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Originally licensed as a Novice class licensee in 1962 as  WB6BDA! Oops the FCC gave me the wrong PreFix!  At my request they reissued my license with the proper call sign WN6BDA and then as a Technician class in 1963 and a General class licensee once again as WB6BDA in 1964 until 1980. From 1980 until 2011 I was assigned a new call KD6AZ (a far better CW call) after passing my Advanced and Extra class license exams so I could work the bottom end of the CW portion of the HF bands to work that rare DX . In December of 2010 I decided to look for a nice 2x1 call as a few became available, so since January 8, 2011 my call sign has been WI6R.

Latest Project MicroBITX - Santa brought Dave a little project for a few hours of off time over the 2017/2018 holiday.

The MicroBITX is a 10W HF General Coverage (1Mhz to 30 MHz) SSB/CW Transceiver.  TX with Filters for 80-10M.  

45MHz First IF with 15KHz Roofing Filter, 8-Pole Crystal Filter SSB generator.  US $109 for a Kit less Case and Knobs.  DHL delivery add $10 from India.  Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE has been building QRP gear based on the original BITX designs for more than a dozen years.  This project has been so successful that it is reported that Ashhar had sold the first 1,000 in two days on December 10th and 11th, 2017 and is well on his way through pre-orders for the next 1,000. Luckly I ordered mine on Dec. 10th, it shipped on Dec. 2oth (DHL with tracking) and I had it on Dec. 22nd - Thanks to Santa!

I'll add more content about this project as I progress through my upgrades, but right now it brings back memories of my SBE SB-33 transceiver I used in 1966.  First contact this morning, San Diego (about 600 Miles) 59 report.

December 31, 2017 - Shortly before the New Year I added a USB micro B cable from the Arduino Nano to a rear panel mount.   This allows uploading new firmware for the radio without removing the cover. 

New firmware was uploaded from Ian, KD8CEC and this soon to be released version fixes the known bugs in the original release.  We've asked for at least one more change for adjustable tuning step size, but the rig is now working very well. This firmware also adds CAT support (e.g. FT-817) and Ham Radio Deluxe may be used to control the rig.

Next I would like to try the Mitsubishi RD16HHF1 MOSFETs actually designed for RF up to 30MHz and see how the PO vs Frequency holds up compared with the IRF510s.  Prior to doing that I will make some cabling changes to add shielded leads to the Mic, headphone and Keying Jacks as well as RG-174 for the PA output to the BNC antenna connector.  The rig is pretty quiet, but I'd like to improve this before searching for a bit more consistent power out.

 The German made Mentor Aluminum knobs Above finally arrived from Europe.  They fit and work perfectly.  They were worth the wait.

Ian KD8CEC has also built a Raspberry Pi with Touch Screen that allows the MicroBITX to run FT8 as a standalone rig.  Awesome!  With this it would be interesting to add a 45MHz tap adhead of the Roofing Filter with a buffer amp and tie in a RTL type SDR for a Panadapter display on the same Raspberry Pi TFT display.  I think it can all fit in another package the same size.  So many things to try out. 

Also worked Oregon and Utah with 7.5W on 40M.   Just ordered new PCBs for an ART-13 Power Supply project that's been waiting 3 years now.   OK, play time is over. It's a new year and back to work now.

For more info go to www.hfsigs.com .  

SDRs and Remote Radio Operating

I'm really enjoying working with the FlexRadio SDR and lately especially the ability to easily operate from wherever I am across the Internet to my station at home.  

Besides the Flex Maestro as seen in the photo at the top of my page, I've built two versions of a Clam-Shell case to hold an iPad Mini 4, Griffin Bluetooth connected Tuning Knob and a Belkin Dual-Lightning Port adapter.  The official SSDR for iOS app by Marcus, DL8MRE is available from the App Store.  The first version is shown below to operate Mobile with a Flex 6300 WiFi connected to the iPad as a Controller/Display and a second improved version shown below at my work office.

My first 3D Printed part above holds all of the pieces together.  Made with a Fortus Engineering Grade 3D Printer.

My second generation 3D (Engineering Grade) clam-shell case for remote operating.  Better protection for the upper left corner and a Lightbar for the Griffin knob's LED.

With the introduction of FlexRadio Systems V2.0 software with SmartLink capability operating remotely from anywhere with Internet Access is a reality.  Operating even at home on a local LAN its a convient way to watch for band openings from your easy chair.  And work'em too!  This can be done with a PC, the Maestro or an iPad or iPhone using SSDR for iOS.  I added a new band country on 40M at 3:30 AM without getting out of bed! ...and on CW using the built-in CWX capability of SSDR for iOS.  

Current Modern stations - Look down the page for Vintage stations

Ops Position 1 This has been entirely taken over by the FlexRadio 6300.  It just keeps getting beter and better.  It's like getting a new radio every few months.  

Recently Added is a new FlexRadio 6300 - radiosport RS20S headset (CW) or RS60CF headset w/Dynamic Mic (SSB), and the Icom IC-2KL Linear if needed - Absolutely amazing receiver, CW/SSB and fun to do AM occasionally too! I now work stations I can't hear with my other rigs!  After using the Flex with it's panafall display for just a few weeks any other radio seems working blind.  The Flex Maestro (click on my main pix in teh  upper right of the screen) adds so much to the experience.  How did I ever operate without this high resolution Panadapter display when chasing DX?

OPs Position 2 - For two and a half decades this was my primary HF station.  ICOM IC-737, SP-21,  IC-2KL, IC-2KLPS, AT-500, and radiosport RS60CF with Electret Mic or WinKeyer USB for CW - Just simple and robust after 20 years, with all filters in both IFs its still hard to beat in the heat of battle chasing DX.  Cups cap 20 Years of working DX with this rig.  3Y0PI on Peter the First in 1994, FT5ZM on Amsterdam Island in 2014.

OPs Position 3 - Yaesu FT-1000MP loaded with filters, modified Gain distribution and AGC revision, SP-8, radiosport RS60CF with Dynamic Mic, Drake L-4B Linear - For when you need everything including Dual -Receive and QRO to snag that really rare DX.  Retired - This station has now moved on to K6RZJ, my brother's QTH in Northern California between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

OPs Position 3 - Vintage Radios most used - The Collins S-Line (75S-3, 32S-3, 516F-2, and 30L-1) mostly on SSB or the last Drake Ham Radio Transceiver (TR5, MS7, and RV75) mostly on CW.

The Collins S-Line is still an amazing station after all these years.  Easy to work DX and they'd never know you are using a 50 year old station, but fun on the Vintage SSB Round Table Tuesday evenings.  The rather rare Drake TR5 (only a few hundred were ever sold) covers the WARC bands, has the even rarer Noise Blanker and a CW Filter, and with its QSK is a fun station to use on CW.  The matching Drake RV75 Synthesized VFO is possibly the rarest of Drake gear and is of course ultra stable.  Other Vintage radios will be rotated in from those in the collection shown below that I've chosen to keep.  Favorites are the Central Electronics 20A, Hallicrafters SX-117/HT44, Drake 4C-Line w/L-4B, and the Harvey-Wells AM station.

Antennas - Ladder Line Fed Full Size 80M Dipole at 34 feet, 80-10M including WARC - Great for local as well as some DX on the Low bands.

                 - Hy-Gain Hy-Tower currently down for renovation after all these years - Needs some more space than I currently have available to do an elevated Ground Radial System.

Prototype of N6BT's new 2 element 20M Rotatable Vertical Array - Works like a Quad with low angle radiation to work'em first, but sits just inches off the ground! Works FT5ZM on the first call!  -  New TriBand 20/15/10M version is in the works including remote band switching.  You can rotate it with a TV rotor - Overkill, but I'll use my retired Ham-IV rotor that sat on the tilt-over base for my 55' Tubular Crankup Tower for 12 years to rotate this one.

Amateur Radio - my early years...

My earliest memories of amateur radio were in 1952 - I was just 4 years old. We lived in the north San Francisco Bay town of San Anselmo, in the mountains above San Rafael, CA where I would watch the light show from my Dad's 600W AM transmitter when the tube's orange glow (the final tubes and I would guess the modulator tubes as well) would vary in brightness as he talked on his radio, while the 600W amplifier and 300W AM Plate modulator and power supply were in a 19" rack cabinet to the right of the desk.  This 19" rack cabinet was the source of the light show on the wall.  I'm sure it kept the room warm as well.   

By 1954 his new Hallicrafters SX-100 and HT-30 replaced the SX-28 and Homebrew AM transmitter to be an early adopter adopter of SSB and the next project was to be a homebrew linear amplifier with a pair of 813s.  This was an amazing place that at night where on a clear night the sky would be wall to wall with thousands (really) of stars - in 1952 there was very little ambient light compared to these days when some city raised kids have never seen stars in the sky!

My Dad had acquired his interest in radio at an early age. By 10 he was building radios, but this was 1930 and money was tight so instead of buying radio magazines he would have to memorize both articles and schematics which he would then draw out at home. My grandfather was in the poultry business and likely the reason they managed to make it through the depression years. By age 16 he had opened his own "Radio Shop" in a building he had built himself on my grandfather's property in Oakdale, CA. When I find the picture again, I'll scan and post it here of he and about five other hams all holding up their QSL cards sitting around the floor of his shop surrounded by historic radio transmitters including one that looks a lot like a Gross CW-25 Kit from 1934. I remember unpacking that radio shop around 1959 to find some absolutely amazing and well preserved radio equipment. One of which was the twin of a very professional looking TRF receiver he built and traded for his first car, a Model A. Having just brought home a Collins S-Line this was just an amusement to him, he was more taken by the fact I was so interested in it. As an engineer he was always looking forward. Although he had to drop out of high school during the great depression to look for work. Something with his skills he had little trouble accomplishing, he was a self taught engineer.  An entrepeneur he owned a number of businesses including a contract antenna business installing TV antennas in Southern California during the TV Boom years in the late 1940's and Auto Radio Service Company that he started with Fred Maeder, W6HXR in the mid 1950s with locations in Fresno (Fred) and later San Jose (Dad). When looking back at his career in Electronic Counter Measures with Sylvania EDL and Applied Technology, his significant work at the Hansen Lab designing, building and testing the Ferrite Phase Shifters and Attenuators that would sit along the 2 mile long Stanford Linear Accellerator, or really close to home for a Ham building the Ionispheric Sounders at Granger Associates that would find the best HF frequency for communications between just about any two points on the globe. When he became a silent key in 1992 his shack had all of the latest equipment, computer aided design tools, some of which he developed and wrote the software for, and at least two transceivers that were computer controlled. When I and my brother (Terry, K6RZJ licensed at age 11 in 1956 as KN6RZJ) would come by he would always be like a kid anxious to show and tell us about his latest gadget.

