Sunday, July 23, 2023

How to Cross Band Repeat - Ham Radio using the Yeasu 8800

 Cross Band Repeater many uses   - Easy 

Here are quick start instructions to set up the Yeasue FT-8800FT or FT8900 use as Cross Band Repeater.

FT 8800R UHF/VHF radio. 
I am using a Yeasue FT-8800R in my operation. Please note there are many Dual Band UHF/VHF radios that are designed to operate in Cross Band Repeater mode.

You may need a little help with your Yeasue - Manuals below if needed for set up for your  specific frequencies. 
Full manual for FT-8800R "CLICK"
                                                        Full manual for FT-8900R "CLICK"

1. Set up your radio to the frequencies needed for your specific installation . In my installation I am using a simplex frequency of 443.00Mhz for the talkie side at the farm.  Set the squelch so the background noise is silenced.

The linking frequency is set our Local Club Repeater Frequency to receive on 147.210Mhz and transmit on 147.810Mhz - that is a positive offset of  0.600Mhz and a tone of 114.8hz. The linking frequencies to the Local Club Repeater are determined by the local Club Repeater requirements - we have no control over these frequencies.

Needed information for Farm simplex radio's.
The simplex frequency I am using on my farm talkies is my choice.  You should check the suggested band use frequencies that are in the band plan for repeater use.  I am using UHF simplex and the band plan for UHF repeaters is 442Mhz to 445Mhz.  I choose to use 443Mhz.

You should keep these things in mind when setting your simplex frequency
1. Check to be sure you simplex frequency is not the same as any local repeater input or output frequency.  If you overlap a local repeater frequency you may cause interference to the users of that repeater -  and have some unhappy hams. This would be specially bad if you were interfering with the emergency use of the repeater.

2. Press the (SET) key to enter the set mode.
3. Rotate the "Main" band DIAL knob to select menu #45 on FT-8800R and on the FT-8900R #44 (X-RPT) . See photo to left.

4. Press the "Main" band DIAL knob momentarily, "XSTART" will appear on the display. See photo to left.

5. Press the "Main" band DIAL knob again to active the Cross Band operation.  See photo to left to operate. The microphone will not be active and the radio is now controlled by the channel transmitting. The operation is outside of local radio control however ----
                                                      6.To exit the Cross Band mode, Press the (SET) key.

This may seem a little complex however once you do this you will find it very easy and fast to make operational.

Discussion about Cross Band Repeater operation and my specific application. 

Cross Band Repeaters have many uses to enhance uhf/vhf communications by extending the range of HT's and Mobile radios. I will talk about several of the uses and first  how the individual amateur radio operator can take advantage of this awesome technique.

I will use one of my own applications  to demonstrate how useful and easy it is to implement.
Here is the problem I needed to overcome.

I needed to be able to access the local club repeater from any location on my farm with a handheld talkie. The talkie does fine from the hill tops into the local club  repeater but no connection from some of  valleys or low areas.

The Cross Band Repeater on the farm with full size dual band antenna can easily  work the club Repeater and a talkie on the farm only needs to transmit less then 1/2 mile in simplex mode to the Cross Band - easy for the talkie.  Here is the basic operation - the talkie on UHF communicates with the Cross Band in simplex mode - that is transmitting and receiving on the same UHF frequency.   The Cross Band repeats the talkie simplex frequency audio on the VHF Local Club Repeater frequencies - VHF link to the Club Repeater is about 7 miles.

The need for this application was to help with a bicycle event of several hundred riders starting from the farm and doing a 100 mile ride and ending up back at the farm. The farm is the hub and control location for the entire ride.  Using ham radio to make sure all the bikers make it back and do not end up in the ditch somewhere along the route.  The plan is to have ham radio stations at about 5 locations along the route and making sure all riders passed there check point.  The five ham radio stations at the check points need to communicate with each other and the farm control locations.  Using the Local Club Repeater and Cross Band Repeater at the farm made this possible.  The ham radio stations at the 5 check points are mobile units and running 50 watts or more making it possible for them to reach farm talkies via the Local Club Repeater transmitting to the Cross Band Repeater located on the farm.  If the mobile units have a problem reaching the Club Repeater they can use antennas with more gain.

I am using a Yeasu FT-8800R for my application - there are many UHF/VHF radios that can do Cross Band operation.

FT 8800R UHF/VHF radio. 

I will use a Yeasue FT-8800R in my operation. Please note there are many UHF/VHF radios that designed to operate  Cross Band.

1. Set up your radio to the frequencies needed for your specific installation . In my installation I am using a simplex frequency of 443.00Mhz for the talkie side at the farm.

The linking frequency is set the Club Repeater Frequency to receive on 147.210Mhz and transmit on 147.810Mhz - that is a positive offset of  0.600Mhz and a tone of 114.8hz. The linking frequencies to the Club Repeater are determined by the Club Repeater requirements - we have no control over these frequencies.

Needed information for Farm simplex radio's.
The simplex frequency I am using on my farm talkies is my choice.  You should check the suggested band use frequencies that are in the band plan for repeater use.  I am using UHF simplex and the band plan for UHF repeaters is 442Mhz to 445Mhz.  I choose to use 443Mhz.

You should keep these things in mind when setting your simplex frequency
1. Check to be sure you simplex frequency is not the same as any local repeater input or output frequency.  If you overlap a local repeater frequency you may cause interference to the users of that repeater -  and have some unhappy hams. This would be specially bad if you were interfering with the emergency use of the repeater.

Crossband radios have many ways to extend communication range.  one we also use is to set up our home station on 146--- Mhz simplex and 44043Mhz simplex then set to crossband and setting up the farm as crossband on the same frequency scheme .

1. At home we use a talky on 440430 communicating with the home crossband - we can operate into the home crossband for several miles and talk to the farm with our home talkie.

2. At the farm we have the crossband set up on the same VHF frequency of 146.00 and UHF frequency of 444000.   Our talkie here at farm is communicating to the farm crossband on the 444000 simplex.

Using this scheme the crossband repeater talks to each other on the VHF frequencie of 146.000. This scheme gives our talkies the range of the base station  at each location and keeping the ability to have the personal mobileity of several miles from the local crossband.


Sunday, June 25, 2023

1st FAIRS Ukraine/Soviet Union Visit - October 1990




September-October 1990

Gaynell's Journal from the trip


It's 6:05PM US time, but 2:05AM in Russia (part of Soviet Union at that time). I've just changed my watch and I'm really beginning to feel as though we're "on the way" - we've known for 3 months that the trip was on, but until now it hasn't sunk in!!!      

Today has been wonderful. My Mom and Dad took us to Roanoke to the airport. Our flight was right on time. The weather today has been perfect. It was about 60 degrees when we left home at 9:30 AM.  Mom Larsen and Thelma were there to see us off!

Click on Photos to enlarge -

Ready to leave home 
all 10 bags.

The flight left Roanoke at 11:40 AM and we arrived at BWI on schedule. We were met there by Dave Jr.  He got us down to the gate where our flight left for JFK.   At JFK we had something to eat – boarding began about an hour before we departed – the plane is great – an upstairs deck and 10 seats across here in our compartment.

We're in line – just 3 planes ahead of us – maybe 20 minutes before take off. The plane isn't crowded at all – in fact, we're going to have plenty of room to stretch out to sleep – we'll probably need it tomorrow – or today – in Russia. We're OFF – the skyline of Manhatten is beautiful – we're up! We're to arrive in Moscow at 10:30 AM – should be plenty of time for a good night's sleep!!!!

