Thursday, December 30, 2010

NorCal S9 Signal Gen

NorCal S9 Signal Generator became available for a short while and I ordered on a few weeks ago.  It went together in a couple of hours and worked right away except for a few solder joints on the Xtals that needed to be redone.  If doing this again I would clean the leads on the Xtals and make sure the plated through holes are really plated through, as the connections to the circuit are on the top of the board.  The test oscillator reads right at S 8.5 or so (with a low battery) on all four frequencies on the FT-1000 Mk V.  Later I plan to do some measurements on the 3 DC receivers that I have here, using the MFJ attenuator that I purchased used to go with the test oscillator.

NorCal S9 Test Oscillator

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fisher 500 B

Fisher 500 B

This is a Fisher 500 B that my dad bought used out of the Washington Post classifieds in 1978.  I went with him to pick it up along with a pair of AR2a speakers and a Garrard Type 'A' Turntable.  He had it serviced at Audio Associates at Tyson's Corner and I have used it once in a while.  It still sounds great!  The On/Off switch failed when I tried it this year so I installed a 'jumper' and now it is on when plugged in.  About ten years ago these sold for $75 or so but now I have seen them for much recently after a good review in Stereophile magazine.  This review is actually for a 'C' but they are similar.  Some seem to prefer the earlier and simpler 400 models.

From the Stereophile Review

"A Fisher 500-C sold for $369 in 1964. That seems like chump change today, but in 1964, $2368 bought you a brand spanking new Ford Mustang (the 1964 New York Auto Show was the pony car's debut). Collector-condition Mustangs now trade for between $10,000 and $15,000. A mint, low-hours 500-C rarely goes for more than $600.
Where do you find a 500-C? Well, if it weren't for the Internet or a national marketplace (Pierre Omidar's eBay), these trusty old soldiers would be gathering yet more layers of dust in grandma's attic or the neighborhood thrift shop. But they're plentiful and shamefully affordable. Current market prices of functional 500-Cs run from $175 to $600. The top of the range is reserved for cosmetically mint and electronically restored units. But you'll be buying blind and deaf, so caveat emptor."

Palomar R-X Noise Bridge

Another Ham was looking for one of these.  I have had several and they work well for tuning antennas. Usually I have used them to tune mobile HF whips because you can hear the null in the Receiver.  They are often available and it can be a useful piece of test gear.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bell 2122 Classic 6V6 Tube Amp

Bell 2122 Working Again!

When I was in 4th grade I listened to this amp playing classical hi-fi from a FM Tuner in Chatham NJ.  Years later I took it to college with me as a freshman.  The next year I upgraded to real stereo. The Bell worked until a few years ago when the power supply had the dreaded 'Hummmmm....' of a bad filter capacitor.  A quick Internet search led me to a post by someone else who had one and I acquired a nice copy of a 1948 Sams Photofax for the unit.  This year an internet search led me to Ampmonster, an Austin TX guitar amp company that had a good write up on restoration of the Bell.  With this site and the photofax I made a list of parts needed to redo the amp but when I opened it  up yesterday I tested the caps and found many of them to test close to value the electrolytics were bad though.  I took a 220uf and clip leaded it in parallel with the HV filter and the hum went away and the 2watt resistor connecting the two filter sections opened with some sparks and a small amount of escaping smoke.  An old replacement resistor was found and seemed to run cool so I wired the cap in for a more permanent temporary fix which will allow me to play with the amp a bit if desired.  Some DeOXit sprayed into the controls seemed to help and the tubes were tested and one bad 6SC7 (dual triode similar to the 12AX7 in a metal octal package) tube was replaced.

New Filter Cap in place

Sticker inside bottom plate

Rear panel

Pair of 6V6's 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CQ WW CW 2010

CQ WW CW Contest Summary

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty   ZN
   3.5      43     117   29   10
     7     161     455   74   19
    14     161     457   69   21
    21      88     248   53   15
    28      17      47   12    8
 Total     470    1324  237   73
Score: 410,440

Big DX pedition for the Fall Contest season was ZL8X to Kermadec.

1st link is 'expedition homepage
2nd is charter boat co which provided transport to the island.  The ClaymoreII offers a nice 32 hour trip to Pitcairn Island which would be a fun vacation trip.

Made it into the log during the contest for 40M CW.  Woke up early to work it on the 'grey line'

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This is the HW-9 set ready for cleaning ad testing.n

National Electronics Mueseum

On the way back from Northern VA yesterday I took a quick side trip over to the National Electronics Museum .  The Museum is Free and is located in the hotel complex at BWI Airport.  Saw many familiar items in the ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) exhibits.  

Communications Display including W3HEM in the background

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Dinner in Lovettsville

Aunt Julie, Cora, Evan, Heather, Lilly

Dan, Lilly

Lilly learning to walk!

