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New old Yaesu FT 101

I added a Yaesu FT 101 this winter as my vintage radio. For the nonhams out there, the Yaesu FT 10 was introduced by Yaesu, a Japanese radio manufacturer in the early 70s. It was one of the first hybrid radios, a mixture of solid state and tube driver and final tubes. Prior to that, most radios were all tube. The Yaesu was incredibly popular, and many, many radios were sold throughout the 70s.

It was a solid radio with good performance, and thousands of them are still on the air today. Unfortunately, they have also become a favorite of the CBers and Freebanders, so many of them have gone over to the dark side.

I use this primarily to participate in two different Midwestern nets on Saturday monrings — the Midwest Classic Radio Net at 7:30 on 3885 is an all AM net, and its followed by the Vintage radio net which starts somewhere around 8:30 somewhere near 3840. It’s a fairly lighthearted net, filled with guys running their old SSB radios from the 60s, and 70s. Anyone who attempts to check in with a new radio is ridiculed — all in good fun.

That’s why you see that strange device in front of the radio — a microphone. That’s the only mic on the desk, and that’s the only time I even listen on the phone bands.

In other news, my line noise from hell has returned, which is severely limiting my enjoyment of the radios. It seems to come with ice and snow — a leaky insulator in the neighborhood. I need to document the problem and start my yearly battle with the power company. About the time I get their attention and they send someone out, the snow melts and the line noise goes away. Then they say it isn’t their problem. That’s life in the city.

Newest addition to the shack -- an 1970s-era Yaesu FT 101E

Updated photo of “Radio K9OZ”

Here’s an updated photo of the station, and this is how it’s going to stay for a while. From Bottom right, Elecraft K3, P3, and KPA 500; Yaesu FT-101B — my vintage AM station. Top row from left, Icom 756 Pro III — I don’t need it, but can’t bear to sell it, and Elecraft K2/100 that I built about 10 years ago. I also have an old Dentron MT 3000A tuner — all the tuner I’ll ever need.

As for the paddles on the desk, the left is a Begalli, the center a Kent, and on the right¬† a Spider, that I bought as a $50 kit at Dayton a couple years ago. If you wonder why I need three paddles, you aren’t a CW operator.

I had hoped to get on the air this weekend, but some things came up and I had to miss the North American QSO party, which is one of my favorite contests. Oh well, it’s a hobby.



New home for K9OZ amateur radio blog

I’ve moved my blog of two years from blogger to WordPress, and now have my own URL, where this is located . I am going to be blogging more and experimenting with SEO. Hopefully this will inspire me tputt more effort into keeping up the blog.

Straight Key Night

New Years’s Eve is Straight Key Night for hams. We all get out our old radios and straight keys and relive our youth. I was running a 70s era Novice radio, the Heath HW-16, and using an old military straight key from WWII. We get spoiled by the modern radios with selective filtering and electronic keyers that make sending Morse code much easier, but it is a blast to get the old gear out and pretend it’s 1965 and I’m a 12-year-old playing with radios in the basement.

Reawakening the blog

It’s time to get the blog going again. I’ve had several other things going on in my life that I won’t go into on this blog, and it cut into my ham radio time and pretty much stopped my blogging this year. As we start into 2012, I’ll make one of my resolutions to try to blog weekly.

In the past year I’ve added several pieces of equipment. Last spring I bought a Ten Tec Eagle just out of curiosity. I’d read the ads, and wondered if the receiver was a good as they said. My take is it does have a very nice receiver, but they worked hard at making it a simple radio, and in my opinion it is a little too simple. It has too few controls for my daily operating on cw, so I’ve found I’m not using it much and it will probably go onto eBay soon.
My other two acquisitions this year are the Elecraft KPA 500 amplifier to round out my Elecraft K-line station and a Yaesu FT 101 E that now makes up my vintage/AM station. I’m sitting here listening to the Midwest Classic AM net on Saturday morning on the old Yaesu, and it sound great on AM. That is the weekly extent of my phone operating.

