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Greetings, All!

We've probably just enjoyed a QSO.Thanks for checking out my biography. That's me, Rick, on the right and my best asset and XYL, Judy, on the left.

You've probably landed here because we just had a QSO or you've seen one of my postings onYouTube. My QTH is near Pittsburgh, PA, USA (locator FN00dh). Pittsburgh was historically a steel production center, but over the years has transformed itself into high-tech, commercial industries and has become a showcase city with a modern convention center, Hofbrauhaus on the South Side, three new sports stadia for the Steelers, Pens and Pirates, City River Walk and Rivers Casino. It has numerous educational institutions and cultural offerings, as well as numerous parks, recreational offerings, Heinz and Carnegie museums, science center with the Requin submarine, and outstanding cultural district. It's a great place to work and live. It's only forty-five minutes to the Laurel Highlands, a premier all-season recreational area. When you come for a visit to Pittsburgh, be sure to book an evening dinner cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, to enjoy a beautiful nighttime view of our River City!

We Love Pittsburgh!!!

I was first introduced to ham radio around age twelve, when we visited the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. There they had a working ham station set-up and I was able to buy the ARRL publication: HOW TO BECOME A RADIO AMATEUR. I was instantly intrigued and HAD to find out more. After many Elmers from the Horseshoe Radio Club in Altoona and response from the helpful section: "Help Us Obtain Our Ham Licenses" in POPULAR ELECTRONICS, I was able to get my novice ticket, homebrew reworked AT-1 transmitter (with two crystals!)-- and Hallicrafters SX-99 receiver with large matching speaker! What an exciting day that was!! I well remember making the monthly trip uptown to the Sears store with my Mother in 1958-59 to make the $ 7.00 monthly payment. I still use the SX-99 today 56 years later!

Franklin Institute in Philadlephia, Where I first Learned about Ham Radio:

REMEMBER THE CODEMASTER TELEGRAPH SET? I Remember Learning and Practicing the Morse Code on this to Acquire the 5 WPM Code Proficiency Necessary to Pass the Novice Exam. It Could Beep (or Buzz), Click or Flash! (One had to adjust the buzzer control just right to get the right "buzz" sound.)

I have been a ham since 1958, starting out as KN3CSZ and graduating to general one year later. (Try pronouncing C - S -Z on AM Phone!) Had to let go of ham radio to get educated and start a career, but got back into ham radio 13 years later, after graduating from a Christian college in NY and marrying my college sweetheart. We have two sons and a daughter--all married., and four second-harmonics! (First hamshack photo of me at my novice station in 1958 at the very end of this bio.)

Am  now retired after 36 years of teaching--one year at the University of Pittsburgh and 35 years of high school German.(Where has the time gone?) Enjoy spending time w/ family--kids and grandkids, all kinds of travel--at home and abroad, Trek Rails-to-Trails biking, motor biking, digital photography flying R/C airplanes with grandsons, multimedia projects and outdoor landscaping. Am always building some kit, fooling with QRP/p or operating some nice pieces of vintage ham equipment. (My wife has been way more than patient!)

A compilation of the video links to YouTube in this radio-biography can be viewed on my YouTube Channel:

http://youtube.com/laseraddict777/

SOME FAMIILY PHOTOS:

Our Nelson Family Vacation in Michigan City, IN, after Completing the 3Dune Challenge

Trek Biking on "Rails-to-Trails" at Ohiopyle State Park in PA

"Fun on a Stick." These California motorized skateboards are a hoot to ride and are capable of speeds up to 20 MPH. If you would like to "hop on" one of these and "take a ride" around the plan with me...click on this YouTube link:

         https://youtu.be/jYJbypL5xqM

TRAVEL PHOTOS; AS YOU CAN SEE, JUDY AND I LOVE TO TRAVEL...

Staying warm by drinking a cup of pea soup on our Land Tour / Cruise in Alaska (Inside Passage)

Our Most Significant Trip: Twelve-Day Tour of Israel with "Insight for Living" and Chuck Swindoll

Enjoying the spectacular view and walk at Lake Louise, Banf, Alberta, Canadian Rockies

At Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

On Wild Horizons' Elephant-Back Safari, Zimbabwe

Getting Acquainted with "Sylvester," Our New Cheetah Friend--Wish We Could Take Him Home!

Recent Trip to Beijing, China, On the Great Wall at Bedaling

Xian, Shaanxi Province, China, Terra Cotta Warriors...Part of China's First Emperor's Enormous Mausoleum, Qin Chi Huang, 210 B.C.

Thousands of Life-Size Warriorss Excavated so far, Stand Ready to Defend their Emperor in the Afterlife

Lhasa, Tibet, Potala Palace, 12,000 Feet Above Sea Level

Lhasa, Tibet lies on the Tibetan Plateau of the Himalayas, the "Roof of the World." at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. It is an Autonomous Region in SW China. (The Potala Palace of the former Dalai Lama is in the center of the photo.)

Entrance to Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, Tibet

Beautiful Nighttime View of Shanghai (Pudong), taken from the "Bund" Side of the River

 

The Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Grand Stadium, 25,000 Capacity, Ancient Ephesus, Turkey

Library of Celsus, Ancient Ephesus, Turkey           Enjoying a Catered Dinner at the Library

Strolling Atop Fira, Santorini, Greece...Soaking Up the Sun...

Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina, on South American Tour

Cuzco, Peru, Plaza de Armas

Exploring the Incan Ruins along the Sacred Valley of Peru, South America

ICELAND--WHAT AN AMAZING AND EXTRAORDINARY PLACE TO VISIT! ...AND WE GOT TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!

--------

AND NOW....HAM RADIO HOBBY PHOTOS:

RADIO NOSTALGIA

Do you remember this Allied Radio Company ad back in 1958-59 for the two-tone colored Knight Space Spanner? This was one of my first ham radio rigs. It sold for $ 16.95 plus $ 1.95 more if you wanted the cabinet. That was a big decision! I was able to find a "sold-for-parts only" fixer-er-upper on Ebay. It had a half a dozen things wrong with it, but DID have a great front panel and cabinet. After a couple weeks of trouble-shooting and ordering and replacing parts, it now purrs like a kitten. Have a look at it and hear how it plays after restoration on YouTube. It brought back a lot of nostalgia and was a "dream" of mine to find one and restore it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD5P-ZxBcjE

HAM RADIO PICTURES AND PROJECTS:

Ham radio interests include: building/operating many QRP rigs: 3 Rock Mites (with Pico Keyer upgrade and 1-Watt Audio Amp w/ speaker; also retractable toothbrush paddles; micro 1/2 wave dipole antenna, battery pack.);KX-1, ATS-3B, SW-40+,1-Der 40, etc.; enjoy collecting and operating '50, '60 and '70 boatanchors; dabble occasionally with the digital, CAT-control and sound card modes. I anjoy taditional ham radio, but am always looking for ways to interface ham radio with LAN / WAN networks and remote operation. I also enjoy playing antique commercial BC radios from the 1920's and reading about the history of early wireless. Most of my ham time is spent operating vintage gear on CW.

A COUPLE OF VIBROPLEX ORIGINALS AND THAT J-38 NOSTALGIC STRAIGHT KEY: (1/2 Size Micro Keys on LEFT):

BELOW ARE A COUPLE OF MICRO KEYS: THE QRP J-38 (Top) AND QRP J-36(Bottom)

SEMI-AUTOMATIC KEY, BOTH BUILT BY LEE HUTCHINS, KA6IRL:

You can see and hear this QRP J-36 MICRO KEY in action by clicking on this YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Erm8NCmn6hY

                                                 

THE "ROCK-MITE" COLLECTION WITH RETRACTABLE "TOOTH-BRUSH" PADDLES AND POWER PACKS:

This is the Rock-Mite 40 built into a neat little field box, along with power supply, pico keyer and one-watt audio amp. The home-made micro paddles fit inside.

