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Author Topic: Operating a vintage station with homebrew gear  (Read 9700 times)
VE3LYX
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Posts: 141




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« on: January 30, 2011, 05:35:51 AM »

I have returned to HAM radio through an interest in old gear. I have restricted myself to one tube per unit. TX and RX . If you like such stuff also here is a short film on what it is like here.
Don VE3LYX
Code:
[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWvKgFl1lAw&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL/code]
and in case that didnt work again
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWvKgFl1lAw&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
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KE4JOY
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Posts: 1377




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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2011, 06:57:28 AM »

Thanks for putting this up Don.

Both links work if you copy paste into the browser just delete the [ & ] from either end of the first link.

I know your trying to portray a 'mood' here but the video is just too dark to see what is going on and what little sound there is is very little. If it wasn't for the use of text overlay you wouldn't have a clue as to what is going on. How you send without a side tone is beyond me but keep having fun !

I would like to see that gear more clearly!
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N2EY
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Posts: 3879




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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2011, 07:31:35 AM »

Great concept!

But I agree with KE4JOY. Let's see and hear the gear!

---

You have inspired me to do something similar. Thank you!

---

I think we need more of this sort of thing - a lot more. Here's why:

In the bad old days was not unusual to see and hear old gear and homebrew stuff in action. Nowadays, however, there are lots of hams who have never seen or heard that sort of thing. It's a complete mystery to them. Old B&W pictures in magazines do not convey the experience.

73 es TNX de Jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 11:46:31 AM by N2EY » Logged
VE3LYX
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2011, 12:19:41 PM »

My appologies for the darkness. I like it dark for the mood. I hadnt intended to make a mini movie I just wanted it recorded for postarity. Trouble is with the lights on you cant see the tubes glow in the dark. That is important to me! Anyway be that as it may. The transmitter is a single tube 50L6 with a Colourburst TV crystal because that was all I had in the Cw portion of 80M.
The Original circiut appeared  in ELectronic Illustrated many years ago as Bare Essentials Transmitter. It actually has a pretty good kick showing almost 15 Watts on the inline meter. Had signal report from NC and I am in Ontario (Belleville) Signal seems clean and pure when I check. The loop tuner with flashlight bulb is a huge help in tuning it right.  The Receiver is a 6sl7 regen modeled after the Twinplex of years ago and running on battery power only. Both TX and Rx circuits have been modified as I solve some of the old time problems and make them more suitable to me.   The Key is one a friend found at our local dump and is period correct. The antenna is a base loaded inverted L . It is for me a real thrill to run this old stuff. I use the newer stuff on twenty (TS830S and a 20 Meter hombrew vertical) but late at night in the dark this is to me anyway the way I like it. The video before this one of mine is a daytime shot of the same station running.
Thanks for the interest
Don  VE3LYX 
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N6GND
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Posts: 375




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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2011, 07:36:52 PM »

Very cool, a sort of cw-noir ambiance. If the the op were wearing a fedora, smoking a cigarette, a snog of whisky nearby and a saxophone in the background, the portrait would be complete. Except for that answer to the CQ from F5FXY, Veronique, working QRP from her hotel room in Paris.
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VE3LYX
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2011, 04:38:02 AM »

Well no smoke or drink but there is a homemade fiddle and two antique accordions on the shelf behind. Worked a QSO last night with N4GJV using the 50L6 TX and the 6SL7 regen. The DX160 behind me on speaker couldnt hear anything but QRM but the little one tube condemed curcuit running on 15 9 volt batteries and a video camera battery for filiments could pick him out through the smoke. Also had a 1/4 QSO with a W9 but lost him before it could be sealed. QRM on freq was horrendus but we got enuf through with the N4 to make it done. Big thrill for me to operate with a handfull of parts from an old 50s table radio. It puts the FUN back in ham radio. I really do believe real radios should glow in the dark.
Don VE3LYX
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WB4SNU
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2011, 05:50:21 AM »

Does this bring back memories or what?  This took my mind back to the days of my novice license and working CW for the first few times. My equipment was an old Elmac and a Hammerland recv. I did build a tube recv. from an article from a magazine but it only would pick up taxi cabs and nothing ham related. I don't remember anything about it now but it did work. Best I can remember it was a SWL type radio. I would like to find articles now on simple tube setups. I still have an old Handbook from 1985 but it doesn't have much tube articles in it. I am looking at the Compact 40 meter recv. in this months QST and have allready copied the schematic and board layout to transfer to a circuit board. It makes me feel younger to work on stuff like this. Your setup sounds like a lot of fun. No plug and play stuff there. Good luck and I hope to maybe work you since you are receiving from NC where I live. Good luck and have fun.

