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Author Topic: Getting started with CW/Ham Radio  (Read 1763 times)
JUKINGEO
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Posts: 31




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« on: March 20, 2009, 05:51:55 PM »

Hello all,

I have been recently thinking about getting into morse code transmissions as I have wanted to learn morse code for a long time.

The past few days I have been doing much research and realized that in addition to learning the code, I should also listen to it.  This would necessitate the need for a shortwave radio or better yet a ham rig that can at least listen to CW reception.

So it would look like for starters I would need:

1) A method to learn Morse Code
2) A CPO or code practice oscillator
3) A ham radio to receive CW reception.

If I want to further with transmitting I know I would need:

4) A ham license
5) A transmitter (or transceiver)
6) A special antenna

Granted I am far off from 4-6 right now, but I have been gathering up information on the first three.

For #1, I pretty much am going to settle on the Koch methode using either the program on the g4fon website or the Just Learn Morse Code program.

For #2, I am thinking about building a tube based code practice oscillator as I do want my equipment to be tube based (that goes for #3 as well).  With doing some research it would seem that my initial ideas of using a straight key is not such a good idea as there is a limit to how many words you can send in a minute. It would seem that either the bug or iambic paddle would be the way to go.  I insist on doing the code myself and not do it the "fake" way with a computer or an electronic keyer.  And again, I do not wish to use a solid state CPO.

For #3, this is where I need the most help...Deciding on a radio.  I will say that good performance (selectivity) on a small antenna is a given, but I would like to stick with an all tube unit that has a nice old knobs, dials, and meters, and lights up nicely. I DO NOT want a cheap boring looking slide rule unit and I would rather stay away from solid state (unless I go with a transceiver in which a hybrid (SS front end, tube finals) I will accept.

I have had some names tossed towards my direction for tube based units such as Hallicrafters (of which I most recognize), Hammarlund, Collins, Heath, Kenwood and Drake.  

My price range is between $100 and $200 for a receiver.  I would go a bit more for a transceiver though.

So that brings me to my next question.  For starting out, should I right away go with a transceiver?  Or should I go with separates?

It would seem that I would need a radio that goes from the 80meter band to the 10 meter band as most of the CW broadcasts occur here.  I also know that I would need something with SSB capability in order to receive voice channels.

As for myself, I do have background in restoring old antique radios, so rebuilding an old radio isn't a problem.  I do believe though in simple designs that are easy to restore.  However, I do not want to go too simple and end up with something that will not do the intended job.

Good documentation and schematic availability is also a must.  I don't want to get a radio and then find out I can't get a schematic to fix it.

So that pretty much is it.  As of now I think I know where to go in terms of morse code training and putting together a CPO, but I would need the most help in selecting a decent first radio that is in my price range.

Thank you.

Geo

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AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2009, 08:18:32 PM »

Congratulations, Geo, on your decision to learn Morse.  It will give you a sense of real accomplishment to be pounding brass.

I learned Morse in the army back in 1952.  At that time, the army knew of the Koch method, but they chose to ignore it.  We started receiving at about 7 or 8 wpm with machine-sent code, and increased speed in small increments.  It's possible that we would have gotten to 25 wpm sooner had we used the Koch method, without all the plateaus.  But, after the fact, it's impossible to know.

Regarding your question of what kind of rig to buy, I would opt for the transceiver rather than a receiver.  You can go either tube final or solid state final, but there are a couple of cautions to using tubes: 1) tubes are getting pretty expensive, and 2) in the hundred watt class, the plate voltage can be of the order of 700 volts.  That's high enough to ruin your whole day if you get across it while servicing the unit.  Unless you are experienced in working around high voltage, I would go for the solid state final.

Among used rigs with solid state finals, I would let personal bias dictate one of the Ten-Tec rigs.  Ten-Tec knows how to build superior CW rigs (with SSB capability too of course, unless you are looking at the Century series or qrp rigs).  Their rigs have extremely well-shaped keying envelopes and their break-in performance is superior to almost any other make.