Micro-Mini Iambic Paddles for QRP:

These micro-mini 1/2 plastic toothbrush paddles are just the thing for "small portable." The paddle sides are cut from a tin can and the wooden '"T" is grooved on the top and both sides to channel the three wires and allow a snug fit into one-half of a rectangular plastic toothbrush holder. It is important to slightly offset the solder lug on each side to avoid unwanted contact. The finger pads are made from small rubber feet or a rubber grommet cut in half. I have made five of these and they all work great. A working demo of these can be found on the ATS-3B YouTube link on this QRZ page. The last picture shows an "accessory pack" in an Altoids tin that contains a small log book, paddles, nine-volt w/ connector, earbuds and coax connector.

THE QRP "FIELD-BOX RADIO" WITH SMALLWONDERLABS SW-40+, ELECRAFT TUNER AND ALTOIDS MEMORY ELECTRONIC KEYER:

,

INDEX LABS QRP PLUS PLUS WITH ACCESSORY TUNER / BATTERY UNIT:

The Index Labs QRP ++ is one of my favorite QRP rigs. It has a "Big Dial" Boat Anchor feel and is built solid like a tank. The adjustable "Q" filter is amazing and can tune out all but the desired signal for pure CW joy! The Companion has a manual antenna tuner with bridge tuning circuit, as well as a 4 Amp/Hr Gel Cell battery for a full weekend of QRP operating. This rig is a true "magic box" and one that I should like to hang on to. The large digital readout and S/Power Meter adds the + to this fine rig.

HEATHKIT HW-9 AND ACCESSORIES:

The Heathkit HW-9 CW transceiver with it's HM-9 Power/SWR Meter makes a nice little rig. It has a good tuning feel and puts out about 4 watts. For QRP a decent Antenna Tuner is a must.

You can hear this HW-9 in QSO by following this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMxS2zhiACQ

QRP OPERATING POSITION:

This is my QRP operating shelf. Here is where most of the QRP operating is done and where exciting, new micro QRPp circuits are tested.

ELECRAFT KX-1, MP-1 VERTICAL ANTENNA, USED FOR BACKYARD FIELD DAY OPERATIONS: (PLAY-STATION CASE IS PERFECT ENCLOSURE!)

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THE KX2 from ELECRAFT:

The newest addition from Elecraft for the QRP fans is the KX2. This 10-watt XCVR has built in ATU, PSK and RTTY decoding with Morse CW input (NO COMPUTER NECESSARY), DSP, digital voice recorder, 10 through 80 meters operation.....just to name a few. It will take Yours Truly some time to get used to all of its features. It is an incredible offering to the ham radio fraternity! Thanks, Elecraft! What design genius is behind this rig!

The ATS-3B ALTOIDS DIGITAL TRANSCEIVER!

The Altoids "Wonder" ATS-3B Digital Transceiver is the most incredible transceiver I have ever seen--built into a mint tin! It was designed by Steve Weber, KD1JV, an absolute design genius, when it comes to micro, incredible XCVR circuits.It has digital readout, scanning tuning, programmable memories, electronic keyer, direct frequency entry by Morse Code, frequency annunciator (telling you what frequency you are on at the tap of a button!), battery voltage indicator...and much more. This micro-transceiver can operate on six bands with plug-in filter boards. This is all powered by a single nine-volt battery, giving a power output of two watts! Truly amazing! Some of the tiny parts are half the size of a short grain of rice! This kit takes magnifiers to construct and is definitely NOT a kit for beginners or unsteady hands! Much patience is also required, but the results give great satisfaction, when that first QSO is made.

REMOVABLE PLASTIC AUDIO AMP INSERT: (below)

The pictures below show how a 1-watt audio amp. was added on a plastic overlay sheet to the top layer of the main circuit board. First, I removed the extra 20-meter filter board that was stored on the left-hand side. (The main board already had a protective plastic overlay to protect components.) Now the ATS3B has its own audio amp. that works great. The amp. was cannibalized from a ten dollar "boom cube" available at Rite-Aid. Now the two circuit board layers fit neatly into an Altoids tin, one on top of the other.

Greatest building challenge: fthe awesome ATS-3B!

You can hear this little gem in an actual QSO by following this latest link:

https://youtu.be/os_PXWMrIVw

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmagNaaCXng&feature=feeduhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmagNaaCXng&feature=feeduhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmagNaaCXng&feature=feedu

THE MOUNTAIN TOPPER is a Commercial Tribander Version of the ATS3B, also designed by Steve Weber, KD1JV.. It is a a sequel to the ATS3B, which has built-in bandswitching and is available from LNR Precision as a "ready-to-play" micro XCVR, covering 40, 20 and 17 meters. It is an awesome little rig and just fits into this small case that has its own built audio amplifier--. Perfect! A nine-volt battery will get you two watts output. It has digital readout, memories, built-in keyer, DFE (direct frequency entry) through Morse, DDS VfO and much more--incredible!

HOME-BREW MICRO PADDLES:

AN IDEA FOR GREAT LITTLE QRP IAMBIC PADDLES TO FIT INSIDE MICRO "ALTOIDS," ETC, CONTAINERS: the short one on the right (below) is only one inch long and fits right inside the amplifier case above (top right), along with the MTR, battery/cable and BNC connector. These home-brewed MICRO IAMBIC PADDLES are made from Radio Shack momentary "tact" switches and work like a charm for micro QRP transceiver projects.

 

A BEAUTIFUL RADIO: THE "BUMBLE BEE"

This is one of the most beautiful radios I have ever seen. It a custom radio, designed and built by Hanz, W 1 J S B of New Hampshire. He built this radio around a Small Wonder Labs SW-20+, for 20 meters, but added so much more! It has solar cells (with analog meter) to charge the built-in 3 amp/hr lithium ion battery, audio/bandpass filter tuners, VXO 10::1 tuning pot covering 14.000 - 14.060 MHz., audio amp, touch keyer with memories, digital meters for frequency readout as well as separate forward- and reflected SWR power meters. In addition, it has a whole arrray of multi-colored tuning LED's to pinpoint signal tuning. There is also a side meter to indicate battery charge.

Hanz, W 1 J S B is an artist and web designer, who combines his artwork with electronic design and engineering. I am fortunate to have one of his custom designs. This radio is a joy to look at and "sweet" fun to operate. Way to go, Hanz! You can check out his website at radioset-go.com.

A "3D" LOOK AT THE 8 CIRCUIT BOARDS REQUIRED TO BE ABLE TO PERFORM ALL OF ITS FUNCTIONS:

PRECISION LNR ELECTRONICS FX-2 TRANSCEIVER:

This is a nifty little CW "pocket hamshack" that puts out 4 to 5 watts on 40 and also covers the 30-meter band. It has quite a few bells amd whistles, including SWR readout, S-Meter, programmable CW memories, electronic keyer and more. Its digital tuning can be done by L or R arrows or knob. It is sold by LNR Precision and is known as the FX-2. It can be powered from 9 to 12 volts.

You can hear a receive demo of this little gem by clicking on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtNGeZ8rJ_I&feature=youtu.be

 

LNR TRANSCEIVERS: LD-5 (left) and FX-4A (right)

Here are a couple more LNR TRANSCEIVERS. They both are multi-band, QRP rigs, operating in CW and SSB mode. They will put out 5 watts. Both of these have exceptioinal SSB on receive and transmit and are really fun to operate. They each pack a multitude of features. I have great DX success, especially on 20 meters, with both of these rigs, using the SOTA QRPKITS LONGWIRE TUNER and a 66' #30 wire stealth antenna and 12 volt battery. Larry at LNR is "over the top" in satisfaction and customer service regarding any technical issues.

Click on this YouTube link to hear my SSB QSO with W0YY using the LD-5 as pictured on Left:

        https://youtu.be/66nERyHDkmg

Hear my 20-Meter CW QSO with N5PHT using  the LD-5 and a the SOTA Tuner with a Long Wire:

         https://youtu.be/i3zzGVgY8tY

The FX-4A transceiver has excellent rec eive audio on SSB, but the transmit audio as set by the factory is weak!--No problem...just turn up the MIC GAIN CONTROL indicated by the GREEN ARROW on the display half of the opened transceiver and advance this micro trimpot 1/4 to 1/2 turn clockwise as you monitor your audio on a separate station receiver and you will have way more audio than you could imagine! My OHR wattmeter shows 10 watts out! I know of three hams so far who have discovered this low factory setting on the audio and have fixed it just with a slight tweak on this mic gain trimpot.

