Saturday, November 01, 2008


I've been digging out all my radio gear this morning and contemplating drilling holes in the floor of my new house to run coax through. Urgh. Anyway, here's a pic of a bunch of stuff. Astron 35-amp power supply, on the top shelf at left. On top of it is an old Radio Shack 10-meter rig that I bought from someone via eBay. This is not one of the late-80s-era rigs. This is one of the original 70s-era rigs that does not do FM but does USB and CW. It still works great. In my opinion, Radio Shack made some really solid, simple rigs in their time. Now they don't even publish license books anymore. I did run this rig mobile, although I had to make my own mounting bracket from a piece of aluminum. I used a CB mag-mount antenna that I carefully snipped a little off the whip at a time until I got it tuned for 28.4 MHz (the center of the old Novice voice sub-band). The last time I used it, I put my bugcatcher on a pipe and rigged up a ground plane for it in my back yard, and left the 10-meter rig monitoring for 10-X activity while I lurked for CQs on the lower bands with the 140. I also have 80-meter and 20-meter Hamsticks and a Carolina bugcatcher (40 through 10 meters--and I installed extra clips myself so it would do 30, 17 and 12) that I bought at a hamfest. I used to use the bugcatcher also as a home antenna for APRS stuff on 30 meters. My truck is wired so that I can put the 140 in it, pop on an antenna, and be HF mobile in a matter of minutes.

Next to the power supply is an MFJ model 948 tuner which I used to use to try and match all my wire antenna experiments. Now I mainly just use it to monitor the SWR on my GAP Titan-DX. Occasionally I might still try some wire antenna experiment. The last one I did was building an NVIS antenna that worked really well, but one of the guy stakes came loose and it collapsed during some bad wind. This loose sand out here isn't very good for staking things down. On top of the tuner is a Radio Shack 2-meter rig that I really like. It's simple and has always worked perfectly. I use it in the house for both 2 meters and monitoring our main county public service frequency. Next to that is the 12-volt refrigerator that I had in my truck when I was truck driving.

Lower shelf, at left in back is a Kenwood TS-140S, the only hf multi-band rig I've ever owned. Last time I tried to use it, I was having problems with it, but I don't remember exactly what they were. I think they were digital-mode related. I don't think I'll ever use it for digital modes again because it has no filters. I'll probably get a new rig for that that includes some DSP filters and so forth. In front of that is a Kenwood TM-742A which has only the factory default 2M/440MHz in it. I never got around to buying a third module for it, and I doubt if any are still available anymore. I always wanted to put either 6M or 1296 MHz in it. One of my Elmers (that's ham speak for a "mentor" or "an older ham advisor") had 1296 in his and was always trying to get me to get into it. This is the rig that I'll be attempting to install in my truck.

Not pictured is an Icom dual-band mobile rig that is in my truck right now but not working because the power connection got accidentally severed. I'll be moving it into my wife's car. Also not pictured is my KAM Plus. I still can't find my KaGold installation disk, so I'll be looking for new software and probably buying some kind of USB-to-RS232 converter so I can use it on my laptop. This laptop does have both serial and parallel ports in addition to USB, but I think it will be easier to use a converter than to try and get it to talk to a TNC through its old-fashioned serial port. Another one not pictured is an Alinco DJ-580T handheld that's in my truck. The original power pack for it is worn out and needs the guts replaced, but I also have a battery pack that holds 6 "AA" cells. Right now it's the only radio I can pick up, turn on, and expect to work.

Toward the right of the lower shelf is a vintage Kenwood handheld. Here's a close-up.

I bought this and a box full of accessories for $150 (IIRC) at a hamfest right after I first got my license about 16 years ago. It's a TH-21AT 2-meter rig. It's quite compact, dead simple to operate, and has always been absolutely reliable. It came with two regular power packs, one bigger power pack for even longer operation, a big belt battery pack that held several C-cells for even longer extended operation (but which I've since misplaced--I never used it anyway), and a regular-sized battery pack that holds six "AAA" cells. That big console thing next to it is a combination drop-in battery charger/power supply so you can charge two power packs at once, plus it provides 12 volts DC so you can run the radio directly from it with a power cord that also came with it. There's also a single-power-pack wall charger and an adaptor to connect the rig to a cigarette lighter. Yes, there were a truckload of ways to power this rig. Unfortunately, it's so old that I think all the original power packs are shot and need to have their insides replaced. Here's a shot of it from the top.

This rig doesn't have memory channels that you program with your favorite repeaters. It has a three-step flywheel tuner and can receive and transmit anywhere from 140 MHz to 149.995 MHz. The push-button to the immediate right of the flywheel is a +5 kHz increment to the tuning. The button to the right of that turns on the tone module, which was completely separate from the radio and which I don't have. The way I understand it, from the internet research I did, the tone module was a box that you wore in your belt and connected to the rig via a special combination power-pack/tone interface. It was cumbersome, but then, back when this rig was built, subaudible tones weren't in all that widespread use. In fact, when I bought it, there was only one area repeater that used a tone, and it was too far away to hit with a handheld anyway. This rig also can't be programmed for any kind of non-standard repeater offset; it has a switch on the back that lets you choose between +/- 600 kHz or simplex. It has two power output settings; "high" is one watt and "low" is 300 milliwatts. You can use the stubby duck that is on it right now, but it also has a rubber "whip" that extends the range quite dramatically over the stubby. You can see the bottom of the whip at the bottom left of the picture above. Also it doesn't have a BNC connector. The antenna connector looks sort of like an RCA jack except that it's threaded so the antenna screws on. These days, I can't think of any repeaters around here that don't use tones. So without being able to do subaudible tones, this radio isn't very useful anymore except for simplex. I also used it for packet with a Baycom when I lived in my wife's apartment for several months when we were first married. My antenna for that setup was a twin-lead j-pole hung from the ceiling with a thumbtack and some thread.

It's hard to see, but on the bottom right of the topmost picture is another lower shelf that holds a couple items. There's a Radio Shack 2-meter handheld that I used for my main packet rig for years. Next to it is a 2-meter amp that a ham friend gave me that'll produce 100 watts out for 25 watts in. It also works for lower power. I hooked the handheld to it often and it produced around 20 watts out for 5 watts in. I also have a 2-meter 11-element yagi in the back yard that the same person gave me. Without such an antenna, it would be extremely difficult to hit any repeaters from where I live. We are in a repeater dead zone here.

Next to that stuff is another MFJ gadget, an interface to hook the TS-140S up to the KAM Plus, but I don't suppose I'll ever use it again.

So there you have a bunch of ham stuff that isn't actually hooked up and working right now, but which I hope to have on the air in the coming weeks. I'm still looking to buy a new handheld also that's weather-proof so I can carry it while working. I was planning on getting a Yaesu, but today I was reading up on them again and noticed that Icom has one that, while not rated for submersibility, is rated as being rain-proof (actually splash-proof, which is one step better than rain-proof). Also the Icom has 6 meters as it's third band instead of 220 MHz like the Yaesu. I'd much rather have 6 than 220. I know Yaesu also made one that did 6, but no one seems to have it anymore, and it was significantly more expensive anyway.

Oh, one more thing. Here's what's in the picture frame above the bench.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You would have loved my next-door neighbor in Arlington. He had antennas sprouting all over his house and workshop, and had a huge one in the backyard that had a triangular aluminum base at least 20 feet high, and I don't know how high the rest went. It had about 9 guy wires on it, though. I'm pretty sure the lights dimmed when he hit the 'Transmit' key...

    Me? I've got a portable CB tucked in a box somewhere. That's about it.