Richard
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Digital and CW spoken here.
KA5N
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Posts: 4380




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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2011, 10:31:28 AM »

I don't think "vintage station" is quite the correct name for one that consists of a one tube
transmitter and a one tube receiver.  "Minimum Station" seems to fit better.

Back in the 1950's as a young ham, I decided I needed a grid dip meter.  With little money
I decided to build rather than buy one.  Sure enough it worked and I found that while listening to the headphones that were part of the device and "dipping" my doublet antenna I could
hear radio signals.  The oscillating tube was mixing with the signals picked up on the antenna
and so I had a direct conversion receiver.  That was in the AM days so I heard voice signals
as well as CW.
That was over fifty years ago. 
Allen KA5N
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WB6RXG
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Posts: 73




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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 12:29:08 PM »

Really Cool! 

I wonder why something published in an article almost 40 years ago is not considered vintage by some people?

I built the same transmitter from that article in the mid 70's as a novice, nails on a piece of wood and everything.  Worked like a champ!

Just be careful about touching anything else if you are touching any part of the transmitter including the key and coax shield.  That 110v conected to the outlet without a transformer will bite you for sure.  Don't ask me how I know or why I remember Wink

73,
Stuart
WB6RXG
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VE3LYX
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2011, 04:48:02 PM »

Stuart ,
You raised an interesting point. I have often been told that about transformerless supplies. I never really understood that. 110 is 110 I always think transformer or not. I realize I am missing something but I have wondered about this as late as last week. My instincts tell me a ground fault receptacle would be a real good safety device. I am building a 110 supply right now and intend to include that in the project (Probably in the wall where I plug all my rigs in.) I have them on my shop.I am a mech automotve machinst (retired) and they sure do work great there. Still I wonder about things like this.
Before I moved to this QTH I was quite active and had a cushcraft A3 . I moved everything from there to here and was up and operating over the weekend. That was 30+ years ago. At this QTH just 300 yards down the road and maybe 60 feet lower I could barely get out and after a few years of frustration finally gave up. I sold the tower and the beam. I kept one wire on a piece of lumber vetical just so I wouldnt be" without"
But the fun was gone. I suspect it is the ground here is not conductive or reflective like at the other place. Over Christmas for some unkown reason i decided to build a TNT 245 40 m rig from stuff I had. I loaded it into a traditional dummy load AKA light bulb and was surprised it worked and worked well right from the git go. I dug out my regen set and blew out the dust and revised it a bit. It works great. It can hear anything my DX160 hears only better. I have the hand capacity thing beat till it is so minor it doesnt matter. Then I dug out this 50L6 tx I had started building years ago and finished it. It is a pretty decent working unit putting out on the meter anyway about 14 Watts when loaded up. I brushed up on my code and went at it. (Worked NC last night in heavy heavy digital  QRM  (3.579.5 mcs).
All this inspired me to build a 20 meter vertical marconi style antenna and despite the cold I got it up and running. I have worked most of Europe in the two weeks after Christmas on 20M.(KNWD TS830S barefoot ) I am back and loving it more than ever all because of a 90 year old tube and a copper tubing tank coil formed on a paint can. So while it may not be for all it has revived this ol ham.
Don VE3LYX
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 04:57:58 PM by VE3LYX » Logged
IW5CI
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2011, 02:13:01 AM »

Here we are at I8KLL shack testing "criaturo" he's homebrew AM trasmitter.
It's a very nice 120W compact AM trasmitter with a very good modulation.
Now the rig is finished and he is homebrewing "criaturo II" for my station.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdViqr7bhu0
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2011, 12:01:48 PM »

Quote from: VE3LYX
I never really understood that. 110 is 110 I always think transformer or not...

