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Attention CW Ops  - Join us on the Sunrise Net - 7123 KHz at 1300z 
- The friendly ragchew net -



My name is Jim I first caught the radio bug when I got a Rocket Radio, a little crystal set built into a red and white plastic rocket ship. Ittuned by position of a rod which slid in and out of the nosecone. I spent many wonderful hours listening to the "Joy Boys of Radio" show with Willard Scott and Ed Walker, their humerous patter and the great daily skit, "As the Worm Turns - brought to you by Stop No More". Later in the

evening Felix Grant took over with his jazz program, "The Album Sound". Terrific radio entertainment that continued to the last days of that golden era.

My interest in shortwave radio began when I discovered a Zenith Transoceanic radio in an upstairs storage closet. It had been presented to my Dad by his unit when he left Korea. I began punching different bands buttons and tuning around. Wow! I heard all kinds of really neat stuff - including ham radio operators. I was hooked on shortwave radio and the obsession has never let up.  

Zenith Transoceanic


Our family moved to Germany in mid-1961.  I had been just about ready to take my Novice exam when I learned that a Noviceticket would  not be accepted by the German authorities.  So, I continued to study for another year, mostly struggling to get my code speed up to the 13 wpm needed to get a Conditional Class ticket (General Class exam by mail).  Finally ready in late 1962, an Army Signal Corps Captain administered the test and six weeks later my first ham ticket arrived; with a K3- callsign.  With US license in hand, I went to the Postampt in Stuttgart and was issued a DL4- callsign.

For the next 18-months I was active on 40-meter CW from Stuttgart where my first setup was a 40-meter dipole, a loaned Johnson Challenger transmitter and my Dad's Zenith Transoceanic using Japanese transistor SW radio tuned up/down 455 KHz to act as a BFO.  Within a few months I had my own rig, an Eico 723 and a Hallicrafters SX-110.  Still an avid SWL, I also held the SWL callsign DL4PE1AC.

We returned to the U.S. in late-1964 and shortly thereafter moved from Maryland to Virginia.   At that time the FCC assigned you a new callsign if you changed call areas.  Consequently I was assigned K4AXF.  Sometime around 1977 I upgraded to Extra class.  For several years, I was active in the National Traffic System, serving as a net control station on the Virginia Net, as 4RN and EAN liason, and as VN Net Manager.  By that time I  had a set of Kenwood 599D twins, and later a Kenwood TS-530s, and still later, a Collins S-Line.






Kenwood TS-520 5-band CW/SSB transceiver

Kenwood TS-530s 9-band CW/SSB transceiver

Kenwood R-5000 Communications receiver

Kenwood MC-50 desk microphone

Homebrew PK-4 electronic keyer

LDG AT-100Pro auto antenna tuner

Vibrokeyer single-lever paddle

E.F. Johnson SPEED-X bug 

Hi-Mound HK-706 straight key
Alpha-Delta 4-position coax switch
MFJ Dummy Load 




Kenwood TS-520



Built like a tank, this Kenwood TS-520 is almost fifty years old and still operates like it just the day it left the factory!

It covers 80-10 meters (no WARC bands), CW and SSB, with 100+ watts output.  I love this rig on SSB; it's making a regular fone operator out of me.  Three tubes: 2 x 6146 Final amplifier, 1 x 12BY7 driver amplifier all other circuitry is solid-state.

My 520 is equipped with the 500 Hz CW filter which makes it a very  capable CW rig  -   and fun?  

 . . . Yeah buddy! 


A word about filters:  For those who have never used a CW filter, you would be surprised how much it improves the signal-to-noise ratio, i.e., significantly reducing the band noise that reaches the speaker.  This benefit is over-and-above eliminating interference from any nearby signals. 

The narrower the filter, the less noise and interference.  Using a 250 to 300 Hz filter is great; but there is a catch - unless the receiver is tuned very slowly you may tune right past a station without hearing it.  So, I tune with the 500 Hz filter, then switch to the 270 Hz filter for enjoyable ultra-quiet reception.

