I enjoy hearing from those who have read my Aunt Ethelyn's "Today I am a Ham" (1968), for which my brother, W9JDG and I were technical advisors.
Main Interest: Antennas (80/75 Meter NVIS Turnstile described below)
Born: April 18, 1939
First Word: "RADIO"
Grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
c.1949: Built first crystal set.
Aug 3, 1954: Novice (WN9JEF) & Technician (W9JEF)
Oct, 1954: Conditional License (At the time, this ticket granted all operating privileges; same as General Class, except that the exam & 13 WPM code test was administered by W9FWO, a local ham.)
1955: "Worked All States" Award. (There were only 48 at that time.)
1957: Amateur Extra, and 1st Class Commercial Radiotelephone Licenses. Took exams at FCC office, Federal Building, downtown Chicago. VIA C & NW Railroad train down and back. PLEASE don't expect me to solidly copy 20 wpm -- that code test was a long, long time ago. ;-)
1957-1960: Navy Gunfire Control Technician School; USNTC, Bainbridge, MD; USS Hancock (Aircraft Carrier), San Francisco, WESPAC; and USS Sperry (Submarine Tender) San Diego Harbor (basically shore duty).
1961: Began broadcast career as weekend deejay on WDUZ for $1.00 per hour (I would have done it for free). Also got into the TV repair business.
1963: One of 4 transmitter engineers at WJPG (now WNFL) 5kW directional. CE was Roland Henry, W9OVN(SK)--who once said of broadcast engineering, "If it weren't for this, I'd have to go out and get a job!" Xmtr supervisor: Leo Panosh, W9VMZ(SK). Fellow Engineer, Don, K9BMC(SK). All 3 now up there in that Great Roundtable in the Sky.
(Eventually, I would be one engineer taking care of 4 radio stations.)
1965: First Chief Engineer job -- Manitowoc, Wisconsin, at WCUB (AM, 1kw, daytime, 980), constructed, and put sister station WKUB(FM) (now WKKB) on the air in 1966.
1968-1971: Reconditioning Ham Radios for Terry, W9DIA (SK) at Milwaukee AES. Terry is an old friend from back when we were both in high school. His dad had a ham radio store in Fond du Lac. Terry would drive us to the Green Bay Mike & Key Club meetings in his Packard "8" --in second gear so the battery could keep up with the Elmac AF-67 AM mobile XMTR. Happy Days. But, when a friend becomes your boss, the relationship changes. Learned a lot about fixing ham radios from Miles, K9HMQ, who is still Service Manager at AES. Stole the small/average/great minds sig bit from a sign he had in his workshop.
1972: Back to Broadcast Engineering -- for State of Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Transmitter operator at WHKW (Chilton). Joined shortly by Don, K9BMC.In 1974, moved on to WHRM(FM), on Rib Mountain (Wausau) & WLBL(AM), Auburndale; and then, in '75, took care of WHWC,Colfax, WHAD, Delafield (Milwaukee), as well as the flagship FM station, WERN, in Madison. All this time was considered a "LTE (limited-termemployee)--no union, and had to be rehired every 6 months.
1976: TV engineering (Commercial) Ch 15 (part time), then Ch 3 (full time) in Madison. (A CWA Union job).Laid off in November of '77. With winter looming, decided to scatter my resume over the Sun Belt.
1978 Chief Engineer, KWGS (89.5), Tulsa University. With the results of the 1980 election in, I sensed a drying up of funding for Public Radio, so thought I'd best get back into commercial broadcasting.
1981: Chief Engineer, WCWC(AM) & WYUR(FM), Ripon, Wis.
1981: Girl I married back in Tulsa didn't appreciate Wisconsin climate -- nine months of winter, three months of "tough sledding" (back then, that was, before the climate change), so it was back to the Sun Belt:
Chief Engineer for John Brown University Stations KUOA(1290 AM) and KMCK(105.7 FM), Siloam Springs, AR. Also contract engineering for KAMO AM & FM in Rogers, Arkansas.
1990: 1st Class License no longer a requirement, allowing stations to hire cheaper "engineers."
Q. What do you call a former broadcast engineer who was displaced by deregulation?
A. "Pizza Man"
Actually, a comparatively low-stress job. No more "all-nighters." With good tips, it wasn't a bad way to make a living (as wear and tear made it necessary, I replaced my own brake pads, and starters).
February, 1997 Chief engineer for KKOW (AM 860), in Pittsburg, Kansas. Second day on job, it was raining, and I noticed water running from exhaust vent into 10kw xmtr RF section, owing to leak in new roof. Things went pretty much down hill from there. When they installed a computer network, andI asked about my work station, the reply was, "Why would YOU need one?" Left in May.
1998-2001 Film Camera Repair, back in AR (Fayetteville).