SUNDAY AM: Yesterday, Saturday was a wonderful day – we were of course on the train – having gotten in the night before in Moscow. The train ride was really very nice except for the restrooms. They had a lot to be desired. On the train ride, we met a friend of Victor's, whose name was also Victor (Golutvin). He's a real computer expert here in Lvov and we enjoyed very much talking with him – he spoke very little English and by the time the train got to Lvov, he was doing quite well.

Our breakfast on the train consisted of apples – some peanut butter crackers we had with us and a cup of hot tea.  Also from our visit in Moscow, Ludmila had packed us a few things that were left from dinner Friday night – cold meat, apple tart and a cake with cream filling. Really, very good! Dave and the 2 Victors had a lot of time to do computer talk – I really got caught up on my sleep so I don't have jet lag. I can't remember what day it is – we lost 8 hours in our trip!

We arrived in Lvov and were met at the train station by Victor's wife Helen, his daughter Julia, his father Vlad and 4 ham radio operators who helped with our luggage. One guy was a taxi driver so we all piled into his car and he brought us to our hotel. The rooms are very large and it's very nice – we have 3 rooms and a bath – it's much larger than Victor and Helen's whole apartment. They share the apartment with Helen's mother who we'll meet today.

After putting our luggage away we had dinner with Victor and Helen here at the hotel. The meal was good – red cabbage salad, which tasted as if it had some meat broth mixed in,
sprinkled with cracker crumbs and some (I think) sour plums on it. The meat was a cutlet of some description fried in an egg batter – pretty good – some American French Fries and some beet and carrot relishes – sliced cold bread and coffee. This was Helen's first time to eat in this restaurant and only Victor's second. They mentioned that at home they ate whatever was available – not always very much!

After dinner, one of Victor's ham friends Tom came to pick us all up for our trip to Victor's Dad's apt. It was on the 4th or 5th floor and of course you walked up many curving – concrete steps to get there.  It was 3 rooms and in the kitchen was the ham shack. They all waited anxiously thru tea for Dave to open the computer!!!!

We gave Julia her Barbie Doll with long blonde hair and she was thrilled! She spent all night carrying it around and combing her hair. Victor nor his father have a car, they walk everywhere or ride the train/tram. I'm sure it was well over 2 miles back to the hotel at 10:30 PM. They have no problem with walking at night – there seems to be very little fear of being out – the street had a few street lights, not many.

Back at Vlad's before we left, the excitement was very great about the computer – the very first Amtor PC station in the Ukraine. Vlad,

Victor, Helen, Tom and Julia helped Dave open it up – better than our Christmas. Dave gave Helen a package to open and her eyes really looked excited – it was a handi-talkie and I could see tears in her eyes. She said with excitement that she'd never held such in her hands. I've never seen such excitement. She's a real avid ham – just won 1
st place in a DXpedition in Bulgaria - The night was wonderful – really makes you feel good to see such happiness.

It's hard to believe the life over here – as we were riding along on the train – everywhere it reminded you of the 1930's – 40's. No new buildings anywhere. Everything in the country was in full color for autumn. Really beautiful – the land was very flat from Moscow until we got almost to Lvov. Then a few hills. The hotel we stayed in is for tourist only. It's old, but really quite nice. We slept very well – the beds were very different – very unusual compared to ours at home. I nearly died laughing at Dave – part of our clothes were in the

Pic of Vlad's antenna 
on his 5th floor 

computer suitcase which we left at Vlad's apt – we didn't have any heat, so while he was going through our bags and getting his teaching things straight – I went in to take a bath – Victor and Helen only have water from 6 to 9 AM and 6 to 9PM – no other time. I climbed up in the tub and with no shower curtain, I 
had to “squat” down in the tub to use the hand held shower head – I couldn't sit down because the tub was ice cold – Dave was so funny – kneeling down in the tub with me spraying him – I was standing outside of the tub shivering!! He didn't have any “long-johns” so he slept on his blue jeans – socks and not only his “nylon” underwear, but his sweater. I fixed him the hot water bottle to put his head on to keep warm. He shivered and shook and we laughed for an hour. I slept in my long-johns and put the old sweater I'd worn ever since I left home. In spite of everything, we slept great! The trip so far has been far more wonderful than I ever expected. Not one problem.

Getting our suitcases at the airport in Russia took over two hours – ours were the very last to come through and we knew Victor and his friends were waiting for us. We stood in line for Customs not knowing what to expect. They took one look at us both- looked at our Visa's and let us through – didn't open any of suitcases – just waved us on. Unbelievable! Victor, Val, Yuri and Vlad were anxiously waiting for us – they had peach colored roses for me!!!

MONDAY AM – We were tired last night – a lot of walking miles – miles.

Victor was to pick us up at 9:30 so we were up at 8 so we could have breakfast. We went down to the dining room – menu just like yesterday – cold bread, sweetened water, then cold sausage and instead of mush, we had 2 eggs in a thin alum pan – sunny side up – coffee – real Russian coffee – grounds on bottom of cup and very strong.

Victor was right on time and we left for a 30 min walk to meet the sponsors for our course – they presented Dave and me with zippered brief cases with lots of things inside – very nice. Victor translated our meeting and things were arranged for the course

We went with Serge to the Institute to see the rooms. They were very nice and set up was begun. It was decided that we'd need a driver to go get the teaching materials so Serge arranged this – we had a “van” green and white – which he'd rented for our move – the drive was something else – we zipped here and there – just missing cars and people – it's perhaps a 2 mile ride – we had a policeman – jump out in front of us – he took the driver's papers (I don't know what). Lots of loud talking and hand waving.

Before we got the driver, we decided to have lunch – it was 1PM – we walked miles, yes, miles! And finally got to a place to eat – we found they only had some type of cake and coffee (their coffee is very strong – with grounds of coffee in the bottom of the cup) No other food that day – no cream – black or with sugar. You can't go out on the street and buy anything – no soft drinks, etc. Also very few restaurants and not like ours at all. They don't serve any water and very few other drinks – usually only coffee at the end of the meal. We made it thru that and went back to office to get the driver. After that, the exciting drive back to the Institute to set up the equipment. This went very well and it only took us 3 hrs – we had an engineer and his helper. After set up we started walking again – to find something for dinner – Finally after only 2 miles, we stopped for dinner – Victor went up to get us something – that day they had some kind of chicken balls – small amount of cooked cabbage – a small tomato which had been dipped in boiling water with some herbs and small amount of noodles (nothing on them) small hard roll – nothing to drink.

Then we walked to Vlad's house to work ham radio and meet Victor's friends for a meeting. I put a message on Amtor for Glen and Dave

worked the radio for awhile. We stayed for 5 hours at Vlad's – he had some hot tea – bread and small tomatoes for us. Tasted really good – We had a long walk at 11:00 PM to the hotel – We walk everywhere!  
At least 10 miles a day. Needless to say, I didn't have to be rocked to sleep. I washed clothes and my hair both – the hair dryer worked!!!

I really slept – we don't have heat in our rooms, but made it fine – a little hard to take a bath – Breakfast was as usual – a hunk- piece of sausage – thinly sliced cheese and bread – (not like our bread at all) sugar water and today I had tea – not coffee!

11:00 AM – Twelve in the course – Lecture from 9:30 – seems to be going good. I'm in the back of the class – writing notes.