Probably the best way to buy a good used rig is by attending a local ham club meeting or two and find out who is selling.  Preferably buy from someone who you will have gotten to know, someone you can trust to not misrepresent the condition of the rig.  He or she can demonstrate the rig to your satisfaction.

If you must buy from someone you don't know, you can buy through dealers or through organizations such as eBay.  If you do, by all means get a refund guarantee in case the rig turns out being less than as represented.  And get that guarantee in blood.

Hope this helps, GL es 73 de John/AD7WN
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2009, 09:50:57 PM »

<<Congratulations, Geo, on your decision to learn Morse. It will give you a sense of real accomplishment to be pounding brass. >>

Well, that is if I decide to go with a straight key.  Seems like the consensus is to go with either a bug or an iambic paddle key.

<<I learned Morse in the army back in 1952. At that time, the army knew of the Koch method, but they chose to ignore it. We started receiving at about 7 or 8 wpm with machine-sent code, and increased speed in small increments. It's possible that we would have gotten to 25 wpm sooner had we used the Koch method, without all the plateaus. But, after the fact, it's impossible to know.>>

Yes, I seem to have gotten the gist that it is better just to go with the Koch method and not bother with the slow method since I would have to relearn everything anyway.

<<Regarding your question of what kind of rig to buy, I would opt for the transceiver rather than a receiver. You can go either tube final or solid state final, but there are a couple of cautions to using tubes: 1) tubes are getting pretty expensive, and 2) in the hundred watt class, the plate voltage can be of the order of 700 volts. That's high enough to ruin your whole day if you get across it while servicing the unit. Unless you are experienced in working around high voltage, I would go for the solid state final.>>

I will say that on behalf of tube equipment, I PREFER to work on them. I am a full time technician and I work on guitar amplifiers day in, day out. So naturally I am around tube equipment all the time.  An Ampeg SVT has 700volts in it THAT DOESN'T discharge itself!!!  So yeah, I know what I am doing with tube stuff.  The problem I have with solid state...especially amplifiers is that when they blow up, they usually cause a major catastrophe and if you miss just one bad part on a rebuild, you can blow the whole thing out all over again.  Not good!  So in the very least when it comes to transmitting equipment, I would like a hybrid with tubes in the final stages.  I.E. perhaps a Kenwood.

<<Among used rigs with solid state finals, I would let personal bias dictate one of the Ten-Tec rigs. Ten-Tec knows how to build superior CW rigs (with SSB capability too of course, unless you are looking at the Century series or qrp rigs). Their rigs have extremely well-shaped keying envelopes and their break-in performance is superior to almost any other make. >>

Yes, but they also look like the fish finder on my Dad's boat.  I know you mean well by mentioning they are a good performer, but unfortunately I am quite picky about asthetics and I like the look of the knobs, meters and rotary tuning that the old ham radios have such as the Hallicrafters units.  I just feel that something that looks like a fish finder just degrades the whole experience.  I want to work with tube based stuff, I love the warm glow of tubes and lights.  I work on computers too all day and I certainly don't want to sit down to a ham rig that also looks like a computer.

Would you know of any good receivers that fall into the "boatanchor" category?

I'd like something that looks like a Hallicrafters S-20R.  

<<Probably the best way to buy a good used rig is by attending a local ham club meeting or two and find out who is selling. Preferably buy from someone who you will have gotten to know, someone you can trust to not misrepresent the condition of the rig. He or she can demonstrate the rig to your satisfaction.>>

I don't know of any meets in my area.  There used to be a few people around here that had ham rigs when I was younger, but now they have moved away.

<<If you must buy from someone you don't know, you can buy through dealers or through organizations such as eBay. If you do, by all means get a refund guarantee in case the rig turns out being less than as represented. And get that guarantee in blood.>>

Well, given that I am only looking in the $100 to $200 price range and I would like a tube based rig, I know that I probably will have to do work on it. So it wouldn't be a big loss if the deal did go sour.   But I understand where you are coming from in the event I was dropping $500 or more on a transmitter or higher end unit, then yeah, I would be extra careful with whom I deal with.  But for a first rig I would like to go with something a bit less expensive.  

<<Hope this helps, GL es 73 de John/AD7WN>>

Yes, it does.  Thank you.  
 
