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
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
Fun With Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek out