Let it snow in Buffalo

K2QW ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTWith fall upon us and much of the U.S. still experiencing warm weather, it’s easy to forget that parts of the country will experience serious cold within a few months. One of the coldest places in the country: Buffalo, New York.

Phil, K2QWK, lives in a suburb of Buffalo and wanted a QSL that commemorated exactly that quality about his QTH. He also wanted his ill-tempered cat on the card as well. (If you were that cold for months on end, you’d probably be ill-tempered too.)

To do that, I made an ice sculpture out of Phil’s call sign. I added snow, lots of snow, with a few snowflake “dingbats” placed in the bottom line of type. And to top it off, I dressed the cat (scowling, of course) in a stocking cap and a scarf.

This brings up an interesting question: If you experience severe cold weather where you live, what do you plan to do to “winterize” your antennas, towers and feedlines?

 

Related Images:

Flying over Albuquerque

K0WBG ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTMathias, K0WBG, wanted a lot on his QSL — a caricature of himself, something about ham radio, something about Albuquerque, and a Cessna plane with a very specific color scheme from his flight club. Oh, and could I make sure to use a certain tail number?

I squeezed as much as I could onto this QSL card but ultimately had to choose between his caricature and an accurate representation of the plane; I couldn’t do both because their scales just didn’t match, and a postcard is too small to make it work. I ultimately went for the plane, using a combination of lightbox and eyeball to get it right. Ham radio is there through his call sign in the clouds, and that tower on the left is from Albuquerque International Sunport.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, or maybe it’s just my left brain giving my right brain a rest. In any case, I’ve always loved drawing hardware. This one was fun.

Related Images:

Musically inclined

Here’s another one of my illustrations from Gordon West’s new Technician class study manual. It illustrates a basic question many newcomers ask: Can I broadcast music on my amateur-radio station? For that matter, do I have to worry about music playing nearby that I accidentally transmit? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Gordo’s latest study guide covers the Tech question pool through 2022 and can be ordered here.

Related Images:

Irritated x-rayed penguin

M0IXP ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTI first met Dave through the Atlanta Radio Club a few years back when he was KG4ZGG. He commissioned me at the time to draw him as a penguin (I think it had something to do with Linux). I happily obliged.

Dave is now in England sporting a new call sign, M0IXP. That called for a new QSL as well. He’d adapted the phonetics “Irritated x-rayed penguin” for his call, so it seemed appropriate to bring the penguin out of retirement for this custom cartoon.

This is what I came up with. It has ham radio, it has an x-ray and it has Dave as an irritated penguin. Add a hand-lettered call sign in a font inspired by the cartoon “Ren & Stimpy,” and there you have it. I’m not sure I could explain what I came to draw past that, but it makes me smile anyway. I hope you like it, too.

Related Images:

Retired and loving it

N9JO ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTJim, N9JO, didn’t give me much to work with when he commissioned this QSL. “I’m a former electrical engineer,” he told me, “and I’m retired.” That only narrowed it down to about half of the hams currently licensed.

Then he sent me a photo he’d found online of some other ham, asleep in his shack, feet up and sending CW with his toe. “QLF” it said. And that, I realized, was the hook.

What’s it like to be retired and hamming? It’s kinda like the guy in that picture — so that’s how I drew Jim. I added some loose hand lettering and bright blocks of color, and this is what I came up with. I can only hope to relax in my shack like that some day!

Related Images:

Exit, pursued by a bear

W7CBA ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTSteve, W7CBA, lives in Montana and likes the great outdoors. Can you draw me being chased by a grizzly, he asked? Sure, I said. And thus began this QSL card.

I changed it up a little, with Steve fleeing in panic while the bears size up his abandoned handi-talkie and backpack. Next thing you know, the bears are going to want to get their Tech licenses. (By the way, there’s a really good Tech study guide that just came out with illustrations by N2EST. I imagine the bears will either find it helpful or delicious.)