60 years ago - 1951 San Anselmo, CA - Above my Dad (Austin,W6LEH - age 31) gets back on the air after WWII. A Hallicrafters SX-28A and Astatic JT30 Mic visible here. In the 19" rack cabinet is his very clean homebrew 600W AM Transmitter with the Final Amplifier on the top shelf, Modulator on the middle and Power Supply on the bottom shelf. The exciter was a Command Set Transmitter shown here sitting atop the rack with the cover off. Note Plug-in Coils for the Final Amplifier. South American Hams jokingly called him "Voice of America" due to the immense signal from his mountain top high multi-element 10M wire beam strung between the tall Redwoods, where he regularly talked with his high school buddy John Ditamore, OA4BG in Lima, Peru - John then a pilot for Pan Am.

I also learned my first lesson in radio there in San Anselmo, about rectification. Our rooftop luggage carrier for the car made from chrome plated steel tubing and stainless steel straps that criss crossed the length and width, lay up against the side of the house. When my Dad was ON THE AIR one morning I could distinctly hear him talking as I walked by the luggage rack. The rack making a decent 10M Loop Antenna, two dissimilar metals rectifying the potent RF from the antenna overhead, and the crisscrossed stainless steel straps doing an amazing job as a speaker diaphram. We had a 10M Crystal Radio!

(Left) 1957 - Above "SPUTNIK" the catalyst for my interest in radio at Age 9. (Center) 1963 - The BC-453, Globe Chief Deluxe and Harvey Wells Matchbox - The faint vertical wire by the garage door spring is the antenna! (Right) 1964 - Fremont High School, Sunnyvale, CA - Radio Telescope Project and OSCAR 1 on display.

The catalyst for my interest in radio however would come in October 1957 while we were living in Palo Alto, CA. Now at the age of 9 when after watching the Russian's Sputnik satellite pass overhead and then hear it on my Dad's SX-100 on 20 MHz, I was mesmerized. I instantly started reading everything I could get my hands on from my Dad's QST and CQ magazines to Popular Electronics and even Popular Mechanics (anyone remember the Cigar Box Super Regenerative Receiver?). I built Crystals sets first as we had KGO Radio's AM broadcast transmitter just across town in the San Francisco Bay, (actually 35 miles south of San Francisco proper in the Bay adjoining the city of Palo Alto). Then came several additonal more complex receivers made with a handful of Raytheon CK722 Germanium transistors.

One day my Dad mentioned that he built his first one tube radio in 1930 at the age of 10. Well, not to be outdone, I took this as a challenge to build one before I turned 10! Here is where that Popular Mechanics Cigar box receiver came in. It was a Super Regenerative receiver built in a Cigar box that I taped aluminum foil to the back of the lid (lid used as the front panel) to minimize the hand capacity tuning effects. The front panel was held against the inverted cigar box as the chassis by the regeneration gain control and the headphone jack. The chassis was also covered in aluminum foil. It used a 1S4 tube, and a 1.5V "D" cell for filament and a 45V "B" battery. I remember when you could buy 45V 'B' batteries at the local drug store. (Now we have to wire up six 9V batteries in series.) Well it worked much to my Dad's amazement and quite well. I was confident though and that made all the difference. I just didn't know enough yet to realize how unlikely it was I would get it working right away.

This was just the beginning of my building homebrew equipment which would last until I think it became more expensive to build the increasingly complex projects, than to buy some really nice used commercial gear, at least to the standards I had set, around 1970. I still have the receiver I started 40 years ago, when I ended up buying a used Collins 75S-1 as it was only $225, and that was less than my parts list cost to complete my receiver. I would learn later why my Dad built a lot of single band rigs or ones with plug-in coils to make them far less complex and far less expensive to build.

By the early 1960s' I wanted to get my Ham ticket and Dad took my brother Terry and I to the local Palo Alto Amateur Radio Club meeting.  Fifty years later I would attended the meeting as well.  It still meets in the same place after all of these years, and the meetings are as entertaining as always!  For my 50th anniversary meeting, Wayne Brudick showed off Elecraft's brand new KX3 SDR transceiver and one of the local hams showed off his coffee can vertical.  A good time was had by all.

Got my Ham Ticket at last...

First licensed at age 13 as WB6BDA (Novice Class) and after a couple of frustrating months of people sending too fast for me to copy, I requested that I be assigned the proper Novice Class call sign WN6BDA. :o) In May of 1963 I received a new license with the correct call sign WN6BDA where I operated from Sunnyvale, CA. While I rather despised the idea of learning the Code before I got my Novice ticket, bythe fall of 1963 I had earned my 20WPM Code Proficiency Certificate and for decades CW would be my prefered mode of operation. While Dad had the Ham Shack inside with his Collins S-Line, I was relegated to the garage for my operating, but I took over his massive work bench. See photo above center. There is my BC-453 mounted in a two receiver rack with the one tube 40M converter mounted to the left. The Globe Chief Deluxe transmitter, and the Harvey Wells Bandmaster antenna tuner, with me still using a straight key, but sitting to the back far left is my one tube electronic TR switch for full break-in operation.

Operating mostly on 40M CW I did manage to increase my code speed to 20 WPM. My station started out as an ARC-5/BC-453 (190 - 550 KC) with a modified 40M one tube mobile converter from my Dad's (W6LEH) AM mobile days, ahead of it. The BC-453's 85KC IF allowed selectivity much like my Dad's Collins 75S-1 and it had the stability as well. In those days most lost contacts were due to the other guy's receiver drifting off frequency. The transmitter was a Heathkit AT-1, that was quickly replaced with a Globe Chief Deluxe (a pair of 807s laying on their side) that did a fine job being much more stable than the venerable AT-1 (AT-1 stability problems resolved earlier this year). The antenna was a simple 1/4 wave inside the garage fed against a water pipe ground. It worked and during my years in high school I made more than 1200 contacts on 40M.  To put this in perspective, unlike the common today - 7 second contest QSO, these QSOs were often 30 minutes to an hour or more as we really did get to know the Op on the other side of our QSO and we worked them often.

I attended Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, and was fortunate to have another mentor besides my Dad W6LEH, my neighbor across the street Moylan Heslop K6BSY (who would give me both my Novice and Technician Exams), my brother then Terry WA6FGJ (later N6DGM, and now back to his original call K6RZJ) and now my high school science teacher Doc (Gene Gmelin) W6ZRJ a long time ARRL Section Manager, and CW Code proficiency guru. We had a very active high school club station WA6DVV with many active student hams including my good friends Howard Davis WB6TLD and Jim Cannon WB6NXK (now K7KL). There were others like Doug Hardie (WA6VVV) I have to retrieve from my log books as my memory fails me on some of the others. Among other notable Hams that graduated from Fremont High School there was Tom Schiller now N6BT, Peter Grabosky now W6OOL, Sanford (Sandy) Lynch was WA6BXH then W7BX (SK), George Varvitsiotes (WB6DSV) K6SV (SK), and Jon Kannegard WB6AJQ now K6JEK. Recently at the 2010 Pacificon Tom Schiller N6BT reminded me the club's name was the "BandJammers Radio Club". We were a rebel lot - the name was so appropriate!  No we weren't Jamming other QSOs there were just a lot of us on the air with many QSOs, so this was more like a jam session for a band as sometimes we would take turns working a DX station from our club station, then a Heathkit Apache transmitter, SB-10 SSB adapter, and Mowhawk receiver.  A roof mounted tower on the high school Science building with a triband Yagi made for great DXing with just 100 Watts, typically on CW.

Doc W6ZRJ our High School Science and Electronics teacher via the ARRL convinced AMSAT to loan us their spare OSCAR 1 satellite for us to put on display. Here in the picture above I'm at another Science Fair, this one at Fremont High School (Sunnyvale, CA) demonstrating our club's Radio Telescope Project. A UHF Converter ahead of a Knight general coverage receiver with a chart recorder on the audio output and an impressive array of Yagi antennas pointed skyward.  I don't recall what that was onteh Peg-board I'm holding.  LOL

In the 1960's a Novice class license expires in just one year, so to keep my call sign until I could get to the FCC at the Customs House in San Francisco, I take the Technician Class exam.

Unable to get to the FCC office in San Francisco before my novice license expired, I took my Technician class license test (exams then given by volunteer hams for Novice & Technician) in the summer of 1963 and began building a 2M transceiver. Although I had been building receivers since age 9 this was my first serious effort at building my own transmitter (beyond little "bugs" - tiny broadcast band transmitters with a tiny crystal Mic). The receiver was a Super-Heterodyne with a super-regenerative IF and a (GE) Nuvister pre-amp (in place of the original specified 6AK5 so maybe it should be an "RCA Ham Tips/GE  Ham News" rig ) and a 5W AM transmitter that started with a 36MC xtal and a multiplier chain to 144MC with a 5763 final for the popular local SF Bay Area repeater WB6OQS. This was a modified version of a 2 meter rig from RCA Ham Tips Jan-feb 1952 issue.  A very clever design superHet font end with a SuperRegen IF to get the kind of gain that would otherwise take up to 3 stages of IF amplification. In transmit the receiver audio stages were the Modulator.  The design was by Wally Brown, W2OQN who had joined RCA about the time I was born in 1948.   You can still find the complete RCA Ham-Tips on line if interested in this little rig.

I used this rig portable and fixed for a couple of years and this gave me an opportunity to build and experiment with some small scale antennas as well, usually made with aluminum clothes line wire straightened and pushed through redwood 1"x1" poles to make multi-element yagis.  I can't wait to build some new Skelton-Slot antennas for 144MHz and 432MHz to use with the Flex 6300 and my new transverters.