Now I'll get back to a few notes on our stay so far – things we've done so far – things I've found exciting so far ------ there seem to be only apples – tomatoes and a few watermelons in the markets. No stores like ours to go into to buy groceries – I haven't seen anything like ours. They only have one or two things to sell at a time. Today they might have tomatoes – next week potatoes – you can find almost nowhere to find something to drink in town – also no restrooms. I've only seen one public one – in the center of town – underground – have to pay to use – also only whole in the ground – covered with something like narrow sink with small amount of water running over it – also no paper at all – good rule – never go anywhere without your own “paper” - No restrooms in restaurants – paper like notebook paper if any – even in homes they don't have toilet tissue – no paper towels and no napkins – except for very formal dinners. I haven't seen any dish-washing detergent at all – even soap is very scarce – the hotel had cut a bar into almost 20 pieces and each room had a sliver! - I haven't seen anywhere to buy needed items. We do have running water and hot water. Much of Lvov is always water rationed. They only use bare necessities for everything.

There's always people on the streets – so many people walking around – yet they say “no unemployment”. I guess just lots of people laying out of work. Yesterday we saw a Ukrainian demonstration in center of town – they demo for 1 hour.

You always see people carrying shopping bags – they do this just in case they find something to buy. Which in the food line is quite unusual. There are lines everywhere! The longest line was for Vodka! One store had a long line waiting out front – that day they had a few pairs of shoes .

2:00 PM – Well, my tongue is hanging out – we left at 1:00 PM – walked to a restaurant (about ½ mile away). Had pizza (Ukrainian style) round bread – sm amount of hunks of meat with herbs – chunks of tomatoes on top – pretty good except for the meatsome juice (plum I think) and a pastry with sugar on top! We left there and walked about ¼ mile for coffee – They were closed! Next walked to another coffee house – found coffee – then ½ mile walk back to school – Dave has decided he can't make it out tomorrow – will have an apple here and rest. I made it pretty good, but I wore out a pair of shoes and my feet – I will remember to wear flats tomorrow!!! I made a stop at the restroom – they have one here at school – it may be the last stop!! Lecture is going now, the sponsor for the seminar is supposed to take us to dinner and talks tonight – They were supposed to have planned lunch, but we didn't see anyone. If they come for dinner, I hope they have a car – because it's a really lot of walking here -

Also, we learned that the pay in this country is really low – Victor, an engineer only makes 200 rubles a month – This is equal to $10-$12 US money. Helen makes 100 rubles - $5-$6 US money. Their apt (which they share with Helen's mother Olga, their daughter Julia and is 2 rooms) costs them 30 rubles. They have no car and they never expect to have one. Victor's Dad Vlad has never had a vehicle – there are very few cars here in Russia – Needless to say, they are very expensive – There are no individual homes in town – only small 2 or 3 room apts – some even share a common bath.

The Sponsor didn't get dinner arranged, so some of the people in the seminar decided to go with us for dinner! We walked at least 1 ½ miles to the restaurant – it was closed – no food – we then walked another mile or two and the next restaurant was also closed! We were very tired by then so we decided to go to Victor's Dad's home. We had to walk again and stopped along the way to get something to take home. All the booths with veg only had dried up old veg and fruit so we went by the bread store – the line was long, but Victor got in it and waited to get bread – we then walked to Vlad's so Dave could work the radio – Vlad had some food in ref and he fixed us potatoes, tomatoes, bread and hot tea. He also had a little pot of meat stew which he insisted that we share – one kilo (#) meat costs here in Russia many days pay. It was a real sacrifice to share. 

We stayed until 9PM and Dave worked the radio. It was great. Victor walked us back to the hotel – at least 2 miles or more and then he had to walk back to his house – 3 to 4 miles. We were ready for bed when we finally got to the hotel – We couldn't even get anything to drink when we got there – the restaurant was closed and the bar also. It's impossible to find anything to drink here – only hot tea or strong coffee – my kidneys are drying out – we don't drink the water (They told us not to) and we can't find bottled mineral water.

WEDNESDAY – It's a beautiful morning – We had breakfast as usual – thin sliced whole-hog Polish sausages, bread and something that I think was a potato pancake with sour-sweet butter – sugar water and I got smart – I have hot tea - not coffee – too many grounds in the coffee.

(SPECIAL MEMORY) about our breakfasts!!!! Every morning we'd go down to the restaurant to eat at the hotel and I was sooooo thirsty I'd drink the (what I think was sugar water/apple juice) from all the glasses on our table – then I was surprised to find that the lady who came to pick up the dishes at the table after each use was pouring all the juice left in each glass into other glasses on the table and not pouring it out and putting new glasses out!!!! Anyway – I survived! Dave and I still laugh about this!

We walked to meet Victor down below the hotel at the street corner – walked to school and began the day – Victor brought lunch so we wouldn't have to go out and walk at lunch time. (SPECIAL MEMORY) of Dave's about his course – The first day of the course we had 12 attendees – the second day 11 and the third day 10 and we had 10 the rest of the course – to find out the reason – it was because to begin with there were 3 KGB agents there – second day only 2 and the last one stayed for the whole course!!!

We are going to walk to the Ham Club tonight and speak to them and show slides. Dave's really anxious to meet them. Hope I can find a place to buy bottled water today.

We may go to Kiev next week before we go to Moscow for a few days.

Back from lunch at 2PM to begin afternoon. We ate downstairs – Helen had prepared sandwiches of black bread with some kind of creamed/cottage cheese with egg spread on it -delicious – we had a granola bar I'd brought from the states and black coffee.

Around 3 PM I was able to go to a good art gallery for a showing – did some shopping and had cake and coffee – then walked back to the hotel – couldn't find bottled water anywhere so got apple juice to put in ref at hotel. I bought lots of craft things - very little to buy here. We are looking into the possibility of shipping “direct mail” a painted wooden Ukrainian egg which is hand-painted here – Very lovely -

Well, we just had a break – I had hot tea today – couldn't go any more black coffee. Met Victor and Dave for the tram ride to the Ham Club. The meeting was very nice and we showed slides of VPI Ham Shack etc.   After the meeting, we went back over to Victor and Helen's house for dinner – delicious meal! Meat (pork) loaf stuffed with hard-cooked eggs – peppers – tomatoes – bread – fried shredded potatoes and much dessert – preserved cherries – Russian marshmallows – wine – they really put a lot of food out! At 11PM we walked for miles back to the hotel – Helen also had bottled water and she gave us some – I fell into bed! Dave's ankles have been hurting for a couple of days and mine have not bothered me – but today was much more walking than usual. The bottoms of my feet feel bruised from the walking – especially since the streets are uneven and made of large uneven stones. I fell into bed and into sleep – Needless to say we didn't want to get up the next morning.

(SPECIAL MEMORY) of the in-tourist hotel we stayed in!!!! It was very nice but I couldn't understand why all the walls were about 24 to 36 inches thick – and there were small holes at the top of the walls – later learned that we were probably being watched the whole time we were in the hotel!! Guess they got a laugh out of us taking a bath in the ice cold water and tub and shivering! I did get smart and the few hours we did have water – I used a rubber pad and stopped the water from running out and filled the tub up with water – we had a Samivar in the room to heat water for coffee and tea and I used it to heat water whenever we needed it to take a bath!!! Yea! It also made sense that we were being watched because when we came back into our room one day I noticed that my clothes in the suitcase seemed to have been moved around! The next day, I put a string across the clothes and yes, when we got back, the string was moved around!!