Lilly with 1st real shoes!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Worked on States confirmed by Logbook of the World

WAS Map by Call Areas

As a result of the recent CWSS I picked up the last few states to have WAS by 'electronic confirmation'  This is 'mixed', 49 are confirmed on SSB and 49 on CW.  I have never been issued a WAS certificate and I may not ask for one now either.  CW DXCC count is now at 100 and 120 'mixed'  Also the Triple Play WAS is quite close as well.  Not something I really strive for but it is interesting to see the 'electronic confirmations'.  The eQSL confirmations though are much more fun to look at because many users have custom designed graphics with pix of something interesting.  The ARRL system is quite boring and most find it cumbersome at best.  

New HampshireK1FWE
New JerseyKI2P
New MexicoWA5ZUP
New YorkW2TB
North CarolinaN3CZ
North DakotaW0TUP
Rhode IslandKI1G
South CarolinaW4UK
South DakotaWA0JH
West VirginiaN4ZR

Monday, November 8, 2010

CW Sweepstakes 2010

New Logo by CT2IRY

The CW contests especially SS with it more complex exchange is much more fun (read easier) for me with the use of the computer.  The logging and reporting is really simplified with a good logger software and N1MM is the current winner for sure.  Their recent logo contest winner is shown above and is by CT2IRY.  Nice Job Julio!  One thing I find that works reasonably well for me is to use the HRD CW reader in the background to 'help' copy the exchanges.  This works reasonably well for me.  Load the N1MM 1st then start DM780 ONLY in the 'normal' NOT Winker mode and then adjust your windows so you can see a bit of the DM780 screen.  The water fall is very helpful for spotting and to check what is going on with the audio passband filters and some limited panoramic type display.  

Using the 'APF'  filter on the FT-1000MP MK V and watching the results on the waterfall of the DM780 was an eye opener for me.  The APF works quite well and requires no adjustment other than selection of the desired bandwidth.  The 240 hz worked most of the time once or twice there may have been some advantage to going a bit narrower.  

CWSS is a good opportunity to get on and do some fast CW with a bit more of a 'message' than 599 whatever.  With the Section,  Precedent (power/class), and Check (yr of 1st license)  you get a good amount of practice copying longer strings of code 'in your head'.  

Highlights for the contest for me were the good conditions on 80M on Sat. night.  Nice quiet conditions enabled me the opportunity to pick up a number of sections using the 40M with a long (close to 1 Wavelength on 80M) feedline.  Using the Alpha 78 that was acquired from Vince Thompson K5VT (sk).  Using the logging program also enables me to easily report the score so that my local club, PVRC gets to count my score. The K1EL keyer and software interface in N1MM works great.  Hearing the QRP stations with good  loud signals.  One station in the QRP class gave me a S/N of 809 on Sunday PM and several Q stations were successfully 'running' on prime frequencies near the low end of the band.  OK so they were not 40 over but they were S8 and had great ops with probably great antenna systems.  Working KA3DRR my 'twitter' buddy, not sure where he was but he was doing great!  Also worked fellow bloggers W4KAZ and AE5X.

Areas for improvement will be to continue to develop better 'running' skills and increase score by spending more time 'running'.  Antennas will need to be improved too.

A new Chinese Amp will probably be in the works soon for many hams see the video.

K3PG CWSS Summary
 Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec
   3.5      98     196   31
     7     121     242   14
    14     108     216   31
    21      15      30    1
 Total     342     684   77
Score: 52,668

Friday, November 5, 2010

CW/PSK Reader by KD1JV

Today I had some time to work on the OK1IAK /KD1JV Morse and PSK31 reader kit.  This was my 1st attempt at hand soldering SMT (surface mount technology) parts.  The new (used) Hakko 936 Iron was also used for the 1st time.  All the parts are now mounted except one resistor which could not be located.

Front of reader showing LCD display

Back of reader 

Hakko 936

My only other SMT soldering has been on the still untested Soft Rock 40 ver. 6.22 where I used solder paste , candle warmer (from craft store) and my wifes 'hot air embossing' gun which flows all the solder at once. If you go to Amateur Logic TV # 15 you can d/l a video of this technique  The hand soldering is not too hard if you have a steady hand.  I used my smallest jewelers screwdriver to hold the part down and set the Hakko Iron to about 800 degrees.  Just wet the tip (very small pointed tip) with solder, a drop is way too much and solder one side while holding the part down with the screw driver.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zombies and the CQWW SSB

Friday Nite Zombies

I always look forward to the announcement of the Zombie Shuffle.  My Friday night even included TWO actual QRP CW contacts this year.

Heard a fair number of stations but just worked two:

AC5JM     in OK
WA5BDF  an 'Elvis' station

At one time I had an actual Zombie # but I am now using my Area Code.