June, 2001: Officially"retired" (at age 62)
Now living in rural Northwest Arkansas with son, Kegan (born 1996)
Ham Brother: Wayne, W9JDG (now living in Phoenix)
Oldest Friend: Don Brisson, K9BMC (SK)
Best (living) ham friend: Gene, K9RSV
Hope to go SK at age 100 -- shot by a jealous husband*
I am indebted to numerous Green Bay "Elmers" (most of whom are now SK), and my Grandma, who hauled out of her attic, the crystal radio my Dad had crafted way back when. Besides my Dad's metalwork mentoring (and use of his basement workshop tools), there was Ollie, W9WLZ; Harry W9FWO; Ed, W9UMJ; Harold, W9GUE; and Walt, W9HHD. Had the good fortune to meet Bill Juhre, W9IMQ (Creator of the old syndicated '50s serial comic strip "The Orbits"). After moving to Green Bay in the mid-50's, he conducted weekly art classes for schoolkids, which I was priviledged to take part in. Bill was an early VHF enthusiast. He built a home on Scray's Hill in DePere (where the Green Bay TV towers are located). Meeting his family was like meeting the characters out of his old comic strip.
Since October 1981, the QTH has been Northwest Arkansas, just north of U.S.412, on a south to western slope (with somewhat of a northwestern exposure), halfway between Siloam Springs, and Springdale; overlooking the Illinois River valley in two directions, and Ozark National Forest.
First (Novice) station was a Grunow "All-Wave" rcvr (it featureda BFO), and 6V6 xtal osc on 80 and 40 CW.
Later, a BC-457 WWII "Command Set" aircraft xmtr, whose parts along with an MD-7 modulator (high level p/p 1625's) went into a home brew "DX-100" with 1625's (19 cents a piece on surplus market) in the final (instead of Heath's 6146's). Also had a BC-454 rcvr (3-6 MHz) whose IF output was down-converted, andfed to a BC-453 "Q-5er" 85KHz IF section (3 KHz selectivity), and home brew xtal-controlled converter for 40, 20, 15, and 10. Mobile ('48 Chevy 'hump trunk') rig was 6AG7 osc, 6L6 final using Heising modulation, rock-bound on 3950, powered by two vibrator supplies in series. Mic was an F-1 button (Telco carbon) mounted in a tin Band-Aid can. The 4600 Kc xtal supplied with the Command transmitter came in handy--a 6A8 converter tube heterodyned the 3800-4000 segment down to 800-600 on the AM car radio.
First SSB rig was a Swan 175, which I modified to also cover 20 (three bandswitches). Followed by a Heath HW-100. Both bought used for about $50.
Present rig is an ICOM 706, and homebrew HF linear using four 811A's (35 years in the making) finally on the air, as of November, 2008.
My amp features a GROUNDED B-PLUS, eliminating the need for a plate DC blocking capacitor, and hi-Z RF choke. Instead, plate current flows through the tank coil and RF choke across the 50 ohm output, to chassis ground (B+).
Topside, there is NO exposed lethal voltage. Under the chassis, B-minus (-1200 volts) connects to the filament CT. (There are these impressive ceramic insulators on this surplus 20 amp transformer's 6.3 volt secondary, so I correctly assumed that it could take the DC voltage.) Grid bias on stand-by (- 150 volts reference to B-minus) is rectified from the primary of a "bass-ackward" 6.3 volt transformer across filament supply (controlled optically for T/R).
THE ANTENNA HERE is crossed inverted "V" dipoles (69' each leg), NE to SW, and NW to SE, up 48 feet, drooping to about 27 feet at ends. Fed with four-wire 14-gauge insulated solid copper open line. The antenna proper: Each of the 4 legs is a continuation of the same feeder --no splices. Doughnut-shaped spreaders for the 4 wires cut from the bottoms of those large (non-biodegradable) plastic juice bottles.
The 4-wire apex is supported by 13 feet of 2-inch PVC mounted at the top of a 36 foot steel tower. On the way down, the 4-wire feedline is spaced about 3 feet from the tower.
Depending on the preferred directivity, either dipole can be resonated at any frequency on all HF bands. (Using the dipoles, grounding or shorting the unused dipole feedline has no discernible effect on SWR to tuner)
Also, on all bands, any 2 adjacent legs can be fed as a vee beam. Tying the four wires together, feeding against ground as a top-loaded vertical on 160 gets me a consistant "5NN" ;-) in CW contests, where I typically work 38 states over a winter weekend. I later discovered that this flat top vertical configuration serves very well as a DX antenna on 80 and 40 CW. For receiving under adverse condx, I sometimes use a 540 foot unterminated Beverage strung into a wooded area, aimed northeast, toward Europe (withNew Zealandoff the back). It also has received the experimental stations around 500KHz --I get nothing but noise from the big flat top on that band (600m). For 30 meters (besides the 3/2 wave vee option in 4 directions),there's a coax-fed 27 foot wire vertical hung off the end insulator of the northwest leg of the turnstile(with a matching network near the bottom).
