Friday, August 27, 2010

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

In between a few projects at the qth, I ran across an inter-
esting article by Alan Vega (WA6 MOW) on the eham.net
site called "HF on a limited budget", dated 26 August 2010.
Much of his article resonated with my approach to Amateur
Radio, especially the parts relating to serviceable older rigs
and homebrew antennas for your shack.  Alan sets up an
arbitrary $300 budget for a basic ham station, and, generally,
succeeds in getting a basic station assembled, minus the
antenna, ATU, and miscellaneous items.  Alan recommends
a few familiar transceivers which have proven reliable, in-
cluding teh Yaesu FT-757GX, the ICOM-730, and the
Kenwood TS-440s.  All good choices for those oper-
ating on a shoestring budget.  I would add a few more, in-
cluding the Kenwood 520 series and a few Ten-Tec
classics such as the Triton-540, the Argosy II, and even
the Scout 555.  I've owned a few of the above and can
attest to their reliability.  Of course, the further we go out
in time, the more problems associated with parts and
service we find, especially if you prefer hybrid or all-
tube rigs.  None the less, having a good, working spare
rig is a plus in these uncertain times.  I've found my newly
acquired Kenwood 520 a joy to work on and operate.
There's nothing wrong with buying the latest technology
if you can afford to pay cash and thus avoid the credit
card hastle.  I just prefer the older rigs.  Your mileage
will vary, depending on what role Amateur Radio plays
in your life.  That being said, you might want to read
Alan's article--he has many good ideas which could keep
you on the air should your main rig fail.  Have a good
weekend.  73 de KH6JRM.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The ole Kenwood 520 is just about ready for a full
rollout after some minor cleanup procedures.  I was
lucky to acquire the rig from a deceased Hilo ham, who
kept his equipment clean and maintained.  All I have to
do is replace the 2001 finals with some 6146Bs I in the
tube drawer.  The original finals are alright for now, but
they are a bit soft.  I've run the 520 at low power and it
behaved well.  Even my homebrew ac power cord seemed
to work.  I was able to get a new replacement from K4EEA
just in case my kludge fails along the way.  Presently, I'm re-
reading Lew McCoy's "Novice Antenna Book", something I
picked up many years ago.  The book is full of simple, work-
able antennas that will get you started on your amateur radio
adventure.  McCoy, now SK, writes in a friendly, straight-
forward way.  I've tried several of his designs and they work
well.  Materials for these antennas can be obtained from the
nearest hardware store at modest cost.  I'll use the Kenwood
520 while I clean up the Swan 100 MX and the Yaesu FT-7.
These two rigs are fairly easy to get around, especially for those
of us with pudgy fingers and bifocals.  I enjoy the work--it keeps
my mind off the concerns of the world for a while.  After a day
in the radio station newsroom, I ready to back off the "doom and
gloom" headlines and head off for the radio room in the qth.  Nothing
like a little cw therapy to purge those daily downers.  Enjoy your
weekend.  Check out the ESPN sports coverage to the right of this
segment and the news update at the bottom of the entry.  As always,
your antenna suggestions are welcome.  73 de KH6JRM.

Friday, August 13, 2010

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Keeping with my underlying theme of operatng an amateur
radio station with a minimum of cost, I'm continuing to
bring an old Kenwood 520 back to life.  I'm indebted
to Ken, K4EAA, for his informative website. He has
given me plenty of helpful hints in restoring this classic
hybrid rig.  The new 12BY7 driver is working well and
my self-constructed ac power cord seems to be holding
its own.  I ordered a PC-2 cord from Ken just in case my
stubby fingers ruining the soldering job on the 12-pin con-
nector. The rig runs well after blowing out the dust and
spraying the switches with de-oxit contact cleaner.  Al-
though the 2001 finals are a bit soft, I can get out a more
than adequate 60 watts.  Since I tend to run rigs at qrp
levels, the slightly lower output doesn't present an immedi-
ate problem.  I have a spare set of 6146Bs in the tube
cabinet.  While my minor tune-up was thankfully easy, I
enjoyed getting inside the rig and doing a few things for
myself.  If you have the time and can secure a classic
tube rig (full tube or hybrid), you might find the re-
vitalization effort a nice learning activity.  Now that the
Kenwood is running, I can disassemble the Swan 100 MX
and give it a thorough cleaning.  These older rigs feed a
series of home-brew verticals and loops.  While not fancy,
the arrangement works for me.  Yes, I secretly want an
Elecraft K-3.  That rig will have to wait  while I accumu-
late the necessary funds. Meanwhile, I'm having fun and
learning a few things on the side...not a bad combination.
Enjoy the weekend...73 de KH6JRM.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Inventory, restocking, and repairs continue at the Laupahoehoe
qth.   With the economy being so fragile these days, I'm monitoring
the financial "empire" more closely than I once did.  I have a few
long term projects on the burner (new rig, for example), but, for
now, I'm making due with what I have.  As mentioned earlier, I
acquired a well-cared for Kenwood 520 from the family of a
recently deceased Hilo amateur.  With the acquisition of a new
power cord (thanks to K4EAA) and a new 12BY7A driver
tube, the grand ole rig is just about ready to put on the air.  The
rig tunes up well into the dummy load, albeit the original 2001 final
tubes are a bit "soft".  I ordered the PC-2 power cord before I
found a 12-prong plug in the junk box.  At least I have a spare.
A trip to the local hardware store will provide whatever wire,
nuts, bolts, clamps, and other items the junk box now lacks. I'll
wrap up the weekend with a clean-up of the Swan 100-MX and
a restringing of the 40-meter vertical.  The tropical salt air really
does a number on clamps and bare wire.  All the solar panels and
batteries are working well, so I'm just about set after regualr rig
maintenance is done.  Have a good weekend.  73 de KH6JRM
(Hawaii Island).