TO HEAR THE FX-4A IN A TWO-WAY CW QSO , CLICK ON THIS LINK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoydXdu3eVM

TO HEAR THE FX-4A IN A TWO-WAY SSB QSO, CLICK ON THIS LINK:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm10fXGXEYE

 

THE SOTA MINIMALIST TUNER BY QRPKITS:

This "micro tuner" is just perfect to match a long-wire to a QRP rig. I add a 3' foot counterpoise wire and am able to achieve a 1:1 SWR with very good reports when used with the FX-2 above:

The Perfect QRP Micro Pocket Antenna System:

I have always been searching for the smallest "pocket size" antenna system to complement my QRP operations. When used with the above SOTA tuner, I have found that this modified Radio Shack short-wave antenna reel ( with a home-brew finger spinner handle added) fits neatly into one's pocket without being too obtrusive. I cut out the attached antenna from the reel, saving one foot or wire. I then attached 65 feet of number 26 copper wire used for making jewelry. This antenna system can be strung out in less than a couple minutes as a perfect complement to an ATS-3B or FX-2 pocket transceiver plus accessory pack in the other pocket. One is then always ready for a QRP QSO opportunity when "on the go." This antenna really works surprisingly well with no problem making CW QSO's on 40 meters.

4SQRP (Four States QRP Tuner) TUNER: (on RIGHT below)

This is another great tuner kit offered by 4sqrp.com that is easy to build and that works very well. It has a 12-point coil induction selector, dual RED and GREEN LED's, to show simultaneously the  REFLECTED and OUTPUT ratio.Addionally, it also has TWO caps to tweak the antenna, as well as rig impedance. It works well with just a 63' Long Wire Antenna and only 4' Counterpoise:

If you would like to see a comparison of these two tuners in operation across 3 bands with the same antenna, check out my YouTube video. The one is very small and fits in your pocket (with even the antenna), while the other one offers perhaps more wide-matching antenna systems. Here is the YouTube link to view the commparison:

       https://youtu.be/aTHqz4XrVnM

 

CLANDESTINE QRP RADIO OPERATIONS:

When I want to feel like an Allied "Joe," airdropped somewhere behind enemy lines, working for the SOE or OSS resistance networks, I grab my normal-looking attache case and head out, always on the lookout for some German Abwehr DF surveillance van. With my FT-817ND and auto LDG Tenna Tuner, 7 AMP/HR Gel cel and antenna--I am on the move for some real "secretive" QSO's``hellbent on getting the urgent, decoded message out!

The ARRL publication tucked away in the attache case is an excellent read and will give the reader an excellent idea of exactly what these messenger "Joes" were up against in those perilous times and how sophisticated the German surveillance Abwehr was in seeking them out.


 

The BAYOU JUMPER (BJ1) PARASET TRANSCEIVER:

This sweet little kit is the latest offering by the 4SQRP Club. It a transistorized version of the three-tube parasets parachuted down with allied troops, S.O.E. and MI6 operatives, behind enemy lines in German-occupied countries during WWII. This "updated version" has a five-watt, crystal-controlled transmitter and an excellent, super-sensitive regenerative receiver. It even looks a bit like the British WHADDON MARK VII original transceiver, pictured on the inside lid. It is a sweet little rig to operate and got me my first QSO right away with a 579 report, very reminiscent of those early NOVICE days, when one had to be crystal-controlled.

Note the color-coded crystals that coordinate with the dial markings, enabling one to answer a CQ quickly, by just selecting the crystal color that matches the dial marking. This method actually works pretty well.

Thanks, 4SQRP Club,  for offering this neat and well-designed paraset kit!

Click on this YouTube link to hear and see this paraset in action:

                   https://youtu.be/nYvNp4NnL24

THE BAYOU JUMPER 1


The 4SQRP Club even issues a  "CLANDESTINE WIRELESS OPERATORS" certificate to those who use their completed parasets to successfrully locate and communicate with other "agents" or "operatives" in the field. One then becomes a "SPECIAL AGENT'"  and is given his/her own AGENT SERIAL NUMBER to be affixed to the front panel of their parasets. It feels like a great honor to be a bonafide member of this secret fraternity within the ham radio fraternity. How awesome is that? (It is recommended that QSO transmissions be kept to short durations--who knows if some DFE vans with loop antennas might be on the prowl!)

 

THE BITX40: 5-WATT LSB TRANSCEIVER "KIT" (READY TO PLUG AND PLAY) FROM INDIA:

This amazing transceiver kit is the brainchild of Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE, from Hyderabad, India. It Uses a Raduino LED display and has an  excellent three-pretuned circuit receiver and a clear LSB transmit audio. The entire kit, including enclosure--if you build it into the plastic case it was shipoped in, as I did-- ships for only $59 to your house. This is an incredible value and really hard to beat. It's circuit makes use of the same amplifiers for receive as well as transmit and puts out just under five watts. This is a very "hackable" transceiver with some excellent modification suggestions on YouTube. A major "must do" mod is recommended by Dave Cassler, KE0OG, to rectify the "galopping vfo" characteristic of the raduino. I did this mod and it sure added a whole new dimension of operating ease to the tuning. This is a very affordable, easy-to-build kit that one must try, while it is still available.

 

THE ALEXLOOP MAGNETIC "RF TRANSFORMER" PORTABLE ANTENNA:

This is a temporary, experimental set-up of the magnetic loop antenna set up with the 817 in our reading room (My XYL is very patient--but I have been informed that the patience has now  "expired.") This wonderful innovation is manufactured and sold by Alex Grimberg of Brazil, PY1AHD. It is a high-quality product.I have been enjoying SSB and CW QSO's with nothing more than this loop and five watts with this set-up. No other wires! What a hoot to be able to work all bands between 7 and 29MHz, with a slight tune of the sensitive "Q-Tuner" mounted on the antenna.Never lacking QSO's,within the first month and a half, I have filled four pages of the ARRL Minilog and worked over a dozen countries, mostly on SSB..There are tons of YouTube vids and excellent reviews of this antenna on eHam.It comes in a small and attractive carry bag and can be set up anywhere in a couple of minutes. To describe the amazing performance and fun that can be had with this antenna---"sweet!" You have to try it to believe it! Don't hesitate.

Click on this link to see and hear it in action in my 10-Meter USB QSO with Iaan, MM0TFU, in Scotland:

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=snV27gnGKss#t=7

BUDDYSTICK DELUXE ANTENNA WITH IPORTABLE SWR ANALYZER:

I love experimenting with different antenna configurations with QRP: Just set up the new Buddystick Deluxe and tuned the antenna with the iPortable. Got the SWR down to 1:1.4 right away on 40 meters with no coil tap and radial wire out about 18 feet for openers. Called W5WSF and he came back right away with a steady 569 report from my K1. So, the Buddystick works. It was quick and extremely to set up and get a low SWR. A well-made product. Looking forward to trying other bands with this Buddystick.

The pocket GP-5 SSB / CW /AM / FM Shortwave Receiver with adjustable BFO:

This is a great little pocket receiver with belt-loop case for taking your RECEIVE ham radio with you. It works amazingly well with the telescoping antenna and has numerous digital features built in. It is available from countycomm.com. When hiking, or sipping that first cup of morning coffee on the porch, it is a great companion for monitoring QSO's and keeping up your CW proficiency. It has notch tuning and even a fine tuning control for CW/SSB. Here is one good use I put it to while on a recent cruise to Bermuda and Nassau on the RC Ship Grandeur of the Seas:

 DIGITAL MODES OPERATIONS:

The digital HF hamshack is hidden away in armoire for XYL! For PSK-31 and other Sound-Card modes I use the SignaLink SL-1+ and MixW software or Multi-Mode.