THURSDAY – We awoke with the sun shining – a beautiful day. Had a quick breakfast (bread, crepe of egg – hot tea) We met Victor on time and walked through town to the school – The class is really going well – Had good break with the participants in the cafeteria. Took pictures etc. - 

Victor brought lunch from home again today – Good – Sausage with chives and creamed cheese on bread. We had a tomato and yellow peppers – also hot tea – I sure could use a nap right now!!! I went out to an art gallery – the park and a museum this afternoon. 

We are going to Vlad's for radio contacts and to meet Paige – the girl from the US who's living here in Russia for a year. Julia and Helen should be there also. Helen came to visit us at lunch. Her sweater was a beautiful hand-knitted one and she said she knitted it. I'm going to send her some yarn for her to use. In the afternoon I went out to a few shops. The stores are almost all bare except for a few items here and there – clothes were very out of date – like 1950's and very poor quality – no shoes anywhere – a few household items but not a full line of anything. This “supermarket” was out in a big field – no roads- walks, etc. Very different. There were hundreds and hundreds of large tall apartment buildings out there and clothes hanging on each balcony. They have no washing machines or if they do get one they have to wait for years for their name to come up to buy one. The same is true for all appliances – TVs, Ref, stoves, etc.

After the trip outside of Lvov, we took the tram back to Lvov and took a long walk thru 2 parks which were really beautiful. We had an ice cream cone which was wonderful – very rich like real cream in it. We walked again and back into town. 

 We had coffee and sweets around 6 at a coffee house and then called Victor to come meet us so we could go back with him to his Dad's

house for dinner. Julia and Helen were waiting and we had dinner before the American girl Paige and her Russian Dad came in to visit
She will be here for 1 year. She's a ham radio operator and is really excited about Victor's computer. Dave gave Paige our recorder to use and she put a message on it for us to give to her parents.

We left Vlad's to head back to the hotel when Paige left and for the first time, we didn't walk the 2 or so miles – we took a taxi and my feet sighed with relief! We didn't need a rocking chair when we got to the hotel – we took our showers and I washed out some clothes – then hit the sack! No trouble sleeping at all – 7:15 came much too early.

FRIDAY – Morning was cool and a little rain falling – the wind also blowing some. We had a little breakfast – more cut thin sliced Polish sausage – cold bread and sugar water and this morning baked mush

Dave and Gaynell having lunch 
with Sponsors of the 

again with “mayo” and hot tea. 8:30 we met Victor exactly on schedule and walked to the school – Lecture and classes – a pretty good day and lots of excitement in the experiments. After we give out the Certificates Saturday we will go to Victor's Dad's house to work radio while we're out – It's almost lunchtime now – I hope I get awake before too long – I'm soooo sleepy. I worked on the Certificates and pictures today and have them all finished. Vlad and Alex came for us to go to lunch. It was 12:30 when we left because so many people wanted “to talk” to Dave

We drove “in a car” to the Restaurant – guess what? Not open!!! They kept knocking and finally someone let us in. They were having a wedding party there and were closed – said No Food. We did get to eat after an hour's wait. Their salad consisted of sausage patties with tomatoes and cabbage and hard-cooked eggs and bread. Not too bad. Then came some kind of soup with little round noodles, a few veggies and cabbage. You don't dare drink the water here so we had bottled mineral water. We finally got through and then had to drive back over to the school, but no one was upset that we were late – they're used to waiting for everything. We got started back to work at 2:30 and at 4, the course was over and all the participants gathered around and presented us with many gifts and me flowers – also very touching and they said many wonderful things to us (which Victor translated) and we all cried – I think we've made some long-time friends. The folks here are very receptive to help and so warm and friendly. We started packing up at 4:30 with the help of the 2 Vlads (engineer at Institute and a helper) Alex and Vladimer came to drive us to the hotel – and we put all the teaching thing in our room.

At 7 we went down to the restaurant to meet with Serge and _________, the sponsors of the course for a dinner. Had a wonderful time, but they really mixed the food with toasts – Vodka – champagne and then wine. Had a wonderful band and I danced with Serge, who's a wonderful danger – said he'd never danced with an American woman and he hadn't danced in 5 years – could have fooled me! It was very late when we came back up to the room so Victor stayed with us since he would have had to walk home 3 or 4 miles then come back Saturday AM.

SATURDAY – We went to school to give out the Certificates. Afterwards, Dave and Victor went back to Vlad's to work the radio and I did some touring museums. I only walked at least 10 miles!!!! got back to the hotel and I was very tired so I tried to take a bath and go to bed, but no water, so I used water from the Samivar to wash my face and brush my teeth and went to bed. At 11:30 Mike, Victor's brother, walked Dave back to the hotel so Victor wouldn't have to – Victor was very tired after all the translating and proposals.

SUNDAY – We had a wonderful day planned - the weather was warm and sunny and some friends of Victor's (they both have a car) came to the hotel at 11:45 to pick us up for a trip out to the country –

about 50 miles away – to see a castle and art museum. Dave and I had our usual breakfast in the hotel – cheese, bread and some kind of souffle (about the size of a 50 cent piece) and a hot tea – we were glad to get that because at first they told us they weren't serving any more!! Never know! We took 2 cars – 12 of us and you can only put 2 in the front seats. That meant 4 in the back of a car that is about the size of Dave's little Subaru. Very interesting!! Nevertheless we had a wonderful time.

Took pictures – toured and about 2:30 we stopped for picnic in the woods. Wonderful – the people here are sooo nice and giving. The

woman had fixed everything – it was all really good – slices of bread with polish sausages on them – jars of canned vegetables – green beans – carrots mixed together – evidently they cook the veg some and put in jar with little vinegar water and can – jars of chopped vegs (like a relish) and something like mushrooms in tomato paste /w/ vinegar canned. (In fact, I think it might have been egg plant instead of mushrooms.)  Anyway, it was good – a baked chicken – mineral water – pieces of tomato and peppers – a sm cake and even some coffee. Great! I got back to Lvov and they dropped me off at the hotel and Dave went to Vlad's to work on the radio all night.

ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY - Helen told Julia that she needed to learn to speak English so she could talk to GayGay - Julia said "I don't need to learn English - GayGay understands me anyway!"

MONDAY – This morning it is rainy and very disagreeable so I got dressed and went down for breakfast - was as usual. Vic met Dave and they went to Mr. Sudrogin's office for a meeting. We are going to have lunch here at the hotel with friends. In the afternoon Vic and Dave and I stayed in the hotel and dictated a few Thank You letters on the tape recorder. We are going to make copies of the tape and send to the people who wrote letters and supported our trip to Lvov. Also to the ones who donated equipment, etc to bring to Russia. That afternoon we walked to the PO to get envelopes and stamps - Guess What? They were out!! Had to walk on further and finally found some. We then walked to a small shop and bought a large number of

Ukrainian hand-painted “Folk Art” wooden eggs. We are working on a marketing program through Brookfield (this is our Christmas Tree Business and we ship Christmas trees all over the US – one tree to one customer) to sell them direct mail. We do hope we can help the Ukrainians market some 
art products in the US. After purchasing the eggs, Dave, Vic and I went to a museum, a couple of very old beautiful Churches and then to a coffee house for cake and coffee. Dave and Vic walked back to Vlad's and I stayed at the hotel – it had rained all day and my shoes were soaked. Dave stayed at Vlad's apt again tonight so I called him and got ready for bed – I have really slept well every night I've been here – even staying here in the hotel alone – I slept great.

