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Author Topic: How to tune a particular frequency with homebrew, non-calibrated tuners?  (Read 2677 times)
WB6BYU
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Posts: 18331




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« Reply #45 on: February 10, 2019, 09:33:46 PM »

I've seen a number of functional HF SSB transceivers selling for under $200 at hamfests,
including Kenwood hybrids like the TS-520 (tubes in the driver and finals, otherwise solid
state) for $125 in working condition.  A Tempo-1 (also sold as the Yaesu FT-200/250) is
another option: reasonably common, mostly tubes, not as in demand by collectors.

And you can always build a converter to listen to other frequency ranges if desired.

The Drake rigs of that vintage were the the TR-4C transceiver (with variants), or the
R-4C receiver with the T-4X transmitter that could be interconnected to transceive.
That also permits the receiver to be used by itself, or tuned off frequency for "split"
operation (for example, where the DX is transmitting below the US phone segment
to reduce interference, but listening for replies higher in the band).

Collins rigs were KWM-2 transceiver, or the 32S-3B transmitter and 75S-3B receiver
(or something like that) though those demand higher prices from collectors.

National had the "NCX" line of transceivers, Galaxy had the GT-500 and GT-550, and
Swan had the 350 and 500 transceivers, plus the 250 on 6m (AKA the "Too-Drifty").
The Swan Cygnet 240 I think was later, and may have had some transistors.

Note:  All from memory:  I probably missed some (the Hallicrafters transceivers
tend to be more collectible) and I'll be happy to have corrections and additions
from others.  During that era I was using a Heathkit HW-12 monoband SSB tube
transceiver, so didn't pay that much attention to what else was available.

From Japan, Kenwood had some rigs prior to the hybrid TS-520/TS-820, and
Yaesu had several versions of the FT-101.

On some of these (including the KWM-2 and the Swans) CW was more of an
afterthought.

You do need to be careful with some of the rigs that used sweep tubes in the
final, as a new set may cost as much as the rig.  But if you get a really good
deal on one with bad finals, most can be converted to use 6146s.


Dial calibration isn't a problem:  I used a 100 kHz crystal calibrator that I could zero
against WWV on a general coverage receiver, then use to check every 100 kHz
kHz across the dial on the ham bands.  Those were standard in many rigs before
digital displays became common.

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KX4QP
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Posts: 333




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« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2019, 04:45:20 PM »

Thanks!  So, other than Heathkit and Hallicrafters, Drake, Collins, National, Swan, Galaxy, and probably some others.

Honestly, if I can find one I can afford, I'd love to have a Heathkit SB-100 or HW-100 family unit.  CW or SSB on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10, up to 100W out (dropping to around 80W on 15 and 10).  I may just hold off and save up until I can get one of those.  The 100, 101, and 102 are all tube, the 104 switched to solid state (possibly with 6146 finals).  Lots of them around (the HW-102 alone apparently sold around 40,000 units, according to one YouTube video), documentation of construction, testing, and modifications is easy to find, and they use parts that are generally still easy to find as well (common tubes).

Doesn't look like it would be impossible to build a replacement for the HP-23 power supply, either, if they turn out to be harder to get than the actual radio.
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AC2EU
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« Reply #47 on: February 11, 2019, 06:57:44 PM »

Thanks!  So, other than Heathkit and Hallicrafters, Drake, Collins, National, Swan, Galaxy, and probably some others.

Honestly, if I can find one I can afford, I'd love to have a Heathkit SB-100 or HW-100 family unit.  CW or SSB on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10, up to 100W out (dropping to around 80W on 15 and 10).  I may just hold off and save up until I can get one of those.  The 100, 101, and 102 are all tube, the 104 switched to solid state (possibly with 6146 finals).  Lots of them around (the HW-102 alone apparently sold around 40,000 units, according to one YouTube video), documentation of construction, testing, and modifications is easy to find, and they use parts that are generally still easy to find as well (common tubes).

