWEN, a few weeks later we hooked up a signal generator to the beam, tuned it to 147.6, and adjusted it so the squelch would just break on the repeater (attenuator was in the microvolt range), and keep keying the repeater.  After another fruitless DF effort they brought the repeater down for a month or so to overhaul it, they though something was wrong.  I think they screwed up the receiver, or maybe purposely reduced its sensitivity since it never again had the range it once did.

Intentional?  Perhaps.  Illegal?  Who knows.
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 09:24:15 PM »

Here's one I'll call OWEN and the College Boys:

College in the mid-80s.  The small city had a ham club and a repeater (which was on our campus) and our college ham club (4 or 5 guys) decided to pay a visit to their club meeting.  They were decidedly hostile, and one giant loudmouth (handle here is OWEN) demanded to see my license when I tried to buy a 2M rig at their club auction.  OK, fair enough.... but game on.

One three day weekend we connected a Bearcat scanner to the 11-element antenna in the college club shack.  One channel programmed to the repeater - say 147.00.  The next channel was programmed for 158.4 (repeater input of 147.6 plus the 10.8 MHz offset of the Bearcat's LO).  So when the scanner went thru 158.4 the LO bleedthrough to the beam was strong enough to key the repeater since the repeater was about a quarter mile away on campus.  Then the Bearcat would stop at 147.00 until the repeater dropped, then resume scanning.

All weekend the repeater was kerchunked constantly by the little Bearcat.  We found that the club went nuts trying to find the kerchunker, and OWEN brought out his Doppler DF while the other guys were spread out all over the county trying to foxhunt the weak LO.  They never figured it out, but were glad when it stopped.

Emboldened by our success at pissing off OWEN, a few weeks later we hooked up a signal generator to the beam, tuned it to 147.6, and adjusted it so the squelch would just break on the repeater (attenuator was in the microvolt range), and keep keying the repeater.  After another fruitless DF effort they brought the repeater down for a month or so to overhaul it, they though something was wrong.  I think they screwed up the receiver, or maybe purposely reduced its sensitivity since it never again had the range it once did.

Intentional?  Perhaps.  Illegal?  Who knows.

Hmm. That reminds me of the time a couple of stations decided that it was a good idea to run FM packet on the 2M ssb calling frequency of 144.200. As many ssb stations monitor that frequency waiting for a band opening, this was a decidedly poor choice on their part.

As the days went by, it became obvious that they had no intention of leaving their new choice of packet operating frequency. Something had to be done. I didn't have a packet TNC at the time, and attempts to raise them on voice were either unnoticed or ignored. Time to get creative.

I had an old FM rig which sported a "busy" light that came on when the squelch was open. Connecting the light circuit to the PTT line caused the rig to transmit when the squelch opened and quickly return to receive as the light went out during transmit. Essentially, the rig sent out a short pulse whenever the frequency was in use

 Aiming my 12 element yagi toward the offending packeteers with this set up proved quite effective. Each short pulse was enough to corrupt a packet causing the receiving station to automatically request a re-try. The subsequent packet was also corrupted by a pulse and after a set number of re-tries the link was dis-established. All the while I was sitting back letting my rig do all the dirty work. It didn't take them long to find a new frequency to run packet ops.

Yes, I made an automatic packet jammer in my spare time. But in my career, I'd done worse...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/ALQ-99
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 11:55:01 PM »


Somewhere around 30 years ago I was working for an Aerospace company. The location was about 1 mile from a large commercial airport. I was part of a group building a jammer for the military. The idea was to scan the AM aircraft band, and if anything was seen between 110-136 Mhz, the jammer would jump on the frequency with a fat carrier, and some nasty digital AM modulation. Could jam multiple frequencies at once very quickly, and shut off very fast after the jammed signal goes away. Had a 500 watt amplifier too. This system was later used on a raid to Libya, the one were the French would not approve the flight path to go over French airspace.

One night, several hams on the team hung around, and used the local airspace for receive antenna, and a big dummy load for transmit. It was amazing watching the spectrum analyzer as the airplane signals were being stomped on. We let it run for a good while. Later we find out that the airport air traffic controller was having a problem copying because our dummy load was leaking a little. This could have ended very bad...

Jim
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K1JJ
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2020, 12:49:43 AM »

"CASH HEAT"

When Steve / K4HX and I get together it usually means some punking .

Back around 2010 we had a CB badge made up to wear on our hats. It said "Mucus Member     CB Channel 18     Worldwide - No Doubt "
We would wear it and approach certain straight-looking hams or commercial vendors at flea markets.  We would act dumb on a quest to buy a big ham linear for a mobile CB. The bigger the reaction we got, the better.

We were at Boxborough for the ARRL convention. There were about four ARRL guys behind their table working the busy crowd. I put the Mucus Member badge on the front of my hat. My "Other Brother Darrell" and I walked towards our first victim. He smiled, looked up at the badge for a moment and then abruptly backed up - and slid behind his buddies to avoid us. The next guy did the same thing after reading the badge. We cornered the third one and asked him directly, "we're looking for some cash heat".  He looked puzzled and asked us to repeat. I explained that we had been all around the flea market and nobody would sell us any. "I'm from Baltimore... you MUST have heard of me on channel 18. I'm the ChannelMaster  on my base station and my MoonRaker big beam.  I'm whirl-wide as the badge says..."  as I pointed to the badge.   I gots cash money in my pocket for a 20 piller or whatever you got to sell. I need 1000 watts for my mobile for shooting skip... you know what I mean?"

The guy started to lose his cool and raise his voice - and insist that the ARRL doesn't sell linears to CBers. I pleaded with him to make an exception.  Steve tried his best too, but the guy just got more POed and finally stormed away in disgust.  We were rolling on the floor by then and made a fast escape.
 
Since then it's rumored there have been several more victims.

T


* The Mucas Member (2).JPG (332.19 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 346 times.)
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2020, 11:50:57 AM »

One of my talented photoshop friends had a vision and couldn't help himself....   Grin


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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2020, 12:35:24 PM »

Doesn't that violate the non-political rule here?
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2020, 05:45:51 PM »

On my first job I was working in a screen room testing various land mobile gear that our company made. We were prototyping some pagers and setting them up for the local departments and I'd just finished setting up one for the town next door. Fired up the test generator and tested and the pager decoded ok. But then I noticed a fire siren from the town over. The Cushman was listening since it wasn't transmitting, and I could hear them call out 'false alarm' and shut down the siren. Didn't think much of it. Happened from time to time. Did another test, and shortly, another siren. Hmmm, that's odd. Third test, third siren - Oh Crap! That's me!  Shocked  Screen rooms not so tight as I thought. Ooops.

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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2020, 07:33:10 AM »

Air Force Professionals

I was working for a defense contractor on one of Reagan's programs mid-80's, and we had this pre-flight bird that we were talking to with a large horn setup located maybe 20 feet away. The practice at the time was to embed Air Force kids that had just been through officers school into important programs so they could "learn by osmosis" from engineers, technicians and program people. Mostly they hovered around and got in the way, because they never asked any questions. Uncle felt more connected and it got them "free training". Anyway we started having issues with them walking around the test setup. I came up with a brilliant sign that was more of a deterrent than the WARNING RF signs we posted. I drew a picture of some particularly large hairy balls with the international NO red symbol going through them. After hanging this sign, we never had any more issues. They would not even come in the chamber!

Mike WU2D   
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2020, 10:11:50 AM »

A few years ago, an op in our 75M group who worked in a prison system was fairly sure he could arrange to borrow a transport bus and several orange jumpsuits for a few days.

This is how we planned to make a grand and unforgettable appearance at Nearfest.

"Would you consider anything on your table a steal?"

"I can't reach my wallet. Would you mind cutting these cuffs for me?"

"How much for that box of tools?"

It almost happened...
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K1JJ
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2020, 12:48:39 PM »

Clark, you'd set a new 911 call record.


