Last updated Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

AE5DS    formerly N5MKK & KB5FIL

David K. Stall
Fayette County - Texas
Maidenhead Grid EL19pv

Rain Creek Farm
1112 Farm-to-Market Rd 955
Fayetteville, TX 78940-5468

AE5DS@stall.net

 

A not so brief history of my radio experiences

Jump Ahead:  1988  1989  1990  1991-1993  1994  1998-1999  2000  2001  2002  2003-2006  2007  2008 
 

1963

QTH: Lakewood, Los Angeles County, California 

1964

The first exposure to amateur radio I can recall (circa 1964) was a ham neighbor Paul A. Norcross K6OLX (SK) in Lakewood, California.  Mr. Norcross worked  for Union Oil at their research labs in charge of instrumentation maintenance/repair/calibration in Brea.  Later he worked as a salesman for Motorola, his accounts were railroads and the petrochemical industry.  Later still he worked for Atlantic Richfield Company. Paul had a beam atop a telephone pole in his small backyard in Lakewood and a bug catcher on his car.  I recall that in about 1969 he had station wagon with power supply in the back and a "big" base station size transceiver mounted on the hump in front of the bench seat.  He told stories of talking to friends in Australia while driving in southern California.  I thought that it was pretty neat.  I remember his garage radio shack full of radios, QSL cards and vacuum tubes.  Mr. Norcross was also a sailor and private plane pilot and I had the opportunity to both sail and fly with him before I left California in 1975. Tragically Paul became a silent key when his single engine Piper 235 (N8850W) crashed during a business trip shortly after take off from a dirt runway in Kayenta, AZ, on August 31, 1982.
 

1968

QTH: Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California 

1969

I was earning money repairing and selling televisions purchased at garage sales in Long Beach, California.  I have fond memories of the pre-Tandy Radio Shack on Long Beach Blvd (remember the free batteries?) and Lafayette Electronics on Atlantic Avenue, both in Long Beach.  I had built a couple cat-whisker crystal radio kits purchased from Radio Shack.  Lafayette (later Allied) had a great catalog that was my wish book.  My passion was shortwave radio listening on console Philco and Zenith radios in the garage.  My favorite radio was just a chassis with giant vacuum tubes that glowed like light bulbs. 

I was interested in Amateur radio but didn't pursue a license.
 

1973

I obtained my Citizen Radio Station License four years before they changed from 23 to 40 channels.  I purchased a brand new Citizen's Band radio from Olson Electronics in Long Beach for about $30.  With a hand full of crystals from Lafayette Electronics I was on the air.  My handle was Flyboy.  
 

1974

From time to time I would park my VW Beetle atop Signal Hill and rag-chew on the radio.  

I obtained my Radiotelephone Restricted license at the Federal Communications Commission Office located at Los Angeles harbor. The license was required to operate shipboard station WY4438 (HF & VHF) aboard the ocean going sailboat Nord Stjärnan out of Long Beach, California.  This vessel was equipped with a high-seas radio before a new VHF marine transceiver was added.  A year later this same license was used while flying in Texas, mostly as N9679L in an American Grumman AA-1 based at Spaceland Airpark (SPX), in League City, Texas (later the airport was renamed Houston Gulf, today the airport is gone).

I learned enough Morse code to read locator beacon transmissions, both at sea and in the air.   
 

1975

QTH: El Lago, Harris County, Texas 

1976

I obtained another Class D Citizen Radio Station License, call sign KJF6632.

For a couple months I was the advertising director for Breaker World Magazine, a citizen's band fad publication based in Houston.

I frequently visited Abcor Electronics on NASA Road 1 at El Camino Real in Nassau Bay (now Webster), Texas.  I purchased all my scanner crystals from this store owned and operated by the Hilton family. For a period of years I was a volunteer fireman with the Seabrook Volunteer Fire Department. To keep up with local public safety activities and other fire departments I equipped my car with various scanners. My favorite was a small Radio Shack under-dash crystal scanner with a toggle switch under each channel.
 

1979

QTH: League City, Galveston County, Texas 

1980

I obtained a Radio Telephone Third Class Operator Permit (#P3-9-26973).  

Purchased another new 40-channel citizen band transceiver, Montgomery Ward Model 696.

1983

QTH: Webster, Harris County, Texas 

1987

I again became involved with shortwave listening and purchased a used Radio Shack DX-300 receiver.  Shortly thereafter I had strung four dipoles along the ridge of our two-story house roof and was tuning in the world. I began collecting SWL QSL cards.