My version of the 2M transceiver was built in an Aluminum box made with flat Aluminum panels screwed to 1/2" x 1/2" Aluminum Angle Stock.  The chassis also flat aluminum had a cut-out for double sided Copper Clad PCB material used for the front end SuperHet RF stage with the Nuvistor Preamp and VFO.  Unlike the RCA Ham Tips article mine also had a built-in AC power supply after robbing the Power Supply transformer from my BC-453 Novice receiver.

I also built a couple of all solid-state versions run off a 9V battery to make 2M walkie-talkies with soon after.  Double sided Cooper Clad PCB material surounded by masonite outer walls that were rounded on the corners and painted a glossy Gray for the handhelds case looked pretty professional I thought (for a young teenager).  My Dad was impressed and that was all that mattered.  They worked by the way and were indepensable for antenna tuning in the field!  I've got to build a couple of these again!  Just for the fun of it...

Finally got my General ticket...

After finally obtaining my General Class license during high school in 1964 I picked up a used Swan 120 (one of the few actually built in Herb's garage in Benson, AZ before his move to Oceanside, CA) that would be my HF station for several years with a 20M Vertical antenna.

(Left) The Swan SW-120 on the right of the picture was my first HF SSB rig after passing my General Exam.

Sitting on top of the Swan is a homebrew solid state 2M transverter for the Swan SW-120 I built while working at Hewlett Packard. Output taken from the 120's mixer stage, the transverter put out only 0.5 Watt PEP on 144.1 to 144.2 MHz but I was able to make contacts hundreds of miles away with a 16 element Skeleton Slot antenna at 40 feet. The Skeleton-Slot antenna was made again with aluminum clothes line wire and 1x1 redwood poles. I eventually made a 32 element version, but the antenna was so sharp the wind caused heavy QSB due to my wiggly tower held by rope. Below the speaker is a homebrew Unijunction automatic keyer from January 1966 73 Magazine. Hmm another tiny HP equipment cabinet. The Heathkit HW-12 transceiver was to be my Dad's mobile rig - I don't know that it ever made it into his car. I used it on 75M quite a bit. Note my Ham Shack is now moved from the garage to my bedroom after my older brother (the smart one) I shared the room with went off to Stanford University.

After graduation from high school and acquiring my first car, a mobile rig was needed. Knowing the right people helps and my brother got me a summer job at Hewlett Packard Co. banging out sheet metal. Before the summer job was over I managed to land a job in the R&D lab of the Frequency & Time Division (as an intern position while attending college) after showing the HR people some of my own electronics (radio) projects. This much needed job provided funds for car, and books for my next two years at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. Foothill was ideally situated about half way between home and my job at HP in Palo Alto, CA.

Prototype 9 transistor Solid State 2 Watt, 2 Meter, AM Transmitter/Modulator and Receiver LO with Home made Modulation Transformer in foreground. Lands me job in HP Engineering during college (1966)

During this time I built an all solid state 2M transceiver as my mobile rig in a tiny HP equipment cabinet. The size was just barely big enough to install a phone dial on the front panel that interrupted a tone generator to access control of the WB6OQS repeater. The project was quite successful with novel AM modulator (2N3054 Modulator) on both the Collector and Emitter (out of phase) that allowed 100% modulation without driving the bipolar final transistor (2N3553 2M Output Stage) into cut-off as high power VHF FETs weren't yet available. The end of the transmitter multiplier chain was also the receiver LO, with the 2 Meter AM repeater offset in those days at 1.1MHz(?), the AM car radio was the IF tuned to 1100 on the dial, a mixer and RF amplifier completed the receiver portion of the all solid state VHF transceiver, still rather rare stuff for 1967. This and a J-Pole antenna on the rear bumper of my 1959 Studebaker Lark allowed me easy access to the repeater from all over the south Bay Area.

First homemade PCB version of 2M transmitter shown above before converting to FET Multiplier Chain (1967) 36.670 MHz Crystal X2, X2 to 146.68 for the WB6OQS AM Repeater. Later Revised with the FET Multiplier Chain becomes part of my 2 Meter SSB Transverter for my Swan 120.

My career gets an unexpected launch...

Trying out my FET Multipler chain version of the 2W 2 Meter AM transmitter at HP when Bill Hewlett drops by the Lab for a visit.

A chance meeting with Bill Hewlett one evening in HP's R&D lab in 1967 when he dropped in - practicing his famous MBWA (management by wandering around) we talked about my evening project, applying my 2 Meter rigs FETs replacing bipolar transistors in the multipler chain (see solid state VHF transceiver above) to a piece of HP test equipment, to see if I could get the same improvement as I did with my rig. I did, nearly 22 dB improvement in spurious signals from odd harmonics. I thought that was pretty cool to not only meet but have a one on one with Bill Hewlett, but didn't give it too much more thought. Little did I know then how that chance encounter would be so important in an amazing 40 year career that would follow. Weeks later I would be invited to work on a project at HP Labs (sort of the West Coast equivalent of the Bell Labs think tank) and my career would be changed forever. I still have the prototype of the FET multiplier chain (shown above with an MPF-102 missing) and one of the modulation transformers I wound for the 2M AM rig as well as the Polaroid picture of the results of that test on the Spectrum Analyzer. They're keepers!

432MHz Receiver Front End (20dB PreAmp left), (Mixer right) output at 14MHz for my Swan 120 SSB transceiver (1967)

My first Varactor Multiplier for 432 Receiver Front End LO injection (1967)

2W in at 144 MHz, 0.5W out at 432 MHz using HP Varactor Diode as Multiplier (1968)

War time - Vietnam or something more?

A stint in the Navy as a Reserve from 1968 to 1974, I attended the US Navy's Electronics school in Millington a suburb of Memphis,TN. The time there was a lot shorter than expected as I learned that I could challenge the electronics courses. I was given the opportunity to do so and in 5 weeks, with a battery of tests each Friday I completed the 13 month curriculum. While at NAS Memphis I operated from the club station W4ODR, usually running a Hallicrafter's Hurricane (SR-2000) and a HyGain TH-6 at what looks like 83 feet if you count the 10 foot rungs. That antenna was as big as the house! Completing the testing with a 3.76 GPA was good for a commendation and a trip home after only 3 months on active duty.

NAS Memphis, TN

NAS Memphis, TN - Base Amateur Radio Station W4ODR

This was my home away from home at NAS Memphis, TN. This old house was the base ham radio club station W4ODR. This was a very well equipped house. A huge living room with two big leather sofas and two big matching arm chairs, a fully stocked kitchen including a vending machine for soft drinks (that was usually refilled quckly with beer) and each room of the 3 bedroom house had a different station. The first room had a Collins station with a 75A-4 and KWS-1 (no we weren't allowed to use that station), the second had a Hallicrafters SR-400 Cyclone, and the third room had a Hallicrafters SR-2000 Hurricane (which with the external VFO provided Dual Receive in 1968!). I all but slept here when I wasn't in one of the schools, in the chow hall or off base on a rare weekend leave. I recently noticed an entry in one of my log books from early 1967 where that contact indicated there had been another station setup with the Hallicrafters Twins an HT-44 transmitter and SX-117 Receiver with a Heathkit SB-200 Linear.

NAS Alameda, CA Naval Air Station

I still had to complete one more month on active duty, but did so teaching electronics at Alameda Naval Air Station across the Bay from San Francisco. After a short time as a radio operator on P2 Anti-Submarine Warfare planes out of NAS Alameda, I transfered to NAS Moffett Field near my home in Sunnyvale, CA.

The P3 Orion is my Ham Shack during the early 1970s. Collins 618T-3 provides 400W PEP output with a pair of 4X250s on the HF bands from far away places.

Recently I learned that our squadron would be the first P3 Orion reserve squadran deployed in South East Asia during the Vietnam War.  The picture above taken from an Air Force jet, escorting us in a rather tense location, while taking off from Tainan Air Base.  As you san see we were not only loaded for bear (all launchers loaded) but that the markings were all painted over with a grey primer looking paint (later washed off after our return to the US).  It was an interesting time.  A stop on Midway Island allowed for some operating as WB6BDA/KM6 both heading to the far east and on the return trip. 

NAS Moffett Field, CA Naval Air Station

At Moffett Field Naval Air Station I served as a crew member and radio operator on a P3 Orion. With that I had the fortunate opportunity to make contacts from all over the Pacific and far east including South East Asia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and even Midway Island (Gooney Bird Island) with the 'ol Collins 618T on board. Yes, this plane CAN do stunts. A Mid-Life Upgrade by Lockheed Martin in March of 2013 (Mid-Life?) has this plane doing what it does best, but now for the US Border Patrol and the Office of Homeland Security. In the 1960s a crew of 4 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Flight Engineer and Radio Operator) was the MINIMUM crew, but man what a shopping cart throughout South East Asia or how about Spain? Just remember which places to stay out of before the trip home through US Customs. There haven't been radio operators onboard since the mid 1970s when computers took over control of almost all aviation electronics.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon to replace Lockheed P3 Orion

Boeing is flight testing the Boeing P-8A Poseidon (militarized version of the 737) currently being developed for the United States Navy. The P-8A is intended to conduct anti-submarine warfare, shipping interdiction, & will carry torpedoes, depth charges, anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It will also be able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. The P-8 is intended to replace the aging fleet of Lockheed P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (in service since 1962). The P-3 is used extensively around the world & it is reasonable to expect that many of these countries will also look at the versions of the P-8 as a replacement.

Hamming it up in the San Francisco Bay Area... Great Sunspots!

Circa 1980 - KD6AZ a mere 32 years old -

Yaesu FT-101ZD/FV-101Z/SP-901P, Dentron Clipperton-L, Drake MN-2700, Kenwood TR-9000 2M FM CW & SSB. 

Antennas: a Hy-Gain 18-AVQ vertical for HF with about twenty 1/4 wavelength radials for each band (before I knew they should be about 20% shorter on/in the ground).  For 2M a Cushcraft 22 element 2M cross-polarized yagi (11 elements vertical/11 elements horizontal), later I added Circular Polarized antennas for both 144 & 432 antenna so I could work through the Satellites with a new FT-726R.

