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The Early Days when the dollar was hard!

This is the oldest and earliest photo of me hamming as WV2RUD, circa 1962 I was 14 born in 48. The RX is a Hallicrafters S-107 SW RX and the 15 meter band had a 1/4 inch of space and one had to use the BANDSPREAD knob to search for stations. I believe the device on top of the rx may well be a 100 KC crystal oscillator to check for where the heck I was on the band. Those days were early, crystal controlled and one had to tune up to search for people calling from their crystals. There are 3 qsl cards on the paste board, WV2RXO and WV2HZS, om's Tom and Bob are still hamming along with me and we are all still friends.

I Started with a DX60 and added a Hallicrafters SX140 Ham RX later as the S-107 couldn't cut the grade, fed to a Mosley TA33. tribander on the chimney about 30 feet in the air. AR22 Rotor. All of a sudden I had more than 3 qsl cards! Was actually working DX!

The stuff worked too. All of 50 to 60 watts output. DX was possible. A Mosley TA33 on the roof!

Later after we moved a few miles away, the TA33 was a bit lower on the roof but I had a Swan 240 in my car pictured on the left and a Swan 350 as a base. Best recollection this was around 1967 after a year of college. I installed the Swan 240 in a 1966 Corvair Convertable I loved much and after a fire truck ran into me I put the Swan 350 into a 1965 Ford Mustang 289 and drove that all across the USA and back. What a great country full of wonderful people I met on that trip.

Below 1970 outside of St. Louis MO

My last year at Washington University I rented a farm in Wellsville MO and had this TR4 and a Mosley TA33JR on the roof of the farm house. Still no amplifier!

On the left below is a very early TenTec QRP Transceiver which was great fun before I dragged my TR4 from home. I still own the Navy Key and the Heath Speaker and I have the VTVM too!  The interesting thing is that I did not have an amplifier until the mid 1970's and most people didn't.  


1973 to 1975, 1976 to 1977

Tried the early Ten Tecs, ran a Ten Tec in Africa in the early 70's along with a Hallicrafters Safari FPM300 (one of the last boxes they made, a hybrid delight, built in 12 and 110/240 supplies). Had Atlas 210's as well and mobile kilowatts. Great fun being on the other end of the connection. You never understand how much RF NOISE comes out of the USA and the LEVEL of it. It was the most fun East Africa running 100 watts and rag chewing to people in Africa, Arabia, Asia etc when the band wasn't open because of the simplicity of great dx communications with a modest rig and a homebrewed simple trap dipole. Split didn't matter, kcycle readout didn't matter. The rig ran on 110/220/12v all built in. It amounted to a lot of fun with radio meeting hams who lived all over Africa, Asia, Middle East and loved to chat. The cards were easy to collect with IRC's or 1 green stamp. People sent me green stamps!

Here is a photo of the Hallicrafters FPM300 Safari rig in the Land Rover. The local hams in Nairobi would take orders for food from us and get it ordered at the local stores and it would come down weekly on the local safari hotel's truck. We would go into the hotel weekly to get the supplies and our have lunch and a swim and a few drinks.

Below is the Ten Tec Triton 2 that was revolutionary on battery life in a car or a remote base. On top is the Atlas 210 that was brilliant and a crystal deck on top for some of the local Kenyan commercial SW frequencies. I keyed the bandswitch on the Atlas to bandswitch the 500 watt amp and it worked like a champ.

The Ten Tec went out to work the East African Safari Rally in 1976 which was great fun for us. Threw a HyGain Tape Doublet in a tree or maybe a GRA-4 surplus antenna mast, attached radio and battery and sat down and clocked cars as they raced through! Still have a couple of HyGain tape doublets! They get used still. 

The 1980's

A little later on another Safari to finish some work we had started I built the Transworld 500 Watt Amp into my LandCruiser named BlueBelle along with a homebrew L network from the ARRL handbook based on the Collins 180s tuner. I used ex military whips about 15 feet tall and had no trouble working stateside. The amp had it's own battery. I still have the amp, never popped a transistor and even have some spares. Works great still. 

The transceiver that drove the amp was a Kenwood 430s that was very popular in the 1980s and I brought 4 or 5 of them into East Africa for my friends. They were a great and tough little radio for the times. All with the cut of a diode would work 2 to 30 mhz and usable on all the commercial HF channels in use in East Africa.