COMMCAT and COMMCAT MOBILE for APPLE I-TOUCH 4.0

My latest digital adventure was to get the CommCat Mobile CAT control software interface up and running on the Apple I-Touch 4. With this setup I am now able to control my Radio CommCat from the I-Touch over my WiFi LAN or INTERNET from a remote location. I can make SSB and CW QSO's, use spot tuning,change bands, modes, use instant lookup, log QSO's and much more. This is an amazing program written by Howard Nurse, W6HN. Howard was very helpful and communicative to answer my questions to get this up and running. The new I-Touch 4/I-Phone 4 is needed to be able to multitask and run a separate version of Skype and CommCat Mobile at the same time to communicate with the Radio-Computer Skype and CommCat. I use CAT control on my TS-50S through the USB Kenwood Digimaster interface available fron Neil, G4ZLP in the UK. This is all that is needed to CAT-control the TS-50S perfectly. It does take a little patience and perseverance to get all the settings in place. First successful LSB QSO was on 40 meters with Jim, WB8ZGM near Nashville, TN, even with noisy band conditions. With the press of one button the QSO data was logged automatically and saved on the onboard logbook! Several more SSB QSO's have been logged since then, including my first CW QSO with Andrew, W4AJC, on 40, using the k1EL WinKeyer interfaced to the home radio CommCat. I love to go to Panera Bread, sip a cup of hazlenut back in the corner and control my station at the home QTH with just the I-Touch. What a blast! Complete control of a 50-watt SSB/CW transceiver (no antenna) in your shirt pocket! Who knew?

CommCat Mobile looks and works great from local Subway on the Ipad 2. A pleasure to operate this "very thin" complete transceiver hidden away inside the Ipad tablet. When operating remotely, I first make sure I have enough coffee or juice to drink, then settle back and plug in the headphones and enjoy a nice 40-meter CW QSO. The latest version of CommCat Mobile really looks and operates well on the Ipad 2. With this latest version, the spots are right there on the front transceiver screen. All one needs to do is click on the desired station and the software does the rest to tune to that frequency, set the mode and call the station. This program is truly an artistic and digital masterpiece written by Howard Nurse, W6HN.

This is how the software, which controls my Kenwood 50S at the home station, looks on the Ipad 2 screen:

HAMSPHERE:

This is one of the neatest app's I have discovered for "taking ham radio on the road." Some would argue that virtual ham radio via Internet is not ham radio--ham radio has to have RF! If one wants to enjoy the experience of ham radio when traveling abroad--and only equipped with an iPad and iPod Touch-- he still has the opportunity to "get his ham radio fix" by operating the Hamsphere Virtual Transceiver. One can now chat with hams under very real simulated conditions, meeting new people all over the world. Hamsphere has spot- and dial tuning, cluster, bandscope, and a working S-Meter, This app also affords the opportunity to share ham radio experiences with non-hams in a very real, hands-on way. Once registered for the app, those not having a real FCC ticket are issued their own non-ham call sign. In using Hamsphere, QSO's can be overheard in which Elmers are encouraging future hams to get their real ham ticket and delve further into the hobby. After the QSO, one can even check to see which QSL cards have been received,--right from the app.!(It would be fantastic if the iPad version had direct QSL'ing and logging, as well as CW capability, as does the PC version..) Thanks goes to Kelly Lindman for a great app!

THE CELLUON VIRTUAL PROJECTION KEYBOARD:

My latest adventure is to experiment using the CELLUON VIRTUAL PROJECTED KEYBOARD in digital applications with ham radio: any software program running on the Ipod Touch 4 or Ipad 2 can be controlled thru this Bluetooth-paired "Magic Cube." It works great for any type of text input as well as mouse control and is highly accurate. Wireless and projection media are becoming increasingly interfused and soon it will be hard to differentiate between images and reality, as even more applications become available.

MICRO CIRCUITS: MOTZ "World's Tiniest Radio" and CW Machine (MP3 Player):

I have always wanted to find a teeny-tiny micro radio with scanning features and extras. I found it in this MOTZ thumb-size radio made in Korea. This radio is truly amazing. It is an FM radio with scanning, off/on and mode switch, LED, and MP3 Player. It has amazing volume from its tiny, built-in speaker. The 3-inch-tall telescoping antenna works very well. You have to see this little gem in action to believe all that it does. I have also programmed several CW QSO's in its MP3 memories to turn it into a true "CW Machine" as well.

If you would like to see a little demo of this tiny micro radio / CW "Code Machine," click on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxxYyfFRqdY

ALTOIDS RADIOS:

Another novelty to keep the solder flowing is to build micro radios into Altoids tins--both regular and Altoids Smalls.No circuit is too small. Here are a few examples of these tiny FM Scanning Radios:

Here is an ALTOIDS SMALLS "Micro": (My son said: while handing me one of these tiny tins: "Dad, let's see you build a radio into THIS tin!") This is the result:

This "Micro" has FM scanning tuning, LED, on/off Switch, and even an extra CR2032 battery below the Altoids tray

This is another use I found for the Altoids tins: making ALTOIDS MORSE CODE PRACTICE SETS (for the Grandsons!)

All that is needed to make these little sets: a couple of micro switches (one for power on/off and one for light on/off ), a CR2032 button battery and holder, a very small piezo electric 12 volt buzzer, a 3- volt LED, and a "home-brew" Morse Code Key made with a momentary tact switch. All is secured to the tin lid with a hot-glue gun.

You can hear--and see in more detail the internals of these Altoids sets by clicking on the YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYsuSeye1yo

When the grandsons pass their Morse Code Tests 100%, sending and receiving, (letters and numbers), they each receive a nice professional MFJ Code Practice Oscillator with Key. Trevor's is on the way! Way to go guys!

        Trevor Passed His Test!         Joel Passed His Half-Test So Far

Another set of grandsons is learning and practicing the Morse Code with grandpa. Elijah (orange shirt) is only six, entering the first grade this year and has passed his sending test with all twenty-six letters and all the numbers! He receives code well, too! Samuel, three, has his own Altoids practice set. He knows three letters and has his "assignment" to learn the next three! Way to go, Elijah and Samuel!

PORTABLE DIGITAL MODES STATION:

When I want to go portable CW/SSB with the FIELD RADIO, the MFJ 40m/20m w/ Small Wonder Labs PSK-20 goes along out to the campsite.

No computer needed here to copy PSK-31. The New Jersey QRP Club's NUE-PSK portable modem is self-contained. You can hear and see a demo of this NUE-PSK in action in transmit and receive by following this YouTube link:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_PPs2hAEkg&feature=plcp

MY "DIGITAL CLIPBOARD"

This "Clipboard" version combines the entire PSK-31 set-up conponents onto a single, stand-alone clipboard:

To see and hear how this works out, check out this link on YouTube:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QJuZmFYN_E

THE K42 CW KEYBOARD: ENCODER AND DECODER

The K42 CW Keyboard from Steve Elliott of K1EL Systems is a handy gadget that performs quite a few cw functions and does them all well. First it decodes Morse Code and has an array of digital LED tuning indicator lights. Then it allows one to plug in a small keyboard which then keys the rig as you type. It also has ten progrmmable memory banks (function keys activated) that allows one to send macros as well as prosign pauses and inserts. It's powered by its own internal nine-volt battery or can be powered separately. It's well designed and a fun kit to build. One can also plug in a paddle to switch back and forth between keyboard and paddle key. (If a modern solid-state, well-filtered XCVR is used there should be no problems with RFI.)

BOAT ANCHORS AND EQUIPMENT DATING FROM THE 1950'S THRU 1970'S:

Being nostalgic by nature--who says you can't bring back some aspects of the past?--I was able to replicate muy first commercial station: the Globe Chief 90 and Hallicrafters SX-99! The SX-99 still works after 50 years and the Globe Chief 90 was found in mint condition on Ebay. (Compare this photo with the last photo in this collage, to see the original setup.) What fun to key the Globe Chief with a J-38 and reminisce about my first CW QSO on a junior high school friend's bedroom station. That was my real start to ham radio and intro to a great hobby!

HALLICRAFTERS SX-99, GLOBE CHIEF 90, KNIGHT VFO, HAMMARLUND HQ-110:

HEATHKIT DX-40, VF-1, HR-10B RECEIVER, HG-10 VFO, HM-9 POWER METER, DX-60A TRANSMITTER:

This is the Heathkit staging area. The DX-40 was my second transmitter, back in the early 60's. It was nice to be able to add AM Phone to the operating. The DX-60 and HG-10 VFO was a nice upgrade. The HG-10 with its plastic gear drive was a much beter engineering design over the earliedr VF-1. The HR-10B isn't a bad starting receiver, without all of today's bells and whistles

THE HAMMARLUND RECEIVERS:

These are the Hammarlunds! Great Receivers. From Top Down: HQ-110, HQ-180, HQ-100, HQ-170. The weighted and gear-driven tuning makes for a great experience, when tuning across the band. The HQ-110 has a great Q-Multiplier built in.

