Collins Collectors Association

I joined the CCA after a few very nice and helpful hams who have Collins gear highly recommended that I join. I have already found it to be a wonderful group of friendly people – who genuinely are excited that I am now “in the fold”.

Interconnections between the 75A-4 and KWS-1

All of the Collins manuals are online at the CCA website – and I now understand how the KWS-1 and 75A-4 are interconnected. Its a great thing that as WN2QHN I used a 117 vac Dow Key tube TR switch and had that between a Hallicrafters HT-40 and my lowly Heathkit SW-717 receiver. I do remember worrying a bit about having a tube do the switching – remember, I was at the very end of using tube gear in 1973. After that the hybrid rigs came out – they still used tubes in the finals – like my Kenwood TS-511s – which was my pride a joy and which I bought after being a dishwasher (barely legal age to work – I think 14 years old?) at Don Bosco College. A few years later I would learn that the first computers were basically banks of tube based switches, so my 13 year old worries were unfounded!

I purchased two NOS (new old stock) Eimac 4CX250b’s – they are like a mini version of the linear amplifier 4CX1500b or other such tubes. The 4CX250b’s are easy to find and I purchased 2 for what is 1/4 the price of one 4CX1500b – which are almost impossible to find these days. The 4CX250b’s are plentiful – even NOS Eimac tubes – the best

I purchased the tubes from Dave, WI6R – of Radiosports fame. I met Dave a few years back at Pacificon, and when he was our gracious sponsor of the VK0EK DXpedition. Dave has all kinds of vintage radio gear – and is extremely helpful. I have been meeting with another friend – Tom Cusack – who approached me after I gave a presentation at an Alameda ham club meeting a few years back – and I will help Tom put up his SteppIR vertical. Tom is an avid Collins collector, and is very excited that I am now entering this new “world”. Finally, I have talked to Howard Mills, W3HM, and of course Bruce – AH0U – who sold me a pristine refurbished Collins 75A-4 receiver, and I have found all of these guys to be very friendly, social and fun to chat with.

The enthusiasm among vintage gear people is palpable.

I have lots of friends in the DX sub genre in Ham Radio – but sometimes DXers and DXpeditioners can get competitive to a point where there is some “friction”.

Its very refreshing to now move into a sub genre where it (so far) seems like everyone is excited for everyone else restoring or just using the old gear. It seems like the “zen” of the group is to encourage people to do their own work as much as we can – because that is part of the fun – and then join some on the air nets and talk about their gear. I do remember the QRPers to also be like this – its almost 100% encouragement – and that elmers still exist in these sub genres.

I’ll still be active in the DX groups – but it could not have happened at a better time to totally by accident get into this vintage game.

The Accidental Gold Dust Twins Collector …

I’ll be picking up a Collins KWS-1 this Saturday morning. Because this is a “whim” (just as the 75A-4 receiver was), the price had to be right, and it had to be local pick up. These caveats seemed like big IF’s and I knew they would require a minor miracle to happen. Remember, only 1600 of these transmitters were manufactured!

I did find one on the East Coast, but when I looked at shipping and logistics, the cost went way up – three times what I found this one for, and would surely have been vetoed by the “Chairman of the Board”.

The seller said the magic words “It had been used on the air up until the ham went SK”. It also is a later version with all mods and uses 3CX250b’s, which I just purchased NOS Eimac for $150-ish.

There’s the other caveat – adding cost for refurbishing could double the price and shipping on top if this would put it out of my budget.

I love my Howard Mills beautifully refurbished 75A-4, but I’m more than fine for the KWS-1 to be working but not pristine. That said, the rig looks like it is in very good to excellent condition anyway – which means this was just meant to be. I love serendipity.

Expect a full shack reordering Friday, and the setup Saturday afternoon.

If I Build It . . . . (Death of a 40M Dipole)

I had a 40M dipole up 60′ for 3Y0I . . . 

Two weeks after putting it up, my neighbor drops a note off at my doorstep saying he is cutting down the 70′ tree that one end is attached to.

The “offensive” and scraggly Monterrey Pine that the dipole is in on one side

I did enough tests, and the dipole was 10 dB down with ZS6CCY. That told me I didn’t need the dipole – that my DXE DV-40-P is the BOSS around here.