Another tip: Back the RF gain down until the background noise is very low, and the desired signal is still copyable.  No RF gain on your rig? Switch in the attenuator. Do this one little thing and listening will be much more pleasant - CW or SSB. 



Kenwood TS-530s

I've owned and operated many of the modern DSP rigs.  With their all their advanced DSP features and I found the experience very distracting.  I seemed to get all wrapped up trying to get the very best signal out of it.  Just drove me nuts!

Anyway, after cycling through one rig after another, I recalled how much fun I had with my Kenwood Twins and TS-530s back in the 70s; I thought, "Why not do that again?".  So a few months ago I got ahold of this TS-530s.  With a little control- and switch cleaning and a thorough alignment, it works like the day it came out of the factory.

Introduced after the TS-520s, the TS-530s sported additional features such as
digital frequency readout, the WARC bands  (30, 17, and 12 meters) as well as IF shift and XIT. 

The final amplifier was designed around two 6146Bs with a 12BY7 driver.



I've equipped this rig with both 500 Hz and 270 Hz CW Kenwood filters.  This rig has all the stuff I need for enjoyable CW operation without distracting bells and whistle.

I use the TS-530s for nearly all my CW work and the TS-520 for SSB, letting each do what it does best.

Kenwood R-5000

I just got this beauty and am very pleased with it.  

Hooked up to a Realistic Minimus 7, it has great sound. Stable, sensitive, and selective, it receives as well as either of my ham-band only transceivers and it covers long wave through 30 MHz, AM,CW, SSB and FM modes.  


The R-5000 is a no-compromise, high performance communications receiver of the highest quality and I'm very lucky to have one in my shack.

It came with 6 KHz and 2.4 KHz filters.  I think I'd like to add a 4 KHz filter for weak signal SWL DXing.  


UPDATE:  (November 11, 2016)  

The receiver arrived with defective AF gain and IF shift controls, both mounted on a sub-board behind the front panel.  I managed to buy a replacement assembly from a ham in the Neatherlands.  I swapped in the new assembly and now those functions work perfectly.   

While I had the rig dissembled, I installed the VE3JBT keybounce mod (www.mike-parry.com).  This entailed additional dissassembly in order to install two capacitors on the front panel board.  Mike's instructions are excellent and my keybounce issue is fixed - once and for all.

Once the above front panel mods were finished and checked out, I also installed the Kiwa audio mod (www.kiwa.com) on the main board.  Now the audio is bright, crisp and well-balanced, making the mod well worth the trouble.  The instructions were clear.  It helps, though, to have the board layout diagrams from the service manual handy.
It was a good day, all mods went well and I didn't break the radio.  (Whew!)


Handy Dandy Keyer

This is my PK-4 keyer.  Runs on a 9v battery - like, forever.

The switch in the center selects either manual keys, keys off, or automatic keyer; the switch on the right switches selected key type to either of two rigs.  A pushbutton switch supports programming or activating memories

On the rear panel are RCA plugs go to the main- or a second rig; 1/8" phone jacks for paddle, bug, and straight key.





I was active on all HF bands from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, from 1964 to 2001.  

In March 2010 my wife Pam, KA4EWG, and I moved to our retirement home just outside Grottoes, VA in the Blackrock trailer park. It's supposed to be a no-antenna community; even so, I threw up a "stealth" G5RV dipole in the trees at the edge of the woods behind our little double-wide. The antenna is very difficult to spot (circled in red, top center), even up close. I used black-jacketed #18 stranded wire and painted the end and center insulators with OD camouflage paint. The 60-foot run of coax is buried from the tree to the back of the house.

Pam built that wall from rocks collected in, and dug out of, the yard. She stacked 50 per day over two summers. It's now 90 ft long and comprised of over 12,000 rocks. She also cleared out the very thick undergrowth under those trees.  Sadly Pam is now a Silent Key.