TUESDAY AM - Never moved all night! I just got back from breakfast. They sat some old man from Germany with me at the table for breakfast. He spoke some English so we got along fine – He left Kiev in 1945 and has not been able to get a Visa to return until now. He is a journalist and will be here for a month. Two weeks to write and hopefully 2 weeks to tour and see where he grew up. He's Polish – was very interesting.

I talked with Dave and he's having a ball on the radio – Vlad has been so kind and seems to enjoy having Dave over there. Dave's hoping to make over 1,000 contacts while he's here in Lvov. We are to have lunch here in the hotel at 1PM with some folks – I'm going to go to a couple of museums and go buy more Ukrainian eggs. Called Vic and he came down town to meet me and we walked back to Vlad's and on the way, we stopped by to meet Victor's friend who walked on with us to Vlad's. Two people came by with proposals for us to consider. Ukrainian clothes (art work).  We left Vlad's at 11 and they drove us back to the hotel – wonderful – not having to walk those miles at midnight! I was pretty hungry because I couldn't find anything with food for dinner. Dave stayed at the hotel on Tuesday night with me and we packed things up and got ready for our trip home via 2 days in Moscow. Breakfast as usual at hotel – no service and not too much food – I went to see a couple of museums then met the guys back at the hotel for lunch with Vlad and his wife.   Dave, Vic and I walked back downstairs for signing proposals meeting. Then we went to Vic and Helen's for a wonderful celebration and Ukrainian meal. Hated to tell Julia goodbye – They had more gifts for us – Everyone had gifts for us!!

Vic walked me back to the hotel at 11:00 and Dave went to Vlad's hoping to talk all night on the ham radio – the signals to the State were bad so nothing – only 2 contacts. I packed a little more when I got back to the room and took my bath. We had heat for the first time!!! I had washed some clothes out and I figured they would be dry by the next AM.

THURSDAY – I got up at 6:30 to be ready to leave for the train by 7:30 – Victor and Dave arrived on time and I watched from my window and Mr. Sudogrin and the car arrived. He had a bouquet of peach colored roses for me and we make our trip to the car with 4 big bags, etc. Guess what? Soviet car – only room for 2 people and our luggage – Victor goes with the driver to the train station and Mr. Sudogrin, Dave and I start walking. The driver comes back after 30 minutes and picks us up – at the station we are greeted by many people – Helen, Vlad and another Vlad – Victor's brother Michael and a guy from Plasticks with another proposal. They all had flowers for me too – red carnations – peach roses and white

geraniums – really touching. We all cried and “kissed” and hugged a lot – our train left right on schedule from Lvov for Moscow – Victor, Dave and I had a sleeper to ourselves and we then had breakfast – THANKS to Helen and Vlad. Sure tasted good – fried fish and meat – cheese and cold bread – tomatoes and peppers! Then we slept for a couple of hours and had plenty of time (23 hours) to visit and catch up on our tape (for letters) and writing

Our trip has been wonderful!!! I never dreamed of anything like this!! I'm returning home with so many emotions – So much happiness for such a wonderful trip and sadness for leaving our wonderful friends who are faced with such a hard life and not a whole lot to look forward to –

(Written from the plane going home) I can hardly wait to see Jarrad – he's at our house waiting for us!!! I've missed him and Mom Larsen more than anyone – I hope everyone at home is well – it's like we've skipped 2 ½ weeks. Fall has gone and leaves have fallen – I've really been surprised at how similar Lvov and Floyd are – the seasons are alike – Lvov reminds me of a city 50 years ago and so much like living (buildings, etc) of 200 years ago. Very strange! Many of the streets (most) are still stone paved. Most of the buildings that are used as apt flats were built during the beginning of the century. It's like moving back in time – nothing new – everything stopped being built before WWII. They're still in the 30's. I can not believe the lines – lines for everything – You have lines in the bread stores – lines in the tool stores – can't get water- shortages of everything – they don't even know what cleaning supplies are – never heard of – have to use hand soap if they have it to do dishes with and wash clothes with.

I was just telling Dave here on the plane – I wish I could record all this – I can't write fast enough to get all the happenings down – I really Thank God for letting us have and experience such a wonderful 2 ½ weeks. I truly hope Dave and I together can do something to help these wonderful people.

The train ride to Moscow was good – slept OK and arrived 1 ½ hours late – crazy trains and I'm afraid really bad train tracks – I really learned about trains on my way from Moscow to Lvov – no TT, only newspaper and very little pieces of it – I brought US toilet tissue with us on trip back from Lvov to Moscow – was prepared!!!

MOSCOW visit on the way back to US -Vladimir met us at the train station at 11 – we were scheduled earlier. He took us straight out to the country to his home – took 1 ½ hours to get there – this is Friday. When we arrived (he and Victor and two friends had met Dave and me when we got to Moscow on our way to Lvov) we found out that we would be staying in his home – very unexpected but we've learned to go with the tide and not make

waves!!! Vlad and Ludmila gave Dave and me their room – Vlad's Mom had arrived on October 4 to live with them and they have 3 children – Michael 3 ½, Olga 5 and Katrina about 8 or 9. They are such wonderful kids – we still haven't figured out where they slept – they gave us their room – we slept on an old couch which opened into a very large bed – I couldn't figure it out and when we checked, they had put a piece of plywood on the top then covered it with some type of feather tick (??) clean! Sheet and then the traditional Russian cover – a kind of sheet with a wool blanket inside – they had the same at the hotel in Lvov. They really only had 4 rooms – kitchen, living room and 2 bedrooms. Vlad's mother had a bed in a portion of one room (it had previously been partitioned off for Vlad's office – she sleeps in there and the children have the other portion – large room with bunk beds, etc. Kitchen w/eating area – living/dining room and our master bedroom – two closets had been converted into baths – all Russian homes/apts we've seen have little room for toilet seat and little room for sink & tub. If only candid camera had been around for the bath Dave and I took our first night – no one else took one – we both had to lean over the small sink to get the door shut – we got ready and I got in the tub – told them we were ready for the water and took a very quick bath – lukewarm – when I stepped out of the tub, Dave almost had to sit on the basin. Earlier in the day – after we had put our bags in our room, Ludmila had a lunch for us – some kind of buttered toast w/sausages on it and melted cheese on top – she's really a wonderful cook – had other relishes etc also.

After lunch, we drove back into Moscow to see George at his home – he's “Chief of Police”. Beautiful home – up 3 flights of steps –

1800's stairway past coded doors – apt. was very nice. The best we've seen in our stay in Russia! He offered us coffee and gave us many gifts – one of which was a Soviet Union Police Hat (used) postcards, etc. We stayed for over an hour here and would have stayed longer but it was Vlad's Mother's Birthday and Ludmila was fixing a special celebration meal. George's wife and daughter came back and we visited his ham shack – his daughter gave us gifts also.

We rushed back to Vlad's and his family for celebration meal – had a wonderful Russian meal – they always have lots of salads – at least 4-6 – then meal – dessert and coffee – always toasts with Vodka – each course. They also had a couple visiting – he works with Vlad – very nice people. It was after midnight when we all settled in – slept until 9 Sat AM. Had a big breakfast – leftovers from celebration meal etc. and coffee (with grounds, etc) always black with sugar

After breakfast and some construction work on the house – had ½ doz workers out – Vlad, Ludmila, Victor, Dave and I took off to tour Moscow. The kids stayed with Vlad's Mom – we drove around –

went to the largest antique/folk art flea market I've ever seen. Bought souvenirs – tried to find a restroom or restaurant for coffee but failed on restaurants – Finally had to settle for underground restroom, just off Red Square – served the purpose anyway!!! At least I learned – always be prepared for any situation – Always carry tissues with you! Took pictures – Tried to get gas but all the lines were over an hour long so we drove home.