While in your orange jumpsuit, look for a serious looking guy standing near you.  You will recognize his "JJ" badge.  He will have a hand buzzer and a glob of Purell goo hidden in his right hand.   Then approach him with your gag.

Suddenly, just like a Venus Fly Trap, like a Judo flip, he will grab onto your hand and give you a zap with slime spraying everywhere.  At the same time, smiling with teeth only a mother could love.

It would be glorious!   Grin

T


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* NearFest Billy Bob Teeth.jpg (29.57 KB, 397x500 - viewed 338 times.)
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2020, 01:30:56 PM »

Many years ago I connected an audio sig gen to one of the inputs of my audio mixer. I set the frequency to 120 Hz. Another person in the QSO did the same. We set the level for about 10-20% modulation - loud enough to be heard but in the background. A third person checked in. After about 5 minutes he said, "I think I need to recap this receiver. I'm hearing a lot of hum."
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K1JJ
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2020, 02:42:37 PM »

Many years ago I connected an audio sig gen to one of the inputs of my audio mixer. I set the frequency to 120 Hz. Another person in the QSO did the same. We set the level for about 10-20% modulation - loud enough to be heard but in the background. A third person checked in. After about 5 minutes he said, "I think I need to recap this receiver. I'm hearing a lot of hum."

Good one!   I seem to remember a variation of this where someone would mix in a variable tone at 10KHz on their carrier and remotely QRM another person up the band 10KHz. The victim would hear a tone from 0 Hz to 1 KHz on his freq (beating with his own carrier) if the perp swept 10 KHz to 11 KHz. The victim could never accuse the perp cuz he is actually in a QSO 10 KHz lower talking away...(with his hand on the 10-11 KHz swisher)   Quite clever and devious if I may say so.

Fortunately, with today's SDR spectrum scopes, the technique would be easily seen and exposed.
  
T
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2020, 02:57:43 PM »

OK, one more ham gag....   SGT. Anderson


(Victim's name changed to protect the innocent)

Back in 1992 most phones didn't have "caller ID".  I called a local ham friend to axe him some radio questions. I was in the mood for a punking attempt, so when he answered the phone I put on my most official, deepest, fake voice I could....  I thundered, "Mr.  Gates?, This is Sgt Anderson from the Middletown police dept... how are you today sir?"

My buddy replied sheepishly and waited to see what this was all about. "Mr. Gates, I'm calling from the Middletown Police Benevolent Association. Last year you took good care of us with a sizeable donation. This year we were hoping you could donate a much larger amount like $1,000 or more. What do you say sir?"

There was a long pause... my friend tried his best to tell the good Sgt that things were a little tight this year. Sgt Anderson pleaded for even $500, but my buddy wouldn't do it.

In frustration, Sgt Anderson started acting irritated and said,  "OK, Gates...  if you want to be that way we'll see how fast a cruiser gets to your house next time you've got an emergency.   My friend paused in disbelief and then got really POed. He started to lose it and began a nasty Sgt Anderson tongue lashing.  I figgered I'd better tell him who it really was before things got out of hand.  I did, there was  some swearing and he finally laughed that I got him good.  Sgt Anderson went away and we talked about ham radio for the next 30 minutes....  Grin


T
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And, nothing like an old dog.
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2020, 01:06:59 PM »

*Viewer discretion is advised*

I have one from back when I was a teen and over at one of my Elmer's house. He'll remain nameless and he's dead now, so it's probably safe to tell the story.

Back in the late 80's cordless phones operated near the 6 meter band. Old tube gear tends to reach over the band limits and can both transmit and receive there as well. Someone in the neighborhood had one and he overheard a conversation from a teen boy and girl talking back and forth. At one point in the conversation the girl said, "Hold on I have to go pee."  He keyed up and said, "Pee-pee!" One of them said, "Did you hear that?"