1988

AMATEUR RADIO

I was involved with emergency management for the City of Nassau Bay, Texas, when I developed a renewed interest in obtaining an amateur radio license.  I shared this interest with John Nickel WD5EEV who coordinated the City's RACES communications.  On a Thursday John asked if I was serious and I told him "sure" upon which he said he would arrange for a Novice exam on Saturday.   

I promptly purchased a Novice study guide from Radio Shack and an ARRL 5WPM Morse code cassette tape that same day.  Thursday and Friday after work I crammed, especially with the code tape. 


NOVICE CLASS TICKET

Two days later I met on Saturday morning at the home of Jim Fauver NY5H (SK), who together with Karen Nickel WD5EEU, administered the Novice class exam and the five word-per-minute code test.  I passed both (January 16, 1988).  

I felt like I was on a roll and Jim Fauver NY5H (SK) invited me to take the Technician class exam the following day in Pasadena, Texas. 


TECHNICIAN CLASS TICKET

The day after I took the Novice class exam I attended a test session sponsored by the Bay Area Amateur Radio Club at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.  On January 17, 1988, I took and passed Element 3(A) earning a Technician class license. The VE's were David Prichard KA5OVO, Martin Pugsley KY5Y, and Jim Fauver NY5H (SK).

Monday (January 18, 1988) I purchased my first amateur band radio, a 2-meter Clegg FM-27B transceiver I heard for sale on the 34/94 net.  The Clegg was a very small step up from a crystal controlled radio.  A toggle switch selects 146 or 147 MHz receive, then one knob added in 100 kHz increments and another in 10 kHz increments.  Same two knob system was used to select the transmit frequency.  

Monday February 8, 1988, my Novice Class license arrived in the mail.  My first call sign was KB5FIL.  The next day I mailed my KT certificate (obtained at the test session weeks earlier) to the ARRL/VEC to upgrade to Technician Class.  

Soon after I became licensed my dad, Hal Stall obtained his license and became N5NCZ.  Previously my dad held a novice ticket in 1953 as KN6ACJ.


[representative images - not my actual units]

My first HF rig was a circa 1965 Hallicrafters set I purchased used from Gabe Hui KG5DW.  I had a Hallicrafters SX-117 receiver, Hallicrafters HT-44 transmitter with power supply, and a matching Hallicrafters HT-47 speaker.  This put me on the air with about 15-watts CW and 50-watts SSB on 10 through 80-meters. The Hallicrafters became trade-in equipment at Madison Electronics on the purchase of my next HF rig.

Saturday March 19, 1988, I purchased a Hy-Gain TH-3MK4 3-element tri-band (10/15/20-meter) beam antenna from Mission Electronics during their monthly Saturday sidewalk sale.  The next day I had it assembled and installed on a roof mounted pole with a used rotor purchased at the swap.  

Monday March 21, 1988, my Technician Class license arrived in the mail.  That next Wednesday I mailed FCC Form 610 requesting a call sign change to a Technician/General Class 1x3 call sign. 

CALL SIGN CHANGE GRANTED

April 1988 I received my new call sign, N5MKK.

I joined the Bay Area Amateur Radio Club and 10-10 International Net.  My 10-10 number is 47523.  While I did work some CW, I spent much more time on 10-meter SSB.  I particularly enjoyed working DX stations around the world.  

I joined the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  I'm remained a member until 2003 when I allowed my membership to lapse. Four years later I would rejoin the ARRL.

On July 30, 1988, I attended the Tidelands Amateur Radio Society Hamfest in Texas City, Texas. At their W5YI-VEC test session I took and passed Element 3(B) for the General Class license. I didn't however attempt the 13 word-per-minute code test necessary to earn the General ticket. The VE's were William Maddock KF5AA, Sidney Carson WA5Q, and Ronald Langston WE5O.  

My second HF rig was purchased in 1988 from Don Busick K5AAD at Madison Electronics in Houston.  This next radio was a used Kenwood TS-830S transceiver bought with the assistance of the trade-in of the Hallicrafters.  The rig had been owned by David Busick  N5JJ (SK) and was in excellent condition. I knew that David had recently passed away when I purchased the radio, but it wasn't until many years later that I came to know what an outstanding amateur operator David was. [more about N5JJ] I'm proud to have used one of his radios and glad that I traded it back to his brother Don when I bought the new Kenwood.

I added a Cushcraft model 215WB 15-element yagi beam to the top of my mast at 38-feet and worked 2-meter SSB.  I had a used Icom IC-271A all mode 2-meter transceiver.

