Sunday, August 16, 2020

Bringing Comfort to the Heil Proset

Heil Proset with Brainwavz earpads

I've owned a Heil Proset for several years. While I love the headset -- it sounds great, and has the HC-4 mic element, which, inexplicably, Heil no longer sells -- it has one shortcoming. After about an hour, it gets very uncomfortable -- less like a headset and more like a head vise.

The stock ear pads are the problem. They are not even 1/2" thick. Plus, the cloth covering that goes over the ear pad tends to press the outer ear (the pinna) against the head. For 30 minutes or so, this is tolerable. After an hour, your ears start to hurt. After wearing them for 30-plus hours during a long contest weekend, your ears won't feel right for days.

I'd largely given up on the Proset for long contest use, opting to use the more comfortable Koss SB-45 or Yamaha CB500 headsets (or even a pair of old Sony headphones, if I don't need the mic). But the Koss or Yamaha headsets are designed for good fidelity, not for communications. The Proset is more listenable.

I read some old threads on the CQ-Contest mailing list about a company called Brainwavz that makes replacement ear pads for the video gaming industry. Many gamers wear a headset for hours while playing multi-player games. Perfect. Bob WA1FCN recommended them to me in a private email. 

Brainwavz, unfortunately, doesn't make a product specifically to fit the Heil Proset. I measured the earpieces of the Proset and found them to be 4" (101mm) tall and 3.5" (88.5mm) wide in a rounded triangle shape.

Comparison of thickness with
the stock earpads

Brainwavz replacements are designed for oval earpieces. I worried a little about the fit, since the Proset earpieces are triangular. It seemed worth a try. WA1FCN recommended ear pads designed for certain models of ATH headsets, their dimensions being 110mm x 90mm. I ordered them off Amazon for less than $25.

Removing the old ear pads was easy - they pull off with a little tug. A plastic retainer ring fits under the ear pad edge and snaps into a plastic ring on the inside of the ear pads. Then the whole assembly snaps on to the headset. Given the size of the Brainwavz ear pad edges, the plastic retainer wouldn't be able to hold them. And I couldn't remove the plastic ring from the original ear pads without destroying them. I opted to remove the plastic retainer from the ear pad and place it on the headset, then fit the Brainwavz ear pads over the entire earpiece body.

That took a bit of struggle. I started at the wide end (the top) and worked the edges of the earpads around with my fingers. The material does not stretch much, but it was enough to fit around the earpiece body. Once in place, I did not worry about it coming off. Just work slowly and use minimal tension to get the job done.

Brainwavz pads offer over 3/4" of room

These ear pads give the headset a different look -- much more cushiony.  But do they work?

The headset rests comfortably around the ear. It's slightly nicer than either the Koss or Yamaha headsets.  I gave them a trial run during the NAQP CW. I operated about six hours, and felt no discomfort at any time using the larger ear pads. 

Definitely a worthy modification. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

OK, That's Not Good

Noticed today while I was mowing grass that two of the traps on the A3S/A743 -- the 15m trap on the director and the 20m trap on the driven element -- both have end caps that have come off the traps. 

This means the traps are exposed to the weather, insects and what not. 

That's not good. 

Indeed, from the ground, this antenna isn't operating correctly, either. The SWR is over 2 to 1 on 15 and 10m, and the antenna doesn't seem to be that effective on those bands, either. Only a little bit better on 20 and 40m.

The A3S has been up since 2001. I added the A743 in 2005. That's been 15 to 19 years exposed to the elements. It's not surprising this antenna needs maintenance.

I've got the gin pole on the tower, just need a couple of days at the Gwinnett QTH with a little help to get that antenna on the ground.