OK, it’s done. New Years morning 2023 as I write this. Top thoughts this year for me:

Ukraine – Russian trade sanctions really hit the tube industry hard. Need I really say more? No sign of reprieve, and if history is any lesson Putin probably isn’t going to get out of his position alive – and he knows it. Question is, when will the sanctions be lifted, and what will the new government look like? Will that be good or bad for exports?

SVT’s. Seems like I saw 4 or 5 big bass amps this year. That’s more than normal. Sad, too, because new tubes were involved in most cases, so see point number one… Six big bad 6550’s or KT88’s will set you back some serious dosh.

Music? Jovo Filips, a unique musician whom I’ve been in a band with since 1990 or so (+/- his expeditions out of state here and there) passed away from a rare cancer. His past years had been complicated with adult-onset epilepsy and the cancer bit felt like a really unfair shot, but considering the modern rounds of chemistry they use in a seemingly futile attempt to control epilepsy (he tried them ALL), maybe it’s not so strange. He is missed to be sure.

My daughters are growing up fast – we hit high gear in ’22, they are great and becoming very interesting people, at 12 and 14. You can see my younger daughter chatting on the 40-meter ham radio band down below. We did a test-run of the new 200W solar panels at a nearby park. She has a tech side to her I like to encourage. My older daughter is seriously applying herself to art and has really developed in the last year. Both girls are becoming excellent conversationalists.

My un-diagnosed latent mid-life crisis came into focus with a 64-year-old Brit. She’s in surprisingly good shape for her age. It’s not my first time, as I was bit by that bug young. Our family’s 1961 Morris Minor Traveler (in old English white) was a centerpoint of my youth, the car I learned to drive on, had so many adventures with, and despite it’s age, I was never left stranded. Anywhere. Well, fate is fate, and the gods of rust threw me a dark green 1959 Morris Minor 2-door saloon unexpectedly this year. Thanks, gods! (And kudos to the widow in Chicago who gave me a price I could afford.) I have been having a literal ball searching out parts, fixing things and learning, by deduction, the history of the car inside and out. The prior owner really did a lot to this car, including patches, bodywork and interior. There is still plenty left to do and a good start has already been made. The induction side of the motor is now new (new fuel pump and carb rebuilt), and all-new electronic ignition parts are waiting on the bench, as is an alternator conversion kit , While all very familiar to me, I’m much more technically adept now and prone to hard research. Lots of documentation has been found, bidded upon and delivered. I think I have read every page twice. I will post separately on the path of the car’s further restoration on a dedicated page, but it was a big unexpected surprise of the year.

1959 Morris Minor 1000. 948cc, 37 HP. Very similar to drive as our 1961 Morris Minor Traveler I drove as a kid.
Not ours, but very similar to our 1961 Traveler
Complete Dealer Service Manual, late 60’s original. EBay is amazing for this kind of thing. Every torque spec is here plus tons of illustrations and service procedures.

More amateur radio adventures for 2022, mostly solar-powered. What fun! This will be a permanent part of our camping ritual now. In a real “Life Imitates Art” set of adventures, attempts at flying the 130′ antenna vertical with a lifting kite were met with Charlie-Brown scripted endings, with hours wasted trying to get lines and kites out of high trees when I should have known better….but yet, fun. Thanks for your support, Ed! We’ll get it right in 2023.

A Complete Solar-Powered 100W Amateur Radio Station in two cases, 200W of solar panels, a tote and two batteries, plus chairs and table, packed and ready to deploy. Antenna is 130′ End-Fed Half-Wave, good for 80, 40 and 20 meters at least.
The folding panels claim 100w each. Reality, full-sun as shown here, is about 8A continuous charge into the 12V battery system. That’s more than enough to stay ahead of conversation in SSB mode at full power (100w) as the current only spikes above that on voice peaks. I’ve realized that my free batteries are not as healthy as new, but they work for now. A “good” Lithium-Iron battery for this setup is going to be $800-1000. It’s that or get new rims for the Morris….2023 will tell.
My daughter listening to the 40-meter band. The charge controller is built into one of the battery boxes, with lids on, they are pretty much rainproof.

Our trip to Germany was full of great moments, 3 weeks with family and friends. Underground caves and high forest towers stand out to me. We certainly didn’t get to do all we wanted, but it felt good, post-covid, to be there again with the kids. It had been like 5 years. Everyone aged, including us. We had some trouble getting home due to the Scandinavian Airlines Pilots Strike, meaning we had a couple of days where we had no idea when or how we would get home. It all worked out fine in the end, but there was some nail-biting when it looked like another $4500 was going to be required to get us home on a very convoluted path. In the end, all was good and the new flights were finally booked gratis with another carrier, albeit a few days late.

Hi Fi. Lot’s of vintage and modern HiFi work this past year. From old Scotts and Sherwoods to modern Einstein Silver bullets, much more HiFi than usual was in the mix this year.

My daytime work-life as a mild-mannered EMC Test Development Engineer at Gentex has evolved considerably. We had a number of very talented senior staff retire in 2021-22, which had the odd effect of leaving me as one of the most senior staff there. Like it or not, I’m the technical expert now and, actually it’s been rather fun. I’ve been doing some training seminars to get the many new folks up to speed, and it turns out, no surprise, that my inner stand-up comedian really enjoys making presentations. The last 2 test chambers I commissioned are working out really well despite the complications of trying to pull off such an international project during a pandemic. The Frankonia company of Germany was our partner, and obviously my German connection and language skills helped the project to run smoothly. I’m not at all sure what I can do to top that project.

We don’t do such large-ticket items all that often. I’ve learned a lot about overseeing on big projects, and I hope more opportunity comes. More germain to this site, our audio lab with it’s full anechoic chamber has been very busy this year, with lots of audio testing and UL pre-tests to develop to support the roll-out of several new models of commercial and residential smoke detectors. I’ve also been learning a lot about the Audio Precision system there.

I am constantly amazed and thankful to have landed with Gentex, it is truly a forward-looking company run by people who know what they are doing. They really like to develop in-house skills and capabilities. My credo would be, if you want to have satisfying work, do something you enjoy that allows you to be in a position where you are paid to learn, and paid to teach. Works for me!

Source: https://frankonia-solutions.com/portfolio/actc/

Lastly, I’d say…..drums. It’s been a year of learning and development on the drum kit. I try to get sessions in once or twice per week. It’s tremendous fun, and so much to learn. Tuning, mic placement, audio processing (on the new Allen&Heath SQ6 in the studio – brilliant!) and of course, technique, my weak spot. But YouTube has a lot of drumless tracks to play to, and the live sound rig, with subs and 4kW of drive is set up around the kit, so it really is like playing with a band. (Except I’m the only one to cringe when I make a mistake). The family has been remarkably patient!

Frohes Neues / Happy New Year to you and yours.