Saturday, September 20, 2008

Phantom Flying

This was taken last Sunday afternoon. The little Pentax pocket camera was triggered using an IR remote. The aircraft is a 1984 Phantom powered by a Rotax 447 engine.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Motorcycle Trip to the Alps

In June of '08 Trish and I traveled to Europe and rode with Edelweiss Motorcycle tours through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Italy. I am still working on the pictures.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Drake 2-B

The Drake 2-B was the first 'good' receiver I had early on as a ham. Mine was purchased in about 1965 or so from Harrison Radio in Manhattan. I talked my dad into buying one because it seemed to have the nicest sound of any of the radios for SSB/CW except maybe the Collins and these were more expensive. Hearing Bill Meara talking about how good they were I decided to pick one off of eBay and relive some of the 60's again.
Got the 2-B and have it on the desk. It has some 'issues' but looks pretty good. Don't think it ever had a lot of use really. It's humming like crazy but I heard some signals on 40 and 80, the 20 M band is dead maybe the Xtal. The 100kc calibrator Xtal socket was loose and the xtal was rattling around inside radio but is now working.
I did some web reading on methods of 'reforming' the filter caps and it has gotten somewhat better but I am sure they will need to be replaced.
The Frequency 'main tuning' knob seemed frozen but the grease had hardened and now is fine. I also got the 2-BQ with it and have not tried it but it looks good.
Copper is excellent on the bottom and good to very good on the top.
There was some sheet metal damage to the upper left corner of the radio but not on the case.
The screws looks like they had not been touched (that hold the radio in the case) but it must have been out and fallen off the table at one point.
I think the 1st order will be to get the power supply filter caps replaced.
Am now getting about 2.9 V of AC on the terminals of the filter caps. When I 1st fired it up it was over 10V AC so the caps have 'come back' some but I don't think they will get a lot better.
I started it with 15 V then moved it up to 100V and now am letting it sit with 190V and all the tubes pulled except the rectifier.
Will run it a for a day or so and see if the AC continues to go down.
My current thinking is to buy new radial electrolytics and mount them under the original, taking the original totally out of the circuit. The can says 2 X 100 uf and 2 X 10 uf @ 250WV.
Sept 20 '08
Posted Pix of the Cap purchased from It fit perfectly and the 2.9 V of AC is now down to .01 on three of them and .8 on one terminal. N0JMY also includes a .1 electrylitic for the screen bypass of the audio amp tube. The price for this was reasonable and it keeps more of the originality of the old radio . I replaced the cap first with a 40W Weller SP40 iron. The Weller WLC 100 unit did not have enough mass to get the tab unsoldered from the chassis. Am listening to the radio on 40 M SSB and it sounds great! Next will try the 2BQ and will search for a new 20M crystal as it seems dead on that band.

Crystal update the 20M crystal was replaced with one of the  18 MHz crystals from building the Willamette20 I used a Digi Key part # X144-ND which is a HC-49 case designed for 20 pf of cap. The price is 40 cents, buy a couple and you can build a nice VFO for the Willamette 20 as well!  I soldered the leads to the base of the old crystal and plugged it back in.  It has been working fine on 20M ever since.  No realignment was needed other than using the normal xtal calibrator.  Many crystals are available in the SMD small cans and could probably be made to work for the low end of 10M but I have not tried this yet.  

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Yesterday built the WinKeyer Kit from K1EL. The project was pretty simple to solder together, the surface mount USB interface chip was already mounted on the double sided board. The other two IC's went into sockets and the whole kit went together and was tested in a couple of hours. It took Almost as long to get the drivers working in VISTA as it did to put it together. The new eMachine Celeron with Vista Home Basic has been very stable except when I have exceeded the memory limits. Twice though I have had a time getting new devices reognized even when manually installing the proper driver. It seems to take more than one restart and maybe more than one install of the driver to get everything lined up. This seemed to be the case with the WinKeyer too. Once it connected though it seems to work FB. The two programs I have been using this winter both support the WinKeyer; HRD/DM-780 and N1MM interfaces both seem to work well with the CAT interface running on COM 1 and WinKeyer on USB Comm 4. It's not like the old DOS days when you could use a simple one transistor interface off the Comm Port to key the radio. The WinKeyer does operate in a stand alone mode too and that may be handy for some of the QRP contests in the field. There is a battery holder for 3 'AAA' cells and a diode sensor to switch the power from either the batteries or USB power if available.

There are two sets of Keying and PTT ports on the back of the keyer so if you want to use it as a SO2R CW set up it seems like this is all set to go.

For more info visit

Monday, January 21, 2008

QRP Portable at Bryce Mtn Resort

Last Week we took a week off and I had the opportunity to operate portable from Bryce Mtn Resort in Bayse, VA. For equipment I took the HP Laptop with PSK31 Deluxe, Yaesu FT-817 and a PAR Electronics 40/20 QRP End Fed Antenna. We managed about 20 contacts from the condo usually using 1 watt but a handful of QSO's were made using 1/2 watt on the internal 'AA' Batteries when on of my 6V SLA security system batteries failed. We took a trip to town and found a Lowe's in Woodstock, VA and they carried the battery. My light duty charger though would only keep up with one watt with lots of CQing though so we mostly stayed at that power level for most contacts.

The antenna was put up for a few weeks at home and it was pruned a bit for the two bands so that the SWR would be good and this seemed to be the case even though we did carry along the LDG Z-11 which we have had great luck with in other portable or home operations with a number of 'untuned' antennas. The dual band end fed has a loading coil for 40M and a small balun at the end that you can see in the pix. The wire is pruned on one side of the coil for each of the two bands, 1st the 20m side then the 40m side. Not too difficult and it seemed to work at the 'different' location with resonances at about the same frequencies. We only managed to get it up about 10 feet off the ground and the overall location was very much in a valley so the location was actually poor. In the past I have made some CW contacts from other condos at Bryce using indoor wire dipoles and Slinky's using the Z-11 tuner and I did not notice a lot of difference really but the End Fed wire is much neater and way more 'eye' friendly than having all the wires inside the condo. The disadvantage of it is that it really will not perform on bands other than the 'design' frequencies. You can see the small stream in the back yard of the condo that the antenna actually crossed over. The antenna was tied on to the 2nd floor balcony on one end and the RG8X feed line attached. The other end was secured to a tree limb with 50lb monofilament line lofted over the limb with a sling shot and 3/4 oz sinker.

The PSK31 software seemed to work well with just a basic sound card interface. A Riglaster NoMic was used to at least provide an isolation tranformer in the Mic line. I had used it a few years ago with the FT-817 to get on PSK-31 so it was all set to go. The software was new to me though and but it was simple to set up and get going. After changing the tags and macros for you station info and practicing with it some it was no problem. I did briefly 'scan' the manual but cannot say I did much more than just get a quick overview of the features of the program. At home I am now using the more complete HRD and Digimaster 780 with a radio control interface. As we had no internet availability at the condo there did not seem to be much advantage in the extra complexity so we stuck with the PSK31. Upon returning home however I did experience some difficulty with uploading the ADIF log to eQSL for some reason that I have yet to figure out.

We have been going to Bryce for over 20 years every Jan for a week and it is always enjoyable to operate from there. Often I have done the ARRL Jan VHF Test from the top of North Mtn at about 3800 feet or so. You can drive right up to the top if the roads are not too bad. This year we were a week early for the VHF weekend though and it was a great opportunity to try the low power PSK31 and it was great fun.