Jon
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2020, 09:55:18 PM »

A few years later at the aforementioned workplace, we were being tortured daily by EZ listening music being piped into the intercom system (used to page for phone calls back in the day) off the local FM Easy Listening station. You know, Beatles tunes mangled by the 'Thousand Strings Orchestra' etc. Worse, they played the same play list at the same time every damn day. You could set your watch to 10:11 am by Celito Lindo daily.

A few of us were wondering if there was ever going to be any relief. Then I spotted an HP608A sig gen sitting unused on the shelf. A little scouting found a plug within reach. A quarter wave of #28 wire fitted into the output connector and a judiciously unscrewed pilot lamp so you couldn't see it was running completed the setup. We dialed up the output and swept the frequency until we captured the FM receiver. Blessed silence!

The front office went NUTS. They called the station telling them they were off the air. "No, we're not" was the reply.  They tried just waiting, 608 was stable. Silence on the intercom wasn't an option apparently, so they tried other stations. News was voted down. Holy Rollers also. Rock and Roll and Country were popular with the folks on the production line, but not with the front office. Finally, they discovered that there were *two* Easy Listening stations in town. But we had another 608 and after a furtive few minutes it went silent too.

We should have taken the audio from a pocket radio and piped it into the FM modulation input to put on our preferred music, but that might have been spotted. And the plant manager was looking. He kept stalking through our workspaces, looking high and low for what he didn't know but he was pretty sure it might be us 'kids'. 

We held out for a week. Finally on one of the plant managers passes through, my boss noticed us smirking behind his back. After he was gone, he came over to us and asked us what we'd done. He was impressed, but told us to cool it. So we dialed down the output attenuators and EZ listening returned. We pulled the antennas and set everything back to how it was before and called a truce.

I hope the statute of limitations has passed.  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2020, 03:16:25 AM »

While I was in electronics school, one day they gave us a lab project to hook-up an AM broadcast receiver on a breadboard kit they provided. Pretty basic, really.

Well, the two noobs at the bench next to mine were very excited when they got theirs working because the Baseball World Series was being broadcast that day. A crowd of other students started to gather at their bench as the listened to the play-by-play.

Patiently I waited for the tension of the game to build as I stood ready my project board in hand. And, at the right moment, the tuning of my local oscillator moved in to cause a loud heterodyne that broke the tension and caused much dismay to that little gathering.

And they never knew that their enemy was right beside them.
"Something wrong, guys? What's that sound? Aww, you can't hear the game now." Roll Eyes
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2020, 12:37:23 PM »

I was a fresh Novice, wn8pep back in 1972. My first setup was a borrowed S40B Rcvr, and I built a Tx on an old chassis with a single 6AW8. I borrowed filament and B+ from the S40B. Was patterned on a ARRL Handbook rig using a Compactron triode - pentode. I was also given a 3740 xtal. That rig, maybe 7 watts DC input gave me many CW contacts.

A few months later, was my first Field Day. I worked so hard to make my rig perform on FD. I got one of those hydrogen generators (add water to lye powder?), and a WW2 balloon. On FD I had a 1/4 wave vertical on 80m. Man I was making contacts right and left. later the antenna wire (phosphor bronze braid) busted, and my antenna floated away. I quickly made another, but this time an end fed Hertz to a tree. The guys in the General tent were really hammering my S40B Rcvr, between my crappy antenna, and Rcvr overload made things really tough.

As fatigue set in (remember on CW, the S40B had no AGC, and was about 15 Khz wide), I went into offensive mode against those mean "Generals". I knew that pierce oscillator would oscillate with or without a crystal....So out comes the crystal, and I begin to all CQ FD over and over. I am not sure what kind of signal I was putting out, but apparently it pretty much blanketed the whole band with hash...Enough so that the overall score for this ham club was impacted. In a few hours, somebody is going tent to tent wanting to know what the hell was going on. Quickly I insert that crystal, with headphones on, key in hand, I never look up.
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2020, 02:06:57 PM »

WD5JKO,
what a great story, sounds like you were very resourceful and smart right from the start.
great story,
AG5UM
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2020, 06:15:46 PM »

The balloon story reminds me of a practical joke I pulled on myself...