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KB8NHL
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2009, 05:38:42 AM »

Howdy.  I know nothing about tube equipment, but just thought I'd mention that www.LCWO.net is a great tool as well.  Setup your free account and you can use any computer with internet access to continue your training.  "scoring" is easier than with the G4ON software, but they both have been very useful for me. Best of luck.
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2009, 10:22:32 AM »

<<Howdy. I know nothing about tube equipment, but just thought I'd mention that www.LCWO.net is a great tool as well. Setup your free account and you can use any computer with internet access to continue your training. "scoring" is easier than with the G4ON software, but they both have been very useful for me. Best of luck.>>

Great!  Thanx for the tip.  You learn something new everyday! I took a quick peek at it and like what I see thusfar.  I could use this side by side with a program.

Geo

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KB1OOO
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Posts: 214


WWW

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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2009, 10:56:52 AM »

> I learned Morse in the army back in 1952. At that time, the army knew
> of the Koch method, but they chose to ignore it.

The Army didn't "ignore" Koch, at least not with good reason.  With high failure rates and high demand for operators, they took  research into  morse code reception training--as well as early aptitude screening--very seriously.  

> We started receiving at
> about 7 or 8 wpm with machine-sent code, and increased speed in
> small increments. It's possible that we would have gotten to 25 wpm
> sooner had we used the Koch method, without all the plateaus. But,
> after the fact, it's impossible to know.

Taylor, "Learning the telegraph code" 1946 reported that the speed at which you initially learn morse code makes no difference in your path to 20wpm:

Taylor, D.W. "Learning the telegraphic code", Psychological Bulletin,
40(7), pgs. 464-487.

"Tulloss, Biegel and Koch have all recommended that in teaching
receiving the use of visual symbols should be avoided, that individual
characters should not be referred to in terms of their
component dots and dashes, and that nonsense rather than meaningful
material should be used for practice. Lipmann and Biegel
suggested that from the beginning of learning individual characters
should be sent at about 20 words per minute. Koch contended that
learning should begin with messages sent at 12 words per minute
and containing only two characters, additional characters being
added one at a time.
Taylor, however, in a carefully controlled experiment found
that whether the individual characters were sent initially at a high
speed or at relatively slow speeds made no difference in the speed
with which men learned to receive. In two other experiments, he
found that it made no difference in the speed of learning (1)
whether similar or dissimilar characters were taught together during
the initial learning period, or (2) whether immediate or delayed
reinforcement was used in teaching the men to receive."

 73,
Marc
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2009, 05:29:19 AM »

Hello all,

For learning of Morse Code I have decided to go with the "Just Learn Morse Code" program which is based on the Koch method.

I am now looking to get a amateur band receiver so I can listen to CW transmissions.  As I mentioned before, I prefer a tube model, but one that is easy to service.

Thusfar I have been recommended Collins, Hallicrafters, Drake, & Heathkit.

My spending limit is $200.

Any suggestions as to what I can get?

Thank You,

Geo
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W5ESE
Member

Posts: 550


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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2009, 09:16:46 AM »

I don't have personal experience with one, but I've
heard the Drake 2-B series receivers were very
well-regarded.

You could also get a 1-NT transmitter to go with
it.

73
Scott
W5ESE

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N2EY
Member

Posts: 3894




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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2009, 09:30:21 AM »

"For learning of Morse Code I have decided to go with the "Just Learn Morse Code" program which is based on the Koch method."

That's a good start. Also download the free book "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" by N0HFF.

"I am now looking to get a amateur band receiver so I can listen to CW transmissions. As I mentioned before, I prefer a tube model, but one that is easy to service."

What you want is something that's good on CW, too.  

"My spending limit is $200."

That rules out a lot of stuff. Do you mean $200 for a receiver or $200 for a station?

"Any suggestions as to what I can get?"

The Heathkit HW-16 comes to mind first. It's a CW-only transmitter-receiver (transmitter and receiver in one box, not a transceiver in the modern sense). Covers only 80, 40 and 15 meters, and needs either crystals or an external VFO.