My third HF rig was also my first brand new transceiver, a Kenwood TS-440S/AT transceiver purchased from Madison Electronics (May 3, 1988).  Again I traded-in my older rig, the Kenwood TS-830S.  The Kenwood TS-440S/AT is still my current HF rig.

For a short period of time I participated in Navy MARS as NNN0JJL.  

A great Elmer of mine was Max Busick W5GJ (SK) at Madison Electronics in Houston.  Max drew out on paper more than one homebrew antenna that I would build and use years later.  My favorite is a giant curtain antenna.  I often traded or sold antique test equipment to Max.

I joined the Johnson Space Center Amateur Radio Club at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  I enjoyed having the regular opportunity to operate the club station W5RRR

I was a regular on the JSC-ARC 146.64 repeater along with Chuck Biggs KC5RG, Jim Fauver NY5H (SK), Dale Martin KG5U, John Nickel WD5EEV (6-4 repeater trustee, then), Karen Nickel WD5EEU, Bruce Ryan KA5VSY (SK), Howard Silverman KB6SMY, and Dick Wells KH6FHS (SK).

1988-1992

I'm not sure of the time frame (until I find my records) these things happened:

I gave 6-meters a try with a used Icom IC-551 transceiver purchased at a swap meet.  This didn't hold my interest very long and the rig was soon sold.

I went mobile with brand new Kenwood TM-221A 2-meter transceiver and used Kenwood TM-421A 440 MHz transceiver before upgrading to a brand new Kenwood TM-721 dual band transceiver.  I later sold the TM-421A at a Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (CLARC) swap meet held at the Webster Volunteer Fire Station where the club held its monthly meetings. I sold the TM-221A and TM-721 at the 2007 Austin Summerfest.

 

[representative images
not my actual unit]

  

I went portable with a used Yaesu FT-727 dual band handheld.

For finding those elusive frequencies and transmitters I purchased a new Optoelectronics Model CCA Counter/Counter RF Detector-Analyzer

Along the line I also added a used Yaesu FRG-9600 receiver to the shack.  

Later it was replaced with a brand new ICOM IC-7100A, which is still in my shack today.  I also have an ICOM CT-17 Communications Interface-V (CI-V) level converter that's used to connect the receiver to my computer. 

I purchased and used a MFJ-1278 TNC for digital, CW and packet. Other decoders include a Universal M-400 decoder and Automated Industrial Electronics Model TCF-3 Tone/Code Finder.

Together with Jim Fauver NY5H (SK), Lance Gordon W5VNY and J. B. Fox W5HIR I reorganized the Bay Area Amateur Radio Club (BAARC).  Off and on for the next few years I was president of BAARC and remained active.  With help from Roger Blouch K3WIV I put a 2-meter repeater on top of Saint John Hospital in Nassau Bay using a couple of my 'extra' mobile rigs.  Shortly thereafter another BAARC member donated a 'real' radio, the club bought a nice duplexer and we got a grant for a digital repeater controller and phone patch.  Our new controller was a CAT-1000 Repeater Controller from Computer Automation Technology, Inc. (1993)  The controller was upgraded with a audio delay board and audio process board, both from C3I.  Voice features were made possible with the addition of digital voice module DVM-58 from MING Engineering & Products, Inc.  The repeater still remains on the air today (145.15-) serving both the BAARC and JSCARC. 
 

1989

I completed the Worked All Continents Award (WAC-SSB Phone) in 1989. It was accomplished on 10-meters.

This same year I obtained a Marine Radio Operator Permit (replaced the Radiotelephone Operator's Certificate - Restricted). 

On April 9, 1989, I operated a special event station aboard the submarine USS Cavalla AGSS-244 in Galveston, Texas.  This was on the occasion of the 89th anniversary of the United States Navy Submarine Service.  I put a dipole antenna on the deck between stanchions and ran 100-feet of coax below decks to an office where I set up my Kenwood TS-440S/AT.  One hundred sixty-two 10-meter contacts were made during this fun, 6-hour and 41-minute one-man event. [Log]

Obtained Ship Radio Station License (VHF Radiotelephone) for my sailboat Alibi, call sign WUR8027.

July 17, 1989, the Federal Communications Commission received a petition I sent them for a no-code amateur radio license class.  The petition was assigned file number RM-6994.  My petition was one of twelve that were taken under consideration in Notice of Proposed Rule Making, PR Docket No. 90-55

I wrote and published a 42 page book titled, "Southeast Texas Radio Frequency Directory"

1990

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making, PR Docket No. 90-55 was adopted on February 8, 1990, considering the petition (RM-6994) I filed with the Federal Communications Commission in 1989 for a no-code class of amateur radio license. 

