Real Radios Glow in the Dark !
This is an interior shot of my Central Electronics 600-L Broadband Amplifier, manufactured circa 1956. It runs a single 813 at 600 watts input. The blue glowing tubes are type 866-AX -- same base as the more familiar 866-A but a smaller envelope. The other tubes are a VR-75 and an 812 which is used as a screen supply regulator.
In 2009, the XYL and I retired and moved from Phoenix to the Las Vegas area where our two daughters and their families had lived for several years. Of course I brought my collection of vintage gear along, and after operating with a few of the old rigs in a spare bedroom for a year or so, it was "agreed" that a shack and workshop should be set up separate from the house, perhaps in a back yard building. This is what eventually resulted. It's basically a glorified 10 x 20 tool shed, insulated and air conditioned, and has a heathy supply of 240VAC to a subpanel with several branch circuits.
The Hexagonal Beam
Dec. 29, 2012
Behind the shack at left is a sectional mil-surplus fiberglass supporting pole for the center insulator of my CCD antenna (http://www.ccdantennas.com ). At the center is a lamp post for illuminating the bike path which is on the other side of the block wall.
The hexbeam support is a mil-surplus crank-up telescoping pole made for the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
Support base for the pole. One of the Anchoring "staples".
This hexagonal beam is a G3TXQ/K4KIO broadband type, supplied as a pre-cut kit by Roger, NA4RR (http://www.na4rr.com). Strapped to the mast below the base plate is a Radio Works T-4 Line Isolator (http://www.radioworks.com). The rotator is a CDE Ham-III.
The Operating Area
Upper level, left to right: Drake T-4XB transmitter, Drake T-4XC transmitter, Collins 32S-1 transmitter/Magnum 6 RF Speech Processor, Collins 30L-1 linear amplifier, Heath SB-610 monitor scope/Autek WM-1 peak reading wattmeter/SWR bridge for monitoring the RF input to amplifiers , EF Johnson Matchbox/Autek WM-1 peak-reading wattmeter/SWR bridge for monitoring the RF output to antennas.
Lower level, left to right: Drake R-4B receiver, Drake R-4C receiver, Collins 75S-1 receiver/AADE C75 digital display, Collins KWM-2A transceiver, W7FE Switcher/Timewave DSP-59+ digital noise filter, Kenwood TS-440SAT transceiver/W7FE 30L-1 control box..
Floor level: (3) variable transformers, Collins PM-2 power supply for KWM-2A.
Left Side Equipment Cabinet
Left cabinet, top to bottom: Collins 270G-1 speaker, Collins 75A-3 receiver, Collins 75A-2 receiver, Collins 75A-1 receiver, Collins 32V-2 AM transmitter, EF Johnson Valiant AM transmitter.
Right cabinet, top to bottom: Hammarlind S-200 speaker, Hammarlund HQ-170C receiver, Hallicrafters SR-160 transceiver and PS-50 power supply , Hallicrafters HT-37 SSB transmitter, Hallicrafters SX-101 Mk III receiver, RME 6900 receiver, EF Johnson Invader SSB transmitter.
Right Side Equipment Cabinet
Left cabinet, top to bottom: National speaker/Collins 270G-3 speaker, National NC-303 receiver, Drake 2-B receiver/2-BQ Q-multiplier, Heath HO-13 Scanalyzer, 30L-1 fan speed contol, Astron SS-25M 13.8VDC power supply, CDE rotator control, Collins 75A-4 receiver; Central Electronics 100V SSB (and AM) transmitter. Halicrafters SX-28A receiver is stored in the bottom cabinet.
Right cabinet, top to bottom: Shure 444, Astatic JT-30/10-D/D-104, EV 636 microphones, Gonset GSB-100 SSB transmitter, EF Johnson Pacemaker SSB transmitter, EF Johnson Courier amplifier, CE MM-2 montior scope, CE 600L amplifier. Hallicrafters SX-101A receiver is stored in the bottom cabinet.
The Work Area
The Switcher, remote switching boxes, and cabling system which I originally designed and built for use in my Phoenix shack have now been modified and implemented in the new Nevada shack. All my gear can now be selected by the Switcher for connection into the system and can be operated in virtually any combination. The Switcher schematics ran to 22 pages; in addition, there are 16 pages of remote switching box schematics, cable layout plans, and 'from-to' wire lists. The project, although time consuming, was actually fun for me, and it's good to have everything set up and working again.
Switcher Front View
Switcher Rear View
Cabling and Remote Switching
Left End of Operating Table Right End of Operating Table
So why all the old gear, anyway??
I was licensed in 1960 as KN9VJE, then K9VJE (Rockford, Illinois), W0IHV (Colorado), and finally W7FE (Arizona and Nevada). I grew up learning about and building ham radio and audio circuits using primarily vacuum tubes and spent my U.S. Army military time (1967-1970) learning about and maintaining the Hawk missile system which at that time was comprised totally of tube circuitry. Through the 70's and 80's I maintained my affinity for tube-type ham gear and usually had a few in operation. I experienced a period of relative inactivity during the 1990's, but in 2000, I put up an HF antenna, bought a TS-440 and started fully enjoying ham radio again.
Soon thereafter came a point where I needed to decide whether to continue the quest for the latest and greatest solid-state whiz-bang ham gear or to acquire and revive some of the rigs I remembered so vividly from my early days of hamming. Well, I picked up a Drake 2-B on eBay, followed shortly by a Johnson Invader. I had so much fun restoring those rigs to good operating condition and putting them on the air that I gradually acquired more gear, somehow making room for it all in the little 10' x 11' bedroom that I used for a shack when I lived in Phoenix. As the collection continued to build, so did my appreciation for the design and engineering talent of the era, and I rediscovered the fun and satisfaction of keeping it all on the air.
In the opinions of the unenlightened, the majority of these vintage rigs are most ideally suited for use as marine mooring devices. But, it turns out that there is a sizeable number of 'veteran' hams once again indulging and enjoying our common appreciation of ham gear manufactured by American companies in the 50's and 60's. We often affectionately refer to these rigs as 'boatanchors' (or 'BA's) owing to their considerable weight and size. Many ofus derive great pleasure and satisfaction from the BA restoration process and subsequent operation of the gear; others are most gratified with the display quality of their collections, preferring not to actually put them back on the air; still others, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit, enjoy continuously buying, trading, and selling BA's. No matter what our proclivities, most of us can be found haunting eBay, qth.com, eham.net, the plethora of specialized e-mail lists/groups/reflectors, and hamfests in search of buyers, sellers, parts, advice, and commiseration.
Certainly a large part of the BA allure is nostalgia -- vivid memories of the now-classic rigs that we drooled over at the radio store or at the well-heeled ham's shack back when we were high school/college kids. But now that we find ourselves in a position to own some of those rigs, many of us have rekindled our interest in these fine specimens of American ingenuity and in bringing them back to life. It follows almost universally that our BA collections tend to snowball, being limited only by ambition, technical expertise, space, and money, and indeed folks with ample amounts of each have built some really impressive, multi-room collections (see NE7X or W9EVT, for instance). By comparison, my little shack and collection of gear is rather modest, but I continue to derive great pleasure from this facet of Amateur Radio and expect to do so for the duration.
73 de Stu, W7FE
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