A state of plateau

I've been altering my station for the past two years, seeking improvement in operability and modernization, while retaining a bit of nostalgia operating.  I believe I am nearing a plateau period in regard to my station equipment.  Previously, I began assembling a vintage Drake 4-Line station to use by acquiring a pair of non-operating TR4C's.  I now have a complete operational Drake station consisting of a TR4C transceiver, RV-4 remote VFO, AC-4 power supply, and L-4B amplifier (photo below).  Unfortunately, one of the TR4C's I acquired was in such poor condition, repair was not feasible.  I donated that radio for parts to Ron Baker, WB4HFN.

Recently, I also added a fully optioned Yaesu FTDX-3000D to the station. The FTDX-3000D is one of Yaesu's most recent offerings and reports have been good. That rig will be dedicated to mostly digital modes of operation. It seems well suited to that task as it provides built in decoding.  Moreover, it integrates well with the Ham Radio Deluxe software and DM780, the main control/logging/digital program suite used in the station.

In the immediate future, beyond operating I visualize that most of my efforts will be spent on antenna projects and additions to the station's operational aids.  Currently, I am assembling the components required to install IF out jacks in a Yaesu FTDX-9000MP and a Yaesu FT-1000mp Mark V. Tapping the intermediate frequency chain will facilitate the addition of a real time pan adaptor to those transceivers.  I've been experimenting with some of the improved RTL dongles from Nooelec.com, and some of the freeware available from various sources.  That technology appears promising to suit my purposes.


ARRL Centinnal

Today,  I received a surprise in the mail commemorating my participation as a W1AW/4 station last year, during the American Radio Relay League's 100th Year anniversary QSO party.  It was fun working the event and an honor of being the sought after "DX" station for once.  During the week, I logged 1406 QSO's for the state of Virginia...73.

The OCF antenna...

During the past several months, I constructed and began experimenting with an OCF type antenna (180/90 foot elements + 6:1 balun) feed with coax at 70 feet, versus a 540 foot diameter square loop antenna mounted at 35 feet, fed with 600 ohm ladder line. I had it mounted with the ends facing NW/SE.  I have concluded, the loop antenna out performs the OCF antenna and has shown to exhibit greater gain on the low bands of 40-80-160 meters.  Signals from the OCF antenna have consistently been down several S units on both receive and transmit.  Only on the higher bands does it begin to become comparable.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed experimenting with that antenna, but I have not found any real advantage to keep the OCF antenna operational at my station.

The next antenna I am planning as an experiment will be a multi-element inverted V dipole.  I don't currently have an antenna for the 30 meter band, so I will include elements for that band.  Considering a 4 band configuration (80 meters, 40 meters, 30 meters, 17 meters).  It will be interesting to see if I can make that work.

73 de AB4D. 

New Year's Greetings...2015

Hi.  Just taking a moment to wish those that happen visit my little corner on the web all the best for 2015.  I'm not much for making New Year's resolutions, so none will be made.

I always have a few ham radio related projects on the back burner and future projects on the drawing board.  As I continue to work on various ham radio projects. I will post about them here as they progress.  Last time I checked, there had been over 20,000 page loads of this site over the past few years.  I post not only for myself as a written journal, but also to share the information as well. I thank those of you that may find my writings useful.

73, and have a great 2015.

ARRL Centennial Points Challenge

All year I have been participating in the ARRL Centennial Operation by working the W1AW/* portable stations, and other stations that are worth centennial points.  I also was a portable station myself as a W1AW/4 Virginia in October. I had set forth at least two goals at the beginning of the year. First was to achieve a Worked All States award including only W1AW portable stations, and to work all territories for extra endorsements to augment the WAS award. During the Centennial celebration year, the ARRL also had a point challenge with a four tier level of achievement. The levels of participation achievement are 1,000, 3000, 7,500 and 15,000 points, calculated on the combined point value of all stations contacted and confirmed through the Logbook of the World. ARRL members are worth 1 point each, and the ARRL President is worth 300 points, the highest point value available.

I had not really anticipated participating in the point challenge, as I was more focused on achieving worked all states before the Centennial celebration completed on December 31, 2014. I completed my WAS effort a few weeks ago with final operation in Delaware being the final state I had to work.  However, a few days ago I was looking at my paltry score of just 5,100 points. I asked myself, if it was possible to take it to the next level in such a short period of time?

 I began monitoring the DX cluster looking for additional W1AW portable stations to work for points, and for high point ARRL officials to log as well.  I worked many stations in the first few day and easily surpassed 7,500 points.  My new goal is to achieve the top level of 15,000 points. I checked my standings today, and currently have over 14,000 points.  It's been a fun year, I hope ham radio activity remains just as fun for 2015...73.

A nice Christmas surprise...

I recently received several unexpected ham radio items as part of a contest I entered.  During most Wednesday evenings, I can usually be found in the shack watching one of my favorite programs over the internet. The Ham Nation program on the Twit network. The Ham Nation program is a weekly web cast hosted by Dr. Bob Heil, Gordon West, and several other notable co-hosts.  Each week, the show focuses on ham radio news and activities, such as DXing, product reviews, contests, and technical topics with George Thomas W5JDX.  It's a great show and really is a joy to watch.  As part of the show, some of the sponsors provide free items for use in contests as prizes for the audience.

One of the major sponsors of the Ham Nation program is Icom America.  Each month, Icom sponsors a contest that allows Ham Nation viewers to enter and win Icom promotional packages.  The winners of those packages are also entered to win a monthly grand prize drawing of a new Icom transceiver.  During the show on the second week of November, I entered the Icom America contest and was surprisingly selected to receive one of the promotional packages. At the end of the month, I was notified by Icom that I had also been selected as the winner of a new Icom IC-7200.  It was really great to win the prizes and thanks to Ham Nation and especially to Icom America for their sponsorship.

Danny Boy...the tubes are calling...

We'll not exactly - Hi Hi.  However, I have decided to expand my small collection of vintage ham radio equipment.  Recently, a friend offered a few pieces of non-working Drake 4 line gear to me at a reasonable price.  I already own a vintage Drake L-4B amplifier that I recently refurbished.  Therefore, the additional Drake 4 line items easily fit into my collection. For those that are not familiar with the Drake 4 line. These are popular transceivers and equipment from the 70's, and are Vacuum Tube based designs.

The pieces I acquired are two TR4C SSB transceivers, a MS4/AC4 speaker/power supply, and a RV4/AC4 remote VFO/Power supply.  At some point in the future, I plan to restore this gear and hopefully have two functioning Drake 4 line stations. Replacement part availability is surprisingly good because of continued high interest in this quality USA produced amateur gear.