1989 to 1999 as 5H3WL

Later I worked in Tanzania in the Serengeti and had an Icom 728 in the Land Rover with an Icom AH2 tuner and a whip. The off road destroyed the whips which just were hammered whipping about and I had to order many of them and keep them handy to replace. The AH2 automatic tuners were fabulous. At base 5H3WL pictured below, I had an Icom 735 and the same TransWorld 500 watt solid state brick for HF that lived in the LandCruiser. That was still a great wonder of the world and ran on 12volts. Any good battery could run it, never ran the battery down either. I later put it in the land cruiser I bought and a manual HF tuner and the early cushcraft verticals when we put up fly camps. The Icom 735 worked 2-30mcs continuous and had a 1/2 power switch under the chassis for 50 watts out to keep the amp from happy from overdriving! I had a Dipole at 40 feet in trees and also ran a Cushcraft Vertical that I cut down to travel in a small duffel and that would go up with some ex military posts very quickly in the field. The other pieces are the Bird Wattmeter and the Icom base antenna tuner.


In between the 70's in Africa and again in the late 1980's I bought a home in Mount Kisco NY about 40 miles N of New York City. In the late 70's I put up a 70 foot Triex (now Tashjian) Tower and built as you see below a brace of KLM big sticks. 5 el 20 on the bottom, 40meter dipole, 6 el on 10 and 6 el on 15. It was a fabulous way to keep up with all the friends I had made while living in Kenya and later in Tanzania.

If we had not gotten WARC bands I would have kept them. After I tried a Log Periodic in Colorado and didn't notice enough difference I put one up in NY. Frankly after 50 years of hamming I have learned you can work DX with 5 watts. I have had no trouble using 500 watts instead of 1000 or 1500 and I have had no trouble working dx with the Log Periodics. I know the Contest Guys build huge stations to fight the big battles but if the object is to communicate then I tend to follow the KISS principle.

Here are some of the photos of my shack when I was in my 30's and was happy to stay home babysitting the 3 kids and playing radios. Even built a Homebrew 8877 Amp in 1986 or 1987 and it is still going strong. Surplus Vacuum Variable capacitors, a giant tank coil. It was great fun and nothing beats turning it on and discovering that it puts out a solid 1.5 KW all day long in RTTY and never hiccups. Of course I have a huge blower on the 8877 not a silly little muffin fan! 1500 watts key down all day long! I have done it. Good way to warm up the shack! A dear friend W2AO Ron gave me a giant dummy load which was 12 600 ohm 250watt or bigger giant resistors in a circle to make 50 ohm load. It would fit in a 50 gallon garbage can and the rural electrical boys gave me 40 gallons of used transformer oil and even KEY DOWN all day I can't boil that oil!


And a few pictures of the shack back then as things changed from tubes to transistors! The Heathkit SB220 was my first kilowatt, built it in a weekend and I never looked back. The rigs were a Collins 51S-1, 32S3-A and Collins kluge of a 6n2 Meter transvert that was quite the cabling nightmare, driving an SB220 and the Ultimate HB Transmatch above. On the right is a KWM2A and 312B-5 driving a 30L-1. All of it 2nd hand and mint. That's how I learned that there isn't much difference between 500 and 100 watts output. 3dbs after all is the difference between not noticing and just noticing a difference in sound.


This was an early B&W of the KWM380s. One at the factory for the famous service bulletins. Heathkit clock. Antenna Tuner fromt the handbook. Still use it today. That's my homebrew 8877 under it and to the right of it there is the Collins 51S-1 that I also still have. That's a great RX! The beginning of racking my radios. Collins Keypads from Pipo BEFORE Collins put out their own keypads.


The TR7/R7 and Apple 2 and driving the HomeBrew 8877 still going strong at N2WL today. One of the 380's drove the Henry 3KX and the other 380 the early Alpha 374. Great amp undone by WARC. The staircase stay on the Henry is a 'pigstick'! A Pigstick was a 'remote' grounding device to discharge big capacitors in the big amp supplies before sticking a hand in to root around during repairs or mods. 

Picture of me below, beard holding my gripstand and the D1 that worked fine on the 380's and better than the mike Collins sold.


Later in 1978 79 I went to new Collins 380's, put up the tower and the big KLM's and you can see the Telrex Rotor dial on the left and a Bird wattmeter above it. Sad to have tossed the rotor when the tower fell down in 92  but now in 2014 I have a prop pitch and GH control so the rotor world did get better



I built a deck above the garage so I could play with those big KLM's since as we all know coax must be changed every so often and things need to be maintained. That was the new Telrex rotor with the canvas bag on the motor and a wind indicator that rode up and down the tower. I had a 12 volt 2000 pound winch welded to the bottom of the tower that would hoise the mast up and down when I had work to do on the tower. It was a pretty cool setup for fussing with antennas. I finally took the big sticks down because the log periodic was a simpler antenna and the difference in dbs was not big enough (+/- 3 dbs) to notice much of a difference on the other end. 