After two years of membership I became the Vice President of the JSC ARC at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

I wrote and published a 69 page book titled, "Radio Frequency Guide: Texas Edition" (ISBN 1-878884-11-5). 

On December 27, 1990, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Report and Order, PR Docket No. 90-55 adopting a code-less class of amateur radio license. 
 

1991

 

Obtained a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) station and mobile license for 462.675 / 467.675 MHz, call sign KAE7315 (March 25, 1991).  I let the license expire in 1996.

Obtained a Business radio station license for Luna Lumen Press, call sign WNVZ209, that I also let expire in 1996.  

Enjoyed working RTTY, including DX as represented by the QSL card from I2SVA (left).

1992

QTH: Nassau Bay, Harris County, Texas 

1993

I had the opportunity to meet and socialize with Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Titov U1MIR and Sergei Krikalev U5MIR while they were training a NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

I wrote and published a 58 page book titled, "Texas Radio Directory" (ISBN 1-878884-12-3). 

I added a new Optoelectronics R10 FM Communications Interceptor receiver and Optoelectronics CF802 RF amplifier to my list of radio equipment. 
 

1994

I wrote and published a 68 page book titled, "Texas Radio Directory: A Guide for the Radio Enthusiast & Scanner Owner, Second Edition" (ISBN 1-878884-17-4). This was clearly the best and most popular of the guide books I wrote.

On a business trip to Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star City), Russia I again met with Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Titov U1MIR and was introduced to cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov U4MIR.  

1998


"Radiostation RK3DZB"

A Russian General and cosmonaut invited me to Russia for my 40th birthday.  During the trip I visited club station RK3DZB at the Yu. A. Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star City), Russia.  This station is often used by visiting US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts.  It is the counterpart to W5RRR at JSC in Houston. 


Right, David Stall N5MKK; second from right, Vladimir Zagainov UA3DKR


Left Vladimir Titov U1MIR; second from left David Stall N5MKK
 

Again I have the pleasure of visiting with Vladimir Titov U1MIR in his native Russia.
 

1998-1999

QTH: Claremont, Los Angeles County, California 

Two years in California.  Very, very little time on the air. 


 

2000

QTH: Fayetteville, Fayette County, Texas

I joined the Texas VHF-FM Society.
 

2001

Moved to Rain Creek Farm.  Will soon be back on HF.  Also looking forward to taking the General Class exam at the next opportunity.  

Obtained another General Mobile Radio System (GMRS) station and mobile license, call sign WPTW434 (December 29, 2001).

I'm back on the air with a G5RV antenna and my trusty Kenwood TS-440S/AT.  First station worked was Donald Moman VE6JY in Alberta, Canada during the weekend contest (December 29, 2001).  I didn't get a good audio report so I need to do a little adjusting. 

With some help from Bill Leahy K0ZL I found and fixed the problem with my audio.  My last contact of 2001 was with Kouichi  Ogura JI1KXL of Yokohama, Japan
 

2002

My first contact of 2002 was with Mary Jane Herrington KA3WWG of Maryland.  


Radio Shack at Rain Creek Farm (02.02.02)

 

2003-2006

Four years with little to no time on the air. The G5RV antenna suffered damage when a tree limb brought it down. I never got any kind of permanent antenna in the air over the farm. Likewise I went without a mobile rig as well since there is no UHF and virtually no 2-meter activity in this part of rural Texas. During this lapse in activity I also sold my ICOM IC-7100A receiver.
 

2007

 


NICARAGUA

 


CUBA

 


CUBA

 


ARGENTINA

 


NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

 


NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

 


SWEDEN

 


COSTA RICA

 


COLOMBIA

 


GERMANY

 


LITHUANIA

 


MEXICO

It was time to get radio active again. For the last two years I have commuted 125 miles across Houston where I could certainly can find some 2-meter activity. My plans included re-joining the Texas VHF-FM Society, attend the Austin Summerfest in August, and finally get my General ticket.

I'm going mobile again with a gently used ICOM IC-2200H 2-meter transceiver in my 2001 Ford Focus. I purchased it from another ham through eBay, installed it and got on the air June 12, 2007. My first contact was on the W5RRR/R machine at the Johnson Space Center (Houston).

I rejoined the Texas VHF-FM Society in June.