JOHNSON VIKING RANGER I:

What gives me the greatest joy is maintaining and operating vintage gear with big dials and "warm, glowing" tubes. This stock Ranger I is my classic "57 Chevy." (Since I couldn't find a '57 Chevy in this great condition...I decided on the Viking Ranger I instead!) The Ranger is about the same vintage though as this Chevy! My "Chevy" here is a dicast metal replica...I can only dream when I visit the Classic Car Shows!

 

Getting back to the Ranger I...

This classic Ranger transmitter really purrs along when keyed by a J-38, evoking the nostalgia of 1950's ham radio. To keep these vintage pieces going, I keep my soldering gun and tube tester close at hand. There is usually some piece that needs to be "tweaked" now and then. It is a joy to operate. It is a good example of "real radios glow in the dark.!"

HAMMARLUND HQ-180:

To complement the Ranger is the triple-conversion 18-tube superhet HQ-180. It's hard to beat the deep, rich audio tones of 40 CW with anything but an old tube rig of this vintage. This receiver also has a great notch filter. You can hear this HQ-180 in action by clicking on this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi_m_oFNlDU

THE JOHNSON VIKING ADVENTURER NOVICE TRANSMITTER:

Heathkit 1952 AT-1 and VF-1:

This is my "piece of history." This is one of the earliest versions of Heathkit's first commercial MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) NOVICE transmitters produced. This one cost $ 29.50 when it first appeared in the Christmas catalog in 1951. This one has an input of 25 watts but has NO pi-tuning network. The LEFT tuning knob peaks the driver and the RIGHT one dips the plate current. The AT-1 is a "switch flipper." To operate this transmitter using crystal control, one has to flip the lower right slide switch from STANDBY (OSCILLATOR OFF) to PLATE (OSCILLATOR AND PLATE CURRENT ON.) To listen to the ham ad the other end and mute the oscillator, one has to switch back to STANDBY. Using the VF-1 VFO the vfo switch is merely turned from "standby" to "operate," and then back again. No "break in" keying here. It is still a hoot to operate and gave a lot of hams their most exciting memories in those early 1950's. Provision was also made for a modulator. Operating this rig is fun and like returning to the early days of Novice ham radio. My AT-1 is in mint condition and is stock, except for the added green jewel pilot lamp someone added, to remind him to turn the rig off after a QSO! It is still a nostalgic hoot to operate!

A Very Special Day for Joe:  A "Tribute" to the AT-1 and KN4DZM, who received his AT-1 back in 1955 and still maintains it.


 

KNIGHT-KIT T-50 CW TRANSMITTER:

This 50-watt NOVICE CW TRANSMITTER (LOWER ONE) was manufactured and offered as a kit by Allied Radio Company of Chicago in the early 1950's. It followed the typical pattern of 6AG7 oscillator--807 RF amplifier--and 5U4 rectifier and had PI-Network tuning. On the air it has a neat, distinguishable sound when "rock-bound," i.e. crystal-controlled. The Allied Radio Company also produced a V-44 VFO to match, whic the Novice operator could ad after upgrading to General Class.

It is a fun and a nostolgic " trip to the past" to operate this rig and recall those early, thrilling days of the NOVICE LICENSE.

If you want to actually "tune into" a QSO between yours truly and KA4SDU using the T-50 to transmit and an SX-99 receiver on 40 CW, you can click on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ynDp13ldmw

Remember the Knight T-50 50-Watt CW Transmitter and VFO as Pictured in the Allied Radio Catalog from 1958?

 

THE KNIGHT-KIT T-60 CW / AM PHONE TRANSMITTER (TOP ONE):

This transmitter ws the successor to the T-50 and first appeared in production in 1963-64. It has a more modern, low-slung look and is quite a bit smaller than the T-50. It runs about 60 watts input, has pi-network tuning and AM modulator built in.

HEATHKIT HW-101 CW /' SSB 100 WATT TRANSCEIVER:

The Heathkit "How Water 101" is a proven fine transceiver that served both budget-minded hams and Heathkit well. It is always a reliable and dependable rig that always makes hamming fun--mostly on CW in my shack, but SSB works just fine, too.

TENTEC CENTURY 21 SOLID STATE CW TRANSCEIVER:

This TenTec Century 21 Transceiver is a fine little dependable rig. It is designed for CW work only and with its 30 watts output, doesn't have any trouble at all making QSO's. It's crystal filtering option really masks the QRM and peaks only the designed signal for great reception under the worst conditions. Its zero beating procedure is a little different for those unaccustumed to it, but once mastered really works fine with no problems. With no vacuum tubes, a good antenna tuner is recommended to keep the final transistors happy. This is truly a fun rig to operate.

When thinking about simplicity and simple radio projects from the earlier days of radio, I am now getting downright nostalgic about constructing single/dual triode regen receivers--maybe a Doerle or Twinplex? Favorite operating mode--CW-- hands down! It is amazing what a one-tube rig will do. I have always wondered what could be done with that miniature 3A5 twin triode.( I remember back in my novice days seeing the ads for the Westkit BN-1 that used the same tube.) This "NOVICE" rig used to appear in radio magazine ads in 1956-57. I always wondered if/how this little one-tube rig worked. Here is the way this Weskit BN-1 looked back then. Many wondered if this little transceiver was more like a novelty. This was before the days of QRP as we now use and understand it.

MORE QRP BUILDING PROJECTS:

WESKIT BN-1, SINGLE 3A5 TUBE TRANSCEIVER:

Look what one of these little BN-1's sold for on Ebay! Wow!

If you would like to find out more about this little Wesco BN-1 gem. here is an excellent. informative link:

http://www.kb6nu.com/the-wesco-bn-1/

My questions were answered with the fine design of this one-night kit in the glowbug 1-Der 40, which uses the same tube. The design and build of this kit is top-notch,straightforward and well-thought out, thanks to Dwight Morrison, KG4HSY, who makes this kit available for those who get nostalgic about building these little tube rigs. This rig works well for what it is.It's amazing how signals come in plenty strong with great sensitivity. The CW note in transmit--albeit only 300 Mw--is as clear as a bell. It's absolutely impressive for one small tube. The 3A5 has almost no warm-up time. What a fun build! Making QSOs w/ this little rig is QRPp at its best! (For comparison, my Rock Mite 40 puts out 500 Mw and I've made over 70 contacts with it!)

1-DER 40, SINGLE 3A5 TUBE CW TRANSCEIVER for 40 METERS:

If you would like to see and hear a demo of my little 1-DER 40, click on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlnGa92l4X0

TENTEC 1056 DIRECT CONVERSION 40-METER CW / SSB RECEIVER:

Other recent projects include building this TenTec 1056 Direct Conversion CW / SSB Receiver with LM386 1-watt audio amplifier into a VHS cassette box. This is a great little receiver that has RF control, AF, main tuning, bandspread and even passband tuning! It is completely transportable for sweet CW companionship anywhere around the house. In 15 seconds the sounds of sweet CW QSO's can fill the air. Not bad for around $ 39

I recently added the SON-OF-ZEROBEAT TUNING INDICATOR circuit available from W 9 K Z Y.. This feature gives a visual and multi-colored LED lighting / tuning experience to the rig. The little red LED in the front right (of the top) pulsates in rhythmic Morse code to the incoming audio signal.

You can see and hear this neat little receiver in action and see how the tuning indicators operate by following this YouTube link:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSJN8-v9I-Y

NS-40 (NON-SIMPLER) 40-METER CW TRANSMITTER with PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD COILS:

As a companion project to the above I decided on building the little NS-40 ("Non-Simpler") 40-meter, 5-watt, crystal-controlled transmitter. It is a kit offered by the FOUR STATE QRP GROUP and has the coils printed right into the circuit board! The signal couldn't be crisper and purer. Even though it's crystal-controlled--with 5 watts, patience and a good ear....who knows? .Anything is possible!