Saw McDonald's in Moscow – The line was VERY long – over several blocks long.

Couldn't believe it. When we got home Ludmila fixed chicken and potatoes – lots of other leftovers and we had dinner – after dinner and dishes and putting the children to bed, we sat around and talked and packed for today. At 11PM Ludmila goes to the kitchen and starts cooking. She fixed tea and the most wonderful little pancakes – potato cakes or something – ate with your fingers and put things on top – she had whipped cream – stewed apples – honey – fish etc – Very good. At 12:30, Dave and I went to bed and I just fell asleep immediately – Never moved until 7:30 when I heard Ludmila up – had a big breakfast – crepes with cream-apples-honey-fish etc on them – coffee etc.

We left for the airport at exactly 9 and arrived at 9:30 – really good – Many people trying to get thru Customs. At 11:45 we finally got thru and got to the plane – We've had lunch, it's 3:30 and I'm ready for a nap – Big lunch – I've finished my journal now so I'm going to sleep for awhile. My watch says 3:40 PM – New York is 8 hours earlier so it's only 7:40AM our time in States – we get to NY at 3PM so it's really confusing, isn't it? We're to arrive in Roanoke at 9:30 tonight – will really be a long day!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

First Trip to Soviet Union 1990

 David and Gaynell Travel to the Soviet Union in October 1990 - their first Trip.

David & Gaynell tell about their first visit to the Soviet Union 1990 in own words