DX, the bands are open again

Sorry I’ve been away from blog, but I’ve been very active on the radio past couple months, and I just haven’t kept up with blogging. In the meantime, the bands have been open, and I have to say I’m chasing more DX than I every have in my ham career. Tonight, for example, I worked Fiji, 3D2A, on 10 meters at around 9 p.m. local time with my first call. That blew me away. Then I came back down and worked Israel, 4x4FC, on 40 meters on the second call. I just don’t have that kind of results with my simple ground mounted vertical. In the lst week I’ve worked Greenland, Guam, Jordan, Sardinia, Fiji and Israel. Most of those are new countries for me, and using the Logbook of the World system, I’ve been able to watch my country count steadily grow. Then while I was writing this, I managed to workd JW/F8DVD which is an expedition to Svalbard, whcih is an island in artic sea north of Norway. I managed to snag him in a lucky shot in middle of pileup. Another new one. So I’ve got DX fever for now. It’s really different to see all the DX popping up in the log.

Mini Cooper ham radio install

Here’s more details on installing ham radios in Mini Coopers.
On my R56 I used the heavy-duty Comet lip mount on the edge of the back hatch and had an ATAS 120 antenna on it. It worked well, and I could get into parking garages. When I was looking at trading the R56 for my Clubman, I assumed I could use the same mount on the center of the back doors. But I’ve spent days messing with it, and it just doesn’t work well. The coax is just enough to bother the proper closing of the door.
So at the moment, I’m confined to 2 meters and 440. I used a small lip mount on the club door — I think that’s what it’s called, and it works OK. It isn’t real pretty, but it isn’t too obtrusive. Nobody has ever noticed it when looking at the car. Next summer I may try removing the AM antenna and putting a simple quarter-wave in its place. For the radio, I’m using a Yaesu 7900 with the radio mounted in the back cubbyhole under the false floor, and the control head attached to the CD changer with double-sided tape.
I can’t use the CD, but I never had used it since every CD I own is on the iPod. I had my doubts if the control head would stay there, but it’s been there for about 3 months with no problem, and looks good and is easy to use while driving. Forgive the dirty car in the photos, but it’s salt season in Chicago.

Timewave ANC-4 works

I’ve been battling very bad line noise, and made the jump to buying a noise reduction device from Timewave, the model ANC-4. It uses a second antenna, picks up the noise, moves it 180 degrees out of phase, and removes the noise before it hits your radio.

It sounded too good to be true, but it does work.
It’s not simple, and not 100 percent. After reading reviews, I saw a lot of positive, but also saw people who said it did nothing and they returned it.
For the first couple days I was in the did nothing category, but I kept experimenting with different receive antennas, until I found a combination that worked. If you aren’t picking up the noise on the second antenna, you can’t use it to phase out the other noise. So that’s the key.
Now I’m using the dipole as my main antenna, and the vertical as the noise antenna. I have it set up so I can switch antennas quickly, using the vertical as main and dipole as receive.
Meanwhile, my noise has gotten worse, so this is the only thing keeping me on the air right now. A video is attached, showing how it works

Sweepstakes results — clean sweep

For years my goal has been to complete a clean sweep in the CW ARRL Sweepstakes. A clean sweep is working all 80 sections in the US and Canada, which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Several years I’ve been close with 78 or 79 sections, but I never managed to get the Northwest Territory in Canada.
This year I was fighting high line noise, and wondered whether to even take part. But I started out and started getting some of the rare sections — North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota — right off, so I got hooked.
The contest started at 4 p.m. local time, and by the time I went to bed at 1 a.m. I was close to 400 contacts and had 76 sections. I was missing Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Newfoundland and Northwest Territory.
So I thought I had a real chance for the sweep. On Sunday, I started out with a good run on 40 meters, and after it got light moved to 20 and 15 to look for my three missing multipliers. I didn’t spend full time at the radio, just checking the spots and CW Skimmer every hour or so to see if they had popped up. Around 10 the KH6 stations showed up on 20, so it was no problem to get Hawaii, but I had seen no sign of the other three.
Around noon I was doing search-and-pounce on 15 and saw Puerto Rico pop up on Skimmer. I jumped to the frequency and had him– only two to go. Shortly after that I saw a spot for Newfoundland, and discovered a huge pileup calling him. I used all my pileup busting skills — and got him after about 10 minutes. Only one to go. I went back to search and pounce on 15 watching what was showing up on Skimmer, and suddenly Northwest Territory station popped up. I jumped the frequency and got him on the first call. I think he had just started operating on that band, and I beat the spots and the pileup.
So at 1 p.m. local time, I had my first clean sweep. It felt good. I took a break. At sundown I came back to the shack and ran 40 and 80 for a little while, getting my contact total to 600. Around 6:30 I pulled the plug when I hit 600 contacts. More on fighting the noise later.