Another option, which is all-solid-state, are the older-model TenTecs such as the Corsair and Argosy. They can sometimes be found for bargain prices.

There are no all-tube transceivers that I would recommend for CW use. They all lack one or more features necessary for good CW operation.

W5ESE mentions the Drake 2-B receiver, which is a very good performer, but can be pricey. There is no matching transmitter; the 2-NT was the matching transmitter for the 2-C receiver.

If you are really into hollow-state CW operation, I suggest subscribing to the "glowbugs" email reflector. Lots of hams with lots of ideas and resources. Google "glowbugs reflector" for more info.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2009, 12:31:43 PM »

Hello Scott,

I DID find a cool web page on all the older Drake ham radio components.  I don't particularly care for the 2 Line Drakes because they have the slide rule tuning.  That 'bothers' me.  I prefer the rotary vernier dials.  It would seem out of the Drakes, my choice would lie in the 4 Line (for tube based unit) or 7 Line (for transistor based unit).

I have been looking over some of the documentation for the R4B and I am surprised how involved the circuitry is for a tube based unit.  Another thing that I noticed was that the PC boards in the Drakes are vertical, that does make servicing much harder.

A similar looking unit I am starting to favor as of now is the Kenwood.  Their transceivers and transmitters are hybrids with a vacuum tube final stage.  So that it is nice plus.  The Kenwoods have horizontal boards and really nice documentation. I might go this route.

Thanx,

Geo



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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2009, 12:47:24 PM »

<<"For learning of Morse Code I have decided to go with the "Just Learn Morse Code" program which is based on the Koch method."

That's a good start. Also download the free book "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" by N0HFF.>>

Ok, will keep an eye out for it.

<<That rules out a lot of stuff. Do you mean $200 for a receiver or $200 for a station?>>

LOL!! No, no, not for the full station...just for a receiver or transceiver.

<<The Heathkit HW-16 comes to mind first. It's a CW-only transmitter-receiver (transmitter and receiver in one box, not a transceiver in the modern sense). Covers only 80, 40 and 15 meters, and needs either crystals or an external VFO.>>

Yes, this was one unit that was mentioned to me, but right away ruled out.  I do have an interest in listening to voice too.  The HW-16 is a very limited piece.  So in terms of Heath, the SB-101 and HW-101 have come up.

The one thing that I didn't care for on the Heaths was that there isn't much on the web about them.  No schematics to download!  In addition I noticed the tubes are not chassis mounted, but mounted to phenolic PC boards.  So was concerned about heat build up and possible arcing problems.  I am still open minded to them, but they are not a front runner as of yet.

<<Another option, which is all-solid-state, are the older-model TenTecs such as the Corsair and Argosy. They can sometimes be found for bargain prices.>>

I have not seen any of the older units, but the newer ones look like fish-finders and go against the grain of what an amateur radio 'should' look like.  It seems that while the newer radios outperform the older ones, the style goes right out the window.

Whereas the reverse is true with the older stuff. You find something that is beautiful to look at, BUT is either a poor performer or you pay through the nose to get one.

<<There are no all-tube transceivers that I would recommend for CW use. They all lack one or more features necessary for good CW operation.>>

I did establish early on that due to drifting problems that an all tube transmitter or transceiver wouldn't be a good choice.  However, an all tube receiver should be fine.

<<W5ESE mentions the Drake 2-B receiver, which is a very good performer, but can be pricey. There is no matching transmitter; the 2-NT was the matching transmitter for the 2-C receiver.>>

I was starting to get swayed towards the Drake 4 Line because the styling is decent and it is a small and good performing unit.  It came highly recommended, but then I took a look at pictures of the innards and the schematics and these units look very involved. In addition repairs don't look easy because the pc boards are mounted vertically.

So as of today, I have been looking into (cough, hack) transistor units.  One particular brand that caught my attention was Kenwood.  The R-499 receiver and TS-520S DO look like radios, what more is that Kenwood uses hybrid transmitters in their stand alone transmitters and transceivers.  The antenna output has tube drivers and finals.  They also light up nicely.  I downloaded the documentation on the Kenwood TS-520S and I must say I am impressed.  It is an involved unit, but the schematic breaks the boards down nicely into sections.  The boards are horizontally mounted with both top and bottom access.  There is quite a bit of info on the Kenwoods on-line too.  So as of now I am kind of leaning towards Kenwood over Drake.