Also in June I checked out the trusty Kenwood TS-440S/AT purchased new 19 years ago and it's ready to get back on the air. Unfortunately the G5RV antenna I put up 7 years earlier has suffered some wind and tree damage and is no longer serviceable. Another antenna will be required soon.

GENERAL CLASS TICKET

On June 26, 2007, I  attended an ARRL/VEC test session in Houston and passed the Element 3 examination. This is the second time I have taken the General Class license test and the second time I have passed it. Having never been able to exceed 10 words per minute code speed has delayed my ability to get the General Class ticket for 19 years. Finally I have arrived. Hello HF phone!

Giving up on the damaged G5RV I ran a 80-foot length of RG213 from the Kenwood TS-440S/AT to the attic where I hung a 20-Meter dipole running north and south. The dipole tuned up with an SWR of 1.25:1 on 20-Meters and 1.5:1 or better on 10, 12, 15, 17, and 40-Meters.

The first station worked as a new General Class operator was Rod Marty J79RM in Dominica, one of the Windward Islands (June 29, 2007). It was on 20-meters (14.244MHz) and I received a 5-9 report. 

Pleased with the success of finally earning my General Class license I decided to press on and immediately study for the Extra Class license.

EXTRA CLASS TICKET

On July 10, 2007, I attended an ARRL/VEC test session in Stafford, TX, and passed the Element 4 examination earning my Extra Class license. Yeah!

My long awaited General ticket arrived in the mail on July 13, 2007, two weeks ahead of the now anticipated Extra ticket.


My first HF contact as an Extra was made on July 14, 2007, with Salvatore Salanitro PJ2/DK7SA on Curacao Island in the Netherland Antilles on 20-meters (14.195MHz). My report was a 5-7. My first QSO on 40-meter phone came two days later with Stephen Leander KV6O/0 in Colorado, a quick 5-9 contact.


David & Astrid in Texas City, TX (07.14.07)

July 14th I took my granddaughter Astrid with me to the Tidelands Hamfest in Texas City, TX, and saw several of my old friends including Ron Wicker AA5NI and J.B. Fox W5HIR. I believe the last time I had been to the Tidelands Hamfest was in 1989.


New QSL card with wrong Maidenhead Grid, reads DM14, should be EL19 (07.16.07)

On July 16th my Amateur Extra operator privileges posted on the FCC ULS database. Now I'm tempted to request a 2x2 call to reflect my new ticket class . . .

On July 17th I succumbed to the desire of an Amateur Extra 2x2 call sign. I filed an application for a vanity call sign with AE5DS as the first choice and AA5DS as second choice. Interestingly AE5DS will be very close to the current call sign that should be issued systematically at the same time. (AE5DM was systematically issued on August 1st.) Under the FCC vanity call assignment procedure my application for the new call sign was processed August 4, 2007.

My Amateur Extra ticket arrived in the mail on August 2, 2007.

CALL SIGN CHANGE GRANTED

On August 4, 2007, the FCC canceled N5MKK and granted the application for AE5DS.


Linda helping David sell surplus equipment at the Austin Summerfest (08/04/07)

My call sign change to AE5DS came during the weekend of the Austin Summerfest. My XYL Linda and I spent the weekend in Austin and enjoyed visiting with lots of hams while letting go of some of my surplus radio equipment. Thanks to a table at the swap we arrived with three boxes and left with one. We met a couple old friends and made many new friends.


Newest new QSL card. (08.06.07)

My Amateur Extra license with the new call sign AE5DS arrived in the mail August 9, 2007. With this license the expiration date was extended 10 more years to 2017.


 

Texas Radio Operator license plates with my new call sign were issued on August 30, 2007. The old N5MKK license plates have been retired.

On September 12, 2007, I installed a Kenwood TS-440S/AT in my Ford Focus. I purchased this newest used HF rig in August making it my third TS-440S. The antenna is an 8-foot Workman stick antenna. I purchased two sticks, one for 20-Meters and another for 75-Meters.

My first HF mobile QSO was with Roy P41USA in Aruba, Dutch West Indies on September 12, 2007. At the time of the contact I was driving to work on IH-10 in Houston, Texas. I was pleased to get a 5-9 report.


New mobile QSL card. (10.17.07)

On November 13, 2007, I installed another 3/8" antenna mount on the other side of the trunk of my Ford Focus for a second Workman stick antenna. With the use of an Alpha Delta coax switch I can now easily switch between two HF antennas while on the road. Initially I have 20-meter and 75-meter antennas installed. I also purchased another Workman stick for 15-meters.