Soviet Union Oct. 1990
Dave: Hello this is David, David Larsen kk4ww. We’re going to discuss our first trip to the Soviet Union in 1990.
Gaynell: And this is Gaynell, kk4www, I’m Dave’s wife and we were very excited about this first trip that we made to the former Soviet Union back in October of 1990.
Dave: It started out in April of 1990 we were at the Dayton amateur radio convention called Hamvention and we were there working with Glen Baxter, k1man, who’d had some contact with Victor Goncharsky, ue5we amateur radio station in Ukraine, and we met them at the ham radio convention in April. Glen was saying that they needed somebody to go to the Soviet Union and Ukraine and help. Victor Goncharsky who was on his first visit to the U.S. from Ukraine said yeah David we need somebody to come help us come into the real world of radio because they’d been so suppressed to use the more modern digital technologies and communication techniques in Ukraine. We were using AMTOR and they wanted us to come over and start showing them how to use AMTOR which is a digital mode of communication sent over the amateur radio bands. The Soviet citizens generally up until then had not been allowed to use digital radio communications because it could be a little bit clandestine and of course the Soviets were very concerned about secret communications. They said hey we need somebody to come over and Gaynell and I both said well that sounds really interesting we think we’ll make the trip and so that was short of the story. What can you add to that first meeting we had there with Glen and Victor?
Gaynell: Well I remember that Glen couldn’t go to the dx dinner and we invited Victor to go. So we left and went and picked him up at the hotel and Dave and Victor and I went to the dx dinner. At the dinner Dave got sick and felt really bad so he got a taxi and went back to our hotel. It was really strange, we had only met Victor like the day before and here I am in Dayton Ohio not familiar with the area but taking a Soviet ham radio operator and getting him back to his hotel and then I drove back to our hotel by myself.
Dave: Well as I recall I was just finishing up my year of teaching, I had about another month to go there at Virginia Tech where I was teaching instrumentation and automation. So we got our passports and figured out what we wanted to do and we actually went over in October of 1990. Gaynell was just looking at the photos here and saying she remembered my mother living here.
Gaynell: Yes Dave’s mother who was 89 at the time in 1989 came to live with us from Texas. Her name was Ruth Larsen and at the time shed been living by herself in an apartment in Texas and was getting to the stage where she really didn’t need to be by herself so Dave and I invited her to come live with us and she did. I went down in 1989 in September and picked her up and brought her back to Floyd and we just had a wonderful year together. Then when we decided after the amateur radio convention in Dayton that we were going to Russia we called Dave’s sister in law out in Colorado and she volunteered to come live in and stay at our house and be with mom Ruth while we were gone. So my mom and dad came up and picked us up and got us to the airport for our flight out.
Dave: Well at that time (we’re looking at some photos here) we could take four bags, no, three 70 pound bags and we had them all packed up, maybe it was four 70 pound bags each. I see a picture here of Gaynell’s mom and dad and my sister in law when we were getting ready to leave in October. It was quite a short time, very exciting, I don’t remember where we flew out of but we flew into Moscow the only place you could fly into the Soviet Union and then you were dispersed from Moscow. So we flew into Moscow and that was quite an experience because it was our first trip to the Soviet Union. Victor and about five other ham radio fellows met us there at the airport. There weren’t a lot of people traveling to the Soviet Union especially hams. It wasn’t rare but there was not a lot so we were quite a novelty there. The first few days we spent in Moscow before we went over to Ukraine and we did operate some ham radio at a radio operator’s home there in Moscow. He was a district chief of police or something like that for ham radio his call was uk3aap and a very nice gentleman. He was so nice when we left there he gave Gaynell his cap and we still have that in my office it’s a very nice Soviet police officer’s hat.
Gaynell: Yes it was quite an experience. Dave and I neither one had traveled over in that part of the world and to go and visit with all these Russians of course I was the only girl around with all of them but it was just fascinating. They were so accommodating and when we arrived there in Moscow Victor had already ridden a train for 24 hours from Lviv, or Lvov at that time, from Lvov up to Moscow to meet us. And he met with Urikat Uten who was from down at Uleanovs Russia and also George came up with Victor from Lvov and we just had a wonderful visit there in Moscow. Victor arranged for us to spend the night with some friends that were originally from down in Lvov and they were living in Moscow at the time so we went over and spent the night with them and then caught the train the next day for the 24 hour ride to Lvov Ukraine.
Dave: Well it was pretty interesting our first trip on a Soviet train. We had many, many train trips after that but when we got to Lvov we were met at the station by Victor’s father, u5wf. We called him ham dad Vlad he was Vladimir Goncharsky. I don’t remember his age at that time but he was a ham during the 30s and served in WWII. He had been a ham, a very famous ham in the Soviet Union and an amateur radio operator. And Victor Valgluten and George Telijank met us and some other people. Victor’s brother Michael, and then I don’t remember exactly what we did then we must have gone over to their home but we had many good visits and we operated some ham radio from there as well. It was so interesting now in 2014 looking back on these photos of 1990. Tell them a little about your visit with Helen and Julia there when we visited with them or anything on the train.
Gaynell: Yes, well actually Helen and Julia came along with the other guys, ham dad and all to meet us at the train we went back over to the house. Julia at the time was just 4 years old in 1990 so it was just wonderful to get to know her and it was just really unique because everywhere we went that first trip Julia was with us and she held on to my finger the whole time and of course spoke no English and Helen spoke a little bit but very little so after we left that year, Helen told Julia, she said now you need to learn to speak English because Gaynell doesn’t understand Russian and Julia looked and she said oh, Gaynell understands me anyway I don’t need to learn to speak English. So that was a memory that I had from that first trip that stuck with me.
Dave: Well we had some really wonderful meetings that they arranged for us and the thing looking back on it now, you know we made some of those early trips to foreign countries thinking you know it’d be one trip and we’ll sort of lose track of people but really every trip we made, and we made dozens of trips to many countries and we became very good friends with them. In fact, over the last years since we’ve been, since that 1990 trip I think Victor’s visited the U.S. 4 times. We were not always his host, but we hosted him here in Floyd at the foundation for amateur international radio service at least twice and Helen has been over probably three or four times and we always take them out to the Dayton amateur radio convention and of course we visited them probably, what 15 or 16 times over the 20 years or so there at their home in Lvov. And many things have changed, Helen’s mother has long passed away, of course we met her when we were there the first few times and Victor’s father u5wf has passed away and some of our friends we met have passed away that’s what happens when you get older but we sure had a good time on that visit. I remember one of the first things we did
Gaynell: Well they put us up at a hotel
Dave: Yeah I’ll let you tell about that. There was a picture of that hotel I think the Intourist hotel. It was our first and only experience with an Intourist hotel in the Soviet Union. We stayed at another hotel, but it wasn’t quite an Intourist, one time but yea, I’ll make some comments about our stay but I’ll let Gaynell tell about that first Intourist hotel. I do remember this, Victor and Helen they took us to dinner the first night and the food there was not expensive but for them it was very expensive and we didn’t think too much about it at the time but the Intourist hotels were there at that time to keep track of the tourists and also to more or less get as much money from them as they could so their prices were a bit high in terms of Soviet times. Tell a little about that first hotel visit there.
Gaynell: Oh it was quite unique. We spent the night and I couldn’t figure out why the walls were so thick between the different rooms and then we found out there was a passageway in between these walls and if you’d be lying in bed and look up you’d see little holes around the ceiling where I’m sure they had spies where people could go in there and spy on you. Also our luggage, we went to the meetings the next day and when I came back I realized that our suitcases had all been gone through and so the next day I put a string across some of it and needless to say everything was kind of messed up when we got back. But the really funny thing was the first morning that we went, we never stayed in these hotels very much except this first time, and we went to have breakfast that morning, Dave and I together, and we walked into the quote, Intourist breakfast room, and I saw all these glasses of juice sitting on the tables and we sat down at a table for four and it was just Dave and me, but of course we couldn’t drink the water there and I guess we didn’t have bottled water at the time I’m not sure. But I was so thirsty and I sat down at the table and I drank the first glass of juice and then I reached over and got the second one. Then some people got up and they had left some of their juice in the glasses and the waitress came through and immediately took the little bit of juice in each glass and poured it in another glass at the table so I learned a lot that morning.
Dave: Well we certainly did but we did enjoy that. I’m remembering now our justification for the trip. Victor and Helen invited us to the Soviet Union, but they couldn’t as private citizens just have visitors, we had to have, or they had to have a reason for us to come so what Victor did was very clever. He arranged for us to teach a workshop with my specialty of computer instrumentation and automation there in Lvov to engineers and my understanding of this is I was probably the first American to do a teaching there in Lvov. Lvov is a very large city in western Ukraine about 7-800-900,000 about 900,000 people and he arranged for us to teach a workshop. That’s one of the reasons we had all those suitcases. It was full of teaching equipment plus it also had one computer in there that we took over for Victor. But we taught the workshop and I remember the first day of the workshop, by the way, Gaynell was talking about those hotels or the hotel room and I remember Victor and Helen saying when we were in the hotel room to not say anything except general conversation because we were being listened to and we were very cautious and paranoid about saying anything. But when I was doing my workshops, the first morning there were three KGB agents at the workshop and I wouldn’t actually have known that but my Ukrainian friends informed me. Then after lunch there was just two and the rest of the time there was only one and so only the one stayed with the whole course to make sure what I said and that I didn’t try to, you know do spy work and so forth and I was told by my guests to not speak about religion or politics to just stick to the topic and I’d be fine. We were followed downtown quite a bit too. Victor was always mentioning it that we were being followed, that was really a new experience for us but the workshop was very successful. They enjoyed it and I learned a little bit later that the workshop was sort of paid for on a local basis by George Sauros who was working hard to use some of his funds to, you know try to help democracy to come about in the Soviet countries. And I didn’t know it at the time that he had put up the money for it but we saw George Sauros at a workshop, I don’t know, 7 or 8 years later in New York, it was New York or Washington DC and I asked Mr. Sauros about that and he remembered that workshop because it was a very unique thing and he remembered funding that so that was certainly interesting. So we thank George Sauros for helping us get to that very first trip. So I remember I mentioned we brought a computer along, and it was an IBM 5100 luggable to run the AMTOR digital communication program and the interesting thing was the last time we were in Lvov, which was 6 or 7 years ago so it would’ve been around 2005 or 2006, that computer was still running. Even though it was highly modified and been repaired many times it was amazing that over a period of over 20 years, that computer was still running. It was just really pleasing to see the use that it got. Of course we took many more computers after that and that’s another story.