<<If you are really into hollow-state CW operation, I suggest subscribing to the "glowbugs" email reflector. Lots of hams with lots of ideas and resources. Google "glowbugs reflector" for more info.>>

Thanx, I will check that out when I get a chance.

Geo

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N2EY
Member

Posts: 3894




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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2009, 04:24:08 PM »

"No, no, not for the full station...just for a receiver or transceiver."

If you buy a $200 receiver, you'll still need a transmitter.  

<<The Heathkit HW-16..>>

"Yes, this was one unit that was mentioned to me, but right away ruled out. I do have an interest in listening to voice too."

Of course, but don't sacrifice CW performance to get it.

"The HW-16 is a very limited piece."

Not really, if low-cost CW is what you really want.

"the SB-101 and HW-101 have come up."

You don't want either of them for a CW rig. Here's why:

Two essential features for a CW transceiver are the ability to tune the receiver independent of the transmitter (with a separate VFO or offset control) and the ability to turn off the AGC. Neither the SB-101 nor the HW-101 can do those things. In addition, the sharp CW filter, another essential, is an extra-cost item for them.

The best Heathkit setup for CW is an SB-301/SB-401 pair.

"The one thing that I didn't care for on the Heaths was that there isn't much on the web about them. No schematics to download!"

There's a reason for that.

The Heathkit manuals, schematics and other info are still under copyright. For years the copyright wasn't enforced much, but recently someone bought the rights and is enforcing them. Websites that used to have complete Heath manuals free-for-download had to remove them or face legal action.

The answer is to not buy anything that doesn't come with a complete manual.

"In addition I noticed the tubes are not chassis mounted, but mounted to phenolic PC boards. So was concerned about heat build up and possible arcing problems."

Those problems are extremely uncommon with Heathkits. All that really goes wrong with them are the usual things that affect all older tube gear:

- Electrolytics dry out and get tired
- Control contacts get dirty
- Lubrication and soft rubber parts dry up
- Carbon comp resistors increase in value
- Paper caps get leaky

<<Another option, which is all-solid-state, are the older-model TenTecs such as the Corsair and Argosy. They can sometimes be found for bargain prices.>>

"I have not seen any of the older units, but the newer ones look like fish-finders and go against the grain of what an amateur radio 'should' look like."

Google search for the TenTec Argosy and Corsair.

"It seems that while the newer radios outperform the older ones, the style goes right out the window."

Style is in the eye of the beholder.  

<<There are no all-tube transceivers that I would recommend for CW use. They all lack one or more features necessary for good CW operation.>>

"I did establish early on that due to drifting problems that an all tube transmitter or transceiver wouldn't be a good choice. However, an all tube receiver should be fine."

Drift isn't the problem.

Any rig you consider for CW should have the following features:

- Good solid slow tuning dial. (You don't need digital readout but you do need a slow tuning rate and a solid feel).
- Defeatable AGC or none at all.
- Sharp (400-500 Hz) IF filter (not just an audio filter)
- Abiity to tune receiver independent of transmitter, at least for a kHz or two.
- Sidetone when sending

Doesn't sound like much but you'd be surprised how many rigs lack one or more of the above.
 
"I was starting to get swayed towards the Drake 4 Line because the styling is decent and it is a small and good performing unit. It came highly recommended, but then I took a look at pictures of the innards and the schematics and these units look very involved. In addition repairs don't look easy because the pc boards are mounted vertically."

Be aware that the Drake 4 series evolved greatly over time. The 4C is very different internally from its predecessors. $200 for a 4-line receiver is a very good price, too.

The Kenwood TS-520S or SE is a good choice, but make sure you get one with the sharp CW filter.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2009, 05:07:04 PM »

<<If you buy a $200 receiver, you'll still need a transmitter.>>

Not necessarily at first.  I do intend to get/build a CPO, so my primary concern is to hear code.  So a receiver is my primary concern.  Listening to voice is something I want to do 'on the side'.  Once I attain my first goal then I will decide if I want to go further.  If so, then not only will I need a transmitter, but also a proper antenna and a license.  So unlike receiving, transmitting is another whole big step.  IF I get lucky and find what I want in a transceiver, then all the better.