After consulting a compass and a beam heading map I discovered the attic dipole at the farm was pointed in the wrong direction, at least for working Europe. As a result, I rotated the antenna 90-degrees on December 8, 2007. Fortunately I have enough room in the attic to easily accommodate a 33-foot dipole in several directions.

In December I returned as a member of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

 

December 19, 2007, I worked FJ/OH2AM within days of Saint Barthelemy becoming a new 'country' for DXCC purposes. Getting through a giant pile-up working split frequency while mobile in Houston was most pleasing.

As 2007 comes to an end I'm looking forward to hanging lots of wire in the air and perhaps even erecting a radio tower complete with a brand new 20-meter 4-element mono-band beam.

Other antenna projects include building a 67-foot T2FD (tilted, terminated, folded, dipole); a 130-foot dipole or maybe a 6-wire cage dipole; and, a second 20-meter dipole oriented north-south to complement my current east-west 20-meter dipole. I even have a spot available for a five-wavelength, 2,700-foot beverage antenna for 160-meters, that is if I want to spend the money for the 40 support poles and wire needed.

While waiting on parts for the T2FD I put a 75-meter dipole antenna. Unhappy with the sharp SWR curve I took the antenna down, lengthened it and added a second strand of wire to each leg using 1.5-inch spacers made of 1/2-inch CPVC pipe. The result was a small increase of SWR and the desired increase in bandwidth falling under 1.5:1 SWR.

With this new homemade antenna I was able to work 34 states in the first five days.

Another antenna project completed during new year's weekend was a 17-meter dipole and wire reflector installed in the attic.

 

2008


BALEARIC ISLANDS


ARUBA


ARUBA


TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS


CAYMAN ISLANDS


BRAZIL


ECUADOR


BRAZIL


CZECH REPUBLIC


GUADELOUPE ISLAND


MOROCCO


CHILE


CUBA


MADEIRA ISLAND


GERMANY


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


ITALY


ITALY


NORWAY


ARGENTINA


ARGENTINA


ARGENTINA


AUSTRIA


JAMAICA


LESOTHO


ENGLAND


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


COLOMBIA


REPUBLIC OF PANAMA


ITALY


ARGENTINA


BELGIUM


BRAZIL


BRAZIL


BRAZIL


MARTINIQUE ISLAND


MEXICO


CHILE


VENEZUELA


MEXICO


ISLE OF MAN


BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA


ECUADOR


CUBA


CANADA

Inspired by a colorful QSL card received from W4DJW I started using a color photographic print QSL card myself. Here is an example of the 4x6 cards I began sending out around the start of the new year. One of the big advantages of this computer generated card is the ability to make changes and updates with each new card printed.

The new colorful QSL card prints are too big to fit the standard envelopes and QSL holders used by most hams, so a new and improved size has been produced using the standard 4x6 print.

With a green trim border the new cards can be cut down to a standard 3½ x 5½ size.

Three used heavy-duty tower sections were delivered to Rain Creek Farm in January. The two large 20-foot sections and base section have a 24-inch face. Someday they will be stacked and topped with a Cushcraft Skywalker 20-4CD, 20-meter, 4 element Yagi antenna. Of course it will also provide a platform for other antenna projects.

 

I completed Worked-All-States (WAS) on the 75 Meter Geratol Net. Only Extra Class format license holders worked on the Extra Class 80-Meter SSB sub-band count towards this award.

My Geratol number is 2537.

Having completed Worked-All-States on the 75 Meter Geratol Net means I also (finally) qualified for the ARRL WAS award which was issued with the 80-meter endorsement on March 25, 2008.

My ARRL WAS number is 52,749.

I attended the Greater Houston Ham Fest in March. I always enjoy seeing 'stuff' especially the boat anchors, homebrew equipment and antennas. I was tempted by several items, particularly a military surplus fiberglass antenna mast.

The only purchases made at the Ham Fest was a U.S. Army Signal Corp Lionel Type J-38 key and a very nice Industrial Communication Engineers, Model 516 Remote Antenna Switch.

Pictured is the remote unit with one input and six outputs. Here it is sitting atop the lid off the weatherproof enclosure. The control is equally heavy-duty.

As soon as a spool of control cable arrived I placed this switch in the attic. After trying two other remote switches, this is by far the best.

In March I also put a Collins 30L-1 amplifier on the air for the first time. Not only was this the first time I used the Collins, but it was also my first time ever to use any power amplifier for HF. Initially use of the amplifier was limited to those dipole antennas with a good match (low VSWR) as I did not have a tuner that could handle the 500 watt output.

