I am back in Utah for the time being. With a lot of help from Mike Arnone (KC7BEM)we got an Alpha-Delta dipole in the air for 160 >10m and a Butternut HF5B Butterfly Beam up on the mast at 35' AGL. I am please with the performance of both antennas. But, the folks who have made comments on the web about the difficulty in tuning the HF5B were not exaggerating.
Thanks to the guys in the W9GFD club in Galesburg, Il. I got my first ticket in 1959.
My main Elmer had been an electronics engineer designing communications equipment and had a basement FULL of goodies. We built a CW TX with both a crystal controlled osc (still a novice at that time )and a VFO (his way of enticing me to study and upgrade) using a mechanical monster of a permeability tuned military surplus assembly. The exciter could feed a final that was a pair of military surplus triodes. I can't remember the type, but the tubes were huge. The power supplies (one for the exciter and one for the finals) used oil filled swinging chokes (who knew about PCPs then) and mercury vapor rectifiers for the B+ source. He made me promise to by-pass the final and just use the exciter turned down to 75W until I upgraded my ticket. I mowed many lawns and washed cars all summer and was lucky enough to pick up a National 183B for twenty bucks (!) at a rural estate auction. The antennas were four cage dipoles strung between 60 foot tall Dutch Elm trees (copper wire was relatively cheap then).I missed the peak in 1958 but the propagation was still GREAT in 1959.
After upgrading in the early 60's, I had the itch for SSB, but not the budget. A doctor who lived close by had a full Collins shack and he let me operate his station . I bought a used Lafette HE45B for 6-meter AM and my first VHF rig was a Heath 2-meter lunch box. Military service interrupted my ham activity for four years.
When I returned from RVN I moved the station to a rented farm house where I was lucky enough to "acquire" a full spool of copper coated steel core wire and a dozen surplus 60' power line poles and installation labor for a case of beer and steaks on the grill. The poles supported a Rhombic that kept the horses in the 5-acre pasture warm when I operated the old amp. Hi Hi. My first personal SSB rig was a HW101 kit that would drive the finals in the original TX up to"legal limit"on SSB as long as my wife wasn't using the electric clothes dryer or stove.
I moved to West Davie Florida and had to exchange my "9" for a "4" call. It took a while to deal with not having a half-mile of wire in the air. So, up went a quad for 20,15,10 and an original HF6-V floating at the center of the lake (only place where I could get a good radial spread) with 60 radials anchored out with lead weights. The HF6V worked great for low angle DX! The HF6V took a lightning hit that evaporated the epoxy out of the FG base rod.
I became an appliance operator when the Icom IC-751 became available (wish I had kept that radio for RTTY) and finally retired the old home-brew amp when I built a Heath SB220. I "discovered" HF AMTOR and had both AEA and KAM TNCs. In 1991 I bought a Yeasu 736R and put up long boom KLM antennas for 144 / 7cm & 23 cm . I enjoyed working the SSB sats until Hurricane Andrew turned them into a tristed ball of aluminum. I now have the same array from M2 sitting in boxes in the corner of the shack and a pair of IC-910Hwaiting for a launch of a decent high-orbit SSB sat. . I finally sold the 751 and bought an original IC-756 (not pro). At the end of 2009, I bought the K3 "kit." The K3-100 with the P3 spectrum display has turned out to be a great rig.
The current Utah station consists of an Elecraft K3 (the receiver is as good as advertised) with the P3 spectrum display, an Icom I-756 (orginal), two IC-910H, and a Palstar AT2KD tuner (Won'tmatch a wet noodle - but come close to that). I have an ALS-600 and a SB-220 with the Harbach Mods for SSB. I use an old Yaesu YO- 100 monitor scope and a KK7UQ IMD meter. I just tried a MFJ -1026 noise canceling unit and it actually works! The rigs / amps are selected by a Statio Pro II.
I use HRD/DM780 for rig control and the digital text and analog SSTVmodes. I use EasyPal for the digital SSTV mode. The computer dedicated to the shack operation is now a dual core Asus.
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