Back in 1965 I was a new General needing higher antenna supports.  Remember those "Neoprene"  8' weather balloon ads for $8 in the back of comic books?  They were found in the same area as X-Ray glasses.

I decided to order one to lift up my 80M  dipole and coax to 170' high. (the 1965 FCC limit)    The helium would cost another $16.  After the balloon arrived I brought it into the cellar and inflated it a little at a time with the vacuum cleaner air outlet.  I carefully inflated it to 6' diameter and I decided to stop and let it stretch out.

I rolled it across the cellar floor and BANG! It almost knocked me out!  It was filled with a white powder for moisture absorption that blew everywhere.  I was covered like one of those "I Love Lucy" episodes with blinking eyes.

Luckily, I didn't order the helium. The big antenna idea was shot to hell before it began.... :-)  


T
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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2020, 01:18:35 PM »

The balloon story reminds me of a practical joke I pulled on myself...

I rolled it across the cellar floor and BANG! It almost knocked me out!  It was filled with a white powder for moisture absorption that blew everywhere.  I was covered like one of those "I Love Lucy" episodes with blinking eyes.

    A few years before I was a ham, I was into RC boating where a "galloping Ghost" rudder control was the latest. Also used CB 26.995 Mhz for the frequency. One day I came across surplus dry charged 6v lead acid battery....Perfect for my boat!

   There I was charging it in the basement. I was using a selenium rectified battery charger that I found submerged in a swamp. As the charging continued, the batteries started bubbling inside (after topping with water), and the swamp water was boiling out of those rectifiers..Then I noticed the smoke was yellow! Ah, inhaling selenium is no big deal. Used to eat lead paint chips too, and play with Mercury on the dinner table. Builds character!

   I get this idea to hook up some tubing to a nipple on each cell of the battery. Then the tubing is put into a glass of water. It bubbles! I was about 14, and easily entertained. Then I decide to see if the gas coming from the tubing would make a flame if lit from a match. So I hold the match carefully, and looking closely nothing happens. Then all of a sudden, BOOM! The battery exploded and sulfuric acid was all over the wall and ceiling, but miraculously, I did not have a drop on me. I was fine. That day I became a believer in the Lord. He was watching me do stupid stuff, and taught me a lesson without getting me hurt.

Jim
Wd5JKO
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Patrick J. / KD5OEI
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2020, 03:17:04 AM »

The Lord has watched me do many, many stupid things, after which wisdom was given either immediately or later on. That I am alive to type this is proof of his love and generosity!
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Radio Candelstein - Flagship Station of the NRK Radio Network.
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« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2020, 10:01:51 AM »

What a wonderful thread.  I hotta write something up.
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« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2020, 11:54:24 AM »

Years ago I worked for an antenna manufacturer  where we had a semi-anechoic chamber, an alcove lined with cones of Echosorb rf absorbing mateiral.  We had a salesman, fresh out of college with an engineering degree but he was not too techy.  One day he came out to the lab, walked into the alcove and looked at the model array I had on the turntable.  In mock panic I said "Jeez Ed, don't stand in there, come get out quick."  He asked why and I told him that the Echosorb not only absorbed rf, but also brain waves, and that he would start forgetting stuff if he lingered too long.  He noted that I went in there, but I explained that I always set up the model outside and only went in to align it on the table and connect the coax and got out pronto, but yeah, even after 20 iterations I'd go home a bit groggy, although I felt better the next day.  But staying in too long would cause permanent brain damage.
Ed was indignant that the company didn't post warnings, safety tape etc and stormed back into the office.  But the joke was on me.  Ten minutes later , three company VPs marched out and asked me what I had told Ed.  Only the engineering VP laughed, and they told me that Ed was trying to figure out how to rat the company out to OHSA and that I should stop taunting those who didn't understand such things.  A couple months later there was a thinning of the herd and Ed was found redundant.  I kept my job.
73 de Norm W1ITT
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