Doesn't look like it would be impossible to build a replacement for the HP-23 power supply, either, if they turn out to be harder to get than the actual radio.

Going with Heathkit will definitely put you bidding against the collector crowd. Honestly, I don't see the attraction , other than nostalgia.
That's the beauty of this hobby, everybody 'has their thing".
I restore and operate WW2 radios for the heck of it. Not for performance, but for the 'experience" of doing the best QSOs possible with the crudest equipment. The ww2 stuff is a lot more rugged than Heathkit, too.

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KX4QP
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Posts: 333




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« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2019, 02:28:21 PM »

The ww2 stuff is a lot more rugged than Heathkit, too.

No doubt -- but then, Heathkit stuff wasn't designed to mil-spec and intended to survive being torpedoed or shot down.

Yeah, I know, I'm wanting a collector radio.  I'll research the other brands and models mentioned above and see if I see anything that will do what an SB-100 will do (the HW family was essentially an SB of the same number with some bells and whistles deleted).

What I know I want: multi-band capability (at least 80, 40, 20, and 15; 10 is nice, but lacking a dedicated CW sub-band, less attractive for a base unit), a dedicated CW mode (RIT I don't care much about -- I can adapt to whatever CW tone is designed in, and most are close to 600 Hz anyway), VFO rather than rockbound, and good specs.  SSB is nice to have, of course; if something needs to be said quickly (i.e. emergency situation), I can talk a lot faster than I can send (even if/when I become a Morse maniac), and be more confident whoever hears can understand (and to that end, an AM mode would be welcome).  Ability to run on batteries is a plus (800 V for 6146 finals would traditionally require a dynamotor supply, but I'm not too proud to build a solid state upconverter for what's essentially an emergency/portable option on a base radio).  I don't need a huge amount of power; the 100W of the Heathkits I was talking about is about the upper limit I want to deal with, and I'd be fine with half that or less (plus the finals would be cheaper and/or run cooler) -- when I build my own TX it'll probably be QRP.
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AC2EU
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« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2019, 04:48:46 PM »

If you were a solid state guy, you would probably like the rockmite QRP kit.

As a tube guy, it sounds like you would enjoy doing the ancient tube breadboard concept.
It's all very open (with the tubes plain to see glowing in the dark)and can be done in a modular fashion.

This is the ancient way: http://makearadio.com/tube/30bb.php

this is a more modern way: https://hackaday.com/2009/11/20/tube-prototyping-station/

And module concept that can be put on a larger board with other modules: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-vacuum-tube-breadboarding-sockets/
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 18331




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« Reply #50 on: February 12, 2019, 06:34:44 PM »

Most of the common SSB transceivers of the period will meet your needs, though there are a few exceptions.
Note the major shift:  AM rigs generally used separate transmitters and receivers, because the circuitry was
totally different.  But with SSB you had a lot of common circuitry (and you needed to be tuned much closer
to the other station), so transceivers became standard.

Most such rigs typically ran around 100 watts output from a pair of tubes (though power was still measured
as DC input to the final during the early years of transceivers).  The SWAN 500 and 700 ran more,
which could be hard on the tubes if you didn't learn to tune up very quickly.  And the Hallicrafters
Hurricane ran a full kW, which is about 600W PEP output by today's measurements.  (The SR-400 "Cyclone"
was the lower power version.) 

At some point SWAN had a 20/40/80m transceiver, and I think World Radio Labs (WRL) did also.  Sideband
Engineers had the SBE-33, 34, and 36, though at the last two had solid state receivers, and probably were
hybrids like the Kenwood TS-520/820/530/830 series.  (The TS-520 was one of the most popular ham rigs
of all time.  The SBE-34 (and, I think others in that series) didn't have a built-in CW option, but they sold
an accessory that fed a tone into the mic jack to generate CW (the Collins KWM-2 used the same approach,
but had the circuit built-in).  One disadvantage of this approach is the need for a high tone pitch (often
1000 Hz or more) to improve opposite sideband suppression.)


