I was first licensed in 1954, while living in Shreveport, Louisiana. My first rig was a single tube 6AG7 crystal oscillator transmitter operating on 40 meters. The receiver was a well-used military surplus radio. One of the old BC-series. Not much commercial equipment was available to the average ham in those days due to cost. There was always a lot of trading and bartering at club meetings and hamfests. Most of the hams I knew were CW operators. Over a period time, I was able to build better rigs and continued to use my surplus receiver until I saved up enough money to by a National NC-125, all-band receiver with “bandspread tuning”. My transmitter was a 6AG7 oscillator driving a single 6146 and running about 35-40 watts. The next task was to get to voice ( AM in those days). This was done using a simple audio amp driving 2-6L6 tubes with a very expensive modulation transformer to do the job. We operated on 3.825AM as the local “club” frequency. Many changes came along including the Central Electronics 10A, then 20A SSB exciter. They required a seperate VFO to be really useful, but once again the surplus market gave us what we needed. Quite a change from then until now.
Over the years, I operated in Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, and finally here in Missouri. During these years, I maintained a fully operational and well used station at my original home. In those days, in order to keep your original license, you were able to obtain a secondary license in the resident call area. Working for the original AT&T meant never being anywhere for very long. During these years, I participated in the MARS program to the extent that a very mobile person is able. Many interesting experiences filled this time, and a lot of different radio equipment came and went.
In 1978, I relocated to the Kansas City area and settled in Kearney, which is about 25 miles NE of Kansas City. I live in a rural area, just north of the historic Jesse James Home, and have the luxury of slightly more than 3 acres of back yard. This makes it very nice for antenna work. Beyond the back yard, there is more space which is mostly wooded, but makes a good landing area for the ends of the wire antennas. I am able to have 160m dipoles as well as anything else with no problem. Over the years, I continued in the AF MARS program, operating the AFA3PV pactor bbs for several years. With some of the changes in the program and the trend away from CW, and the intense pressure to move totally to digital systems, I chose to put my gear to a different use. In the photo gallery, you can see the current station layout.
My real love is QRP CW, although I have the capability of operating all bands and all modes from 160 m through 70 cm. I do not do any satellite work, although this is a very quiet location and might be good for that type of activity.
Here is a breakdown of the station equipment: Elecraft KX3, KXPA100 and the PX3, FT-2800M, Kenwood TM-V71A, A3S tri-band beam, 56 foot tower, 160m windom, 80m windom, R7 Vertical, R7000 vertical, I-MAX2000 10m Vertical, Bencher key, Navy Flameproof Key, J-38, and several more straight keys and a few collectible keys, Buxcom interfaces, Intel-based computers dedicated to radio software, Solar charged 12V battery system to power the radio equipment and a generator for charging the batteries when the sun is not plentiful for several days. The most recent challenge is having purchased a new vehicle, we are trying to figure out how to install a mobile rig in these new machines. Not an easy task, and so far no workable solution. My workshop is equipped with a Yaesu FT60 with outside antenna local repeater work.
Recent changes include the use of the FT-2800M and KPC-3 for APRS, A Kenwood TM-V71 and KPC3 for RMS Express and local 2 meter work, Also a second TM-V71 used with the Signalink for VHF digital modes and other work. The FT-897 remains as a backup rig for any requirement. An additional Signalink has been provided for the KX3 station on digital. With the laptop, it becomes a very nice portable digital station. I have added a very well equipped Buddipole system with the hardware to assemble 6m and 10m yagi antenna systems as well as the traditional vertical and horizontal Buddipole designs. For other portable work I have an Alpha Loop that breaks down for storage/transport in a canvas bag. Easy setup and great for “getting out in the park”.
A good bit of my time has been spent working on end fed wire antenna systems. There are some really nice commercial packages out there, but building your own is still the preferred way to go. With the winter weather now upon us, it is time to start thinking about the next antenna systems for the spring.
I recently acquired a Kent Key dual, with both the twin-paddle and straight key, (pumpstyle) on a single base, as well as a new old Vibroplex and several other keys. The key collection keeps growing.
The equipment list changes occasionally, but not very often. Being retired is great, and as my youngest son reminds me “Now you have the time to enjoy your hobbies”, but I have to remind him that I can no longer afford them.........
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