After a seven year hiatus from ham radio while living in apartments when I parted with all my ham gear except what my Dad wisely held onto for me and after finally moving into my own third house in Mountain View, CA in 1977 I finally got back on the air. This time with a more contemporary Yaesu FT101-ZD, with the FV-101Z remote VFO, the SP-901P Speaker/Phone Patch (which got regular use running traffic from Europe at midnight on 10M!), a Dentron Clipperton-L and a Drake MN2700 antenna tuner,and Kenwood TR-9000 SSB/CW rig for 2 Meter fixed and mobile (I hadn't worked 2M SSB since the '60s). With the new FT-10ZD Yaesu moved away from sweep tube finals to 6146s and the receiver was based on the FT-901DM's, which still sits in the top 20 receivers on Sherwood's list after 30 years! On such a small lot we only had room for an all band vertical, but I managed to get my DXCC again after just a few months. Ten years later I mounted a Hy-Gain Explorer 14, a short boom but excellent performing tri-bander, on a tripod mount atop the house for a short time before moving again. In the photo above clutching a Mic just to prove I did work SSB as well as CW! Judging by that shirt I'm wearing I must have stopped at Banana Republic at Stanford Shopping Center on my way back from HRO in Burlingame, CA.

I eventually acquired a multi-mode Yeasu FT-726R for more serious VHF/UHF SSB & Satellite work, along with a nice Kenwood 2M FM mobile rig.  Cruising to work one morning on I-280 in my new Merc 190E (first 5 speed manual in the country) I even talked to W5LFL on the Space Shuttle. That was just a short hop up to the Space Shuttle, however it was still as rare a catch as any DX I'd worked (and Mobile to boot).

Field Day 1980 - High in the Sierra Nevada mountains - with no man made noise to be heard!

All the comforts of Field Day in a motorhome, my brother Terry WA6FGJ (now with original call K6RZJ) operates the QRP Heathkit HW-8A after he strung up our Dipole antenna in the tall redwoods.

Parked in the Sierras, 2M Yagi in place, the ladder line fed 80M Dipole is strung out just above the roof, ready to raise in position as the Sun rises Saturday of Field Day.

June 1980 my Dad Austin, W6LEH and brother Terry, WA6FGJ (now with his original call K6RZJ) and I head high into the Sierra Nevada mountains for Field Day. The spot, a new home site for one of my Dad's neighboring Ham, was where we would operate from our FMC motorhome with three stations. One HF station with my Yaesu FT-101ZD gear (less the Linear Amp), one HF QRP (Heathkit HW-8A), and one VHF 2M FM and SSB station. We strung a Dipole between two tall Redwood trees and had my 22 element 2M Yagi (11 horizontal - SSB and 11 vertical - FM) on a mast clamped to the FMC's ladder at the rear of the motorhome. It was an amazing Field Day with just no man made noise to contend with on HF and 2M SSB sounded like 20M on a DX contest weekend with wall to wall signals on both CW and SSB. It was like looking up at a sky filled with stars with no surrounding lights to interfere with the view, and we worked everything we could hear with just 10W on 2M SSB.  Circular Polaried antennas work very well for terristerial operation as signals do some strange polarization changes through heat inversion layers and really helps with otherwise deep QSB - others have discovered this as well so bring the booms down level for some cool DX.

August 1981 - Big Upgrade at the home QTH

In August 1981 the shack got its biggest upgrade. I love to homebrew, but I only contributed a little, as the love of my life Laura completes this homebrew project that tops them all as we add a Junior OP - Gary

Never interested in Ham Radio, but the computer bug bit very early even building his first Web site before he was a teenager, and now at age 32 is a Cloud Computing Guru in San Francisco, CA.

Wow! This is what good antennas can do... DX, Satellites, mobile talking to the Space Shuttle on my way to work...

Moving out of the Bay Area onto a nice flat and level half acre in the Central Valley (just outside of Tracy, CA). Here we had half of that property just for our dogs to roam and me to put up antennas. Finally able to have some nice antennas up on several towers it allowed me to work DX I only dreamed of before. Working DX and Contesting drove me to acquire a new rig with dual VFOs and instant push-button band change. This time I chose a Kenwood TS-930SAT. Its receiver didn't quite match the excellent FT-101ZD, but the feature set more than made up for its lack of sensitivity (or phase noise). Eventually I had two TS-930SATs to allow multi-op contesting (pre-SO2R).

In the mid 1990s I discovered the great receiver performance of a Sierra QRP transceiver. This little QRP rig prompted me to search for better receiver performance from my primary station. Possibly the first to market with a low phase noise Direct Digital Synthesis VFO was ICOM. In late 1993, I selected an Icom IC-737 since it had all the appearance of circuitry the same as the "big" IC-775 with it's quiet DDS, but no DSP and without the internal AC power supply. That IC-775 and the IC-781 were outside my budget while working at bay area high-tech start-ups. I prematurely sold my Dentron Clipperton-L as I had placed an order for a new Alpha 86 QSK linear amp. After waiting more than a year I finally gave up on ever seeing the new Aplha linear - they were still having issues, however I still own the IC-737, and an IC-2KL/AT-500 combo which is a great all around station.

Eternally on vacation in what has recently been described as the Best Town in America - San Luis Obispo, CA - but no antennas in my neighborhood (we'll see!).

A move to the CA Central Coast in early 2000 meant giving up those towers and antennas. The development we found to build our new home in Arroyo Grande, 12 miles south of San Luis Obispo, would not allow antennas. Expecting to locate another spot to build within a couple of years the towers sat beside the new house. The real estate prices continued to soar and with the antennas in storage for almost 8 years I finally sold the antennas, save my Hy-Gain Hy-Tower, and donated the crank-up towers to a local ham that did have a location he could erect them.

What to do with no antennas, and poor HF band conditions? Yes, that's a UHF antenna sticking through the roof but it's a commerical Motorola 450 MHz radio I'm talking on with my crew chief Paul Detwiler.

We renewed our interest in racing, this time instead of a homebuilt Porsche 914/6 racer as in the '70s, this Porsche Motorsport built 996 GT3 Cup racecar did the trick. The Porsche's water cooled flat 6 cylinder engine produces 400 hp with 0-60 times of about 3.7 seconds, and with its race tuned suspension, 9x18 front and 11x18 rear rims and Dunlop slick race tires typically produced cornering forces approaching 2 Gs on flat corners. What fun! Here at beautiful Sears Point Raceway (then actually called Infineon Raceway Park) in the Sonoma, CA wine country. This hobby kept us busy for several years before retiring in 2003 and running the car just a few more times in 2003 and 2004.

New racecar from Porsche Motorsport arrives in February 2003 on Lufthansa to LAX, here unloaded in our driveway awaiting prep for it's first race. Neighbors just love (not) the open exhaust as we load/unload the car...

Not a retirement hobby, we move on to supplying Porsche racing parts to other amateur racers from 2003 until the Financial industry's debacle in 2008 ended most privateer racing (unless you were a banker). We ran our last race in December 2004 finishing 2nd place while one of our customers we did the suspension setup for, sat on the Pole and won their first professional race. A nice way to retire from racing.

Back On the Air again...

Racing and manufacturing racing parts as the privateer Porsche racing pretty much collapsed after the September 2008 banking debacle so we closed that business and endured a year of boredom - then finally at the end of 2009, trees had grown up and we decided d#@! the CC&Rs and HOA rules and we installed a clandestine antenna to get back on the air. At first a simple 40M dipole strung between two camoflaged poles, then replaced with my trusty old 450 ohm Ladder Line fed full size 80M Dipole. We had about 220 feet in linear distance at the most extreme points on our property so this worked out pretty well with no complaints from the neighborhood - yet. It works on 80 through 10M including WARC with our TenTec 238 Antenna Tuner. Considering we lived at the bottom of a canyon this antenna worked way better than it should have.  It seems the rapidly sloping ground below this antenna had it appear to be higher than it actual was.  Propagation was still pretty good.

Back On the Air again, our station in Arroyo Grande, CA starting to take shape in 2012

Playing with some of our old gear out of storage too.

Today I enjoy DX, QRP with my original NorCal QRP Club Sierra (later a Wilderness Radio Sierra upgrade to Digital Readout) on 40, 20, & 15 as well as restoring vintage rigs. Unfortunately the digital display on the Sierra made it lose its personality with the CW frequency readout it had since the early 1990's.   Wayne and Eric who worked together in the NorCal QRP Club in the early 1990s to bring this radio to fruision would later found Elecraft

One of my favorite vintage US made rigs is the Alda 103 from the late '70's an excellent design with a great receiver (imagine a manufacture specifiying Intermodulation Intercept Point with 2 signals in the IF passband in 1977 - it would be more than 25 years before we would see this again), and with great transmit audio. The receiver would almost sound dead, until huge signals would leap from the silence. Wayne and Eric (who developed the Sierra QRP rig as members of the NorCal QRP club) would raise the bar once again with the introduction of their Elecraft line of radios. I continue to love building homebrew gear, although it's a bit tougher than those days when spoiled with my "at work" location that had $50K of test equipment on my "at work" workbench to develop with.  I think we've now rectified that problem (see my restoration work bench down the page...)

Restoring Vintage Amateur Radio Equipment...

The Alda 103 renewed my interest in vintage US made ham gear and started me restoring many pieces of gear from storage, some more than 50 yearsold. Since January 2010 the list of restorations is growing (around 90 radios as of spring 2013) to include many boat anchors, usually rigs I always wanted to own, but could never afford. This way I get to restore them, play with them and sometimes move on to another. Here are some of the more notable ones:

(Left) The Alda 103 - A truly great all Solid State SSB/CW Transceiver from 1977 fully restored. (Right) The Drake 2B - One of the first ground breaking low cost very high performance Ham Band receivers.

Left: Heathkit HR-10, HG-10, DX-60 checking into the AMI net on 75M. Right: The superb Drake 4C-Line.

The superb Drake T-4XC transmitter and the R-4C receiver - a great contest grade receiver with a lot of Sherwood mods - a very late model that has the steel & brass anti-backlash gears with velvet tuning. The AC-4 with a modern HV Diode/Cap PCB and the MS-4 matching speaker cabinet. A well implemented transceive solution that allows either Xmtr or Rcvr VFO/LO/Carrier Osc sync as well as separate operation makes this a very nice all around station for CW, SSB or AM that is both compact and high performance. An L-4B is in the processs of restoration and updates will be added here in 2014.

Above my original first transmitter a Heathkit AT-1, 48 years later both looks and works better.

