Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pacific Coast Electronics

In the 50s/60s my grandfather owned a couple businesses on First Avenue, downtown Seattle (First and Univeristy).

One was the electronics store "Pacific Coast Electronics" and the other was "Pacific Coast Hardware" (old name was Sullivan Electric/Hardware).

They were located where the Harbor Steps are today.  I remember the wrecking ball that destroyed the old brick building where the Steps are now.

Today, the last remaining visible part of the building is the stone (granite?) wall with arches on the higher edge of the Steps.  Within the arches of the wall were colored glass with words like "Tubes" "Radios", and other things that were sold at the store.

Here is a copy of the article from the publication "The Northwest Electronic World" (February 1970)


Small Article that appeared with the cover.  John Wandling is my father.



At First and University (Across street from the Seattle Art Museum)

The Hardware store was up the street from the Electronics store and the last remaining part of the hardware store is the wall for the Lief Erikson Building.







The DX-Aku

I kept my plans close-hold for a long time.  Perhaps too long and perhaps too close.

But I am going to finalize the outline of the DX-pedition I've wanted to do soon.  I'll post those details here and make the release when it's ready.

All I can say is that it is an Island and it is in the Pacific.

My muse (mentor at a time) and driving force was (and is, I suppose) my DX-Aku.  Although he has been slumbering (or distracted, or disappointed), I think he (it?) has turned around and started to take notice of what I'm doing.  (Thanks to Bob Schmieder, KK6EK)



A hint:





Monday, January 30, 2023

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sky Loop is Back

Glad to Have the Sky Loop "Pentabus" Up

After some tramping through the forest with a flashlight, field soldering, and assorted comical behavior, I managed to get the Super Sky Loop back in the trees.

Dimensions

This time, a five-sided rhombus sort-of-shaped thing.  A Pentabus?   Total wire this time about 470 feet, just shy of the 500' spool.   If I added more wire it would droop a bit.  The wire here is taunt between trees.    Plain 14 AWG insulated wire.  Green to hide among the trees.

Anchored in each corner with a guy-line and PVC insulator.  I can bring each corner down as needed for servicing the antenna.

Fed at the N-W Corner with 450 window line to a (legacy 2010) Palstar AT-AUTO (the version pre-Palstar split. So this would be the Kessler design).





Cost of antenna

$40 worth of guy line.
$60 worth of wire
$2 worth of zip-tie.
Surplus Window Line (I've had it for 10+ years, probably 120 feet involved here)
$8 worth of SCH-40 PVC

Performance

It tunes the following bands quite easily:

10 m
12 m
15 m
30 m
40 m
80 m

Issues

I cannot get a 1:1 VSWR on 17 or 20 m.    As close as I can get is about 1.2 VSWR on 20m and 1.8 on 17 meters.

I'm not sure why yet.  I did make some coax changes in the shack between radio and amplifier and antenna switches and so on, so the add-up of coax between Rig/Tuner/Amp has changed some since the last time I had the Loop running.   I will be experimenting with a quick fix with different lengths of coax in the shack before I look further. 

Loading

No balun/unun at all.  The AT-AUTO (for lack of a better case) is the tuner and the pi-network in the tuner does what it needs to do.

It's brilliant on 40m and 30m.  I can drive 35W on the Elecraft K3 and deliver 700W via the homebrew linear amplifier (4kV Plate voltage, Class AB-2, Grounded Grid, Pair 3-500ZG -- new valves just got 'em!)

Anyway, this is a vast improvement over the 43 foot vertical I was running.  Although the vertical was fine for 80, 40, 30, and 10, it also could not load for 20/17 either via AT-AUTO.

But the Loop is back in action.

I will making use of it to reach 40m contacts as before, DX and W's.    When I get the 20 meter load figured out better, I will reach out on 20 meters also.

Just glad it's back.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

CQ 10 meter net

I posed a question to the semi-official net-ops of the Northwest Ten Meter Net on 28.380 (M-W-F) 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

"How about an off-day CW net either in the morning, or evening.   28.000 Mhz + some offset for where net's are usually present.  Don't want to QRM the digital mode folks.  Maybe 28.280 Mhz ?

Anyway.. the idea was proposed with a few goals:

The goal of the PNW Ten Meter CW Net would be:

  1. Encourage and practice CW use.
  2. Attract stations from as far as 10 meter propagation takes us (and by extension LEARN if propagation is evolving over the onset of the Cycle-25 dynamics)
  3. Develop techniques to run a directed net via CW that can be extended for other bands and emergency situations where SSB / digital modes are not possible.  (More tools in the toolbox)
If something materializes, that would be great.  We'll  see.


They're Listening and Recording

A few days ago I was in a chat with some friends on 10 meters SSB and we were discussing audio quality and troubleshooting some audio of another operator.   It reminded me of an episode that I wanted to forward on here.

In 2020, when I was really much more active on 40 meters, I had a huge wire antenna (horizontal loop, roughly 500-550 feet circumference and 100+ feet high in cedar trees).    One late evening I heard a CQ DX from a station in Indonesia YB3DY, and I dropped my call.