Sat we had to work but Sun I woke up early and got on the CQWW SSB test.  Phone contests are usually not my favorite but I am finding them more enjoyable with the use of HRD.  Once the voice keyer is loaded up with some wave files (made on Audacity usually) it possible to make many contacts without using the mic so much.  After about 6 hours I had to leave on the motorcycle to go to Northern VA and then WV to attend and family B'day Party for my sister Amy.  On the way home stopped in Harpers Ferry to check on my son's well that quit working.  The leaves were about at their peak crossing the Appalachian Mountains and the electric vest and heavier gloves were needed on the two hour ride home to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty   ZN
     7       4            8       4      3
    14      28          77    21   10
    21      83         236   48   12
    28       5           15      4     3
 Total     120        336   77   28
Score: 35,280

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NSA Cryptologic Museum (some QRP rigs)

Only Enigma Machine in the World that you can touch

This week I stopped at the Cryptologic Museum  and got to see a few QRP rigs as well as actually touch a WWII Engima Machine.  It was raining while took a short tour.  There were several people working on a new PR video for the museum and one of the people who was there to be interviewed gave me a quick talk on the 'Engima', the US counterpart called 'Sigabra' and the Japanese 'Jade' machine.

Large Hi Profile Sign


SINCGARS Military Radios

SINCGARS (Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System) is a family of lightweight, very high frequency (VHF) frequency modulated (FM) or frequency hopping (FH) radios for infantry, tactical vehicles, naval and airborne employment. SINCGARS replaces all AN/PRC-77 manpack and AN/VRC-12 series vehicular mounted and most other airborne and ground VHF frequency modulated (FM) radios in the Department of Defense.
SINCGARS Tactical Radios.  Top unit is SINCGARS ASIP while bottom unit is SINCGARS ICOM, in vehicle mount rack
SINCGARS Tactical Radios. Top unit is SINCGARS ASIP while bottom unit is SINCGARS ICOM, in vehicle mount rack.
SINCGARS and SINCGARS-compatible radios have been a core component of U.S. military tactical communiations since the 1980s. The version table on this page shows many of the models that have been issued to Army, Marine Corp, Navy, and Air Force units but more have been and will be fielded to provide interoperable radios with different configurations. Suffixes are added to existing model numbers or new nomenclature is created when functional changes are made. There is also a large complement of auxiliary equipment for functions such as encryption and frequency hopping code generation, key loading and management, power supplies and batteries, mounting racks, cables, antennas, switching, interop and retrans, and much more that can be found in the SINCGARS manuals.

Different type of HF portable
The KY-57 is the man portable ground equipment and is only contains the voice encryption function so it needs to be used with a radio or wire line.

Note that the classical KY-57 uses a digital data stream at 16 k bits per second and so needs  what's called a wide band radio channel.  This is why military radios have 25 kHz channel spacing whereas commercial plain text radios use a 5 kHz channel spacing.  Becasue of this need for bandwidth the VINSON system will not work on H.F. radios, only VHF and UHF wideband radios.

The Frequency hopping aspect of radios like the SINCGARS and Have Quick makes it difficult for an enemy to get a bearing on a transmitter, but does not provide secure voice transmission.  That's why these radios either use a KY-57 or KY-58 or have an equivalent function built-in.

The KY-57/58/67 support OTAR, Over The Air Rekeying.  This can be done once the KY-57 has a Key Encryption Key (KEK) loaded in variable slot 6.  The new dkeys are transmitted in the clear as Black keys and converted into Red keys by the KEK as they are loaded into the slots.  Note the KEK can not be sent over the air and needs to be loaded locally.

Cray Super Computer

PRD-1 in Vietnam display
The PRD-1 is an H.F. receiver designed for direction finding.

It can be mounted on it's special tripod (included in this auction)

or using a special mount that allows leveling of the radio,

on the fender of a jeep like the willys Jeep or M38A1.(check other auctions),

First used in the Korean War, the AN/PRD-1 Direction Finding Set

was the workhorse during the Vietnam War for determining from what

direction enemy radio signals were coming.

It could pick up continuous wave, interrupted wave, frequency-modulated (fm)

and amplitude-modulated (am) signals and, by rotating the antenna

to determine w the maximum pickup was obtained, home in on

enemy radio sources.

R-395/PRD-1 Receiver Covers 100 Kc to 30 Mc with High sensitivity

Sigabra (US Enigma type machine) Never broken!
1943 , the Americans and British together a Combined Cipher Machine (CCM). The British and American Typex SIGABRA could thus send messages to each other. Although the British Typex does the Americans showed, the Americans refused their machine to the British show. The CCM was used by the British Navy in 1943 . The CCM represents an improvement for both the U.S. and Typex SIGABRA .
Typex 22 (BID/08/2) and Typex 23 (BID/08/3) were late models include plug boards for even more security.
It is estimated that by the end of World War II more than 12,000 machines were produced Typex.
The Typex machines remained in use until the seventies. In 1973 the New Zealand government stripped away from the last machine.

Voice Scrambling Technology
cryptographySIGSALY (also known as the X SystemProject XCiphony I, and the Green Hornet) was a secure speech system used inWorld War II for the highest-level Allied communications.
It pioneered a number of digital communications concepts, including the first transmission of speech using pulse-code modulation.
The name SIGSALY was not an acronym, but a cover name that resembled an acronym—the SIG part was common in Army Signal Corps names (eg, SIGABA). The prototype was called the "Green Hornet" after the popular radio show The Green Hornet, because it sounded like a buzzing hornet— resembling the show's theme tune — to anyone trying to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Telemetry RX

VC Code Key