THE SAVXO ACCESSORY VXO FOR THE NS-40 (ON RIGHT):

The picture below shows the VXO circuit added to the NS-40. It gives about 10 KHz variable tuning range around the crystal.

THE FRANZIS SINGLE-TUBE CARDBOARD-BOX SHORTWAVE REGENERATIVE RECEIVER:

This little radio kit is made in Germany and manufactured by a company called FRANZIS. The company sells a number of different "retro" radio kits. Each one is built around a cardboard box cabinet. The kit is complete, containing all the parts needed to build the radio.All one needs is four AA batteries and one nine-volt. Mine took about two nights to build and it works! The regten control setting has a VERY narrow adjustment.I added a polyvaricon bandspread capacitor, LED power-on indicator and auxiliary audio output jack. Here is YouTube link if you would like to see the kit fron start-to-finish and hear it play on 40-meter CW and AM shortwave:

                                                     http://youtu.be/egJV9lk1a1U

THE PIXIE II 40-METER CW TRANSCEIVER:

I love to keep the solder flowing! Here is a Pixie II that I crammed into a Tic-Tac box--and I mean CRAMMED!!! With the variable capacator added to give the receiver VFO tuning, the Pixie II receiver is amazingly sensitive and really hears well!! By flipping the transmit switch the capacitor is shorted and the crystal frequency is set to 7.038 MHz. When keying the Pixie II, one always hears the oscillator running in the background, similar to the vfo background heard with with the older rigs. The transmitted CW is crisp and clear as a bell! All this--with only two transistors! Amazing!

You can see and hear this little gem in operation on the air by following this link in YouTube:

                                                  http://youtu.be/CQ8gypHwjY0

THE WORK STATION FOR BUILDING THE PIXIE II:

"BARE-BONES" PIXIE II HOOK-UP CONFIGURATION: (BEFORE BEING INSERTED INTO THE TICTAC ENCLOSURE)

You can hear this set-up in operation by clicking on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd9vzPfKMWw

LM-386 AUDIO AMP BUILT INTO MATCHING TIC-TAC ENCLOSUSRE:

After cramming the Pixie II into the Tic-Tac enclosure, I decided to add the LM-386 audio amp chip circuit and speaker to create a nice "sound system" for this minimalist QRPp station and make it a "matched set." (The red LED in the audio amp enclosure is for visual effect!) I also added the polyvaricon and shorting switch on the TIC-TAC transceiver enclosure to give it VXO receiver tune. The nine-volt battery is velcroed to the back of both units. A small speaker is also attached to the front of the audio amp enclosure and packs plenty of sound. The Pixie II does put out a crisp, clear transmit note with 1/4 watt. The micro QRP J-38 hand-key completes the station.

Here you can see the Pixie II with the polyvaricon and transmit -switch mod. This simple addition really give this minimalist rig true versatile performance. These tiny variable capacitors are available from Doug Hendricks at qrpkits.com and is a mod I would heartily recommend. The performance of the Pixie II in such a small tic-tac case is truly astounding! Pure minimalist! Pure experimental fun!

Always amazed by the Dick Tracy "2-Way Wrist Radio," I thought I would mount the Pixie II on a velcro band and wear it---just to see how Dick Tracy might have felt in the "olden days..." Don't think he was ever proficient in CW though.

Pixie II with "One-Incher" Micro Key:

The Pixie II in itself is amazing with what it can do with only two transistors and two IC's. Adding a "Micro Key" to this tiny gem is even more QRPp fun. The micro key is made from a Radio Shack tactile momentary switch and two RS stand-off's mounted on a tiny portion of a RS circuit board. A piece of plastic cut from a clam-shell case serves as the key. An additional wire runs from each connector lug to the underside of the stand-off on the bottom of the circuit board to provide better conductivity.

The second Micro Micro Key (slightly larger than a Penny) was just hot-glued to a piece of circuit board, eliminating any hardware mountings.

Here is my latest, updated version of the Pixie II with Built-in Batteries, VXO and Audio Amplifier:

You can hear and see this little compact Pixie II in a demo by following this YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dad9W_HyEX8

This is my latest Pixie II Deluxe. The PCB kit purchased on Ebay for $ 3.55 including shipping from China. It forms the basis for the above transceiver, which also includes a "boom cube" audio amplifier, VXO mod --to give a 3 kHz frequency shift around the crystal-- and a 2-position crystal switch.

If you would like to hear and see it, you can click on thie YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDXJHVm89Bs

 

This is a view of all three different "Pixie II's On Parade."

 

SPLINTER BREADBOARD 40-METER CW TRANSCEIVER:

This "Splinter" Breadboard Transmitter/Receiver was built from a kit offered by the Columbia Ham Radio Club and is a product of Bill, W4FSV. This is a fun little three-night kit to build. All parts come in 5 separate little bags and one gets to test each part of the circuit before moving on to the next. Even a routed breadboard comes with the kit. The transceiver puts out half a watt, has VXO tuning, spot transmitter tuning, two-position xtal switching. It operates from 9 to 12 volts. 40 CW signals come loud and clear and it transmits a nice, clean tone CW signal. It even has an onboard key that works surprisingly well.The club even offers a Certificate for proof of five QSO's. This little rig is a hoot to build and would make a nice club project for all ages. One-half watt is minimalist QRP!

If you would like to hear this little breadboard transceiver (above), click on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-EOvZVAam9E

THE SAWDUST SUPER REGEN RECEIVER:

This one-transistor, one-ICS chip hot little receiver is amazing! It really picks up signals loudly and clearly on the CW portion of the 40-meter band. This little gem is a kit offered by Bill, W4FSV, of breadboardradio.com. The instructions are very clear and the kit is straightforward. One mistake I made was installing the trimmer cap incorrectly, which I cost me much aggravation. If you build the kit, make sure you consult the photo picturing the correct orientation very carefully. Bill was very helpful in getting my little radio straightened out and is a pleasure to work with. In addition fo his YouTube clip of this radio, you can see and hear mine by following this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYUVFrpnd8A

WEBER DUAL-BANDER 40 / 15 METER CW TRANSCEIVER:


This Weber Dual Bander is a neat little rig that puts out five watts on your choice of two bands. It is a fun, little rig to operate that fits in the palm of your hand. I enjoy using this with a Miracle Whip antenna and counterpoise for a real QRP challenge. The tuning rate is adjustable and it has a built-in keyer

MFJ CUB 40-METER CW TRANSCEIVER:

The MFJ Cub 40-meter transceiver is small, effective and a hoot to build. A couple of evenings at careful assembly and careful allignment and this little baby was ready to put on the air--working "right out of the box." Even before getting it into the "box" I had a QSO with 599 RST! A short while later I added two more QSO's with no effort. It has a nice wide VXO and when the bfo is properly set to one's ear comfort, the CW has very nice resonant tones. Here is what the inside of the "box" looks like:

This is a closer internal view of the MFJ Cub (above).

The QRPKITS SCOUT REGENERATIVE RECEIVER:

The small receiver above is the SCOUT REGENERATIVE RECEIVER sold by QRPKITS.COM. After several evenings of fun construction and tedious coil winding (those windings were tight!), the REGEN was ready to fire up. I added a small LM-386 one-watt amplifier/speaker to the above to eliminate the need for earphones. It is a two-bander. Its loud reception and sensitivity is quite remarkable for such a simple design. The regen control is quite sensitive, but performs nicely. You can hear a demo of this little gem being played by clicking on this YouTube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-o1XYUkTDk

HOME-BREW 6SN7 TWIN-TRIODE REGEN RECEIVER:

The next immediate project will be to rebuild this working 6SN7 twin-triode regen into a better CW radio to compliment the AC-1. Right now, it works pretty well on SW, but not for 40 CW. Found a good circuit in the ARRL 1950's handbook that should make it work better, especially after rewinding the coils. After the rebuild would like to build a cabinet a la National SW-3 and repaint the whole thing using black wrinkle paint. That should give it the period authentic look.