(Left) Above the "dream" Novice Station restored Drake 2-B/2AQ and Globe Chief Deluxe. (Right) Yep the Globe Chief Deluxe still looks this good today (2010) with a pair of NOS 807s.

Beginning in January 2010 I restored my original Novice transmitter a Heathkit AT-1 that now works better than it ever did 48 years ago, a Heath HR-10/HRA-10, DX-60/HG-10, my second Novice rig the WRL Globe Chief Deluxe, and a Drake 2-B, 2-AQ - a terrific receiver for 1961 and quite good today (above), and a Drake 4-C-Line (below).

I've started replacing my S-line (32S-1/75S-1) from the 1970s with a 75S-3B receiver, a 516F-2 power supply cabinet, and a 30L-1 linear. These are finished - looking for a good 32S-3 RE to go with them. The 30L-1 was a rescued ex-military unit that was a lot worse for wear. The cabinet was really beat-up and nearly 50% of the front panel paint was worn off, however it was complete and otherwise in reasonably good shape. It was filthy from just plain years of dirt and the power cord was so bad I wouldn't think of plugging it in. Instead I started by disassembling it down to the chassis and power transformer. Everything was cleaned and a new power supply board was ready for assembly. As you can see from picture at the top of our page it cleaned up nicely, restoring the electronics, repainting the front panel while all of the knobs had to be cleaned, and the beat up knob surfaces restored to like new along with new spun aluminum inserts. It works perfectly and the four 811A's I was sure I'd have to replace are actually in good shape. This is thanks to the work done on all of the Collins gear prior to being sent to Iraq in the early 1990's. Apparently the modern solid state military gear gave up in Iraq and this gear was quickly refurbished electrically to replaced it. 

Recently I came home from a local Swap Meet with a Hammarlund HQ-110C (C = w/Clock) - with its original box! Just what I needed another project radio! Well an OB2 and 4K, 15W dropping resistor later - and she plays! An alignment and setting the oscillators on frequency and it's electrically done. Just the front panel outer edge needs paint and the perforated cabinet will get a fresh powder coat in original color before its ready to take its place in the shack. A hot receiver even on the highbands if you're mainly interested in AM. With the optional HC-10 converter or an outboard BC-453 a great CW/SSB receiver. Not bad though for 40 bucks with its original box!

(Left) This beauty a Hammarlund HQ-110 is a classic example of 1950s receiver technology. (Right) Heathkit SB-102 Transceiver, HP-23A Power Supply & Electro-Voice Model 719 Ceramic Mic.

The trusty old Heathkit HP-23-A power supply was perfect to get my collection of ARC-5 receivers and transmitters going. The HP-23A came with a Heathkit SB-102 transceiver attached. After rebuilding the power supply I started in on the SB-102 and it is now clean, stable and working great! The Heathkit SB-102 for those who like me had never used one, were in for a big surprise. This is a great radio with stability that makes the S-Line blush. It's well designed, they took note of the Collins S-Line and KWM-2 when they designed the SB-301 receiver, SB-401 transmitter and SB-102 transceiver and made it affordable. This station also has a like new SB-600 matching speaker seen in another picture below with the SB-102. There is also a strange electrical and mechanical resemblance to the Trio (Kenwood) TS-510 transceiver. This can't be accidental, so who copied who?

Restored Heathkit HP-23-A power supply (left) and restored Heathkit HP-23 power supply (right) essentially the same supplies except no support for 220V operation with the original HP-23.

The Heathkit HP-23 line of Power Supplies are great all around for many rigs of the 1960s and 1970s. I use mine on all sorts of rigs including old Command Set transmitters and receivers from WWII. They can all be upgraded (an HP-23-A and an HP-23 shown) using the original case transformer and choke. Essentially everything else gets replaced. I used Mike Bryce's WB8VGE of the Heathkit Shop new PCB kit which has all modern components to make a nice bench or vintage radio supply. I added a toggle switch to select the LV B+ (either 250V or 300V) where the old two wire power cord went and added a new hole for the three wire cord. I also added a double fuse holder under the chassis. With this PCB conversion you can cut almost one inch from the cover height ( a little less on the HP-23A as the transformer for the 220V option is slightly taller) and still slip this baby into an SB-600 speaker enclosure leaving the rubber feet on. It will also fit in a Collins 516F-2 cabinet too. BTW - Mike also made the PCB kit I use for the Drake AC-4 power supply rebuilds I've done. Great stuff Mike!

A local ham visiting the shack about 20 years ago commented after about 20 minutes that "You don't have a microphone?" Well it was true, I did operate a lot of CW and the Mic was actually in the drawer!. Today things have changed a bit and the collection of microphones is growing. To start that collection I decided to acquire some of the microphone models my Dad had used in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's - the Astatic D-104 (shown attached to the Drake 4 C-Line), the Turner 254C (on the Collins S-Line), and the Electro-Voice 719 (above on the Heathkit SB-102). After the discovery of my Dad's 1951 station photo above, I'm now looking for a JT-30 Mic! (Found one - See my Central Electronics 20A SSB Station!)

Restored Swan Cygnet Model 270 Transceiver along with the restored Shure 401A Hand Mic that matches the torquoise dial bands, and really goes nicely with the rig.

It works as well on CW and AM as SSB. Few DX stations worked ever suspected I was using a 50 year old radio.

Well I should probably stop going to Swap Meets as I keep finding interesting rigs. This one was a surprising little rig I had forgotten about. The Swan 270 is a 5 Band SSB transceiver produced by Swan after the success of their single bander 120/140/180 SSB transceivers. It features a unique single conversion design with a switched VFO rather than a complicated multi-stage tracking preselector and both the VFO and Carrier Oscillators were solid state and very stable. Swan had put the effort into a great design for these two critical parts of the transceiver in order to greatly simplify the overall design and keep cost very low. The result was an all band HF SSB/CW or AM transceiver with more than 100 watts out (PEP) and included crystal calibrator and both AC and DC power supplies and an internal speaker. Just plug it in, hook up an antenna and you're on the air for $499! Well after rebuilding the tuning mechanism, replacing the usual suspect capacitors and resistors, and a carefull alignment it was back in shape. A little cosmetics (polish and wax) plus refinishing the great old vintage knobs (note no spun aluminum inserts - just classic ham radio) and she looks and works great. (Actually we discovered that the original Main Tuning knob was supposed to have a spun aluminum insert and it now has the correct knob with a new insert.) Tip - Black hammertone paint does a nice over spray on wrinkle finish if the cabinet is otherwise in good shape with just minor paint nicks. I checked into the Vintage SSB Roundtable on 75M with it on Tuesday night (3825 at 8 PM PT) and the next day on 20M worked ZL1BD easy on the first call. So $75 for the rig, $60 in electronic parts, $15 in hardware and $10 in paint for a total of $160 and a few days work and here you have a full featured vintage SSB rig that you can work DX or chew the rag - plus you can grab the handle and take it with you! The 270 didn't stay long enough to for me to get really attached to it as this little baby has a new home all warm and fuzzy sitting surrounded by lots'a great vintage radio gear that gets a regular work out. She's up to it too. Bernie, WA6HDY says I can come and visit the 270 anytime.

(Left) Minimalist setup for restoration has gotten some upgrades thanks to someone literally throwing away (local recycling center) a military version of the HP 8640B(opt 323) Signal Generator, a very nice 100MHz Dual Trace Tektronix Scope and a neat little audio frequency signal generator that has proved very useful. A friends sharp eye caught these and he brought them back from the brink in the trunk of his BMW and called me on the telephone. He knew I'd know what to do with them. I did and amazingly they all worked! Tracking Generator has been added to the HP 141T/8553B/8552B Spectrum Analyzer and then I found another set so now almost what I had back in the '70s at work!

Just bring up a (WRL) Galaxy Electronics Galaxy V MK2 with a custom made external VFO-Speaker Console with the AC-400 Power Supply in back.

(Right) This little Kenwood TS130S station spent some time as the "Bench Radio" in our radio workshop.

A non working Kenwood TS-130S turned out to be only a loose screw missing from the IF board, probably when the optional filters were installed. The loose screw had lodged itself up in the front panel area causing a minor short. Returning it to its proper location holding the IF board down, and the little rig works just fine. This rig followed just a few months after the ultra successful TS-120S released in 1979. It added the WARC bands, optional filter switching with an additional 1.8KHz SSB Filter and a 500Hz CW Filter, an Audio Speech Processor (the big TS-830S would have an RF Speech Processor), and an attenuator that could be switched in. Rigs like this marked the end of a period of more than 50 years of innovation by US manufactures of ham gear. The superb mechanical design and excellent ergonomics swayed the majority of buyers and not just in the US, but world wide. It also showed that a low priced US made rig was not enough to move buyers. This rig was not cheap at $700 when introduced in its TS-120S form, proving that Hams would pay for quality... and they did in droves.

From 1963 - My project wrapping up 2010 is (Left) the SBE SB-33 Series SF-1 SSB Transceiver, SBE 200X Mic and matching SB1-LA Linear Amp.

(Right) The end of an era - Heathkit's final SB line of gear SB-104A a fully Solid State transceiver, shown here with matching Power Supply/Speaker, external VFO and Monitor Scope.


Back in the late 1960s I had an SBE SB-33 Transceiver that I ran mobile in my new 1969 Beetle (also Baby Blue in color). This one however is the last of the SB-33 called the Series SF-1. This model had many of the changes that were to be incorporated into the new SB-34 sans the mechanical and power supply changes and the more tranditional Gray colors for cabinet and knobs. I guess many didn't care for the Baby Blue Dakaware knobs and bezels (I admit I didn't like them then either so I changed the knobs and painted the bezels black on mine) but today I just love what Faust did when he introduced this ground breaking design. It wasn't a cheaply built radio, it had quality components like the Collins 2.1KC Mechanical Filter, so for a four band rig (80/40/20/15M) the bilateral design enabled almost all stages (except the 12DQ7 driver and a pair of PL500s as finals - the only tubes) to be used in both transmit and receive and offer this radio at an amazing $389 when introduced. This rig may also have been one of the first pieces of ham radio transmitter/receivers or transceivers (along with Harvey Wells) to make use of printed circuit boards, typically only seen in expensive commercial equipment. These I am sure both reduced cost and increased reliability. It was a light weight portable rig and actually still a relatively small rig today, not much bigger than a K3 with a built-in AC power supply. Mobile I ran it off a Heathkit 12VDC to 110VAC power inverter that fit under the rear seat opposite the 12V battery.  Unfortunately the SBE SB-34 that followed was a hopeless rig with so many PCB failures that they are almost impossible to restore.  A few that were never mobile may be the exception, but my Dad found (one at a time) more than 20 failed PCB traces.  It was a futile endeavour.  Stick with an SB-33 Series SF-1 and you'll be pleasantly surpirised by its performance.