Since August, 2012,we have had a self-supported 50-foot triangular galvanized steel tower bracketed to a tool shed about 60 feet behind the house. Atop, is an old (amplified) ChannelMaster VHF/UHF TV antenna. aimed at Tulsa. There are now 6 elevated radials cut for the 30 meter band fanning out from the 6-foot level. Connected between this counterpoise "ground" and a 6-wire quarter-wave skirt, is the output of a link-coupled tuner fed with about 90 feet of open line by the balanced (link coupled) tuner in the shack. I guess you'd call it a half-wave shunt-fedvertical ground plane. On WWV (my beacon) and other stateside stations, the wire vertical is usually better This morning WWVH was 3 S-units stronger on the wire than the tower, But a JH I then worked had an overall better signal off the half-wave (the wire was sometimes equal, but had more QSB).
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE.
On 80, all 4 wires can be fed in QUADRATURE (90 degree phasing) as a CROSSED-DIPOLE NVIS TURNSTILE ANTENNA, with "wiseness" -- clock (right-hand), or counter-clock (left-hand) -- selected by reversing the polarity of either of the dipoles.
The main antenna tuner is link-coupled (with plug-in coils for 160 through 10). On 80, it matches either of the crossed dipoles to 53 ohms. For quadrature feed, there's a separate tuner, identical except that its link is designed to match either dipole to 106 ohms.
Meanwhile, the main tuner's 53 ohm link is fed thru a quarter-wave section of 75 ohm coax. (RG-11's velocity factor is 66% -- 42 feet for 80.) This length of coax not only delays the signal by 90 electrical degrees, it also transforms the 53 ohm link to 106 ohms. Which, in parallel with the tuner whose link sees 106 ohms, presents a 53 ohm match.
An auxiliary T/R relay automatically reverses polarity on one of the tuners' coupling links, allowing pre-selected rotation sense, independently for receive and transmit.
When conditions are favorable, I sometimes, believe-it-or-not, get up to 3 (that's right, three S-units) better signal reports transmitting with RIGHT-handed (clockwise)rotation, and usually receive stations equally better on LEFT-handed (counter-clock).
Once (repeatedly switching from X-mode* to O-mode*), I observed an incredible SIX S-UNIT reception difference (S-3 to S-9) on a signal path 500 miles to the north (January 2009, about 3PM, local time). (I know what you're thinking -- I couldn't believe it either, so I have, more than once, checked common point SWR, and continuity of the link & relay circuit in both modes, to be absolutely sure.)
Independent switching of left/right-handedness on both receive and transmit is a good idea. Sometimes on 75, especially when the band is changing, the opposite rotations will show up to a 20 db or more difference. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, I invariably receive the better signal report when transmitting on the opposite rotation sense of better reception, as, upon reflection, the ionosphere reverses the rotation.
I know you are skeptical. So try it for yourself and I guarantee you'll be a believer.
Don't have room for two full-sized crossed 80 m dipoles? Get as much wire as you can into 4 identical inverted vee legs, and resonate the balanced system (including open-wire feedline) with the matching networks. Bends are okay, as long as all 4 wires bend in the same way.
Link-coupled tuners will provide the best balance, and make the rotation sense easier to switch automatically from transmit to receive. I use a 12 volt Radio Shack relay with 10 amp contacts to reverse polarity on one of the links. Another reason for 4-wire OPEN LINE is its extremely low loss compared to coax, especially on the higher frequencies (higher SWR). With proper matching, this antenna is useful in different configurations on ALL BANDS. On 40, 2-half waves in-phase. For higher bands, Vee beams in four directions. For single-band turnstile mode, you could probably use 2 coax feedlines with baluns at the dipole midpoints, and switch polarity through a toriod transformer.
For an s.a.s.e., I'll send a schematic and more details of my CPOL set-up. If you'd like to participate in ongoing experiments on 80/75, please send me am e-mail.
Eric, KL7AJ has some excellent info at:
For more insight on what can often be 3 db advantage (like doubling your power) transmitting clockwise and receiving counterclock (or sometimes visa-versa), this Glossary of Terms could be instructive:
*Eric's article (technical, but an easy, informative, and entertaining read) explains the "X's and O's" beginning on page 33 of December, 2010 QST. And plans for a 15MHz turnstile set-up you can put together to test this "revolutionary" theory for yourself.
Our picture at
View The "Big Picture" at:
You're cordially invited to check into the Arkansas Razorback Net, on 3987.5 nightly at 1830 Arkansas time. (Winter condx time 1800.)
Jim, W9JEF (WAS, RCC, R.O.W.H.)
*A non-ham (out of courtesy to the fraternity)
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