CW OPS: Check out the Sunrise Net. Meets daily at 1300 UT on7123 KHz
- a friendly ragchew net
Hi, my name is Jim.
Shown below, my current station includes (left to right): A Ten-Tec Model 1220 2-meter FM transceiver, an LDG AT-100ProII automatic antenna tuner, a Drake SW8 shortwave receiver, a Ten-Tec Paragon HF transceiver with matching power supply, (bottom) a Ten-Tec Corsair HF transceiver with matching power supply. To the right of the Corsair is my electronic keyer, which switches between straight key and paddle and Paragon and Corsair. Below are my paddle and straight key. Not visible is a four-position switch which allows me to switch my antenna to any of the rigs.
I operate mostly low power, 30-watts or less - often QRP which is 5 watts and under. I've even worked 44 states using 0.8 watts or less. My favorite activities are QRP Fox Hunts (www.qrpfoxhunt.org), Straight Key Century Club events (www.skccgroup.com) and shortwave listening. I've recently discovered the Sunrise Net on 7123 KHz. They are a great bunch of CW operators who meet daily at 1300z for a friendly ragchew net.
In March 2010 we moved to our retirement home just outside Grottoes, VA, in the Shenandoah Valley. We're in a no-antenna community; nevertheless, I put up a "stealthy" 80-10 meter G5RV dipole in the trees at the edge of the woods behind our trailer. I used black-jacketed #18 stranded wire and painted the end and center insulators with camouflage paint. The antenna is extremely difficult to spot. For shortwave listening I connected my SW8 receiver to the metal soffits/eaves. I used external tooth star washers at all overlaps in the sheet metal to ensure good connection all the way around the house. I've even made a couple of contacts on low power using this "antenna"
I was active from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, from 1964 to 2001. I now live in the Shenandoah Valley with my wife Pam, KA4EWG, and our two shelties, Teddy and Shadow.
Shadow and Teddy came to us from Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue (http://www.nvsr.org).
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My interest in radio began when I discovered a Zenith Transoceanic radio in the upstairs storage closet. My Dad had received the Trans-O as a parting gift from his unit in the Korean conflict. After dusting it off, I set it up in my bedroom and turned it on. Did I ever hear some neat stuff! Signals that sounded like airplane engines, people talking in foreign languages, latin and other types of music I couldn't identify. And guys just talking back and forth. From that day, as a twelve year old, I was hooked and the obsession has never let up . . . .
The guys talking back and forth were amateur radio operators. I soon decided that I wanted to do that too. It took a while, but I was first licensed at 14 years of age while living in Germany with my Army family. Being overseas, I had to take the FCC test by mail. And since the German authorities wouldn't honor a US Novice Class license, I had to go straight to General Class. A Signal Corps Captain, also a ham, was recruited to administer it. The CW part was easy, since for months I'd been bootlegging on CW with my friend Bill's station and callsign. After looking over my written test, the Captain said he thought I'd passed. Sure enough, six weeks later my Conditional Class license arrived in the mail with a 1x3 callsign for our stateside address in Maryland. With this license in hand, the Deutsche Postampt issued a DL4- callsign. For the next year-plus I was active on 40-meter CW from Stuttgart, Germany where my first setup was a 40-meter dipole, my Dad's Zenith Transoceanic and Johnson Challenger (I tuned a transistor SW radio to act as a BFO). The Challenger was on loan from fellow teenage ham, Bill DL4WS/K4ZVT who lived across the street. Just up the street was yet another teenage ham, Jim WA6SCK/DL4HG, now K4RGR. These two guys were my ham radio mentors.
Within a few months I had my own rig, an Eico 723 and Hallicrafters SX-110. Upon returning to the states in 1964, with a move from Maryland to Virginia, the FCC assigned me my current callsign. I've been more or less active on the amateur bands ever since. I upgraded to Extra class sometime in the late 1970's.
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Back in 2002-2003, I built a six-tube regen receiver based on a series of articles written by Bruce Vaughan, NR5Q, which appeared in Electric Radio magazine. The resulting receiver, built in two cabinets, is shown below. Using this receiver with a Johnson Adventurer transmitter, I had hundreds of enjoyable CW ragchews on 40 and 80m. This receiver now resides in the antique radio collection of Ron Lawrence W4RON and is featured on his website: http://radioheaven.homestead.com.
Two more of my more photogenic homebrew projects: Mini-Mountaineer (photo by Alan Walters), a 40-meter 750 mw CW transceiver adapted from a Wes Hayward W7ZOI design . . .
. . . and my first homebrew regenerative receiver, comprised of two dual-triode tubes. I got the circuit from Secrets of Homebuilt Regenerative Receivers, by C.F. Rockey. I built the sides, tops and bottom of the cabinet out of 3/4"x1/2" wood strips cut to length andglued side by side. After sanding, I glued the top, bottom and sides together and stained them with cordovan shoe polish. The front panel is leather-covered aluminum.
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More about my current equipment lineup . . .
Ten-Tec Model 560 Corsair. My favorite rig is my Ten-Tec Corsair. The Corsair is a vintage 1982 100-watt CW-SSB rig that transmits and receives only on the HF amateur bands, 160-10m, including 30, 17, and 12m. It has been modified so that the power is continuously adjustable from under 1/2-watt to 100-watts. I also installed the K4DPK VFO stabilizer. The 9 MHz IF also been upgraded to an 2.4 KHz 8-pole roofing filter, and has 2.4 KHz, 1.8 KHz, 500 Hz, and 250 Hz filters in the 6 MHz IF - cascading 12 to 16-poles of crystal filtering in the IF system. The Corsair's receiver is outstanding, very sharp and sensitive for CW and nice-sounding overall. More than any of the rigs I've tried over the past few decade this 30-year-old rig feels like it was designed with me in mind.I think it's the coolest rig ever!
Ten-Tec Model 585 Paragon. The Paragon is a vintage 1988 100-watt CW-SSB rig covering the 160-10 meter amateur bands, including 30, 17, and 12m. It also has general coverage receive (100kHz - 30 Mhz). It has a very nifty quad-FET receiver RF amplifier which goes a long way toward preventing front-end overload and intermodulation. The second IF (9 MHz) has a 6 KHz AM filter and an 8-pole 2.4 KHz SSB filter. Like the Corsair, its 6 MHz IF has 2.4 KHz, 1.8 KHz, 500 Hz and 250 Hz filters and 12 to 16-poles of cascaded crystal filtering. Unlike the Corsair, the Paragon has a PLL oscillator system that gives the rig excellent stability. I modified my Paragon so the power can be continuously adjusted from less than 1/2 watt up to 100 watts. I also modified it to provide transmit coverage of the 60-meter band.This is one of the best general coverage rigs I've ever used. It hasvery nice receive audio and good selectivity - it's an excellent utility, AM broadcast band and shortwave receiver. Its sensitive receiver and IF filters yields very nice ham transceiver operation, both on CW and SSB. I recently purchased this rig to replace a Ten-Tec Argonaut V and am very please with the upgrade.
Drake SW8. I bought my Drake SW8 new in the mid-90's. It's an excellent shortwave set due to its fantastic audio quality with clear highs and clean strong base. That, coupled with synchronous detection for reduced distortion and selectable sideband to eliminate adjacent channel interference makes it a very high fidelity receiver. It receives SSB and CW as well and covers the longwave band, AM broadcast band, shortwave bands, VHF aeronautical band, and the FM broadcast band (wonderful FM stereo with headphones). I use a Sony bookshelf speaker with the SW8 - makes for better sound.
That's about it.
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