The SB1-LA Linear Amp was another ingenious design from Gonset's Side Band Engineers lab - with six 6JE6 tubes in parallel runing at just under 900 volts on the plates, but in excess of 1 ampere when fully loaded. Today this 47 year old linear will put out 500W with only 25W of drive (original Raytheon tubes). With the full output of the SB-33 (swamped on the SB1-LA input by a bank of resistors that represent a 75 ohm load) it will put out 600W running off 117VAC. With six tubes in parallel the output impedance is very low so the output PII network looks funny with small inductance and big capacitance, something like a solid state linear might have. Very neat design, this one has a couple of mods for better cooling and I'm thinking about QSK support in the future. A complete set of tubes however aren't cheap - today around $170 for a sextet of matched tubes rather than $24 to $36 as back in the '60s - however they appear very rugged if cared for properly.

Heathkit SB-104A Lineup

Not something I was looking for, but a chance to sample the end of an era with Heathkit's SB-104A series all Solid State SSB Transceiver and matching accessories. This station cleaned up very nicely as seen in the photo above. It is quite stable and produces full power on all bands 80-10M less WARC. A handful of parts; a new set of rubber feet, and a new Jackson planetary drive is really all this rig needs and fortunately both are readily available. This rig, while not sold in the huge numbers like the HW/SB-100/101/102 series, was a good performer and with some of the popular mods to the receiver front end became an excellent station. Proud owners found these stations very hard to part with.

Single Side Band, 1950s Style - What well healed engineer wouldn't go for a 9dB signal improvement with the same power?

Vintage Central Electronics SSB Station -"SSB for the average ham" featuring a Hammarlund HQ-110 w/Central Electronics Sideband Slicer, homebrew 458 VFO, and Model 20A phasing SSB exciter. An appropriate vintage JT-30 Mic sits atop a new stand made just for this station with a new 9" stainless riser on a new base painted to match the Central Electronics cabinets. An amplifier is in the works based on another Command Set transmitter chassis and a pair of 1625's that will boost the 15-20W PEP to around 85W PEP so it can drive the typical linear amplifier to a full gallon output. The 20A features an excellent VOX, but no PTT.

Commercial SSB gear for the broad Amateur Radio market, not just the wealthy (sic' the Gold Dust Twins), was championed by Central Electronics with their line of phasing type SSB exciters in the early 1950s. Having introduced in 1951 the Sideband Slicer, an external box that connects to the last IF stage of a typical 1940s-1950s ham receiver provided a phasing adapter to eliminate the opposite sideband without the requirement of an expensive crystal or mechanical filter in front of the IF stages. The Central Electronics Sideband Slicer was tremendously effective, however it did require that the accompaning receiver be stable enough for Single Side Band reception.

In 1954 Central Electronics introduced their third SSB exciter the Model 20A (following the highly successful model 10A/10B). The Model 20A provided bandswitch coverage of 160 through 10 meter amateur bands, using their familiar phasing SSB excitation and now had a pair of 6AG7s in the final to produce 20W PEP. The 20A was a 9MHz SSB exciter which hetrodyned against either a xtal pluged in the front panel, or with an external VFO. The 20A was offered as a kit for $199, or factory assembled for $249.

A "New" Central Electronics 458 VFO "conversion"

A modification "kit" was offered for the popular WWII surplus BC-458 Command Set transmitter to make a 5.0 to 5.5 MHz VFO for the 20A. The kit included a cabinet, front panel and calibrated dial and was called the Model 458 VFO. Later extra parts were offered to make it a band switching unit to cover 160, 80/20, 40, 15 and 10 Meter bands. The 10 Meter band actually required a crystal controlled converter in a small shielded box that sat just behind the front panel activated by the Model 458 VFO bandswitch.

Like many homebrew rigs of the 1950s - 1960s, Command Set components ruled for items such as the VFO. The 1965 edition of the ARRL's Single Sideband for the Radio Amateur featured numerous such applications. We weren't able to find a Central Electronics Model 458 VFO (built from a 1940s BC-458 Command Set transmitter) during the time we were doing the 20A restoration, so we had to build a new one. A 1944 BC-458 we've owned since the 1960's, a recycled CE Sideband Slicer cabinet, and a new front panel, most of the components to construct the modifications were either from our junk box (new old stock) or a few brand new components like capacitors and diodes, we were able to make our own new 458 VFO. A local sheet metal shop has constructed numerous CE blank panels for Slicers, VFOs, 10A/10B/20A exciter restorations and even new ones for Linear Amplifiers to aid in completing several restoration projects for the Vintage Sideband Roundtable gang.

The Vintage SSB Roundtable meets each Tuesday evening on or about 3895 at 7PM Pacific Time. Join our gang at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Vintage_SSB_Round_Table/

The Mosley CM-1 receiver from the 1960s. Internals of this unusual and rare CM-1. Note the well built VFO compartment that is rock stable.

Now here's a rather rare receiver, the Mosley CM-1, the only time they strayed from antennas, Mosley offered this interesting package that seems a lot like a Drake 2B, however it uses five of the same 6AW8A tube, has a stable VFO covering 600 KHz of each band, 80M through 15M and three 600KHz segments of the 10M band. It includes a Product Detector for CW & SSB, and conventional Diode detector for AM. It features a solid state power supply and uses neon bulbs for Voltage Regulation for the VFO and BFO, and has crystal controlled converter ahead of the 80M receiver for each of the 40/20/15/10M bands. Two IF stages and two additional loosely coupled IFs at 455KHz ahead of them provided a narrow passband for CW & SSB, although rather broad skirts made it not quite up to the Drake 2B, however at nearly half the price it was an outstanding receiver for those that were willing to give it a try. Dropping in a Collins 455KHz 2.1 KHz Mechanical Filter in place of the first two IF cans would make it a killer SSB receiver for a vintage station, and still way less expensive than a Drake 2B. The internal shot above showing the RCA jacks and RG-174/U cabling for a CE Sideband Slicer interface.

cabshot above . The internals. . The internals above should the cabling added to interface the Central Electroinics .

Harvey-Wells AM/CW station introduced in 1954: T-90 transmitter with hefty APS-90 power supply and the R-9A receiver. A compact 90W station for fixed or mobile use.

The Harvey-Wells Company

Some earlier exposure to Harvey-Wells as a Novice in 1962/63 I knew they built good gear, but after acquiring the T-90 and R-9A twins this year (2010) I had a new admiration for the gear they produced. These units are very well engineered, with a rather complex set of features that protect the 6146 final plate modulated by a pair of 6AV5s. It's built with quality components throughout just as you would expect to see in commercial or military gear and as noted by the power supply built as you would expect for a KW linear running this little plate modulated 6146 transmitter. This is construction you would expect from companies like Collins Radio. This is very impressive gear! What is a bit strange is the fact that here they were still building AM gear when virtually all other manufactures were building SSB gear by the early 1960s. A liitle history of the company and the financial woes inflicted on them over two very expensive government contracts that were cancelled after the equipment was produced. Certainly this had a lot to do with their inability to develop SSB gear while enmbroiled in two government contracts that ultimately led to the company's demise. It is really a terrible shame as they would have surely added to the list of very impressive SSB gear for decades to come. Not as well known as the E.F. Johnson Viking Ranger, this rig is a better desgn with a hefty power supply that makes it a top performer on AM. A keeper! March 2013 - I just found the matching Harvey-Wells Z-Match antenna tuner (see my Noivice station above) with its original box and manual! Wow in nice shape too! My Novice station from 1962 is almost complete, and these pieces are getting jealous.

Vintage Yaesu FT-101E Station (1976)

It's never been easier to get a vintage SSB Station on the air. This complete station was picked up at a local swap meet for $125. $40 in parts, $10 in hardware and around 16 hours work - it is all working. It also had the famous Fox Tango Filter board installed with an extra 6 KHz AM filter and 250Hz CW filter in addition to the standard 2.4KHz SSB and 500Hz CW filters, giving it filtering options not available with competing rigs of that era.

EF Johnson Viking Ranger - Very clean late serial number Ranger I

The venerable Johnson Viking Rangers were multipling like rabbits around here for a while. This very nice late serial number Ranger I is pretty much the same internals as the updated look Ranger II. They work and sound good, however really not nearly as good of a circuit design (really dated) compared with the Harvey Wells T-90 restored above. (Just recently - February 2014 - it was announced that Kenwood would purchase EF Johnson - primarily it would appear for their P25 radio business.)

A long term project...

I'm working on restoring my homebrew station from the early 1970s. This is a significant undertaking, as in the early years projects tended to get robbed for new projects. As I have been working on other restoration projects I have also been accumulating missing parts to complete my original Transmitter, Power Supply/Spkr and Receiver that mimicked the Collins S-Line look with those LMB look-a-like cabinets (these cabinets are still available today!). This mostly solid state gear we hope to have back on the air soon.

Finally getting back to work on our homebrew station from the early 1970s. Our transmitter (left), Console with 12VDC PS, Speaker & VSWR Bridge (center), and our receiver (right). The LMB S-Line look a like cabinets are still nice cabinets today. New front panels to replace the rather thin original LMB panels are underway. Searching for a missing McCoy 9MC xtal filter for the transmitter. Thanks to Mark, NU6X I now have the missing McCoy 9MC xtal filter to continue restoration.

We try our hand at one of the high power Swan transceivers - the 700CX - Yes, it is potent, but the 8950 final tubes are quite expensive today.

So many people complain about drifty Swan rigs. I just have never found this to be the case. Once the tuning mechanism has been cleaned and lubricated they are very stable. This is a very common issue with old rigs that have grease that has coagulated and acts like a rubber band to the tuning. The drift is actually the servicing needed on the mechanicals so once the dial is set the thing actually stays put.