I recently joined the Ameco AC-1 group and fired off a CQ on the little single tube 6V6 (plus rectifier) 5 watt rig. Got an answer back from a ham in Michigan, who gave me a 569 and who was also running QRP--4-watts-- on a Tentec rig. I experienced the same thrill that I experienced back in 1958 with my first QSO--the only difference being that my hand didn't tremble this time! What joy!

AMECO AC-1 TRANSMITTER:

After having so muchj fun with this single-tube AC-1 I saw that there was a kit available for the AC-1 Junior, using a smaller 6AQ5 tube. After working Carl, W3EEK, who was using the AC-1 Junior, I decided to join the fun and build my own:\\

AC-1 JUNIOR, SINGLE-TUBE, 500 MW 40-METER TRANSMITTER:

You can hear the actual transmission of the AC-1 Junior on the air in my QSO with Carl, if you follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpJ938HE_II&list=HL1320632819&feature=mh_lolz

Having "vintageitis" for those early basic novice rigs, I acquired this Conar receiver, did the mods to reduce the ac hum and realigned it. Recently and after much patient searching, I was fortunate enough to find an unbuilt transmitter still in its original packing and shipping box, After several nostalgic and fun evenings of "Heathkit style" construction and soldering, it now sits atop the receiver and purrs like a kitten w/ a full 10 watts output w/ its single 6DQ6 tube and only very slight chirp--not bad at all. The following night, I enjoyed the first "novice style " xtal-controlled CW QSO with the twins on 40 meters. Now, I average one QSO per week or so on 7.040. What a "blast to the past!"

CONAR "TWINS," 400 RECEIVER AND 500 (15-WATT) TRANSMITTER:

You can listen to this this Conar 500 receiver in operation during a CW contest night by following this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10LYEaKQfO4&feature=plcp

INTRODUCTION TO THE SINGLE-TUBE RADIOS OF THE 1920'S AND '30'S: The "RADIO ACE" KIT

This Thames and Kosmos "RADIO ACE" complete radio kit kindled my interest in the early BC vintage radios. Using only a single 12AU7 dual-triode tube and incorporating the four mods suggested by Bill, k2ROK, has really made this simple radio "come alive." You can hear and see a video demo on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jT6Xass7QU

THE EARLY DAYS OF BC RADIO IN THE 1920'S:

Now, it's time to step back into the past and the early days of commercial ham radio and the BC sets from National, Atwater Kent, Westinghouse and RCA:

This is the 1920's-1930's nook. When I want to reminisce about the early days of ham radio, I grab a 1932 vintage orange QST and fire up the 1935 National SW-3 three-tube regen. Wow! What a receiver. This is an amazing little piece of workmanship. This little receiver's performance is outstanding, as evidenced by its longevity in many hamshacks of the time. Leafing through the pages of that 1932 QST and reading the old ads, I am back in a different time, sensing what it must have been like to be a part of this earlier period of ham radio, when for $ 29.95 you could buy the SW-3 (less tubes and coils) and "breadboard" your own CW transmitter.

You can hear this SW-3 receiver in operation by following this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79GwKtV25dg

NATIONAL SW-3 "THRILL BOX" 3-TUBE REGEN RECEIVER (1930):

EARLY 1920 BC RADIOS:

Having an interest also in early BC radio, I started building a small collection of 1920 radios. It is fascinating to delve into the history and play with these early sets. The development of this early technology together with the beginnings of commercial radio broadcasting is fascinating to follow.

I Just finished restoring this single-tube (UX201A) 1921 Reactive Radio with the variable tickler coil inside the main coil. It was manufactured by Tresco (Tri-City Radio Electric Supply Co.) for Montgomery Ward Co. in Chicago and originally sold for $ 49.50. It has four switchable coil taps to cover the entire BC band and uses the typical A (6 v.) and B (45 v.) battery. The hole in the front panel allows direct viewing of the filament brightness of the tube. It does pull in stations within several hundred miles at night with good volume and has been fun to work on.

TRESCO 1920'S REGEN BC RECEIVER:

Having a strong desire to experience the "Golden Years of Radio," and see first hand what listening to one of these early "living room" sets was like, I found this commercial TRF radio for BC entertainment: the 1928 Atwater Kent Model 43 "One Dial" Electric w/ F-2 Speaker. Note the huge tubes. This radio and speaker are each built like a tank and are very heavy, weighing close to 50 pounds together. The single tuning control, introduced in 1926, tunes the three condensors together and does away with the three separate dials. Changing the cabinet from wood to metal allowed the company to lower the price $ 15 and stay competitive. This radio tunes easily, has a full sound and packs plenty of volume. Being "electric" and not battery, this radio is truly a crossover from the cumbersome sets with storage batteries and multiple dials to the modern, pre-superheterodyne age. These 807-size tubes really do "glow in the dark."

It's truly amazing how few parts were in these early 1920 radios. If one looks inside one of these, he might ask: "where are all the parts?" In fact, there weren't many!There is the coil: either a large coil with many switchable taps (as in the above), or a "tickler coil"--rotable coil within a coil (varactor) that would offset a variable or fixed capacitor for the tuning. Then there is the grid leak resistor and a couple of interstage audio transformers. Either a crystal, a single detector tube and maybe a couple of audio amplifier tubes to eliminate the headphones--and that's it! Supply the necessary A,B, and maybe C battery voltages, connect the audio output to a horn speaker and you have your radio! Since there were only a couple of station frequencies, no further filtering was needed.

These radios did not to have much selectivity. In the very early 1920's, the government granted municipalities up to only TWO radio frequencies: 485 meters (619 kiloherz) for farmers' crop and weather reports, and 360 meters (834 kiloherz) for news, concerts and entertainment--that's it.The broadcast signal relied on groundwave, rather than skywave and even a crystal or simple single-tube radio hooked up tro a battery would do the trick. Do to the rapid development of BC radio, by the mid 1920's, many more stations were granted licenses and more powerful transmitters were designed to produce a "skywave," so that greater circuit design soon followed to produce greater selectivity. Soon, with these more powerful transformers and large transmitting antennas, stations in NYC, Boston and Chicago could be heard hundreds of miles away in the evening hours.

 

ATWATER KENT MODEL 43 (1928) SINGLE-KNOB "ELECTRIC SOCKET" RADIO:

This radio prototype was first designed to work off batteries--but the model 43 could plug into an electrical socket:

Here are some great books that inspired me to dig into the history of 1920's BC radios and its early development:

These are my Westinghouse/RCA Aeriola Seniors, from 1922 (left) and 1921 (right). Each has its own original WD-11 triode, now over 90 years old and still working fine!

WESTINGHOUSE AERIOLA SENIOR REGENERATIVE RECEIVERS (1921-1922):

If you would like to hear the 1921 radio above on the right, you can hear a demo of it by clicking on this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFJXs9SR7V4

These early receivers have good selectivity. In our area I have found that with a 40' outdoor antenna, I am able to receive about a dozen stations across the dial with comfortable medium volume, and this during daylight hours. Not bad for one tube!

This book below by Eric Wenaas is one of the best all-encompassing books of the early RCA sets and early radio broadcasting systems. This is a "must read" for anyone who really wants to explore this period.

RCA (WESTINGHOUSE) RADIOLA III REGENERATIVE BC RECEIVER (1924)

There is also a two-tube Radiola III (1924) in my shack. It originally sold for $ 35.00. Now, the WD-11 tubes are each worth several times that. With a 30' outdoor antennt this radio really plays loud with the second WD-11 and has enough volume on local stations to faintly drive a horn speaker. It's really a blast to play and listen to with those antique "fire bottles" standing on top that look more like light bulbs than vacuum tubes! With THREE different voltages required for this radio, I opted for the excellent ARBE III power supply, rather than fool with batteries; a smart choice as it can be used with other antique radios, requiring still other voltages.

You can hear this radio in action by clicking on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOczKBC0sNE

HOME-BREW BATTERY BOARD TO POWER RADIOLA III:

Below is a battery-board power supply configured to power the Radiola III while "in the field." This portable power supply provides the four different voltages necessary for this radio and is reminiscent of the storage batteries that farmers might use when no "mains" or electric sockets were available to power radios to get their market reports of crop and stock prices or catch the local news.

