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My name is Jim and I first caught the radio bug when I got a Rocket Radio, a little crystal set built into a red and white plastic rocket ship.  It tuned by position of a rod which slid out of the nose of the "rocket"  I spent many wonderful hours listening to the "Joy Boys of Radio" show with Willard Scott and Ed Walker and their humerous patter and the great daily skit, "As the Worm Turns - brought to you by Stop No More".  Later in the evening was Felix Grant with his jazz program "The Album Sound".  Terrific radio entertainment that continued to the last days of that golden era.


My interest in shortwave radio began when I discovered a Zenith Transoceanic radio in an upstairs storage closet. I began punching different bands buttons and tuning around. Wow! I heard all kinds of really neat stuff - including ham radio operators. I was hooked! And the obsession has never let up.

Zenith Transoceanic

I got my Conditional Class license in late 1962 at age 14, while living in Germany. The CW part was easy, because, for months I'd been "bootlegging" CW QSOscusing the station and callsign and station of my friend, and fellow teenage ham, Bill. With this license in hand, I was issued a DL4- callsign. For the next two years I was active on 40-meter CW from Stuttgart, Germany where my first setup was a 40-meter dipole, my Dad's Zenith Transoceanic (I tuned a transistor SW radio to act as a BFO) and Johnson Challenger transmitter, on loan from 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 the family moved from Maryland to Virginia at which time the FCC assigned me my current callsign. I've been an active SWL/Ham ever since. I upgraded to Extra class sometime in the mid-1970's. Over the years I've had a lot of different equipment in my shack - for me, getting to know new gear is half the fun.

_ . . . _





My current station includes (left to right):

Vibrokeyer paddle

E.F. Johnson Speed-X bug.

(stacked) homebrew electronic keyer,Ten-Tec Model 1226 2-meter FM rig, Samlex 1223 power supply

Ten-Tec Omni D Model 546,LDG AT-100Pro auto antenna tuner, Alpha-Delta coax switch

Ten-Tec Corsair Model 560 HF,Drake SW8 shortwave receiver

Ten-Tec Model 260 power supply


I operate mostly low power, 50-watts or less - often QRP which is 5 watts and under. It's amazing how little power is necessary on CW. 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), shortwave listening, and the Sunrise Net where I serve as Net Control/Host on Friday mornings (www.qsl.net/srn).

_ . . . _

More about my current equipment lineup . . .

Ten-Tec "Cool Blue" Corsair, Model 560
Ten-Tec Model 560 Corsair.  My favorite rig of all time is the Ten-Tec Corsair. The Corsair is a vintage 1982 85-100 watt CW-SSB rig, covering the HF amateur bands, 160-10m, including 30, 17, and 12m. It has an 8-pole, 2.4 KHz crystal filter in the 1st IF. In the 2nd IF are 2.4 KHz, 1.8 KHz, 500 Hz, and 250 Hz crystal filters, yielding 12-16 poles of filtering. Many mods, including; ALC mod to allow adjustment of transmit power down to 0.5 watts, mod to silence amp relay, TX audio improvement mod, replaced LED display with backlit LCD display, and replaced PTO with direct digital synthesizer. The Corsair's receiver is outstanding, very sharp and sensitive for CW and very nice-sounding on SSB.  Superbly crafted and undeniably beautiful, the Corsair has got to be the coolest rig ever!

Here are a couple of shots of the N4YG DDS VFO installation, showing DDS board left and DDS encoder right:




_ . . . _


Ten-Tec Omni D Series A, Model 546
Ten-Tec Omni D, Model 546. CW and SSB at 0-100 watts output, it covers the 160-10 meter amateur bands (no WARC bands). The receiver is one of the quietest receivers I've ever used. Mods include:  Installation of the optional-filter PC board (found in later models of the Omni D),equipped with 1.8 KHz and 500 Hz filters; squelch control replaced with a 3-position rotary switch to select the crystal filters; mod to silence amp relay, mod to allow transmit output adjustment down to .05 watts, and mod to incorporate a N4YG DDS sidetone. With it's super quiet receiver, pure sinewave sidetone, and very smooth QSK, it's hard imagine a CW rig better than the Omni D. 
Drake SW-8 Shortwave Receiver
Drake SW8. It's an excellent shortwave receiver with excellent audio quality, coupled with synchronous AM detection. 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 stereo FM through headphones).  I bought this receiver brand new in the 1990s - haven't found anything to beat it (well. the Drake R8B).
_ . . . _

In 2002-2003, I built a six-tube regen receiver based on a series of articles written by Bruce Vaughan, NR5Q (now SK), which appeared in Electric Radio Magazine. I included a Select-o-Ject circuit from the 1964 ARRL Handbook to help sort out signals. The resulting receiver, built in two cabinets, is shown above. Using this receiver with a Johnson Adventurer transmitter, I had hundreds and 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:

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 . . .

Photo:  Alan Walters

regenerative receiver, 2-tubes, 2-13 MHz








. . . 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. Coverage: 3-20 MHz.

_ . . . _

In March 2010 my wife Pam, KA4EWG, and I moved to our retirement home just outside Grottoes, VA. We're in a no-antenna community; nevertheless, I put up a "stealth" 80-10 meter G5RV dipole in the trees at the edge of the woods behind our house. The antenna is impossible to see from the street and even very difficult to spot, up close. I used black-jacketed #18 stranded wire and painted the end and center insulators with OD camouflage paint. The 60-foot run of coax is buried from the tree to the back of the house.


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".

_ . . . _

We were active from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, from 1964 to 2001 and now live in the Shenandoah Valley with our Shetland Sheepdog, Shadow.


We adpted Shadow from Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue (http://www.nvsr.org).


73, Jim



My special little guy, Teddy, 2001-2013





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