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Mon May 12 20:55:52 EDT 1997

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From: John Brosnahan <broz at>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Re:  Headset (w/ mic) Tips
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>I'm getting a kick out of this thread. It reminds me of something I
>learned in my "car" years in college. We used to talk a lot about
>shoveling a Porsche or a small V8 engine into a Volkswagen. Then
>someone pointed out that what you got in the end was a fast
>Let's see: a headset for 1/3 the cost of the ProSet. Add $30 to put a
>Heil element in it. Try to find an older RS head band. Voila, a Radio
>Shack headset.
>In the woodworking reflector that I subscribe to, someone has a
>tagline that says, "buy the best. Only cry once." I can't think of a
>more appropriate place to use it than here.

Rod, N4SI

Rod, if you don't understand the desire to do something better,
something cheaper, and something that involves some work then
you don't understand what motivates many hams, especially those
that still like to homebrew.  Writing a big check is only one solution
to the problem of finding an answer to the headset problem.

The advantage to finding an alternative is more obvious if one is
gearing up for a multiop station and would like have a headset at
each position.

With all due respect to Bob Heil, who I have known both professionally
and personally for 27 years--and have the highest regard for--especially
for his marketing abilities, the Heil Proset is not a Porsche, he
just charges Porsche prices for it.  The Proset is an inexpensive
set of headphones with a cheap microphone element.  What one IS
paying for is the work that Heil did in locating the right combination
of components that works very well for ham communications.  But he
hasn't found the only solution to the problem.  The Radio Shack per se
is not the solution, but is a calibration point on value.  It is quite
similar in construction and made by a company (Koss) with some
reputation.  With the right microphone element it could be a viable
alternative.  There are many microphone elements available for prices
as low as a dollar.  It is easy to make one with a limited frequency
response, the hard part is finding one that is poor in the right way like
Bob has done.

If I was trying to get ready for a M/M next weekend, I would buy
whatever headsets I needed to be competitive.  But since my goals
are long term and I enjoy looking for alternative solutions--maybe
even finding a better one--then the pursuit is half the fun.  So the
economics work out as $40 (on sale) for the Radio Shack headset,
$4 or $5 for a good mic element, a few minutes of time for the mod,
and you have a $45 competitor for the Heil headset made by
Koss (mostly).  For a M/M that would result in $500 savings for six
units.  But the fun is only understandable to someone who likes to
reverse engineer things, to either make something better, or to make
the same thing cheaper.  In the process you usually end up learning
something.  The tradeoff between time and money is an individual
choice, but you learn more when you choose the time intensive solution.

73  John  W0UN

BTW  When I was a teenager there was a young guy who
owned a chain of auto junk yards in KC who put a 352 engine
in a Renault Dauphine (took up all of the back seat as well).
It wasn't fun because it was a fast Renault--it was fun because
it was a challenge and fun because of the looks he got at the
stop lights and fun because he learned something.  (And maybe
it was fun because it made others ask "why the heck would
somebody bother to do that?")   It probably wasn't better at
anything than other solutions might be--in the same way that a
homebrew amp might not be better than an Alpha/Power 87A
at contesting.  But if the construction was fun, the time/money
tradeoff was valid (for the individual's goals), and something was
learned in the process, then the homebrew amp might be the
correct answer to the question.

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