I want to say right out front that I am really not very electronically inclined, I am just a beginner. I enjoy tinkering with various projects that include several aspects of the hobby. This page is more geared toward beginner enthusiasts and I hope that they will find its contents and resources useful. I will describe the projects to the best of my ability and trust me, it is very limited but I will do the very best that I can do to be accurate. If anyone has any suggestions or comments about this page or any particular project, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your comments or questions. In the future I will be posting some pictures of of my projects that I have either completed or am in the process of working on...stay tuned!
For some descriptions of other projects that I have worked on check out my BLOG and Feel free to post your comments or questions.
3/23/08 UPDATE...Below are some pics of various projects from the past that I dug up. I will be adding more descriptions of the projects and some resources as time allows. I hope that you will enjoy the page and find some of the material and or resources useful .Thanks for looking and please come back to visit!
Antique Radio Restoration
Antique radio collecting and restoration is one of my favorite aspects about the hobby of radio. This page is dedicated to my collection and restorations that I have attempted to do on my own. I have no formal electronic experience, everything that I have learned has either been from books, tapes, ham radio, friends, and so on and so forth. I have used the web quite extensively to find out information on the sets that I acquire, none of which are priceless, but I enjoy them and find them to my liking. I consider myself to be a beginner novice when it comes to restoring these sets . As for collecting, I am a bottom feeder...In other words, I buy up the sets that no one else wants. If you would like to see some of the antique radio sites that I get most of my information and schematics from, then click here. Right now, this page is very limited and it will take me some time to post more of my collection and restorations so please check back from time to time. In the future, I will post more as time allows.
Homebrew Antenna Feed-thru panel
Well, winter 2013 has officially arrived here in South Carolina, so now it is time for some outdoor projects! I am currently working on improving my ham shack so I figured one thing that needed addressing was my method of bringing my feed lines into the shack. I originally had a piece of untreated wood with some holes for coax and some badly installed three way banana jacks for ladder line. The way that I had it previously, I had to push my coaxes through the holes in the wood, and seal it with an ugly blob of caulk. As for the ladder line banana jacks, they were a total disaster. Because the wood was an inch and a half thick, I had to countersink them so that part of the jack was outside to hook the antenna to. This set-up made it very hard to unscrew the jack to add a ladder line jumper for the tuner. Somehow, I managed to make it work but the time has come for something new and improved.
I saw that MFJ had a feed-thru panel that was kind of what I was looking for, but after seeing the ridiculously high price that they were asking for it, I decided to build my own. I started looking online for barrel connectors and was able to snag eight of them on ebay for about twenty bucks. I then started scrounging around my garage and found a couple of ceramic feed-thru insulators for the ladder line connection. I also found some aluminum stock, a couple of ground lugs, stainless bolts and wing nuts, and last but not least, a piece of treated lumber, short wood screws, paint and caulk.
I started by first cutting my lumber to size and painting both the lumber and aluminum stock. I then cut my aluminum stock to fit my piece of treated lumber, screwed them in place and made holes for all the components. After installing the barrel connectors, insulators, and ground lugs, I decided to add an "F" connector for my digital TV antenna (Note: I did have to insulate the stainless hardware for the ceramic insulators so they do not touch the aluminum stock which is grounded). The two aluminum pieces of stock were then connected together with a piece of #12 copper wire and then run to a ground rod outside of the window. The results speak for themselves, I now have a much cleaner installation for a fraction of the price.
Outside view ground,rotor cable feed-thru,ladder line and F connection
Outside view of 8 barrel connecters and ground connection
Outside view of entire panel
Back in June of 2013 the wife and I were browsing in a new antique mall that had recently opened here in Summerville. It was our kind of store, full of all kinds of great stuff that others would consider clutter, junk or "dust collectors". One thing that I really liked was the fact that there were quite a few antique radios and memorabilia. It seemed that every corner that you turned there was a radio, tubes, a horn or AM loop antenna. As I was walking down one isle I was looking at a nice vintage clock when I spotted a metal chassis tucked away under a shelf behind another huge clock. I managed to squeeze into the sellers booth without breaking anything and pulled the chassis out, and it turned out to be a vintage Hammarlund HQ-129 in very nice shape. I opened the top of the receiver up, it was a little dusty but everything seemed to be intact. There was also a ziplock bag and an extra tube inside of the radio. The ziplock contained a stack of unused QSL cards that belonged to the former owner considering that his call was on the front of the set. Why they were in there was a mystery that I intended to investigate later. I had to do allot of smooth talk and explaining to the XYL why we absolutely MUST have this "rare" boat anchor for the shack. I somehow managed to convince her that it was a much needed commodity. After much haggling with the shop owner about the price, she bought it for my birthday and I was lugging this beast out to the truck.