This is the funniest thing though. When I made Honor Roll with a (“cheer filled”) New Years Eve 2012/2013 evening QSO with Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A (and when a guest went to our bathroom, turned on a dimmer light and blew my receiver out right as I tried to hear Monk Apollo come back to me), a couple months later, my other neighbor cut down his Monterrey Pine tree that had one end of a 40M dipole up a whopping 70′. I paid penitence in the spring of that year – I worked SV2ASP/A on 17M CW – when he had a really great CW op visit – rumor was – it was a Finnish ham. Anyway – I redeemed my good DX Name with a real QSO. I wanted my last QSO towards HR to be more “momentous” , and instead it was sloppy.

So – trees, dipoles, 40M and New Years seem to be the perfect storm combo for Murphy to visit. “If we build it – he will come” must refer to Murphy?

West Coast – 3Y0I Pilot Test (40M)

As you already know – I usually do ZS tests at night for the short path – always on 40M. Tonight I was able to hear E51DOM/MM (in Cape Town) sending CW at 0430z and he was loud enough to make a QSO (if I were running more the 100 watts that I am). Dom was only running 150 watts into a makeshift antenna – so just hearing him was really a good sign. I barely heard him though on SSB.

Andre, V51B then transmitted and was S5 – 9 on SSB – there was deep QSB, but I coud hear Andre Q5 most of the time. He also heard my 100 watts to my DXE phased vertical array – and while he said I was only 5 5 – he was surprised that we could have a decent QSO.

Its times like this when I am so thankful I have the DXE DV-40-P. I love “value” and “bang for the buck”, and the DXE phased vertical arrays – for a small lot is king.

Of course, when 3Y0I is on the air – I will be running 1000 watts. But since the real test is if you can hear them – then I am pleased that I did hear everyone in ZS and V51 tonight. I do expect that propagation to 3Y0I will be similar.

And 0430z is a magical time to remember.

Closing in on a Collins KWS-1

KWS-1 – courtesy of the Western Historic Radio Museum

I have found a KWS-1 locally, and will find out tomorrow whether or not this one is for me. I’m very excited, and have my fingers crossed – because at 200 pounds, this is not something that can be shipped across the country for any reasonable cost.

I’ll update this post tomorrow after I know if the deal happens.

KY6R Shack in 2019

To support the KWS-1, I will need to re-arrange the shack

I will have the KWS-1 wired for 220, which is next to where the power supply will be. I have a pretty big workbench, and since I only occasionally use it – I can replace that workbench (and old dining room table) with this neat unit:

Husky rolling work cart

The KY6R “KWS-1 Special”

My next idea antenna wise at my Orinda house – what I’ll call the “KWS-1 Special” . . .

My 40M phased vertical array is literally down in a ditch – next to a creek. It outperforms all of my expectations in a way that seems to be too good to be true – but its the one thing in life that lives up to (actually exceeds) that old anachronism (if its too good to be true it probably is . . . ). It exceeds my 60′ dipole by 10 dB to ZS6CCY – and Bill gives real signal reports. Cool beans – with radio – there is still some “magic” left in this forlorn, felaheen old world.

The Collins “Gold Dust Twins” – the KWS-1 transmitter and 75A-4 receiver . . . Photo courtesy of WA9WFA …

40M Vertical Array next to the creek

So – now that my neighbor is cutting down the wretched (but very tall) Monterrey Pine – (just like my other neighbor did after I made HR with SV2ASP/A and another clandestine 40M dipole up 70′ back in 2011-12), so now I have only one remaining place I can fit a killer 40M antenna and get it up at good 7 – 10 feet higher than my lowly phased vertical array. I can have a side fed loop above my house.

The side Fed 40M Loop is a killer DX antenna

I’m not sure if its a mono bander, because it models very nicely on 80, 40 and 30M. My UrbanBeam covers 40 – 6M, but is a bit too low on 40M – however its great on 30M and above.

EZNec says on 80M its an excellent antenna . . . 

Also awesome on 30M. I will need an antenna tuner for sure. . . 

It is a broadband array, and it is oriented in the two directions I need for my favorite DX (East and West). One thing I can do is try it and test it against my 70′ 80M vertical and my DX Engineering DV-40-P 40M phased vertical array. I even hve two trees on my property that I can use to hang it from. If its a barn burner, then I could use two Rohn push up masts at each end of the house.