ATWATER KENT 20 COMPACT WITH SEARS WLS SILVERTONE HORN:

This is my Atwater Kent 20 Compact from 1925. Notice the three dials which must each be set to tune each RF stage into sync for the AF amplifiers.This was before "ganged" tuning came along. It is fun to play with these sets to get a feeling of what folks back in the day had to learn to manage in order to hear the Calvin Coolidge election returns and listen to the fine musical programs on the "Atwater Kent Hour."

If you would like to hear exactly what the audio quality sounds like on this AK20C with the Silvertone Horn Speaker, just click on this linki:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LrSZV-I5v4

THIS IS THE FIRST COMMERCIAL MODEL RADIO DESIGNED AND BUILT  BY FRANK CONRAD, HAM RADIO OPERATOR 8XK, AN ENGINEER FOR WESTINGHOUSE IN EAST PITTSBURGH. IT WAS FIRST MADE IN EAST PITTSBURGH ON NOVEMBER 20, 1920, RIGHT AFTER THE FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO BROADCAST DONE BY CONRAD TO REPORT ON THE HARDING-COX ELECTIONS OF NOVEMBER 3, 1920. THIS RADIO IS SHOWN IN THE ORIGINAL PHOTO NEXT TO THE TRANSMITTER USED IN THE FIRST KDKA BROADCAST TO MONITOR THE SIGNAL BEING TRANSMITTED FROM THE WESTINGHOUSE BUILDING IN EAST PITTSBURGH. (SEE THE PICTURE BELOW.)

BOTH THE RA (TUNER) AND DA (DETECTOR AMPLIFIER) HALVES WERE LATER COMBINED INTO THE RC MODEL SHOWN HERE. MOST FOLKS COULD NOT AFFORD THE RC, SO WESTINGHOUSE STARTED MANUFACTURING THE SMALLER, LESS EXPENSIVE RADIO SETS WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR. (SEVERAL OF THESE ARE PICTURED ABOVE BEFORE THE ATWATER-KENT. THEY WERE CALLED "AERIOLA SETS.")

WESTINGHOUSE RC (RA / DA) 3-TUBE REGENERATIVE RECEIVER (1921):

This 1921 RCA (Westinghouse) RC (RA/DA) uses an RA Tuner Unit, plus a DA (Detector/Amplifier) unit and was really the first mass-produced commercial radio built. Using an 00 detector tube and two 01A amplifier tubes, it brings in stations loud and clear. This one is in mint condition and plays well with a Sears WLS Silvertone horn. I have found that these old radios are quite sensitive to different antenna configurations, which can make all the difference in signal strength as well clear vs. a distorted tone quality. The time-consuming handcrafted manufacture of this radio with all of its coil taps which may be selected by a twist of the tickiler dial is truly amazing. No wonder they were so expensive back in the day. What fun to operate these though. It is a trip back to the 1920's, when this radio, allbeit very expensive, would have been the proud centerpiece of a living room! Covering 180 to 700 meters, these would often be found on an early ham's radio table. I have restored and rebuilt two of these and they are now in mint operating condition.

You can hear an actual demo of this radio being played by clicking on this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yeglDecOXQ&feature=youtu.be

It's interesting to note the different battery voltages and connections that were necessary to power this radio back in 1921:

THE ARBE III BATTERY ELIMINATOR:

Not being able to find batteries in these A, B and C voltqages anymore...thank goodness, Antique Radios, Inc. has made available this high-quality battery eliminator that will supply ALL the voltages one could possibly need to run these old radios. All the wiring diagrams for these old 1920 radios are also available on the company website. I use this product to power several antique radios and can testify that it works very well.

If you have an interest in restoring and operating one of these very interesting 1920 radios, they are fairly easy to restore. Many of these radios will need new interstage audio transformers, as the original very thin wires are often broken. These transformers can also be secured through Antique Radios at a very reasonable price. I have always had success in "mending" these old radios with the new transformers.The common 01A or UV200 tubes are still readily available. It gives great satisfaction to listen to BC stations on the original radios that folks used back in 1921 on one of these old sets through a horn speaker. It's a trip into the past and gives one a real taste of early radio the way it actually was!

EARLIEST PHOTO OF KDKA RADIO STATION IN WESTINGHOUSE BUILDING IN EAST PITTSBURGH (CIRCA 1920):

Notice in this early picture of early KDKA this same RA/DA Receiving set, built by ham and Westinghouse engineer Frank Conrad, 8XK, in the rear left of the picture. This picture was taken sometime in 1920 in one of Westinghouse's Pittsburgh buildings. Only a few changes were made in Frank's receiver before this prototype was commercialized and set into production by Westinghouse. This RA/DA (RC) radio was only made for several years.

 

THIS IS A PICTURE OF A 1920 HAM STATION SHOWING THE SAME RC (RA/DA) AS PART OF HIS STATION EQUIPMENT:

As late as 1922, when amateurs started experimenting with short waves, amateurs were still using 180 meters to 200 meters for most radiotelegraph and radiotelephone point-to-point communication. Even after that time operating on these 180 meter band frequencies remained a strong tradition and only died out very slowly in favor of short waves.

Family enjoying listening to a RC in the early 1920's and enjoying "broadcasting" of farm reports, concerts and content programs:

Several other books which are all excellent in giving a complete picture of fthis 1900 - 1920 early radio period:

Working on all these classic rigs and vintage radios to maintain them is almost as much fun as operating. It's fun to tap around components, etc...on circuit boards, searching for that stealthy component that might be causing the rig to malfunction. Its usually a poor solder joint or a loose connection. After much patience, I can usually find the trouble spot, but what really puts me over the edge is....

I N T E R M I T T E N T S !!!!

Sometimes the rig works fine--other times it doesn't! When the gremlins are on the loose, it's like crime-solving in MYSTERY THEATER! There must be a "mole" lurking somewhere in that maze!

I

On occasion, during the summer or nice fall days, I grab the bike and head for the country roads--but not without ham radio! This setup actually works. Operate 20 CW with 5-watt MFJ rig, hamstick antenna, gell cell, home-built memory Touch Keyer and Emtech Balanced Line Tuner. Have even had QSO's from inside the garage!

MFJ BICYCLE MOBILE:

I found it is even possible to QSO on 40 CW while walking around the yard operating "Pedestrian Mobile" using the Mizuho (1980's) CW/SSB 2-watt vxo transceiver, pico memory keyer, whip and counterpoise.

MIZUHO HAND-HELD 40-METER 2-WATT CW / SSB TRANSCEIVER FOR PEDESTRIAN MOBILE:

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It's amazing how many different ways one can use--with flea power!--to make QSO's!

Like many, I like reading historic articles on early wireless and l920's and l930's ham radio: most recently, Electric Radio magazine and the new book: WHERE DISCOVERY SPARKS IMAGINATION, by John Jenkins of the American Museum of Radio and Electricity. Another excellent resource is Alan Douglas' books: RADIO MANUFACTURERS OF THE 1920'S (vol. 1,2,3) with detailed descriptions, ads, manufacture of the early commercial BC battery-powered TRF sets. For those interested in the early days of BC radio I highly recommend Eric Wenaas' richly illustrated book RADIOLA: THE EARLY DAYS OF RCA 1919-1929. ARRL's VINTAGE HAM RADIO publication initially reawakened my interest in vintage radio and reminded me of the enjoyment of those early l950's novice days. Chuck Penson's comprehensive illustrated and descriptive book on all the Heathkit products is a walk down memory lane. Now--and thanks to Ebay and those hams willing to sell their vintage rigs-- my wallet is a geat deal lighter :) ! There is not much that can top making QSO's with these classic boatanchor tube rigs! ("Real radios glow in the dark!")

Ham radio is a great, multi-faceted hobby w/ a lot of great people having very interesting personal stories and backgrounds. Hopefully, I'll get to meet you sometime on the bands for a QSO. Thanks for taking the time to checkout my bio and letting me share my ham radio with you. Look for you on the air!

My introduction to the hobby was in 1958 at age 13. Where has all the time gone?

Best 73's and have fun playing radios!

Rick, WB3BIQ

John 3:3: 3:16

 

8276884 Last modified: 2017-08-16 22:22:56, 98087 bytes

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