After getting home, after cleaning it up a bit, I powered the receiver to see if it still worked. The set came on but I could not get any sound out of the rear speaker hookup. I tried the headphone jack and the thing about blasted my eardrums out it was so loud! After fiddling around with the set with headphones for awhile, I paired the Hammarlund up with another speaker that a local ham gave to me, a Hallicrafters model R-46. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the sound quality that came out of this old girl; The bass and treble quality was magnificent!
A couple of days later, I decided to do some research on the former owner W2HLY Edward F. Reuther. After a lot of searching, I came across his call in the SK section of the December 1999 QST. Edward lived just North of me in Mauldin SC. After finding this, it explained why his unused QSLs were in the set; his family must have put them there. I did not know Edward, but I was glad that I had rescued his receiver and I am sure he would be happy to know that it is being well cared for by a fellow ham.
Not knowing when the set was last serviced, I decided to take the case off and have a look under the hood. It appeared to be in pretty good shape despite the fact that it had been sitting for 14 years. The only thing that I was concerned about was the line cord appeared to be dry rotted and that it had paper caps.
I did some looking around on the internet and found a company called hayseed hamfest which specializes in capacitor rebuild kits for boat anchors. Turns out, they had a kit for my set so I quickly ordered one and got busy recapping the Hammarlund. I also did a mod by changing the line cord to a three prong with the help of K9STH Glenn to make it electrically safe. To see before and after pictures of the recap, click here.
After finishing the recap, everything worked great, but I did not understand why the meter was not working in the manual mode. Glen explained that the s-meter is driven by AVC voltage so it is only usable when there is a valid AVG voltage. In the MAN mode, the AVG is switched to ground to insure the only gain control is via the sensitivity control. In the BFO mode, the BFO signal saturates the AVC detector so the AVC voltage is again switched to ground. In the schematic, switch S5 has three sections. The upper section switches B+ to the plate of the S-meter amplifier (right half of V7) only in the AVC mode.
I have noticed that the Hammarlund is a bit out of alignment so it is not easy to figure out what frequency you are on. As I do not have the instruments or advanced knowledge required to do a proper alignment, I have put the set back together. I figure somewhere down the line perhaps the next ham to own this set might have the skills needed to get it on frequency. For now, I have fun just exploring the frequencies and finding shortwave stations for my listening pleasure. I figure if I really need to know what frequency that I am listening to, I can always turn on one of my HF transceivers and dial it in to whatever I am listening to.
A SERIOUS challenge...what do you think..can it be fixed or shall we junk it?
This poor Admiral belongs to a local Ham Bill WA4GTC. This used to be his grandmother's radio and at one time operated off of batteries from what he tells me. It had been stored in a very leaky barn for years and of course, this is the result of poor storage. Looks pretty bad, huh? He was considering pitching it but I told him that I would like to attempt to fix it so he let me take it home where it sat for quite some time before I figured out what to do with it.
This set proved to be quite the challenge and it took a lot of time and patience. I spent months just trying to get the case back in shape and practically had to rebuild it completely. The wood was very thin, fragile and warped and the veneer was dry and chipped with several pieces missing or destroyed. To get the warps out, I tried using water in a spray bottle to wet it down, then put the warped wood under glass with heavy weights on it. The result after a couple of days was a straight piece of wood. Unfortunately, wood has a memory and within a day or two, it was all warped up again. This became very time consuming and VERY frustrating as you can imagine.
I decided in the end to use some new plywood pieces cut to size on the inside of the case for support. Seeing that the original case was all but destroyed from water damage (this set was left outside in a leaky barn), I straightened the warped veneer pieces by wetting them down with water from a spray bottle and placing them on a flat surface under weighted glass. This was a slow process and a real pain in the ass ; every time that they started dry out, I would take them out from under the glass leave them sit on the counter to finish drying. The veneer would be nice and straight for a day or so, but then the "warped" memory or the pieces would come back and I would have to repeat the wetting process. After about 20 times doing this, I was officially over it so when they were straight again, I immediately attached them to my plywood pieces with finishing nails and glue. Somehow, I managed to have a few pieces of veneer from the case left over so I used these to fill in the missing pieces on the front of the radio. It was not easy but I made a template of all the missing parts and carved them out of the leftover veneer with a razor knife. As you can see from the pictures below, it turned out really well. I found a stain to match the color, re stained it and then used shellac for the finish.
Cabinet with new plywood frame
As for the chassis, I did not repair the set to working order. The wiring was shot, all the tubes were bad and so were the caps. Bill said that he would take care of that and that he would replace the tubes himself when I returned the radio to him. I did however wind up recapping the set for him and restrung the dial cord which by the way was a real pain in behind to do. I also completely rewired everything . I took the chassis apart as much as I could and buffed off all the rust with steel wool. I have since returned the set to the owner as my part of the restoration was done. I am not sure if he ever got the new tubes or not, I will have to catch up with him one day and see if he got the set to play. Below are the finished results of my work.