Gaynell: The one thing I wanted to mention was Lvov was (even back in that time and more so now) the water situation was terrible. Of course you couldn’t drink the water at all but in the Intourist hotel even, we only had water certain hours of the day and our water in the hotel only came in at three in the morning. So Dave and I found a piece of rubber and put over the drain and we left the faucet open on the bathtub so that we could actually have some water the next morning and we had what they called a samovar which was a thing you heat water in to make your coffee or your tea so that’s the way we took our baths. We heated our water with the samovar so we’d have warm water for baths.
Dave: Well see there were a number of things that just seemed to stick out in my mind. First of all I did enjoy the workshop and Victor did the translation for us because most of the engineers that attended could probably read English but they didn’t have a practice of the communication language so they couldn’t understand us too well but it worked fine and we had a lot of fun. Lvov itself is an old Austrian city. Many years ago it was built up. It was a beautiful city; the architecture there is absolutely beautiful but during the Soviet times from 1917 on it was really not kept in a very good state of repair at all. About the only thing that had been repaired was the opera house it had been repaired but the other buildings were still in a pretty bad state of repair. But there were a lot of beautiful, beautiful buildings in Lvov and I remember another incident. We were visiting an electronic manufacturing facility there in Lvov on our first trip and they gave me a rotary calculator. It’s a blue thing with a crank on it and does addition and subtraction and that’s in our museum Bugbook Computer Museum it’s there now and that was our memorabilia piece from our first trip. I remember going to that meeting too. In those days it was a big habit to drink a lot of vodka and that meeting was about ten o clock in the morning and they brought out the vodka and they said we don’t normally have vodka this time of the mornings but we all had to have a few shots of vodka to continue the day. And of course we stayed, well didn’t stay then, but we visited ham dad Vlad and operated amateur radio there in Lvov and just really had a great time with all of that. Oh they did take us to some of the historical museums and so forth and there’s a clock museum, other museums, kind of a nature/ cultural museum with the older style homes and so forth. And in one of the museums, I bought a Ukrainian wedding dress for Gaynell, it was a new one. We also bought some as we went out into the hinterland of the Carpathian Mountains we bought some older clothes but we did buy one very beautiful wedding dress. It was a wedding dress wasn’t it? Yeah, a colorful wedding dress and we have that in our observatory along with the other Ukrainian things we purchased. Looking through the pictures I see they took us out to a castle. I don’t know just where it was in Ukraine, it was quite a ways out of Lvov but it was a very interesting thing. Unfortunately the tour guide spoke in Ukrainian so we had a little trouble with that. We didn’t eat in restaurants much, they would carry food along and we would do picnics. Of course there weren’t a lot of restaurants; quite honestly they were kind of few and far between. Of course I will say one thing, when we were in Moscow, looking at these pictures here, we got to visit red square for the first time and the Kremlin. We didn’t get in the Kremlin but we got to where we could see the Kremlin. McDonald’s was fairly new, I see a photo here too of a McDonald’s there near red square and it was so popular the line (2 or 3 wide) went clear around the block, I mean all the way around. There were hundreds of people waiting in line to get their McDonald’s whatever. Of course, needless to say we didn’t bother waiting in line for that, but that was certainly a new experience for us too. Oh yea looks like the weddings, didn’t they seem to have the weddings on Saturdays? We went to a number of weddings
Gaynell: They were open to the public
Dave: Yeah, all the weddings were sort of open to the public. The brides tried to have nice white wedding dresses, gee it was just great. They’re very friendly and I see here too that we visited a number of craft shops and bought a lot of Ukrainian crafts, particularly the wooden eggs that were made primarily up in the Carpathian Mountains. The Ukrainians were and still are noted for their wood art. There are a lot of forests and beautiful wood in Ukraine and a lot of people do carvings and painting of wood. We still have a lot of those and actually we sell, and still sell and we go to meetings like the Dayton Hamvention we’ll sell the Ukrainian crafts and we get new ones as well to sell and help us support our Foundation for Amateur International Radio work at n4usa. Looking at these pictures reminds me of something else too. In those days of course we didn’t have digital cameras, so as I said, Gaynell and I had already been making many trips and during the 90s, the late 80s and the 90s. We made many trips to a lot of countries both for the Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service and for the university, because I did international development helping with the understanding of various universities to set up a student and faculty exchange. We did that in Russia with Uleanis Technical Institute out on the Olga River and down in Ukraine I think we did one with Lvov Polytechnic Institute and I think we did one at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute as well. One thing that was a tradition then, very much a European not just Ukrainian but a European tradition was when your guests arrived, especially the ladies, you give them flowers. I see some nice pictures there with Gaynell holding roses and so forth and that tradition has died down recently especially during the war that’s going on right now at this moment with the Russian folks invading eastern Ukraine. But it was a very big tradition then. We stayed those few days when we were in Moscow, before we went down to Ukraine, with one of Victor’s friends who lived in, I believe it was his granddad’s house, a very old house in a suburb way out, a little bit out of Moscow. But we talk about a suburb, the roads were dirt. There was actually no gravel on the roads in the subdivision. Very primitive and the homes of course were very primitive but we had a good time there with him that’s for sure. And she made some wonderful food. I remember the crepes were just wonderful along with a lot of other things. Yeah she had three young children there, which was fascinating. We were back to Moscow a number of times after that but we sure remember that first visit visiting the Kremlin and downtown Moscow and of course the airport was sort of fascinating in itself and the train rides, 24 hour train ride between Moscow and Lvov a new experience for us. We enjoyed that immensely. Well I guess that kind of wraps up our trip, we’ll make a few kind of final comments about that very first trip. We have some wonderful letters here and notes from our friends written during our first trip and trips after that. One thing Gaynell’s been good about is making a photo album of all our trips so we have dozens of photo albums with, gosh it must be a hundred photos in this one. I was mentioning the photography well we had to take the regular 35 mm cameras with lots of rolls of film and it was very expensive to develop all that film when we got back. We’d usually make 10 to 20 rolls of film on a trip
Gaynell: Copies of some of them
Dave: Yeah and then make copies of the pictures. Well all that changed when the digital cameras came out. We could just take all the pictures we wanted and then we’d only have to make copies of the good ones. So the economics of that got good and of course video cameras were a little too expensive for us on those first few trips so we didn’t have video but we certainly have on later trips. Technology’s been a wonderful thing for us. But that first trip was a great experience and it started a whole new world for Gaynell and I of traveling to the former Soviet countries and our friends Helen and Victor Goncharsky.
Gaynell: And I think the one thing that just stands out with me is the fact that when we first started these trips of course we hadn’t started FAIRS, our foundation, then but we knew that after a couple of trips over there that that was going to be something that we needed. We needed to have a nonprofit status so that we could have more clout going to the governments and things like that and that really paid off. And we thought well you know we’ll go to Russia and we’ll get to meet these people and that’ll be fine but we’ve stayed friends with almost all of the folks that we’ve visited in all of these foreign countries. And Christmas lists are now about 500 instead of 150 or so, so every year we still correspond and try to keep up with all of our friends in these foreign countries.
Dave: Well you know after that trip we made some publicity about it and then some other people came forward and wanted to travel over there with us and one of those was John Douglas, n0isl, from Minnesota. And John worked for Control Data, I believe that was the name of the company, and we did realize there was a big need for computers at the personal level and again Soviets were starting to let people have computers in their homes but there were very few available. A few fellows started to make home computers but John contacted us about traveling with us and since he worked at that large computer firm they had a lot of small computers and he gathered up 50 or more computers for us to take over there and he was going to go on the next visit to the Ukraine. The next visit was in the spring of ’91, May of ‘91 and we’ll do that visit later but I do want to lead up to it a little bit. When I got the computers together we thought we’d just send them over here for Victor to distribute. Well we couldn’t make any headway to get the computers into the Soviet Union. We tried various things and basically they would not accept them, there was no way. So I wrote a letter to Gorbachev, President Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, in November of 1990 and told him what I was doing and that we’d had this workshop in Ukraine and we had these computers we wanted to get over there. I’ll have to say, Gorbachev was very good about wanting to get his citizens updated on technology and bring them more into the western world so to speak and also the whole country wanted to be more in line with the modern times. Well I sent that letter to him in November and then in January I was talking to my friend Victor, u5we, on the radio and he asked me, he said David, I understand there’s a letter you wrote circulating around the Kremlin and I replied to him, well yes Victor we did write a letter but I said I don’t think we put anything in it that would get any of us in trouble. It was very general about the computers were trying to donate to the Soviet citizens and particularly the folks there in Ukraine and so Victor told me that he had been asked to come to Moscow for an interview about the Larsens. The Soviet security people wanted to know did we really come and teach this workshop, were we spies you know, were we people that were trying to overthrow the government. All those sorts of things and were we there on just a technology sort of basis. So Victor did go to Moscow as he was invited and he told me he had a round trip ticket and I said well that’s probably a good sign. As a result of those interviews he was able to actually work up an invitation and as I said. By getting the workshop together the second time as well, we taught each time we went over there, the workshops sort of justified all that. But he got all that together and next trip, well to finish the story a little about the computers, a little bit later in the winter I got I letter from dosov I don’t exactly know what that stands for but it’s part of the military that basically controls the amateur radio communication and the letter (which I have it in my files in fact I’ve done a blog on it and printed that on a blog) but the letter basically said well (I’m paraphrasing) due to your letter you wrote to Gorbachev, we’ve been instructed to help get these computers into the Soviet Union. My understanding was that the letter circulated around the various bureau agencies and they decided it was probably a good thing to let us bring those computers into the Soviet Union. So we were told that if we contacted Aeroflot in New York, they would send the computers to Moscow and of course they were not cooperative for a while and after a few correspondents back and forth we did ship the computers to Moscow and they kept them in quarantine until John Douglas and Gaynell and I went over and that’ll be another story for our next trip about how we distributed those computers. Well I think once again that wraps it up for the first trip, October 1990, to the former Soviet Union it was a fascinating trip and we’ll continue this discussion with our second trip in May of 1991.