Shortly after putting the amplifier on the air I went in search of a high-power tuner and purchased  two. First I found a solid Drake MN-2000 that would do the job. While I was waiting for it to arrive I located a very nice Palstar AT1KM tuner. What a great tuner. Within days I had completely stopped using the TS-440S/AT's built-in auto-tuner preferring to use the new manual Palstar tuner.

 

The 17-meter attic dipole was cut down to a 15-meter dipole for the WPX contest.

Later I built this 15-meter folded-dipole antenna fed with ladder line between the house and a pecan tree.

The new folded-dipole significantly out performed the original dipole which I left in place perpendicular to the folded-dipole.

I picked up a vintage, Barker & Williams 1KW single band 15-meter folded-dipole BALUN (Model 711) and placed at the remote antenna switch in the attic.  As a temporary feed 400 ohm ladder line was used between the BALUN and the antenna. Proper 300 ohm ladder line has been ordered and once received will replace the 400 ohm line.


[representative image not my actual unit]

A new mobile HF radio arrived in July!

After a lot of research I decided to purchase a used ICOM IC-706MKIIG HF/VHF/UHF rig. I could have lived without the VHF, and certainly have very little to no use for UHF, but I expect that being a later model with the extra bands this model will hold it's value better.


[representative image not my actual unit]


With this new mobile radio I will no longer have a built-in antenna tuner. To solve that problem I purchased a brand new LDG Z-11 Pro automatic tuner from Universal Radio.

Along with the new radio and tuner I plan to install a new quarter-wave 17-meter antenna on the Ford Focus.

A local machine shop is fabricating a mount from drawings I provided. My plans call for a heavy spring mounted stainless steel whip measuring 12.9 feet in length overall. With the LDG Z-11 Pro it should tune from 80 to 6-meters. Mounted low and behind the car this antenna will stretch to 14-feet above the road surface, the maximum legal height and still be just low enough to clear highway overpasses. 

Meanwhile I kept an eye open for other used mobile antennas ranging from Hustler to High Sierra.

When the ICOM IC-706MKIIG rig arrived I set it in the car on top of the LDG Z-11 Pro connected to a 20-meter Workman stick antenna.

My first contact with the new rig was while operating mobile in Fayette County. I was very pleased to get a 5-9 report on 14.240 MHz from 8N2HQ, the Japan Amateur Radio League headquarters' station.

Soon the control head and the radio were separated with the latter and the antenna tuner relocated under the car's passenger seat.

Of course it wasn't long and I found a High Sierra HS-1800/Pro that the VE owner tells me has only seen about two-weeks of mobile use before he decided that it was too tall for his truck.

The High Sierra HS-1800/Pro has an operating range of 3.5 ─ 30 MHz with the whip installed, and 6.9 ─ 60 MHz without the whip. Of course it is much more efficient with the whip installed.

My custom antenna mount wasn't ready yet and Ie changed directions. I briefly considered redesigning the mount to specifically fit the HS-1800/Pro, but decided to design a special attachment instead. This way I'll have the flexibility to mount a full range of antennas. The attachment will bolt to the mount and present an 18-inch tall 1¼-inch post for the High Sierra bracket.

While waiting on new antennas and their mounts I continued usingh the Workman sticks. The LDG Z-11 Pro does a great job tuning the 20-meter antenna for both 20 and 17-meters. Within a little time I made a dozen contacts, mostly on 17-meters.

Here's the attachment I designed for my mobile mount. It accommodated the new High Sierra HS-1800/Pro when it arrived. This bolts onto the mount shown above and could be used elsewhere in the future.

With my custom mount the HS-1800/Pro will reach a maximum height of 11½ feet including the 6 foot whip. Without the whip it can be lowered to 4 feet, short enough to go anywhere the car can. Even if fully extended the HS-1800/Pro, with out the whip, will only be 5½ feet tall.

In July Linda and I took our granddaughter Astrid to the Tidelands Hamfest in Texas City, TX. Like last year I visited Ron Wicker AA5NI.

Linda and Astrid bought Pop-Pop a coffee cup with my name and call sign on the side. My purchases were a couple rolls of coax seal and an amplified Motorola speaker that I intend to rewire for use with the IC-706 MKIIG.

