Rig Nostalgia – the Good Old Days

I was just browsing some pictures on the web this evening and came across a photo of what my original receiver looked like as a Novice licensee. Actually I was a SWL even before that.


So I said, “Hey, maybe I can find a photo of my first transmitter.” So here it is!


The Lafayette receiver and the Heathkit DX-100B transmitter served me well. I actually don’t remember what ever happened to them. I like to think I passed them on to another ham, but I draw a total blank … I have no idea where they went.

What I do remember, however, is the weight of that DX-100B. It had a huge transformer and weighed a ton! I remember that vividly … tubes and transformers — not built for portable operation. The antenna was an end-fed long wire. I haven’t a clue about what I used to tune it. I only had two crystals to start with … both in the 40 meter Novice band. Worked quite a few stations using that combo. Ah, the good old days!


73 de Dick K4FTW



Wouldn’t you know it … I had plans to spend the weekend on the air, but  they just didn’t pan out. Thursday, I noticed a little tickle in my throat, Friday it was a bit worse, and then Saturday, I didn’t have any voice (well, I did but it sounded like a croak). By the way, SSB requires a voice modulating the carrier. 🙁

So … it was not to be. I did make 13 contacts, and at least three of those were new countries, so the weekend wasn’t a total bust. Hopefully the CW portion coming up will give me better luck … no voice needed if I have another cold.

73 de Dick K4FTW

More QSO Party

I worked a few stations on both CW and PHONE in the New York QSO Party on Saturday evening on 40 and 80 meters. Some were pretty strong and I got a couple of comments that I had a good signal into New York. That always makes me feel good when someone makes a comment like that :-).

Earlier, I went to the QCWA Chapter 119 lunch. Met a lot of great guys and matched up some faces and calls. The program was by Stu, WA4JUO, on his trip to China. He really made some interesting points and gave a lot of insight into not just ham radio there, but society in general. It was quite enjoyable. The 80 meter Chapter net is tomorrow (Sunday) morning, so I’ll check in there before heading out to church.

Hope to get a little more air time on the bands tomorrow afternoon and evening. Today has been a gray day with showers, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with a high of 64F.

73 de Dick K4FTW

PA QSO Party

The Pennsylvania stations were booming in down here. Forty and eighty had some 59+ signals. I worked quite a few on Phone, and found it to be a fun experience. For every op that sounded like he was in it to win, there were lots of others that were pretty laid back and having a great time. It was a tossup as to mode — cw or phone — but it had been a while since I worked phone and there were a lot more phone stations on than cw.

I’m still working on 80 with a 40 meter antenna, and getting pretty good results, but I think it’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade the Carolina Windom to 80 meters. All it should take is more wire (and some creative ways to support the ends). I think maybe some more fiberglass poles are in my future :-).

So it’s been a pretty fun weekend, and it’s not over yet. We’ve had 5 days and nights of rain, so when that’s over and done, maybe I can work on that antenna. I’m still looking at a Ten Tec Rebel 506, and eventually I should be able to convince myself I really need it :-). The open design and qrp operation do intrigue me though. We’ll see.

73 de Dick K4FTW

What’s New

The short answer is “Not much.” I have had so many things going on other than ham radio that it’s had to take a back seat. Work has been very busy, trying to resolve issues with an 800 MHz trunked system. I think we have a handle on what’s going on now, though.

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I am pretty heavily involved in Scouting, and the Troop I work with has several camping trips coming up in the next month, and I’ve been working with the boys planning those. I’m also getting my course materials together to work with them on their religious awards. Busy!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time in on the radio this weekend. Bought a new cooking stove and refrigerator this week, and it’s supposed to be delivered on Friday, so I’ve taken the day off to be there for the delivery. Maybe I’ll get on during the wait.

I’ve also been looking pretty closely at the new Ten Tec Rebel 506 QRP, open source transceiver. That really interests me. An affordable SDR radio. Hmmm …

73 de Dick

Progress report

All in all, the bands have been in pretty good shape lately. Good openings on those above 20 meters, and the usual suspects 20 meters and down. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening and operating after work in the evenings.

There’s a solar storm going on now, so I’m not sure what the bands will be like tonight. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight with dinner beforehand, so I doubt that I’ll get much chance to try operating this evening. But, I’ll at least check the bands. Just like a fisherman, you never know what you’ll catch until you put your line into the water :-).

I was just thinking the other evening … yeah, sure, I miss the operating with a few hundred watts and a tribander at 75 feet when I was exotic DX, but I’m having lots of fun with my height-challenged Windom and 31-ft vertical at ground level. I guess it’s all relative … even with limited antennas I’m doing a lot better than those with a license and no antenna (thus, no operating :-(). I’m not a fanatical op, spending hours every night at the rig, but I do enjoy it when I have a chance to get on the air … and, I do snag a few good ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can’t work ’em unless you get on the air. Good operating practices can boost your signal a bit at the other end. Having been DX, I can say that power and S-units aren’t all that matters.

73 de Dick

Good Ops

OK … finally getting some action above 14 MHz. Ten through seventeen meters all were showing some life this weekend. The WARC bands were especially fruitful. I suspect the RTTY contest drove quite a few onto the newer bands. Forty meters was a zoo with the RTTY contest pretty much covering the whole band. Not much room left for CW. Got shoved right down to the bottom of the band.

I worked a few new countries and a bunch of Texans in the Texas QSO Party so I’m happy. It never fails to amaze me how supposedly “dead” bands come to life during a major contest weekend.

The new vertical is working out pretty well, but I’m not sure if its better or that much different from the Windom. I did a bit of work on the OCF antenna, fine tuning the length and getting the ends up higher and do see some improvement in its performance. Sometimes one antenna is better than the other on receive and the next time it’s the other. I do notice that the vertical has a lower noise level most of the time, which is exactly the opposite of what I’d always been led to believe. So go figure … I’ll use whatever works the best at the time.

Well, the bands are still pretty good so enough writing … back to the radio!

73 de Dick


Well, I’m still wringing out the new vertical. I’m likin’ it! I had time to work a couple of stations tonight — European Russia on 20 and Greenland on 12. The XP3 station was booming in … 59+ at times. He had a respectable pileup going and I grabbed him sending my callsign once.

Overall though, the bands don’t seem too lively. Not much action on either antenna here at just past 0000Z. It was better earlier in the evening. Now’s a good time to catch up on YouTube 🙂 .


73 de Dick

Good Weekend

OK, I was pretty happy with the performance of the new vertical. I cleaned up the installation and it looks OK now. I still have to bury the coax, but I did operate with it this weekend. l worked a few new countries/bands/modes and even a couple of US stations on 80-meter CW. I’m quite pleased with it.

The 17-meter band was quite good today. I listened to a Welsh YL working the states for a couple of hours, and she was booming in here. The Scandinavians were coming in well on most bands for the contest. All-in-all, a good weekend for working ham radio.

73 de Dick K4FTW