Unbeknownst to me, he actually was recording his session in the shack and then posted it to YouTube.

I had no idea until weeks later.

Here is the session.   It was interesting to me to hear my signal on his radio.

Anyway, enjoy.





Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Toroids and Power Transistors

Exploring a design for a linear amplifier, solid-state.  In doing this research I'm pulling together some concepts, schematics and theory from a number of sources.  I've been in email exchange with several knowledgeable people in this domain.

At the same time, while searching for parts for some experiments, I stumbled across this web site:

https://toroids.info/

It is a useful database of information about typical toroid configurations.

The next database I'm looking for is one that compare and contrasts different kinds of power MOSFETs and other devices that are divergent from Helge Granberg's schematics (Motorola).

I will be striving to do my part to collect what I can find and relay it.  I'll be relying further on the experience and advice I receive from domain experts.

More to this later.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Mmm, love the smell of new Coax

The box on my doorstep contained a new spool of LMR-400-BG.  The Good Stuff.

LMR.  Let Me Receive ?!

UPDATE: 21-Jan-2023 -- So, despite all positive thinking and effort put into the order, the fabricator at DX Engineering put the wrong connectors on the cable.   I need to send it back and hope (?) they will remedy the situation by chopping off the wrong connector and re-attaching the correct one.  You would think for $300 worth of coax, this might get checked before being sent.  Apparently, not.  Not the first time DXE has nerfed up an order.  Strike 2.  Anyway... Shall we continue where we left off?

I will be re-stringing it to my Zero Five (tm)  43 foot multiband, non resonant vertical.

The game plan is:

  • Put up a tiny tower (20-25 feet) and mount the vertical on top of that, array the radials from the base plate of the antenna mount per documentation.   But overall -- get that antenna higher off the ground.
  • I'm having a heck of a time on 10m/12m/15m with my signal getting out.   I'm avoiding the amplifier at the moment because I need to test it more carefully (homebrew 2KW Linear AB2, a monster).
  • In the mean time, the LMR-400 is excellent stuff, a replacement of the Belden 9993 (?) that I used to run.  A bit tricky with solid core, got to be careful to keep radius of bends large and smooth.
  • After that, I need to build a 4:1 Current Balun. (Ferrite Toroid cores FT-140-77 ordered).. As well as some reading material on Balun/Unun/Feedlines:







QSL Catch Up

Slowly catching up on old QSL to return.   I have a small stack now.  It was a large stack!

All of the Japanese stations have been mailed to their Bureau.   Those Japanese stations that do not use JARL and do not indicate PSE QSL will be stored.  I'll get to the non-JARL PSE QSL stack later.

All of the EU/SA/AS stations marking PSE QSL have been mailed that I know of.  I may find more later when I go through other stacks.  But, I think I'm caught up.

(I wish there was an EU Bureau.. Is there one?)

Visited the local post office and here's the deal on card mailing.

If the letter contains the cards is both:  less than 0.25" thick AND less than 1 oz  then I can put the letter in the mailbox for sending.

If it is more than that (thicker or heavier) then I need to take it to the P.O.

Most DX mail for QSL will cost $1.40 per outgoing.

Two batches of new QSL cards are ordered so I will have some cards to send, once they arrive.  I found the last of the old stock and down to a handful now of the old Forest Picture of the QTH.

Old stock, running low:


The new cards are due to arrive in a couple months:


and



The card with the waterfall is upstream of Fall City (hence the name of the town -- Fall City).  The lodge at the edge, shown in the picture is Salish Lodge.   A 3* hotel (where they filmed Twin Peaks TV series many years ago.. That's the Lodge.)    If you are in the area, take WA-520 east (Evergreen Floating Point Bridge) over Lake Washington, continue to the end of 520, and take Highway 202 east. You'll come through Fall City, and then to Snoqualmie (  / snow - kwall - me / ). 

Find the falls along the way, it's hard to miss.

202 ends at a ghost town called Tanner, WA (which is no longer there, except a plaque by the road), but at the plaque, there is good trout fishing in the Snoqualmie River (FYI).

Interesting historical facts that are just idle rumors and what not:

The actual name was Falls City, but through turn-of-the-century administrative confusion, the "s" was removed.

Fall City used to be a telecommunications hub between the Seattle metro area and the eastern part of the state of Washington, as far as I have been told.  That is no longer the case.   Today, Fall City is a string of bars, a gun-shop and a few churches.  No Starbucks, no chain restaurants.    There is no public sewer -- its all septic, even downtown Fall City, so that limits expansion.

There used to be a gun shop / nursery (flowers/plants) at the corner of town called Guns and Roses (not making that up).  But they had to tear down and make way for the new turn-circle.  Eminent Domain.

Ah well. Those were the times.





Tuesday, January 17, 2023

QSL for JA's

The JARL has a good Bureau system.

To check if your JA contact is in the JARL system,  use this search:


Turn a stack of QSL into a single package to one destination.



Postage for QSL

I had to send some long-overdue QSL cards and I was amazed at how much postage has gone up.

To most EU countries, the postage for air-mail letter is $1.40.

In the US, first class post-card is 44 cents and first class letter is 60 cents.

Well, for some DX it's worth it.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

UX5UO

I was out of cards (or else I just cannot find them).  I wanted new cards anyway, so I had some designed.

I use a printer in Ukraine.  UX5UO

Checking with him I got this response, from Gennedy Treus UX5UO

In spite of the war in Ukraine we can design / print / send any QSL cards.
You may call us now. Orders help me personally and for economics of Ukraine of course.   Please spread this info in US, thanks.

So, I am letting you know.

https://www.ux5uoqsl.com/

Do not expect a rush service, for obvious reasons.  But it will help a small amount.

FYI


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Nice Valves

 After the linear amplifier was cleaned up, I took some pictures.  Thought I'd open up the baby book and share some.




The parasitic suppression is a newer design I picked up somewhere. 

If I could do anything, it would be to refactor the layout of the tank.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Pound the Brass

 

Back to CW

I can send CW fairly well.   17-20 WPM.  I can think the CW and send the CW that fast.  But I cannot copy the CW that fast.   If I hear it 17 WPM I get a bit bogged down.  I can understand the letters but my brain needs a bit more time to organize things before the next letter arrives.

I have read and been told that is why it is important to not focus on the invididual letters but to recognie the groups of letters.  The words.   That's good and that works, especially during the QSO, for the most part.  But there is still a need to copy the actual call sign.   It's a dilemma.   I do have a work-around though that will resolve the problem.

1.  Just work CW.   I found back in 2009-2011 when I forced myself to just work CW (as painful as it was when I was trying to copy), that I gained confidence to keep going.  I remember even getting in a heated debate with another ham about this very topic and we were having the debate in CW.  The irony police gave me a ticket.

2.  Listen and perform the job that the ARRL has provided -- the CW Practice Test and Qualifying Run.   Every day (mostly), the ARRL transmits practice text in different speeds.  Then, once per month the ARRL will transmit a qualifying run of text in CW.  If you can copy one minute worth, and vouch that you didn't cheat (use aids, etc..) then you can get another piece of paper for your shack wall.

So that is what I'm going to do.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

QRV

After a long hiatus from the radio, I've decided that the time away from the hobby was too long.   I surely do miss working DX stations and tinkering with the station.

It is a huge regret that I stepped away from the radio for years, but I'm glad that most everything still works.  

Just after the new year began I dusted off the equipment and took inventory of what I still had ready to work.

The base station is still comprised of an Elecraft K3 (an older model that is no longer in production) and a basic tuner (Palstar AT-AUTO, the version before the split-up of the Palstar company) and finally the home-brew linear amplifier that I re-designed from parts from a fellow I used to talk to regularly, Jim Fish (K7NCG).

The antenna situation is another matter.

I used to have a very long horizontal loop antenna that was about 100 feet up off the ground and had a circumference of about 500-550 feet.  This made it ideal for the low bands, especially 40 meters.  I used it primarily for 20m through 80m.   It might have been a wee bit too short for 160m.    But, on 40m it was ideal and I loved working DX and W's on that antenna for a long time.

Since the antenna was held up by guy lines looped over very tall tree branches, the antenna was eventually brought down in heavy storms that we get time to time.  Some years, it was fine, and then all at once a very terrible winter storm would knock it all down.   There's not much I can do to avoid it.

At present time Janurary 2023, I don't have the loop installed, so I am waiting for the weather to clear a bit before replacing it.  

The other bits are still in the shack - the Bencher BY-1 paddle which I enjoy using.   I also seem to have collected a fair number of smaller base-station radios and some mobile antennas that I should re-mount and re-install.

My original HF radio, the FT-897D (long since out of production) is still here too and I look forward to using it when I resume a full station operation.

The other part of the shack that I intend to deal with is the satellite operations.   I used to have a IC-910H  with the 1.2Ghz module, but I sold it to a friend.   I've replaced the IC-910 with an older model, but it's still not the same.  I have my eye on the new IC-9700.  It has all the things I used to have in the IC-910H with the 1.2 Ghz module and includes some more useful features and display.

But, that needs to be put behind other tasks at the moment -- the big loop and also repairing the rotators that are part of the satellite antenna rig.  The elevation rotator seems to be stuck in position.

Finally, a few more notes to relay -- to all of the hams that I used to regularly talk to on the HF bands, I regret leaving the hobby and missing out on the news and activities.

The other item to relay is that I'm intending to work a lot more CW than SSB than I did before.   The strange thing is that I can send much faster than I can copy, so it will take some time getting up to speed again, literally.

Take care, good DX and I look forward to hearing your station.   You can reach me via e-mail quite easily.    jdw  at my callsign dot com.

73's

Jeff, W7BRS


Things happening

It has been a busy few months since I hung up my software-spurs. On deck -- DX'pedition for Lord Howe Island Lord Howe Island (July 202...