Ever since I’ve got CW flowing through my arteries I’ve been dreading microphones. For the occasional contest I dig up a headset with boom mic. Most of the time this one sits in a box and I only wear headphones without a mic. But sometimes you want to answer a friend on phone or someone local asks for a quick antenna or modulation check. Or why not indeed: call the occasional DX on single sideband modulation.

In such case I don’t want to dig up the headset. Laziness? Too much hassle for little reward. So in the end nothing happens. A few times I got around without a mic by using the voice keying. I just hit F4 to send my call and F2 to send a ‘faaive-naain’. Most of the time the CQ WW SSB wav file is still programmed so it sends ‘fanawafo’ (5914). Silly. And when the DX asks for something more than the templated QSO, I can’t get out. That has happened too.

New headset

Almost three years ago I finally bought a new headset. The old one was totally worn out. It was at the end of its second life. I used an old broadcast TV-camera headset I assembled from two or three broken sets. In late 2000 I obtained HF privileges and I ordered a Heil HC-4 microphone element.  For the modest price of this mic capsule I had a full blown DXers headset with the renowned Heil sound.

I was about to throw away the old headset when I got the idea that just the boom and the microphone could be used as a simple hand mic that I could leave on the desk and connected to the rig. I loosened some small screws, the boom detached and I salvaged the microphone assembly. That was two years ago. And finally six months ago (slow on reporting) I executed this plan. I soldered a male-female RCA plug combination to the short mic leads and to a piece of shielded audio cable. The other side of the cable got a small jack plug and is now plugged into the MK2R+. I added some ferrite just to keep unwanted signals out of the audio chain (read here).

This works just fine and I’m now ready to reply to any of the questions the other station might ask. After a career in TV broadcast and a retirement from SSB contesting, this mic is now reborn into its third life. Talk about sustainability and upcycling! Not just an empty phrase for ON5ZO.

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