<<"Yes, this was one unit that was mentioned to me, but right away ruled out. I do have an interest in listening to voice too."

Of course, but don't sacrifice CW performance to get it. >>

Well, that is why I am posting here. I need to know what to look for.  I don't know the specific features on these radios to look out for and that is where I would need the most assistance.

<<"The HW-16 is a very limited piece."

Not really, if low-cost CW is what you really want. >>

Go on...

<<"the SB-101 and HW-101 have come up."

You don't want either of them for a CW rig. Here's why:

Two essential features for a CW transceiver are the ability to tune the receiver independent of the transmitter (with a separate VFO or offset control)>>>

Ahhhh, so THAT is what that extra knob box is for that I seen in the ad for the Kenwood TS-530S.

<< and the ability to turn off the AGC. Neither the SB-101 nor the HW-101 can do those things. In addition, the sharp CW filter, another essential, is an extra-cost item for them.>>

So how would I find out if a unit has this?

<<The best Heathkit setup for CW is an SB-301/SB-401 pair.>>

Yes, you weren't the first one that mentioned going with separates.

<<The Heathkit manuals, schematics and other info are still under copyright. For years the copyright wasn't enforced much, but recently someone bought the rights and is enforcing them. Websites that used to have complete Heath manuals free-for-download had to remove them or face legal action.

The answer is to not buy anything that doesn't come with a complete manual.>>

Yes, I was recently made aware of that fact and that it now may be difficult to find Heath information on-line.   However, I will NOT consider an amateur radio until I see inside pictures AND view the schematic.  

While some fellow did offer me the schematics of the Heath units in question, the past couple days I been slowly swayed away from the all tube models and been more or less turned on to the hybrids.  Kenwood is one such noted company that makes hybrids.

<<In addition I noticed the tubes are not chassis mounted, but mounted to phenolic PC boards. So was concerned about heat build up and possible arcing problems."

Those problems are extremely uncommon with Heathkits. All that really goes wrong with them are the usual things that affect all older tube gear:

- Electrolytics dry out and get tired
- Control contacts get dirty
- Lubrication and soft rubber parts dry up
- Carbon comp resistors increase in value
- Paper caps get leaky >>

Well, that sounds pretty good.  I guess I was just 'conditioned' against phenolic boards when I serviced old amplifiers.  Amps usually have a lot of heat and as such the boards do cause problems.  But I guess that isn't an issue in the Heath units, huh?

<<Another option, which is all-solid-state, are the older-model TenTecs such as the Corsair and Argosy. They can sometimes be found for bargain prices.>>

<<"It seems that while the newer radios outperform the older ones, the style goes right out the window."

Style is in the eye of the beholder.>>

Very true...I want a radio that looks like a radio, not a fish-finder.

<<There are no all-tube transceivers that I would recommend for CW use. They all lack one or more features necessary for good CW operation.>>

<<Any rig you consider for CW should have the following features:

- Good solid slow tuning dial. (You don't need digital readout but you do need a slow tuning rate and a solid feel).
- Defeatable AGC or none at all.
- Sharp (400-500 Hz) IF filter (not just an audio filter)
- Abiity to tune receiver independent of transmitter, at least for a kHz or two.
- Sidetone when sending

Doesn't sound like much but you'd be surprised how many rigs lack one or more of the above.>>

Ok, thanx for that info.  I took note of it all.

<<Be aware that the Drake 4 series evolved greatly over time. The 4C is very different internally from its predecessors. $200 for a 4-line receiver is a very good price, too.>>

Noted.  That model is still one of the contenders.  But as of now I am doing more research on the Kenwoods.

<<The Kenwood TS-520S or SE is a good choice, but make sure you get one with the sharp CW filter.>>

What is the difference between the "S" and the "SE"?

Thanx for the info.