Returning home Sunday I was pleased to work Suad Zukic DK6XZ while he was operating as E77XZ near the city of Zenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


David & Astrid in Texas City, TX (07.12.08)

The control head for the IC-706 MKIIG was mounted on a bar attached to the bottom of the arm rest. The bar has both an upward bend and twist towards the driver. The arm rest with together with the radio head can be raised up out of the way. In the down position the radio does not interfere with the parking brake or gear selector. The radio is comfortably positioned so that I have place my right arm on the arm rest and have all the radio controls at my finger tips - literally. It's likely that I will place the Up/Down control switch for the HS-1800 antenna along the bar under the radio.

The microphone is attached to a jack placed on the dash panel. The microphone cable extends to the radio and not the head. A Motorola mobile speaker was mounted in the back seat side of the arm rest base pointing upward.

Here's the mount fabricated by a Columbus, TX, machine shop from my drawings (see above). The base piece bolts to the frame of my Ford Focus and creates a platform for the attachment of a variety of antennas. The upright piece will accommodate my new High Sierra 1800/Pro (whenever it arrives).

Only one 3/4" hole was required to be drilled through a reinforced flange intended as an attachment point for a trailer hitch or towing tie down. Two self-tapping screws will be used to tag the forward piece into the frame upon final assembly.

This photograph shows the mount temporarily installed with the upright mast set in place, but not yet bolted to the mount. Once everything is properly fitted the mount will be removed, disassembled, ground smooth, sanded, primed, painted, and reinstalled.

The upright will be attached with four 3/8" stainless steel bolts and stainless steel Nyloc® nuts.

This 1-1/4" round upright mast will accommodate many popular screwdriver antenna mounts.

This photograph shows the High Sierra HS1800/Pro with the installation completed just in time to attend the Austin Summerfest in Austin, TX. The support has a hammered metal finish that matches the color of the car. All stainless steel hardware is used to connect the various parts of the mount. A flat copper strap is used to bond the antenna to the vehicle. The antenna itself, including the mount and the 6-foot stainless steel whip, are power coated black. All wiring was run to the radio and a temporary switch was wired to control the antenna tuning.


Our swap table and neighbor Neil K6SMF's table.

A variety of my surplus radio equipment was sold at a swap table and some of the proceeds were used to purchase a fully automatic N2VZ Turbo Tuner designed specifically for my Icom radio and a screwdriver antenna from Neil K6SMF, a California ham with the swap table next to ours. Before leaving Austin the Turbo Tuner was connected and the radio programmed to communicate with the tuner through its serial port. Everything working like a champ. My first contact with the new antenna (or new tuner) was on 14.243 MHz with N9N, a special event station aboard the submarine USS Nautilus in Groton, CT. My report was 5-9.

The AE5DS/M mobile installation is quickly evolving into a full-blown station. The HS-1800/Pro antenna is performing very well.

Parts are now being assembled to complete the system as shown above. Some have been received, others are on the way, and a couple items are on backorder.

I've designed a circuit (shown at right) to provide manual tuning control for the HS-1800/Pro. This control will allow the HS-1800/Pro to be raised or lowered. A button will place the radio in 'tune' mode. And, an indicator light will indicate 'end-of-travel' current draw."

The manual control will minimize the transmission of the tuning tone by allowing the antenna to be moved close to the proper position before activating the N2VZ Turbo Tuner. Additionally I want to experiment with manual tuning using a field strength meter.

Here's the finished AE5DS manual control. The connectors allow it to be easily placed between the N2VZ Turbo Tuner and the IC-706 MKIIG and between the N2VZ Turbo Tuner and the HS-1800/Pro. The power to operate the manual control is drawn from the transceiver. I elected to use a handheld control rather than finding a place to mount it in the limited space of the Ford Focus interior.

One feature of the AE5DS mobile station will be the ability to operate PSK31 and other digital modes. Preliminary demonstrations have successfully used DigiPan 2.0 and Dragon NaturalSpeaking 9.5 to operate by voice control. The SignaLink USB interface has been selected because it has a dedicated sound card leaving the system sound card available for use by speech recognition software.

Unfortunately the SignaLink USB is on backorder and isn't expected to arrive until October 2008.


[representative image not my actual unit]

 

 

September 13, 2008, the City of Shoreacres was struck by Hurricane Ike. The damage was tremendous. As the City Administrator my life was turned upside down. Amateur radio took a back seat and unfortunately my prized HS-1800/Pro antenna was virtually destroyed when the night of the storm it struck a fallen telephone cable.

 

March 11, 2009, I completed the SkyWarn training sponsored by the Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club.

EXIT

Updated: June 29, 2017