For extra points: Who recognizes the source of the above headline? Hint: He wasn’t a ham-radio operator but did have something to do with Hamlet.

Related Images:

Control operator?

Gordon-West-Tech-control-op-watermarkOne of my projects during Hamtoons’ hiatus was illustrating Gordon West‘s latest Technician Class license manual. I’ll be posting illustrations from it here from time to time.

Sometimes, all I could do was be literal to get the idea across. For example, do you know what a control operator is as defined by the FCC? (Hint: It does not have to do with putting a collar and leash on your rig.)

To get your own copy of the Gordon West study and learn the answer to this and other burning questions found on the Tech test, visit the W5YI website or call 800-669-9594.

Related Images:

Happy hams end to end

Happy hams end to endHamtoons is back — but after more than four months away from my drawing board, I was rusty. I needed a running start to get back into it. That’s why I decided to finish this goofy drawing of two happy hams doing the bump.

It originally was a rejected sketch for a QSL. The client wanted something that represented his work, end-to-end software solutions, if I remember correctly. But how exactly do you draw that? You can’t — so instead I presented him with the dancing pigs. It’s just where my mind went. I mean, hey, it’s ham radio, right? And the two hams are end-to-end, right?

He didn’t go for it. Still, I liked the sketch, so I filed it away. This afternoon I finished it for your listening and dancing pleasure. Enjoy.

To those of you waiting on commissions: I’ll be contacting you shortly. Thank you so much for your patience.

Related Images:

Desert sunset … with a dog

N7XTM ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTTed, N7XTM, has two passions: his radios and his rottweilers. My job was to combine them into a single card.

For reference, Ted supplied me with pictures of his dogs and pointed me to his qrz.com page, where there was a photo of his Cushcraft R7000 ground-mounted vertical framed against a gorgeous Arizona sunset. I stitched the two together into a single cartoon. I hope it does the real thing justice.

Related Images:

A Western Union QSL

Jack, K4ITE, was a life-long employee of Western Union, and he wanted a QSL card that told its story.

In Jack’s words:

“I started working at WU in September of 1965 when I was 19. I began in the Installation Department and traveled all over the Southeast before Uncle Sam came calling. After four years in the Air Force I resumed my career and went to work at the Marine Base in Albany, GA in a very secure government switching center Western Union and RCA built and partnered on called Autodin. That system used a new technology at the time called “packet switching” which broke a message into several pieces and routed the various parts for security reasons via several different paths before being reassembled at the destination. Packet switching today is the backbone of the internet.

“In 1974 I was fortunate to go to work on our Westar project, America’s first domestic communications satellite system, and was trained on working in our various earth stations. My primary job was to maintain five microwave relay stations between Atlanta and it’s associated earth station just a few miles north of Scottsboro, Alabama. The satellites were in geosynchronous orbit, and the output power was only 5 watts in those days, so the earth station locations had to be in a natural bowl for RF quietness and away from cities, thus the requirement for a 52 ft. diameter dish. Those were interesting times. I finished up my 23 year career in a Telex switching center in Atlanta.”

That was just one email from Jack. He was understandably passionate about Western Union’s place in communication history and wanted a QSL that said so. It was my job to create it.

We eventually narrowed Western Union’s history down to three phases: messages delivered by pony, messages delivered by Morse code, and messages delivered by Westar satellite. Using reference images found on the Internet, I created a collage of the three, with Jack’s call sign looming large overhead. Jack wrote a brief blurb for the back of his card summarizing Western Union’s legacy to go along with it.

To give his QSL the feel of history, Jack asked me to print it on parchment. I work only with glossy stock but was able to use a texture overlay that looked like parchment.

Today, Western Union is a shadow of its old self, its name now associated with money transfers for those who can’t afford a checking account. In its time, though, Western Union was America’s first communications giant. I hope this QSL is a fitting reminder.

Related Images: