A Biographical Sketch of Ed Sieb, VA3ES
I’ve had my amateur radio license since 1969, Advanced class (Canadian) Call signs currently held: VA3ES, VE2SS, VE2BAQ, VE3RDZ. I was Section Communications Manager for the Canadian Radio Relay League, 1976 -1978. Director, Montreal Amateur Radio Club, 1974 - 1978. President, Cote St-Luc Amateur Radio Association, 1987, Technical Chairman, Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club 1991-1992, Director, Ottawa Amateur Radio Club, 1994. Editor The GROUNDWAVE, (OARC) 1994 - 1996. Director, Canadian Division AM International. Recipient of several operating awards and certificates. Life Member of Quarter Century Wireless Association, member Antique Wireless Association, and active member of Radio Amateurs of Canada.
I've been a Ham Radio enthusiast now for over 40 years and started out in the days of the classic radios - Hallicrafters, Johnson Viking, Heath and the rest. I started out with a Heath AT1 and went on to operate everything from Viking Rangers to Heath DX-100's and everything in between! I'm an avid AM enthusiast and have been a fan of AM since I first heard the dulcet tones of W3YAM, W3DUQ and W3PHL (and his infamous "upside-down tube" modulator), back in the mid-'60's! Those fascinating discussions between the W3YAM, W3PHL and Bill W3DUQ grabbed me and made me think "Wow!, I want to talk to these guys". Their nightly discussions about everything from UFO's to music and all sorts of esoteric subjects was entertaining, educating illuminating and just downright good fun!
I can still recall the arguments, rants, fights and squabbles between the emerging SSB crowd and the then still current and ever hide-bound AM operators, who still dominated the bands in those days.
Today, I’m quite active in collecting and restoring classic and vintage amateur radio equipment, and have restored several classic AM transmitters such as the Heath DX-100, the Heath Apache, and Johnson Viking Ranger. I’ve also restored several classic receivers such as the National NC-303 and the Hammarlund HQ-170. All these fine boatanchors are fully operational at my “Classic” operating position. I also possess and use as my main AM receiver a Collins 51J3. I’ve also restored several old homebrew transmitters acquired from estates. I firmly believe that restoring a silent key’s old home-brew rigs is important and should be encouraged. We should not allow these fine examples of ham craftsmanship to be rendered into junk parts, or left to rot in the city dump. Restoring and operating these old rigs is a tribute to the hams that built them, and a testament to the hams of the past, who pursued this art. I also possess several 1 kW broadcast transmitters, which will also find their way on the ham bands. When I’m not drilling and blasting on some old relic, I can usually be found on 75 M AM and SSB.
I am the Canadian Director of A M International, a group which promotes the restoration and use of classic and vintage AM transmitters on the amateur bands. AMI is attempting to promote the responsible operation of AM transmitters on the air. We recommend the use of designated “AM windows” and we encourage modern restoration practices that make use of negative peak limiting, negative cycle loading and other techniques that help prevent splatter. But our real aim is to re-acquaint veteran hams to the wonderful sound of a properly operated AM rig, and to introduce new hams to the sound that attracted many of us more experienced hams, in the first place! It was AM that attracted me to ham radio back in 1964. My receiver back then was a modest TRIO 9R59 (also known as a Lafayette HE30). This simple receiver was decent for AM and CW but terrible for SSB. It was typical of what most SWL’s used back then. To receive SSB required complicated adjustments of the RF gain, Q-Multiplier, BFO pitch, etc. You pretty much needed three hands. And without a product detector the results were always disappointing anyway. It was easier just to stick to AM.
Today, the person who uses a simple, modest receiver for general SW broadcast use is an excellent prospect for becoming a Ham Radio operator, but only if he’s exposed to Hams, doing their thing. That’s where amateur AM can prove beneficial. A good rag-chew, a round-table QSO, or two hams just swapping shop-talk can prove to be an interesting change to the casual SWL who tires of the usual stuff from the foreign broadcasters.
An old AM transmitter can provide a new amateur an inexpensive way of getting on the air. Restoring the rig can also provide a new ham with valuable electronic experience he won’t get from his imported hi-tech appliance. “Hams don’t build anymore” goes the popular complaint. Well, AM hams do build, a lot! We modify and improve our old classic rigs, ‘till we get them running perfectly with nice, round melodious audio. Then our appetite whetted, we start dreaming of higher power. So we scour the flea-markets for 810’s and 813’s! We hunt down the elusive modulation transformer! and lo! The ¼ kW is on the air! Many AM’ers of course haven’t stopped there; there are plenty ½kW and even 1 kW rigs on the air, all homebrew! Almost every one of these Hams feel very strongly about keeping traditional amateur techniques alive and all have a fondness for classic and vintage rigs.
Professionally, I’ve been involved in the Communications industry for about 25 years. I am an RF Technologist and have worked both in the Broadcast industry as a broadcast engineer, (CFCF Television, Montreal, Telesat Ottawa), and in the land mobile industry as a communications technologist. I guess when it comes to radio communications, I’ve practically done it all!
Catch me on the air, and we can talk about cooking, wine collecting, guns, trains, model trains, antique phones, and politics!
Ed Sieb, VA3ES
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