I just got this Wellbrook ALA1530LN-2 receiving loop antenna for use with my SWL receiver.  It's about 3 feet in diameter with the LNA mounted in a plastic box in the bottom of the loop.  This antenna works extremely well from longwave through shortwave bands.  

Much better than the 60' random wire I had been using and about equal to my G5-RV at 30-feet AGL.  This is going to be a fine aid to my SWL activities.  

On the right, after wrapping with digital camoflage tape, it's invisible from the street.









Life is good in the Shenandoah Valley, exploring with Ginger, my Sheltie-Corgi mix-breed.  She was adopted from Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue, see http://www.nvsr.org.   



Ginger - headed for her new home in Grottoes (photo by Martha Heisel)


What?  Another hobby?  




I recently decided to get back into backyard astronomy after a 10-year break.  A lover of refractor `scopes, I bought a 120mm, f5  acromat.  

It arrived on a overcast, rainy day - figures.  We have pretty good dark skies here in the Shenandoah Valley, so I'm looking forward to some stargazing in next few months.   

Nothing compares to a cold, clear night outside, shivering under the stars. 











OTHER STUFF . . .   

My 2003-2004 station featured a homebrew QSK T/R switch-keyer-sidetone (upper left), Johnson Adventurer and VFO and homebrew regen receiver (two cabinets below) and (mostly idle) Drake 2B and TS-870.
Another of my better homebrew projects, based on W7ZOI's Micromountaineer, this 750 mw transceiver with crystal-controlled transmit and variactor-tuned receiver with a preamp ahead of the receiver.  Not yet a practiced QRP operator, I nonetheless made contacts in 13 states.
(Photo by Alan Walters, ~ 1977)
My first car . . . .
1962 Austin Healey "bug-eye" Sprite autocrossing at VaTech
(photo by Steve Gersuk ~1967)
And my last motorcycle . . .
1982 Honda Goldwing

Realistic DX-150A (now with its new owner)


Well, it didn't work at first, but cleaning and lubricating the slide switches brought the receiver back to life.  And the alignment seems pretty good.

Heavily customized, this rig's previous owner obviously loved label-making.  Sprucing it up will be fun.  The price was right: 50 bucks.

Hmmm . . . looked kinda cool as-found.  I thought, "Maybe I'll just remove the tape residue and some of the stickers . . . ."  

. . . . Well, once I got started on the cleanup, I couldn't stop myself.  Turns out there was a very nice radio under all that . . . uh . . . decorating.  Those huge knobs did give it a kinda cool, early Eddystone look,  but they didn't turn very well.  I found some semi-matching knobs on fleabay and put them on.  So, I can show you the "AFTER" picture to go along with BEFORE.









Pretty lil thing, innit?







I've been tuning around the bands and this is a surprisingly good receiver.  It's picks up CFZM Toronto "AM 740" very well and listening to the oldies on this thing is fun.  In the mornings I tune in Radio Australia to get the news from the other side of the world.  This receiver does pretty well on SSB, nice for listening to 40m ragchewing and HF air traffic control operations.  Looks good, sounds great! (For the money, that is.) 

I built a digital readout for it, This makes tuning in the REACH and ATC frequencies easier.   Here, I'm listing to Gander, Newfoundland transatlantic air traffic control.  Pretty cool, huh?



The readout worked fine for Bands A, B, and C -  540 khz to 13 mhz.  But the local oscillator frequency changes from high-side to low-side injection on Band D.  So the readout reads 2 x 455 kHz + 910 khz lower than the actual frequency.  There's a little pushbutton on the digital readout board that has to be operated to change the readout accordingly and it took opening it up and installing two DPDT switches from Digikey to move that function to the front panel.  Now all is well.


. . .that's about it for now.  73, Jim

7830854 Last modified: 2017-01-14 14:36:36, 48396 bytes

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