Front view of completed cabinet with original knobs and grill cloth
Chassis and Sears Silvertone battery eliminator
Talk about a remarkable find! My wife and I found this set in a junk store called Nazam's located on Dorchester Road West of Leeds Avenue in North Charleston and believe me, it looked nothing like this when we bought it for 75.00! Like an idiot, I was not thinking of course when I set out to restore this baby. For some stupid reason I did not take any pictures of the set before I started working on it. These pictures are after the cabinet was stripped and restained and work was being done to the chasis. The sad thing about this radio is the original color was Ivory which is a much sought after set by collectors. I heard through a newsgroup that one sold in North Carolina at an auction for a little over seven hundred dollars. Somewhere along the line some genious decided to paint this set with a enamal white paint, which of course, ruined the original finish. Let me tell you, I had a very hard time removing this horrid finish; whoever did it put several layers on it, and painted everything including the brass escutcheon.
The chasis was in pretty good condition and it cleaned up well. I did find a couple of bad tubes so I decided to go ahead and completely re-tube the set. I also went ahead and replaced all the paper caps and electrolytics which did wonders for the radio. The only trouble that I had was the camdown resistor decided to crap out on me. This happened after the re-cap and re-tube plus allignment. Talk about being really stressed out! I did not have a clue how to fix this problem so once again, I turned to my faithful friend Alex KR1ST. He went through my junkbox and found all the correct value high voltage resistors and cobbed together a new camdown resistor. Well, it looked ugly but by golly it worked! Thank goodness it was under the chasis so you dont see it! Once it was installed and the old camdown removed, the set sprang to life and has been playing every since. It is one of my favorite sets and I enjoy it very much. They did make this set in the usual wood finishes of course, and if you need the schematic, click here.
Original manual to the set found under the chasis!
Ham Radio Projects3/23/08 Here are some pics of various projects from the past that I dug up. I will be adding more descriptions of the projects and some resources as time allows. I hope that you will enjoy the page and find some of the material and or resources useful .Thanks for looking and please come back to visit!
Home brew RF Probe
While attempting to get my newly acquired Yeasu FT 101E working which without the extreme patience and help of my bud KR1ST Alex, we found that I needed an RF probe. With that being said, Alex thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to get my feet wet in a beginner project. He instructed me to build this probe and showed me where to find the instructions in the ARRL Handbook. The schematic for the probe that I built can be found on 26.11 figure A in the 2001 handbook. This was an easy project to build, I found it harder to find a suitable enclosure than to actually build the project. I finally settled on an old permanent marker because I found that I could remove the ink pad and drill a hole in the bottom cap for the coax to go into. For the actual probe point, I had a piece of copper that I rounded down to a point with my bench grinder. The yellow stuff you see at the tip is heat shrink which actually helps hold the tip in place. The above picture is my finished project. This entire project cost me about three dollars and about an hour of my time to build! If you would like to learn more about RF probes and what they are useful for, then check out N5ESE Monty's site. He has a really good page about on this subject plus some detailed schematics on how to build your own probe.
Mobile Radio Installation
Recently, I bought a used 93 Infinity QX4 to replace my 87 Nissan Pathfinder that was totaled in an accident about a year ago. Of course, one of my first priorities was to install a new 2 meter 70 cm rig with a new antenna. Durring the new install, I had two goals; no holes in the dash and no mag mount antenna. I decided on a Yaesu FT-7800R for the rig and a Radio Shack glass mount Duel band antenna Cat.#19-324
I think that the hardest part of the installation was getting power from the battery to the inside of the truck. Naturally, it is not very easy to run wires through the firewall in this vehicle. After several hours of trying to find somewhere in the firewall to push the wires through, I finally gave up and drilled a 3/8" hole through the floorboard of the passenger side of the truck.
This took awhile because I needed to be CERTAIN that I would not drill through something like my heater coil or some other very expensive thing to fix. After finding my spot to drill I held my breath and made my hole! Luck must have been on my side because I did not ruin anything.
I then installed a 3/8 piece of water hose through the hole ( to protect the wire from being nicked) and ran my hot and ground leads through it to the battery. As you can see, I put fuseable links on each side of the battery for protection.
80/160 Meter Recieve Loop :
About two years ago, I started to get an interest in the 160 meter band. Having no antennas for that band to transmit on, not to mention real estate to build one, I set out to find a good, easy to build receive loop. I wanted to build it out of materials in my junk box, being the frugal person that I am when it comes to projects. More to come.......