Then Swan added some features for the CW Op with the introduction of the 750CW Audio Filters, better keying, and changed the final tubes to 6MJ6's, a heavy duty version of the 6LQ6. The next rig, the Swan HF-700S with the new front panel design seems to be pretty much the same radio internally. Output of >300 W PEP is straight forward with a pair of NOS tubes in the final.

First National Radio restoration Project an NCX-500 - A pretty rig that in some ways mimics the Swan 500CX design with some very nice features like RIT missing on the Swan line. Heavy Duty 6MJ6 Finals.

Possibly the most comprehensive restoration project I've undertaken due to some very poor maintenance by previous owners, in the end though it turned out beautifully. I must thank the folks at Davies Molding (makers of the Dakaware knobs) for treating me to some NLA knobs for this restoration. Who would have thought a search would turn up some remaining stock plus a matching main tuning knob, that while not original certainly looks much better than the National knob that left the huge nut behind it exposed with no skirt on their knob. The radio sounds geat and has been used on the Vintage SSB Round Table on 75M quite a lot over the last couple of years.

My first Hallicrafters' station the SX-117/HT-44 combo with the matching PS-150-120 Power Supply/Speaker. Photo's on the wall of my Dad's post WWII Hallicrafters SX-28A and homebrew 600W AM transmitter.

This Hallicrafters station was released just about the time I got my Novice ticket (SX-117 - 1963) (HT-44 - 1964) and I drooled over this gear which was vastly less expensive than the Collins S-Line. Finally sitting here in my shack 50 years later I discovered the construction quality, circuit design and performance are even better than anticipated. If you didn't want to build a Heathkit station this was an impressive station for the money in the mid-1960s. Wonderful bandwidth selections on the SX-117 (0.5, 2.5, 5 KHz) make for great ESSB or AM reception as well as CW and an excellent Notch Filter in the 50KHz 2nd IF. As much as I love my S-Line, I'd forgo the 1KHz dial calibration not to have to keep grabing the band switch every 200 KHz especially with today's band allocations. The HT-44's excellent Phasing method Single Side Band generator makes for superb sounding audio (using a Kenwood MC-50 Mic - the HT-44  likes it) and it will produce AM with a carrier and BOTH sidebands. Hmm an HT-45 Linear is really tempting now.

Hallicrafters FPM-300 Safari front panel (top pic) and Safari internals (bottom pic) AC and DC Power Supplies built-in.

As we discovered with the HT-44/SX-117 combo Hallicrafters uses nothing but quality components throughout. The FPM-300 "Safari" is no exception.

Apparently Hallicrafter's next entree into Solid State ham gear after the amazining FPM-200 in 1960 (apparenlty only 25 of those $6,000 radios were built) took quite a while to happen as the little Hallicrafters "Safari" FPM-300 makes it's debut. The wait until 1973 seems well worth while as this rig really performs. Very modern dual-insulated gate FETs in the front end and IF stages that does not exhibit the overload problems seen in most solid state ham gear of the period. A superb 2.1KHz 6-Pole SSB filter allows working within 2KHz of nearby very strong signals with no problems. The transmitter shares much of the same circuitry as the receiver using bi-lateral stages first introduced by Faust Gonset at SBE with the SB-33, however using the dual-insulated gate FETs rather than Germanium transistors. It also used a bandswitched preselector and driver tuned circuits rather than diode switched bandpass filters that caused additional front end problems with other solid state rigs of the period. Only two tubes are used, a 12BY7 driver and a little 6KD6 sweep tube final with 240W PEP Input power. Both 115VAC and 13.8VDC power supplies are built-in and it even has a small 4" speaker included so just a Mic and Antenna are all that's required to get on the air. As the "Safari" name suggests this rig was intended to be a high-performance portable or mobile rig with the features most needed. The big chrome cabinet latches seemed unnecessary (little reason to lift the hood except to show it off) however it would seem right at home mounted under the dash of your Land Rover! "CQ DX 20M this is WB6BDA/9G5DA" The modular construction suggests this radio may have benefitted from Hallicrafters efforts for Northrop developing military/government radio systems. The Capacitor tuned VFO like other Hallicrafters gear is very stable with less than 100Hz drift from power on and there is no need to touch the dial after a short warm-up. Not as elegant as the Drake PTO of the C-Line but interpolation within 1KHz is no problem, and nothing more is needed in 1973 - ham radio is not a channelized band so we can operate where we want inside the band edges and there is no problem with schedules on precise frequencies. Remembering our Novice days crystal controlled and tuning the entire (50KHz Novice) band for a reply to our CQ - this is a first class transceiver for 1973!

Unfortunately as we have seen before, acquisition of Hallicrafters by Northrop Corporation likely led to the demise of the Amateur Radio product line. Northrop was interested in military contracts for communications equipment and didn't understand the importance of Amateur Radio as the proving ground for new technology. Like Collins Radio acquired by Rockwell, eventually the critical connection between R&D value and upper management gets lost. The FPM-300 may have been the last hoorah for Hallicrafters Ham Radio gear.

Finally a Drake TR7 with rare RV75 Synthesized VFO - The RV75 provides ultra stable operation and much improved variable tuning speed.

When I got back on the air in 1979 I looked at a lot of new rigs. The Drake TR7 was impressive, but so was its price. I ended up bringing home a new Yaesu FT-101ZD, Ext VFO, and Antenna tuner all for less than just the TR7 without the power supply. Still I wondered if I'd made a mistake. A New Kenwood TS-930SAT would come along about 4 years later to replace the FT-101ZD and ext VFO, but had I gotten the TR7 to start with??? Well finally I know. I should have taken home the TR7 with all its goodies and saved a bunch of money spent a few years later. This beautiful TR7 was formerly owned proudly by Forest Balliet, W6LWD. A radio guru who maintained out of warranty ham gear for Northern California Ham Radio stores for decades. This was his personal rig, which spent most of its time on RTTY it seems. Loaded with just about every Drake option save the Noise Blanker. Only a missing LED bar on one segment kept it from being perfect, however I learned of Willi, DF4NW who has made replacement LED Display PCBs for the TR7/RV7/R7. Shown is his .39" high Yellow display. Very nice work Willi - I love it! Check out his web site at: www.df4nw.de for more info.

Crap! More projects... Just what I needed.

Rare Vintage SSB find from GE Ham News 1960

In great shape we found these two single band crystal controlled converters on eBay that would sit in front of a BC-453 (ARC-5) receiver to provide stable, selective SSB mobile reception. Directly from the September/October 1960 edition of the GE Ham News. General Electric at one time bosted "999" Hams employed at GE. Very nice construction looks as good as those built at GE for the article.

Vintage SSB Field Day weekend 2013 - Honoring Wes Schum, W9DYV founder of Central Electronics in Tennessee.

The 20M version of the GE Ham News Single Band xtal converter quickly hooked up along with an AC Power Supply and the NIB BC453 released from the Navy in 1946 all works as soon as powered up. This is a hot receiver needing an AGC system with lots of dynamic range often added to the BC-453 for this application. Ready to copy W9DYV for this special event! The WWII crystal's third harmonic used as HFO injection provides dial calibration within 1KC. Amazing after more than 70 years! For those that aren't surprised by this should read the book "Crystal Clear" to learn the amazing story of the Quartz Crystal technology developed here in the US during 1942-43 that had a huge impact on winning WWII.  Hardly known, but this project was the biggest war time project next to the more famous Manhattan Project.  It's impact however has been felt even today.  This FT-243 crystal was made in 1944 benefitting from the solution to Crystal Aging perfected by Physicist Virgil Bottom who was recruitted by the Signal Corp to find the solution to Quartz Crystal aging that caused crystals to suddenly move way off frequency.   The US military on the front lines considered that before Quartz crystals they had "Radio" after they had Crystals they had "Communications".  The book is available on Amazon and from Wiley the IEEE publisher.

The early 1960's Hallicrafters SX-111 turns out to be quite a nice find. It cleaned up very nicely, a sharp receiver with that big Slide Rule Dial. It works great, and for the vintage pretty darn stable on SSB. Here being used with the Central Electronics 20A on the Vintage SSB Round Table.

Tired of rotating vintage stations to our "guest" station operating position we setup 5 of 10 operating Vintage Stations on a heavy duty shelving unit so we can just rotate a Coax Switch to select the station to operate. Several more reside now at the guest station location as we try to decide which stations we want to keep on-line ready to fire up.

The little Heathkit HW-104 Solid State CW/SSB transceiver bottom left of picture is rapidly becoming one of our favorite stations. As typical of the Heathkit SB/HW series they always have great sounding receivers. A Mike Elliot, W8KRR design like the SB-104/A and later Drake R-7 and TR-7/7A it performs very well.

What the heck is a Drake TR5?

This complete Drake Station is based on the "Amateur Band Only" Drake TR5.  As project numbers go this should have been a rig designed before the TR7. Most likely another Mike Elliot, W8KRR design and possibly the first of his after he left Heathkit and moved to Drake. It appears to be something like a solid state version of a TR-4CW/RIT. Not so different than the SB-104/HW-104 designs - modular, but without plug-in cards. It also uses the same second IF of the TR7 at 5645KHz. It apears that Drake decided to not release this rig until the last iteration TR7 was released. Maybe they thought it might impact sales of the TR7, but apparently only a few hundred were sold. It is unusual in that it is a single conversion design and therefore has no Pass-Band tuning and a single narrow filter option, usually a 500Hz CW filter (as in this one) but it could be a 1.8KHz SSB filter or a 300Hz CW filter. The 4 or 6 KHz AM filter could also be installed but there is no AM Mode position.  It also utilizes Mechanically switched front end bandpass filters and output stage switched filters rather than PIN diode switched in these critical stages to improve performance.  It also has selectable AGC speed and full QSK CW in addition to built-in support for the WARC bands. Like most other manufactures in 1980 the crystals were options to be added when the bands were available for use by Amateurs here in the US. It could share the same accssories as the TR7 however they also offered lower cost versions of the PS7 (a PS75), and a single tube 3-500Z Linear called an L-75. The MS7 speaker, 7077 Mic, and RV75 Synthesized VFO (shown with this station) or an MN2700 Antenna Tuner (with a Balanced Line Option) were often used with this rig. This one has all of the WARC band crystals, 500Hz CW filter, the rare Noise Blanker Option, and came with the MS7 Speaker and Drake 7077 (Astatic) Dynamic Mic. The TR5 along with the TR7A would be the last Amateur Radio transceivers released by Drake. Too bad as it is a great performing* radio! An L75 would be a cool addition!

