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  QSL image for W4CHA

W4CHA USA flag USA

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Hello to all my friends,

After about 10 years of no ham activity I have returned, Now that the kid is out and the ex is gone. Now I can play radio again.

In short , I am from a two generation family of ham radio operators.

I was first licensed WN4SES in 1967 at the age of 10. Then 40 and 15 meters was my mainstay. I didnt upgrade to General until a few years later, but I was glad I waited and got issued WA4CHA at that time.

Later when I got the chance I upgraded to Advanced and changed my call to W4CHA. something a little shorter and somewhat more prestigious.

Most people know me from VHF and UHF weak signal work. In which I hold a couple of records. I even dabbled with 6 and 2 meter Moonbounce for a while too.

The kid in that picture with the dishes is me at 13, tracking Apollo 13 in 1970 with the help of Bill Saxon K4AFC chief at WCWR.

I was only 13 years old when I heard Apollo 13.

I did have help from Bill Saxon K4AFC, who was the transmitter engineer at WCWR and we used their property for constructing the UHF and S Band antenna's. We made the UHF Yagi and the Dish was an Andrew 6 foot dish which I still have.
Signals were much better on S band than UHF. Audio was found on a 1.25mhz FM subcarrier from the main carrier that was used for dish tracking. It was very clear and loud.
A lot of people told us that it would not be possible to hear the spacecraft with our equipment but we did.
They used UHF AM and was only heard during orbit and halfway to the moon and when they returned. But S Band was heard all the way.

Other Apollo shots that went to and from moon were heard as well. Up to Apollo 17.

The RX equipment consisted of a National NC-300 receiver as the IF and a crystal controlled converter to S band. The Preamp was a parametric amplifier surplus from NASA. The UHF converter was also homemade using UHF Nuvistor tubes also crystal controlled.

My job while Bill was working his daily duties at work was to aim the antenna and tune the RX. He took care of the audio recorder and water as it was very hot during the summer.

We made many many tape recordings thru the years of voice comms from the Apollo. Nothing out of ordinary was heard. A lot of number crunching and conformations. But clearly understood. The stuff that made air on television was the exactly same as what I heard.

We did not get any audio during the wide band mode or video as it was way too weak.
Our first recordings were very distorted as we were so excited that we forgot to check levels but you could tell what they were saying.

Later years, I did listen to many of the Shuttle comms on both bands when they orbited, but that was so much easier and could be picked up on ordinary antenna's on UHF and just a coffee can antenna for S band. The equipment had been upgraded to a Nems-Clark receiver with a spectrum analyzer by then.

I've always wanted to thank Bill, K4AFC and my DAD K3GGX for the opportunities they have given me, because of them , I am very active in Ham Radio and have been involved with television for the last 30 years.

So you can say I had a lot of help growing up in electronics and ham radio.

After getting my EE degree I became an RF Engineer, Most of my interest is microwave electronics. In the late seventies early eighties I had a satellite tv company and later worked for Tampa Microwave, Satron and Mitec where I got to design and build many components to add to the developement of satellite tv to where we are now. Many of you that where there during this time may remember names like KLM, Satron, Luxor, STS and Amplica. To name a few. I've also spent some time at King Marine Radio designing HF marine radios and Radar.

I've been gone for some time as my interest in Haming prettymuch came to a standstill after both my best friend WA4GRK and then my DAD K3GGX passed on. so I let it go for a while. The hamshack sat in the dust for many years after lightning came one day and took out all my radio's while I was away at work. This has happened here many times.

I had a Beacon system from 6meters thru 10ghz until one of our wonderful lightning storms took the whole thing out for the 30th time. so Its been off because I got tired of fixing it. The 6 meter beacon will be back soon tho.

edit: --- The 50.079.6mhz 6 meter beacon is back on the air as of 10-13-09 5watts feeding a Saturn 6 loop at 40ft at the moment.

Many thanks to all that have been reporting reception.

I am a TV Broadcast Systems Engineer here for 20 years at a local TV station here in Tampa. I am responsible for the transmitter site and all RF related systems for the station.

These are very old pictures. The painted 1500' tower has since been removed.

Lately, I just decided to get back on the air and decided to do it remote from home to the TV transmitter tower 25 miles away in Riverview Fl,.while I rebuild my station at home. At the present I am running an IC-706 100watts or the IC-703 10watts remote to one of a few antenna's.

After getting permission to put up an emergency ham station

At the transmitter site I started out with a 406 ft long sloping longwire from about 70feet on the main tv tower aimed at EU, Then installed three more from the base of one of the towers to SE and SW. This worked well for 10 thru 40 meters but I wanted more. So I put up a small Rhombic, As I always wanted to put up another one someday because my first one 30 years ago worked so well. This one is only 272ft per leg and 50ft high. It is fed with linearly tapered ladderline and terminated into a variable dissipation line (sliding short) made of parallel nichrome wires grounded at the end. It seems to work very well toward Europe. In addition I also have a 40 meter Delta loop up 100feet bi-directional ESE and WNW. It is fed with 450 ohm ladderline all the way to the shack. The longwires were reused as to form a NE SW bidirectional 550' beverage for 80 and 160.

I plan on trying a Double Delta 40 a 1 over 1 fed at a single point at where each apex meet or a German vertical Bi-Quad and see how that goes, or I may just take it all down and throw up a Lazy H curtain array. up a couple of hundred feet. We'll see. I like to experiment with different antenna's so my interest in just one goes by fairly fast. Eventially I'll just have one very good antenna at this location.

edit: The Lazy H up 200ft works Great. wish I could turn it though. I've worked many DX stations with the low power from the IC-703, getting good reports. Especially being able to work S79GM on 8 bands QRP cw. First time being on the top of any list,. Just goes to show with persistance and low power, wire antennas DO work.

I also like to experiment with lasers, I've been involved with these forever. Here's a 1watt red I built a few years ago

 

You can usually find me on 17 or 30 CW during the early evenings or early mornings. Occasionally on 20, 17,15,12 and 10 meters. I am concentrating on the WARC bands and 160 mostly.

 

When I'm not operating QRP remote- my home station consists of an Icom 7200 and a Kenwood TS-440s. A modified Dentron MLA-2500 amplifier with 3cpx800a7 tubes for HF. Heil Prosets are used at all three stations I use a modified Dentron MLA-1200 3cx800 for 6 meters.

My Home antenna farm is as follows: 2 elem 30/40 meter Delta Loop, Hy-Gain Explorer 14 (3 elem) on 20, 15, 10. and a modified/extended A3WS 3 element for 30, 17 and 12 . A 6 ele Hy-Gain/Telex on 6 meters. Wire antennas are occasionally used during experiments (WARC Bands) so you never know what I'll be using next. My two towers are also switchable shunt-fed 80/160 inverted "L's" with remote tuning , I have a very small lot and only could put down about 48 radials which all the towers are connected to, Seems to work ok.

 

NOTE: It seems theres a new trend going on. People using another hams call.

This has happened to me in the last few years. I've been getting QSL requests for contacts I did not make.

One day last month, I heard a contact being made with a DX station that I have contacted before answer someone using my call, I could only hear the DX stations side but he called the pirate by my call, name and QTH. Strange thing this was, I was about to call the DX station and bid him a good day. That was and very erry feeling. I thought maybe he busted the call, but the QSO continued without correction. I did make it known the previous contact was not me.

 

I hope this next sunspot cycle is a good one, since I missed the last one.

Good DX to you and we'll see you on the bands

Regards from Tampa Florida

Chuck

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Last modified: 2012-10-02 15:22:55, 10109 bytes

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