Ham Radio Interests
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I like ragchewing. That's talking - as in conversation - to the non-hams who may have stumbled upon this page and are wondering what this is all about. Add to that an interest in old radios; building radio projects; lower power operations; working with antennas and operating some of the newer digital modes.

After a some time absence from CW, I've determined to make it a higher priority mode, especially on the HF bands. I am striving to raise my code proficiency to a respectable level, both speed and accuracy. As they say - "Practice, practice, practice." I have developed a fondness for some of the newer digital modes - namely PSK31 and Hellschreiber. More on these later. At the same time, my operating power level has decreased. QRP operation has become a passion here. Sort of a limbo thing - "How low can you go?" Now I rarely exceed five watts of RF power output. Most operating has been at the one to three watt levels. Some very exciting contacts have been made at these levels. Between CW and the digital modes, the microphone is becoming a neglected radio accessory. Ok, I'll admit it. That device gets used often for DX contacts. And for those contacts, often the power level is at 100 watts. Because of my preference for low power, I own no linear power amplifier.

For a number of years HF mobile was the primary mode of operation here. Business travel kept me on the road for much of the work week. Having a radio in the car afforded a diversion on monotonous highway trips. An Icom IC-706 (the original one) to a Hustler antenna served well in a mobile station. Check out my comments on HF Mobile for a description of this setup. Most of my later activity was on 17 meters. That's a great mobile band! Highly recommended! In the early '80s I spent a lot of time driving around Texas and Oklahoma.  Most of that time I spent on 10 and 15 meters using an Atlas 210X with the Hustler. Those bands were wide open then and good DX was common, even for mobile operators. Having Fun With Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek out

I'm not doing mobile operations these days. My travel situation is different. I tend to fly more than drive, so having a radio in the car is hardly justified. Maybe again in the future......... The Icom 706 came into the shack for a while to serve as my primary radio. A new Kenwood TS-2000 has now replaced the Icom as the primary radio.

An Alinco DR-M06 (10 watts FM) to a home-made 'Ringo' monitors the 6 meter band for those exciting band openings. Speaking of "six" when that band is open, I try to operate as often as time allows and much of that is done on SSB.

Also present and in use for many years, is a set of Drake Twins (R-4B, T-4XB) This was my first complete station when I was first licensed in the mid 70s. A fantastic rig, providing good performance on CW, SSB and even AM. I enjoy using this rig to play around on CW on 20 meters. Believe it or not, there are a lot of CW operators on this band going my speed (not so fast). The Drake receiver is a true pleasure to listen to CW on.

Added last of all is a Yaesu FT-902DM. This radio is sort of "mid generation." A solid state receiver with a solid state transmitter except for the driver and finals. For the most part, I've used this one on 17 meters phone.

The Kenwood is serving as the primary rig since it has WARC band capability and is stable enough to handle a couple of the new digital modes I've been enjoying lately, PSK31 and Hell. I assure you, I'm not swearing here. Hell is short for Hellschreiber, a very old digital mode similar to PSK31 and gaining in popularity now with new software available for free (just like PSK31).

The main station antenna is a Butternut HF9V vertical.; The Butternut is elevated to about 18 feet (5.5 meters) above ground at the base. Resonant and isolated (from earth ground) radials tune the antenna for all bands - 80 to 6 meters. (see the page which describs the HF9V installation in greater detail) Prior to this antenna, I used an inverted Vee for 40 about 25 feet high at the apex. A tower sets waiting for the addition of a top section to raise it to the 35 foot level. My hope is to put a six meters beam on top. We'll see if that actually comes about. The tower has been setting as is for over 20 years now. Right now a Ringo Ranger for two meters FM sets atop it. I spend little time on two meters FM. It's not an interest of mine.

I especially enjoy old radios and though I do not consider myself a collector or expert in the matter - as I don't have a collection of these old treasures. I enjoy seeing them, reading about them, and thinking about the days when as a kid I got a rare chance to visit a ham radio store in downtown St. Louis and see the huge receivers and transmitters with such names as Hallicrafters, Gonset, Hammarlund, National, etc. These radios were BIG! Perhaps as time permits, I'll devote a part of this site to that topic......

AM is another fascination. My experience with the mode has so far been limited to some ten meters operation. This has been accomplished with both my Drake Twins and my Icom 706. I've not yet tried the Kenwood on AM, though I am curious as to what the Heil Gold Line microphone on the Kenwood would sound like on AM.

Seems a bit of an embarrassment to engage some of the antique and homebrew equipment that sounds so good on that mode with "modern" appliance radios.Someday I will have something a little bit more in keeping with the spirit of that mode here.I'd really like to homebrew a tube type high level modulated system.Wonder if I'll ever get to that?Oh yes, I have worked with an old converted CB set in the past.Got Japan once with 3 watts AM from my previous QTH in IL.This was also on ten meters.I currently have some old tube CB sets stashed away awaiting time to work at least the parts from them into ham radio (likely AM) projects.I also have an old but working DX-40.That one is going to make it back into radio service one of these days.It will do both CW and AM.

I earned my license in Illinois where I lived for several years.There, I operated 80 through 10 as WB9TKA using a Hygain six element beam at almost 75 feet. Can't get anything up that high at the present QTH.Someday, I hope to live in an area (still North Texas) where I can put the thing up to full height and put a serious antenna up top.

I exchanged WB9TKA for WB5TKA in early 1999.Too many years of using a "9" call while living permanently in "5" land. Other, non-ham radio interest include:Art, primarily oil painting. Writing, primarily medieval fiction and fantasy.Computers.Boating and fishing.Also, Bible studies, church history, and church related activities.I may in time provide some links relative to those activities. Having Fun With Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek out


Dan W. Dooley