* Many of the Drake TR7 transceivers are plagued with PA amplifier issues. The TR5 (and presumably the TR7A) has adjustable BIAS not in the early TR7 PAs, however power does still drop off on 15 and 10M unless the PA is rebuilt with a couple of mods and new transistors (5 of them) with better performance at higher frequencies.  

NOTE to TR5 Owners:  We found while repairing another TR5, that some components in the later TR5s had been switched out to inappropriate componenents causing severe problems.  We found in the TX Mixer stage (buried under the Digital Display Board) that several 100 Ohm Carbon Composition resistors had simply been subsituted with wound metal film resistors.  (Drake had already made the decision to exit the Amateur Radio market to concentrate on their profitable Satellite TV business).  While the wound metal film resistors are great for BIAS circuits (in general) they are not at all useful as RF decoupling due to their inherent inductance and they can cause very bad problems.  Carbon composition resistors were widely used during these years for RF decoupling (see them used on 12 VDC line of my homebrew 2 Meter rig above).  In this case the radio had been back to Drake several times to have the same transistors and Balanced Mixer replaced.   They were blown again.  Inspection of my TR5 which had never had these issues revealed the proper carbon composition resistors were installed.  Replacing the blown components and the resistors with (new) carbon composition resistors has so far solved the problem.  New carbon composition resistors (made in Japan) are still available from Mouser at this writing (2014).

What's up Next???? 

Unfinished front panel of the "new" receiving converter for the Central Electronics 20A

Front panel mimicks the 20A layout (mirrored) and uses the same 458 VFO to enable transceive operation as it would have been done in 1954. Crystal controlled 9MHz First IF down converted to 455 KHz (heterodyne Oscillator crystals 455 KHz above and below provide for no frequnecy shift Sideband switching) feeding a BC-453 Q5'er for selectivity and Crystal controlled front end that works with the 5.0 MHz to 5.5 MHz 458 VFO to provide stability as good as the excellent BC-458 ARC-5 transmitter converted with a CE kit to provide a stable VFO for the 20A. The same Crystal Hetrodyne Oscillators also provide VFO output to the 20A for identical tuning range and calibration on all bands. A simplified VFO dial is in the works.

1) When time permits working on my 9MHz Receiving Converter for the CE 20A station above. The concept is to build a receiver based on the same CE 458 VFO that would provide stability, and selectivity better than anything commercially available at the time, using readily available (in 1954) parts to do it. We've basically expanded on what was being done for SSB Mobile operation in the 1950s with the popular BC-453 (Q5er) to produce a fixed home station receiver to go with the CE 20A. Using a 9MHz First IF down converting to a BC-453 (ARC-5/R-23) receiver as a 455KHz and 85 KHz 2nd & 3rd IF with the 458 VFO for 80M/20M and crystal heterodyne oscillators for the other bands to produce a SSB receiver "1954 Style" with stability and selectivity better than anything commercially available in that era. Enclosed in a matching CE 20A cabinet with a mirrored front panel layout (photos above of work in progress). A cheap conversion back in the day (BC-453s were often less than $5 surplus), but we are finding it rather pricey in today's dollars to build using 1950s components to be as genuine as possible, but soon it will be on the air.

2) Still gathering pieces to complete reconstruction of my 1970's homebrew station. Time to order a host of crystals (now getting a bit pricey at around $30 or so each), but I have realistically placed this on the 2014 or 2015 calendar for completion while I deal with health issues that will limit my ham radio activities for some time.

...but then I found a Collins S-Line (75S-3/32S-3/516F-2) needing a new home at the Swap Meet at this year's 2013 Pacificon in Santa Clara, CA and that may be back on the air before too long.

Our current Collins S-Line WE 516F-2, WE 75S-3, WE 32S-3, RE 30L-1 has replaced the 75S-3B and 32S-1 in the photo at the top of our QRZ page. Using our new radiosport RS20CR 600 Ohm Monaural headset and NOS mil-spec Turner 350D hand mic that replaced our ailing ElectroVoice hand Mic that we used on the P3 Orion's Collins 618T.

A lot of projects are on hold for the end of 2013, 2014 and the beginning of 2015 as I go through a series of operations to get my body working like it should once again.  I hope to be back on my projects by mid 2015... 'or maybe not until 2017?

Last updated on December 23, 2014 - More to follow...

It's January 2017 already and although no new work has been done with vintage gear I'm still collecting a few much sought after radios.  I located a Collins 618T military HF transceiver and control head as used in the Navy P3, a really nice Collins 75A-4 receiver, and very recently a superb condition National HRO-W receiver with 4 coil packs (from WWII).  Oh and a Model 40 Atwater-Kent TRF receiver with an RCA 100-A Loudspeaker.  Someday I will retire for the final time and be able to get back to work on these great radios, but I still have a few 3 or 4 year old projects to complete first.

Work background:

Forty plus years in the Electronics Industry...

During my 40 plus years in the Electronics Industry which included engineering work on Test Equipment, Communications Systems, Computers and Telecommunications, I was fortunate to be involved with some of the most amazing technology break throughs of the period. From my early years at Hewlett-Packard seeing LEDs (not just LED lamps but fully functional digital displays in actual test equipment) a very long time before the first LED lamp was seen outside HP Labs; working on the very first CAD PCB design program - using Stanford University's computer center at nights we were able to go from schematic to finished PCB for as many as three different PC boards in 24 hours (typically that would have taken 3 man months of work to layout and manufacture 3 new prototype PCBs); the earliest DSP systems (Signal Analyzers they were called then) which the HP 5480 was first demonstrated bringing a fetal heartbeat up out of the noise - heady stuff for 1967/68. Development of sophisticated test and measurement systems for baseband to microwaves; development of the world's first Digital Microwave Radio System (receiver front end) and QPSK (on single sidebands*) - the first commercial application of today's T1 standard; developing very high-end PC based workstations for CAD and high-end Servers for government, enterprise and data centers. Development of ultra high performance and ultra high reliability data storage sub systems which not only powered the Internet's first search engines, but also provided super performance storage for media giants like Industrial Light and Magic, Disney and Pixar.

In late 1998 invented the first Blade Server, a low power (7W each), hot swap, (about the size of a Cat in the Hat book) server with hooks into hardware that provided for software to remotely monitor and manage, including automatically provision, on-demand, huge numbers of servers in a very disciplined manner, yet with a very flexible environment. This architecture made possible managing tens of thousands of servers at multiple remote data centers. It got the immediate attention of Intel when it was first shown in March of 2000 and led to the acquistion of our San Luis Obispo, based Ziatech Corp in a $240M cash deal a few months later.  

This architecture is the basis for how cloud computing exists today. While at Intel Corp. it was also developed in 2000-2003 into the Advanced Telecommunications Computer Architecture (or ATCA), which is one of the primary platforms being used for the 3GPP to 4G LTE (long term evolution) to full 4G+ network roll out. The patents around this architecture are considered by Intel's patent attorneys to be "jewels" of Intellectual Property* in the industry.

Semi-retired in 2003, I still do consulting in computing, telecommunications and intellectual property. I also found myself operating an unintended business building professional quality communications Listen-Only and Boom-Mic headsets for Amateur Radio. Necessity is the mother of invention and others insisted I make one for them.  A few thousand units later around the world it's been quite a lot of fun!  For more information go to: www.arlancommunications.com

Left radiosport RS20S Listen-Only and middle RS60CF Boom-Mic headsets. Just added (right) the RS20CR a 600 Ohm Monaural Classic Radio headset. A must for vintage radio buffs.

* Intellectual Property and of interest to Amateur Radio folks: In 1954 Don Weaver (at Stanford Research Institute) patented the Weaver Method of Single Side Band Generation, also known as the Third Method of SSB generation. Interestly Weaver was earlier a student at Stanford University and was reportedly one of the students working on a project for Central Electronics to build a better Phasing Network for SSB generation. The Weaver method developed later at SRI provided much better Opposite Side Band Suppression,usesonly lowpass filters and quadrature mixers, and is a favored method in digital implementations. Another novel feature was that that the transmitted bandwidth could actually be adjusted wider for better fidelity, or narrower for better efficiency with the twist of a knob varing the frequency of the generator that sits in the middle of the desired voice spectrum - say from 1.2KHz to 1.8KHz allowing for a 2.4 to 3.6 KHz transmitted (or received) SSB signal! The method works for receiving as well.

I built a Weaver method SSB generator to compare with a McCoy 9MHz Xtal Filter SSB generator in the early 1970s after working on the first Microwave Digital Radio System at Avantek. The Avantek Microwave Digital Radio system leveraged the Weaver Method (QPSK modulator with separate T1 carriers on each sideband) which led to additional patents in 1970/1971 by Walt Gill and James Mallenger nearly 18 years later. I didn't actually use the variable generator to change bandwidth as in those days increased talk-power meant keeping the voice spectrum narrow so it sat at 1.2KHz (Weaver originally suggested 1.5KHz).

Another 28 years later, in 1998, Dan Tayloe (N7VE) while at Motorola developed and patented the Quadrature Sampling Detector, which like the work on the Avantek Microwave Digital Radio in1970 leveraged Weaver's work again. Arguably the QSD architecture is today at the heart of modern communications equipment from QRP ham radios and Cell phones to the most advanced communications equipment available. Just check out Elecraft's KX3 or Flex Radio's new 6000 series transceivers. Today's Smart Phones and Tablets are smart enough to become more than half of a modern Software Defined Radio. I/Q outputs from a simple QSD Receiver front end (direct conversion) fed to the USB Stereo audio input of an iPod, iPhone or iPad will demodulate, provide selectable mode, selectable bandwidth filtering, audio output, Panadapter, Waterfall and regular Scope displays with performance rivaling anything available today (more than 110 dB dynamic range). For about $150 and an iPad you can add a Panadapter and second receiver to just about any transceiver with an IF output. Just amazing... What will radio be like in another 20 years? Remember that SSB will be 100 years old in 2015!

73 Dave WI6R

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