Also played around wtih the Oscars and in those days we tuned the doppler by hand and pointed the antennas by hand. No computers then!


Well in 1992 I took up flying and in 1993 the tower fell down in a storm. Not a big storm and the big antennas were gone and it had a log periodic on it. By that time I was flying more and had lots of radios in my little Mooney so the flying took care of the radio com needs.

So there is a gap here of 5 radio racks that I have to find the photos for to post, but for the next phase I put up a tower in Colorado at our summer home and installed 4 of the racks from NY there. These are the current blend of radios. Some of the old Collins and a new K3 and I love playing with receivers as it was my dad's Hallicrafter S107 that he brought home to SWL with when I was 10 that got me into this radio game.

That's the 70 footer with a Log Periodic on top. About to get a Prop Pitch Rotor from Kurt Andress and I have added a K3 and the whole darn K line to the radio racks shown here.

The shack below in October 2013. 2X array at 70 feet, 3 el 20, 4 el 15 and 5 el 10. 24 foot boom. Lovely lightweight super performer! IN the left rack my 51S-1 that I have had for 30 years. Under it a Chuck Ripple restored R390A for broadcast band dxing, then the remote K3 System with ATU and AMP, middle rack left the ugly rig switches that have to be replaced next year before I fry an 8877! Speakers, K7DYY AM Pulse Mod Transmitter, 370 watts!!! The K3 with Panadaptor drives the Alpha 9500. Middle right my HF 380, Harris 590A and a Homebrew 8877 that loafs all day at 1500 and warms the shack. A Palstar tuner sits over that for my 200 foot inverted V. To the right top an SGC500 12volt solid state amp being put through it's paces for a mobile system I am planning. Below a K3 that drives the Alpha 87A or the Henry 3KX 8877 sitting on the floor. I am very fond of my 8877s! I can't seem to blow them up. Little parts go when I am being dumb but haven't lost a tube yet! SOLD all the old mint condition vacuum tubed gear except for the 51S-1 and those sales brought in the newer K3s. Unseen sales included DX60's, Eico Modulators, Old Rtty gear. It all went because we aren't getting any younger!

The Shack below in 2014 after last years sales of the old vacuum tubes. The Remote K3 is on the left rack under the K7DYY Pulse AM Kilowatt, 2nd Rack is the Palstar tuner, Alpha 9500 and the original K3. Middle rack is the venerable KWM380 and Harris 590 driving a HB 8877 KW amp and Antenna Tuner by W1ICP. Right most rack is an SGC 500 watt brick, under that an Icom751 I use for testing things, then a K3/0 for remote use with REMOTE HAM RADIO DOT COM and my own remote station testing as well as a K3 that drives the old venerable Henry 3KX with a 4K watt transformer. That compensates for the lousy voltage reguation in the mountains!  I think the shack is now settled into it's modern new shape and will stay put but for a few small changes. The Alpha 87A does remote work when I don't want to use the Elecraft 500watt brick. All remotely switched in and out. 

Below is the new M2 10 to 30 Mhz Log Periodic, 45 feet long, installed June 2014, turned by a Prop Pitch from Kurt K7NV.

Hanging from the tower are two inverted V's, a 160 to 10 Off Center Fed dipole and a 5 Mhz dipole.

The K3 now talks to NY with the K3/0 and I am an early adapter of REMOTE HAM RADIO DOT COM'S fabulous new program providing remote transmitter and antenna sites which is perfect for hams to use for many many reasons. One of which is for city dwellers for most of the year I finally can work a country or chew the rag from my own in Manhattan to my shack in Colorado or use the Remote Ham Radio Dot Coms sites.

It's just fabulous all around and this has breathed a new life into ham radio for me. This past year I put these racks back up that were in a barn and brought a bunch of radios up and threw them together. I rebuilt my Log Periodic and have enjoyed operating once again and learning what it's like in the CO mountains compared to my life on the East Coast. I do have a leg up on Asia from here that is more difficult from the right coast and the long path stuff to Africa is fascinating!

This taken recently, March 2013 and it shows the Elecraft K3/0 and the Remote Ham Radio Interface on the Mac. The P/S on the floor powers the KX3/0 but is overkill. I have to adapt a smaller power supply to the K3/0 but I don't keep solder in NYC!

That's all for now. Let me know what you all think! 73, Bill N2WL    Mobile number 1 914 645 4771

Also 5Z4PI, 5H3WL and VQ9WL.


6163479 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:20:25, 18035 bytes

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