The big difference is the ground return path.  If you have 110V from a transformer
supply then you can accidentally touch one side of the circuit and not get a shock
because you don't complete the circuit to the other side of the source.  But with
a transformerless supply any path to ground acts as a return, and you can get a
nasty shock with the return through your shoes, for example.

Inserting an isolation transformer ahead of the transmitter solves the problem
because it isolates the rig from the AC ground.  One way to do this is to use
a pair of filament transformers back-to-back, so you step the 110V down to
6.3V (or whatever) and back up to 110V.  The power limitation is set by the
current rating on the filament winding.

Transformerless design was popular for domestic electronic equipment because
it was cheaper, but required a totally insulated case with plastic knobs and
no connected wires, etc.  It generally isn't a good idea with things like ham
rigs, especially sitting on a bench next to a rig that is well grounded, either
to a ground rod or the ground conductor of the AC line, because if you happen
to touch a hot spot on the transmitter while in contact with the other rig or
a piece of coax it can be fatal.
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VE3LYX
Member

Posts: 141




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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2011, 05:10:59 AM »

OK. Mine is not touchable. I think a groundfault outlet would be a pretty good safety factor as well. I understand the back to back transformer deal but I have no idea now where to buy a transfomer except mail order. I do use a keyed plug on my transformerless supplies. shouldnt have my paws in there when it is pluggged in anyway. It sure is a lot of fun running it. I dont know why it wouldnt be vintage. Nothing in it was probably made since 1940s or maybe 1950 at best. I ll call it "vintage style" if you like. When I am on SSB with my bigger rig (TS830S) I hear all the reports , IE running 400 watts running 1000 wattts  etc etc. Not my style and I had tryed it at one point. Minimalist is not a word I am particularily fond of thank you. Homebrew maybe. Self imposed limits cause you to work harder and learn. I call that discipline. I just finished a 1920s station too but I am not real happy with the rx. It works but needs some circuit revisions. Both rx and tx are battery power. I have learned a lot from these builds and hope it continues. Building without a specific circuit is interesting. Why this and how come that become obvious.
Don VE3LYX
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 05:34:52 AM by VE3LYX » Logged
AA4HA
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Posts: 1424




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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2011, 12:53:43 PM »

I would think that for a real minimal receiver or transformer you may just want to eliminate the power supply and go with the old "A", "B" and "C" battery scheme to provide the proper voltages for your one tube radio. That way you are not dealing with a transformer, rectifier or regulator.


Ms. Tisha Hayes
AA4HA
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
VE3LYX
Member

Posts: 141




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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 05:38:06 PM »

Here we are almost a year later. The Bare Essentials is still going stomg and given me a few good QSOs. I should mention  re the transformerless discussion all my homebrew is on wood. No metal chassis in this shack other then the TS83OS so the ground deal machts nicht.
I have my longest distance QSO with it to NC but the signal report was good. I have built a rig or device of some sort every month this past year.
A 01 TNT (40M) a 01 regen to match (single triode design) a iron pyrite crystal set with no bought parts. (All made here) A single control 40M and 80M transciever AM (2 12sl7s , 2 50L6s ) Screen modulated. A Hartley single tube tx using a 45 tube(40M) three different PAs for the AM transceiver. Two power supplies for the PAs. A rechargable battery bank for the regens and 01 TNT. A real HD antenna matcher of my own design that actually works very well. (Probably the best thing I ever built) and my final project of the year , a single tube transceiver. (56 tube) which goes from regen to CW transmitter at the flip of a dpdt switch. It works well and is probably my cutest radio ever. The hobby is alive and well at this shack . I am having a ball.  This year 2012 I am committed to a QSO per day. Any mode any of my radios. BTW I have also built a few antennas in 2011. My favoirites being inverted Ls.
Bottom line? After years of dormancy "I'm back!"
Ve3LYX
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 05:40:55 PM by VE3LYX » Logged
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