Geo
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N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2009, 06:06:42 PM »


<< and the ability to turn off the AGC. Neither the SB-101 nor the HW-101 can do those things. In addition, the sharp CW filter, another essential, is an extra-cost item for them.>>

"So how would I find out if a unit has this?"

Read the specifications and product reviews. Look at the front panel and see what controls are there - and aren't.

And ask.

One of the best tools for evaluating rigs is the ARRL Product Reviews. One of the benefits of ARRL membership is that you can search the archives for reviews of older rigs. In fact, as a member you can download articles from every QST ever printed, right back to Volume 1 Number 1.

One more comment about a CW-only receiver or transceiver:

You will not learn Morse Code by listening to people talk.

<<Style is in the eye of the beholder.>>

"Very true...I want a radio that looks like a radio, not a fish-finder."

I'm not sure what you mean by looking like a fish-finder.

How's this for style?
 
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX2.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX3.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX4.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX5.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX6.jpg

All the controls go to 11, btw.

<<The Kenwood TS-520S or SE is a good choice, but make sure you get one with the sharp CW filter.>>

"What is the difference between the "S" and the "SE"?"

The SE is the "economy" model. Kenwood removed a couple of features few hams used, like the ability to operate from 12 volts DC and interface to a transverter, but did not sacrifice performance. For fixed-station use, the SE is pretty much equivalent to the S.

There is an earlier model (TS-520, no 'S') that lacks some features.

Be aware that any amateur transceiver with tubes made by a major manufacturer will be at least 25-30 years old. The hybrid Kenwoods you like were only made for about 10 years and were out of production by the mid-1980s.

Any tube receiver will be even older. I don't know your electronic background but if you like tube stuff, you may want to start out with something relatively simple like the HW-16.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2009, 08:40:37 PM »

<<You will not learn Morse Code by listening to people talk.>>

Of course I know that. Earlier I posted here that I downloaded the program called "Just Learn Morse Code".  I also intend to buy/build a CPO.  It was when I first started discussing learning morse code that someone mentioned to me that I should also get a ham radio and monitor CW transmission to learn to read code as well.

<<I'm not sure what you mean by looking like a fish-finder.>>

Here:

http://www.universal-radio.com/used/u728lrg.jpg

This to me is NOT a radio, it is a fish-finder.

THIS is a radio:

http://www.universal-radio.com/used/ui60lrg.jpg

<<How's this for style?

http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX2.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX3.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX4.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX5.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX6.jpg

All the controls go to 11, btw.>>

Nice! Did you make that one yourself?  The top right of the panel looks like you could put a nice large meter there in that empty spot, but yeah, overall pretty cool.  Like the nice old style headphones to finish things off.  I have a set of headphones like that floating around somewhere...can't find them for the life of me.

<<The SE is the "economy" model. Kenwood removed a couple of features few hams used, like the ability to operate from 12 volts DC and interface to a transverter, but did not sacrifice performance. For fixed-station use, the SE is pretty much equivalent to the S.>>

Gotcha

<<There is an earlier model (TS-520, no 'S') that lacks some features.>>

I was told to go with the "s" version.  That is the one I need, right?

<<Be aware that any amateur transceiver with tubes made by a major manufacturer will be at least 25-30 years old. The hybrid Kenwoods you like were only made for about 10 years and were out of production by the mid-1980s.

Any tube receiver will be even older. I don't know your electronic background but if you like tube stuff, you may want to start out with something relatively simple like the HW-16.>>

I am a service technician.  I fix guitar amps mostly for a living. So yes, I am exposed to alot of tube gear.  I am in the process of building my own stereo SE tube amp. I also have restored old jukeboxes and antique radios.  So a tube radio restore isn't going to be too much of a problem, unless it is pretty complex.  The Drakes do fall into this category. The unit's smaller size and vertical PCB's would make servicing them a bit difficult.

Much of the information for the Heaths have been pulled from the web, so out of the Drake v.s. Kenwood, v.s. Heath...I am finding the least info on Heath.  Thusfar I am finding the most on the Kenwood 5xx & 8xx series with Drake closely following.

Overall though it does look like I will end up with something from one of these three companies.

Thanx for the info.

Geo
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