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Licensed since 1992, I am currently operating / living in the panhandle of Florida. I got involved with Ham Radio as a kid when a few hams came and visited us at my Boy Scout Troop. I caught the 'bug' and got licensed as a 'Tech Plus' (needed CW back then) at the ripe old age of 12. Eventually I upgraded to General, luckily I kept my license active throughout these years. I was really active as a kid. College, work, and marriage kept me inactive for awhile, but I got back in and remembered how much I love it. Something about fond memories from my childhood, and the sight and smell of old tube radios listening to far away voices makes the hobby really enjoyable for me.

I have always used tube radios. Dad (KB2OUQ) had a big Heathkit collection, and I have great memories of listening and talking around the world with old Heathkit SB-100s, SB-300/400s, the old HW & DX series rigs, and the Mohawk / Apache sets. Dad also had what we called the 'Dissection desk'. He would put the non-functional rigs there, and I would take them apart with a soldering iron and a screw driver learning about circuits trying to 'fix' them. In truth I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun 'working' on radios with my Dad.

My Station (so far) consists of:

  • Heathkit SB-101 (Great memories on this rig as a kid) [Completely restored, aligned, cleaned, repainted, and all NOS tubes were installed ... took me awhile but it was worth it!]
  • Kenwood TS-440S/AT [Use this for Digital modes mostly and as a backup AM rig.  Works great, but not a tube radio!]
  • Barker & Williamson 5100 (Having a blast operating AM!) [Beautiful transmitter, works fantastic!]
  • Hammarlund HQ-129X [Electronically restored, surprisingly sensitive receiver]
  • Collins 75A-4 Receiver [Electronically restored, beautiful receiver!]
  • Heathkit SB-200 [Restored, all Harbach modifications done]
  • Heathkit 2060 Tuner
  • Heathkit SB-600 Speaker / Power Supply [Restored, modernized power supply]
  • Bunch of Heathkit diagnostic / repair gear

Current Antennas:

  • Home brew End Fed longwire antenna (3 wavelength on 80m)
    • Fed with RG-213/U with a home brew parallel link tuner at the base
    • Simple, works really well
    • Multi-band antenna, but must be re-tuned manually (for now)
  • Home brew 1/4 Wave length Vertical for 40m. Constructed of aluminum tubing, mounted on a 4x4 set 5' in concrete (for future, larger verticals).  Currently 32x quarter wave and 32x half wave radials of 18ga solid enamled copper
    • 1.25" OD aluminum at base
    • Buried coax feed as well as Ferrite bead choke at feedpoint
    • Home brew feed point
    • 32x 1/4 WL radials, 32x 1/2 WL radials, 18AWG solid enamled copper
    • Heavy DC (lightning) ground consisting of 3x spokes each of 1/2" copper tubing, extending 30' in each direction, with a 10' 1/2" copper pipe spaced every 10'
  • 560' Beverage oriented NW
  • 575' Beverage oriented NE

 

Dedicated Station Ground

I believe that a lot of the success I have seen with the antennas I have experimented with is due to the dedicated station ground and improved household ground that I installed. When I first installed the station ground, I left a method of rapidly switching between just using the old single rod household ground, and the new station ground. With the new ground system, I noticed immediately (based on comparing S-unit readings of background noise):

  • Background noise / static reduced by about 1/3
  • Interference to the receiver from local sources reduced by half (determined by finding frequencies that were receiving interference)
  • Received stations had a noticable increase in strength through the speaker, and just over 1 S unit improvment on the meter on average.
  • Weak stations dissappeared in the noise without the ground, and were readable, although barely, with the ground
  • Ground consists of :
    • 4x 10' copper rods 20' apart, connected with 2" copper strap and tied to the service entrance ground.
    • Service ground improved by replacing the rusty service panelground rod with a 10' copper rod, and replacing the 6 guage ground wire to the panel with 1/2" flexible copper pipe

Antennas of the past:

  • Home brew 10m 1/2 wavelength inverted V dipole, suspended 1 Wavelength high (My favorite, seems to have had a direct pipeline to Australia)
  • Home brew 40m 1/2 wavelength inverted V dipole, 1/2 Wavelength high (Worked really well all through the U.S. and Europe)
  • Home brew 10m full-wavelength Delta Loop (Worked alright, but top fed with coax. Would have been better vertically polarized and fed with balanced feed line)
  • Home brew 10m 1/2 wavelength "Jungle Antenna" vertical groundplane (Worked really well on transmit, not my favorite receive antenna)
  • Mosely tri-band beam (10/15/20) on a 30' tower (Worked awesome, but the 'fun factor' of my wire antennas is just not there. Probably would have tied or beat the 'sky wire' if it were higher)

My favorite part of the hobby is building my own antennas. So far I have built a bunch of Dipoles, Loops, Longwires, Beverages, 'Normal' Verticals, Wire Verticals, and Wire beams. I've made a few mistakes and learned a lot along the way. I love cooking up an idea in my head, running some numbers, stringing up some wire and seeing how it works.

Just finished my project, a 'Sky-Wire' horizontal loop. I have been wanting to get on 160m, but not with a 'Cloud Warmer' The original plan was for an inverted L for 160m, but then I stumbled on a few discussions of multi-wavelength horizontal loops. The multiple wavelengths of a loop begin to cancel out the high angles of radiation inherent with the (relatively) low height of a 160m antenna. So, construction began on a 2Wavelength + Skywire for 160m, at an average height of 60' (Pine Trees), fed with home brew balanced feed line to a Heathkit 2060 tuner.

  • 12 Guage Insulated, Stranded Copper Wire
  • Total Length: 1369'
  • Average height: 60'
  • Feedline: Homebrew 600ohm balanced feed line (14guage stranded copper)

Hope to hear you on the air!

73,

Jesse

Station 4.0 is complete! Dedicated revieve antennas can be shared by 2 receivers at once.  Expanded the shelves, improved the operating position and made sense of the cable-nightmare that has grown up around the back of the radios.  Also found a cheap used monitor and built an RF pickup to monitor my transmitted signal through the scope.  Fine tuned the dedicated station ground, fed through a dedicated entrance panel, lightning arrestors / static discharge, and a single point ground for all equipment. Installed underground coax to a distribution box where all antennas will feed to (much more lawnmower friendly!) 

In order to restore the radios, first I had to restore the diagnostic gear that I would use to restore the radios.  Which came first, the tube tester or the transceiver?

Operating at night . . . that is why I love tube radios!

1132302 Last modified: 2014-07-27 04:43:24, 8495 bytes

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