Most power supplies are relatively interchangeable:  they all used 600 - 800V on the final plates, 250 - 350V for
the other tubes, and a negative bias voltage, plus filament voltage (most rigs designed for mobile use could
power the filaments off the battery).   You may have to adapt connectors if you get a different power supply,
but they aren't difficult to build, either, especially if you can find a power transformer from an old tube-type
color TV.  (I do recommend using silicon rectifiers rather than mercury vapor tubes.)


And you're much more likely to find a good price at a local hamfest rather than on-line, not to mention the
shipping cost.  The Salem Hamfest is coming up this weekend if you are around NW Oregon...
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VK6HP
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Posts: 472




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« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2019, 10:46:10 PM »

It might also be worth mentioning that many of those old rigs with sweep tube finals and inflated input/output powers possessed no magic: if you want to run them respectably clean to something like modern expectations on SSB, they're 100-150W output radios.  A case in point is my FTDX560 restoration (all tube except the VFO) which does manage 300W CW output on the low bands.  I can of course also drive it to 300W PEP, but you wouldn't want to be a ham neighbour at the associated IMD levels.

But old does not equal dirty by any means: my 50 year old Collins 32S-3 transmitter is still just about the cleanest exciter around.

With the Heathkits, you can usefully consider what you really need in the radio because there are some subtle considerations that have arisen with the passage of time.  One thing to watch out for is SB-series LMO (VFO) fast instability, or warble, due to mechanical deterioration in the grounding scheme for the oscillator variable capacitor. While on the surface the HW series had the poorer (homebuilt) VFO, and coarser readout, it may in fact be more easily maintainable.  And, if you do get an SB series transceiver (having pre-built LMOs), the all-tube 100 and 101 oscillator is a bit easier to overhaul using widely available instructions.  I did manage to fix my SB-102 but working on the solid state TRW oscillator module was not easy.  Still, it was fun to get the radio going so well and, on a good day, I can tell myself that the SB-102 is a poor man's Collins.  (That belief holds until I go back to the Collins!).

The message is to compare the original specifications of any radios you may be considering, but also take the time to look at how time has affected the performance and serviceability of the units. 

73, Peter.
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KX4QP
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Posts: 333




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« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2019, 02:09:56 AM »

Occurs to me that, in the end, unless I stumble into a trove of fifty different radios all priced at $100, what I wind up with will have a lot more to do with what I can find that I can afford, than what I'd really like to have.  I might even settle for building a Pixie, Mighty Mite, or similar transistor, crystal-controlled CW/QRP transceiver from a kit, just to get on the air while I look and save for the "dream rig."

For $20-$30 or so including a housing and a bag of crystals (key not included, in most cases), there's a lot of ability to wait for the right rig tied up in being able to make QSOs on 40m.
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HAMHOCK75
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Posts: 614




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« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2019, 07:46:53 AM »

Hamfest season if just around the corner. The first and last typically have some fine deals. I picked up nice Heath kit DX-35 once for $20 which covers 10-80M, 6146 final, AM/CW.
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KX4QP
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Posts: 333




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« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2019, 03:44:28 PM »

Hamfest season if just around the corner. The first and last typically have some fine deals. I picked up nice Heath kit DX-35 once for $20 which covers 10-80M, 6146 final, AM/CW.

That'd work.  Especially since I'll likely be getting General instead of Technician (studying daily on hamtestonline).  CW capability is easy to cobble in, I'd think (HV relay to switch the B+?, keep that 800V off the key), but there probably aren't many ham transceivers that don't offer CW, especially from the era when that was all a Novice was allowed to use.
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K4CCW
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #55 on: February 14, 2019, 08:28:17 AM »

I’ve just read this entire thread and would like to thank all contributors for a very interesting and informative thread.

And that’s from someone who's been in electronics for 60+ years and licensed almost that long.

These days I just enjoying restoring the boatanchors I used to lust after back when I first got into the hobby in the late 50s, but couldn’t afford.
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73, Chuck  K4CCW
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