Begali HST III Switchbox

Begali HST III Single Lever Sideswiper Key

It’s quite ironic that my 1958 built Collins KWS-1 taught me a lesson about Morse Code Keys.

After almost 40 years of being a ham radio operator, I realized that (besides a straight key) the best key for me is the one I have never tried.

The wonderfully strange Begali Intrepid

The Begali Intrepid is a Single Lever Sideswiper as well as a bug – it’s strange but a truly genius key.

I tried it’s bug mode, but did not like the way bugs work after (erroneously) using a dual lever paddle. I have been slapping dual lever paddles if they were sort of like a bug. I have never done squeeze or iambic keying and never will. Two strikes – against a bug and a dual lever paddle. Enter the “Cootie Key”. My sending is exactly suited for the Single Lever Paddle.

Project enclosure

I will build a little box with a rotary 1P4T switch so I can switch the HST III between four rigs – the KWS-1, IC-7300, NorCal40A and Red Hot 40.

Mike, AB3AP used a 2P5T switch

I’m really looking forward to the Begali HST III – I am sure it will be the “logical conclusion” to this 40 year search.

The Dystopia of Our Times

The 1930’s are one of the most intriguing times for me. The world was changing politically, socially and technically, and it truly was the best of times and the worst of times.

The Soviet Union was rising as was Nazism and other evil empires. Isolationism and other forms of fanaticism were on the rise.

The Great Depression was still felt but things were getting better economically. New factories churning out assembly line cars and other products en masse. Unions formed to try to head off worker exploitation.

Street cars had not yet been replaced by the automobile.

Some of the most amazing new products hit the scene, radio for sure, but with rapidly advancing technology, the same applies to many other products.

Art, literature and fashion was quite amazing in the 30’s.

In re-reading Brave New World and 1984, they seem to both chronicle and warn what would happen in the future. The dystopian angle surely was influenced by what was fantastic on one hand and frightening on the other. Imagine assembly lines and the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany rising and that seems to be the real Crux behind these stories.

I wanted to see if the 1930’s were anything like what we are going through today. I had been worrying about Russia interfering with our democracy. I have been thinking how installing a happless incompetent president who constantly distracts the American people would be the perfect Trojan Horse that could then be used to bring America to it’s knees.

Naw, could never happen …

Art, Science, Travel and History

The Train Still Came to Newton During the KWS-1 Heyday

I love this map – its the train line that went from Chicago to New York City – but it passes by every place I have lived back east – Newton, NJ, Lock Haven, PA and Fairport, NY (Rochester). The train stopped coming to Newton in the mid to late 1960’s – and I clearly remember the old train station was part of “Urban Renewal” – that stupid time in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s – where they decided to tear down historical buildings and put up the cheapest, ugliest buildings in their place.

The Collins KWS-1 was already replaced by the KWM series rigs which made Collins famous in Ham Radio circles.

I like putting a time period in perspective by considering what was going on and what was in peoples minds – Art, Literature, Science and Invention, and Travel all combine to tell a very rich story.

Streetcars Used to Crawl All Over The East Bay

I have been taking BART to work most of my life – MUNI and BART when I lived in San Francisco – and BART since moving to the East Bay in 1994. I have a much closer affinity to urban and suburban forms of travel – especially trains – since getting rid of my car 2 years ago – yes – its hard to believe – I haven’t owned a car for 2 years. Last weekend, when I rented that Grand Caravan – I realize that I can rent something anytime I want.

So, yeah, how people got around, what art they were seeing, what music they were listening to – and with what technology all combine to fill in a lot of gaps and add artifacts and detail that you just can’t get reading a single history book.

40M Antenna A-B Testing

The DX Engineering DV-40P phased vertical array

Before I take down this vertical array, I will take some A – B measurements. I will establish a baseline between the UrbanBeam at 34-ish feet and the phased vertical array. Once the AB-577 gets the UrbanBeam up 5-55′, I will take new measurements – between the phased vertical array and with the antenna higher.

The areas of interest will be W1AW – since I listen to the CW Bulletins nightly with a goal of becoming fluent with “ear only” copy. The other area of interest is ZS.

TEST 1: W1AW – 7047.4 CW 0327 utc

DXE – S8, with quite a bit of static QRN
UrbanBeam at 34-ish feet – S8-9 with less static and QRN

Conclusion – tonight and with a station only 3000-ish miles away, the UrbanBeam wins – because even though the signal is about the ame on each, its just easier to copy on the UrbanBeam.

I2VRN – 7.198 SSB – DXE wins by 1 S unit and its just easier to copy

Test #1 Conclusion – UrbanBeam is fine for more local work when its only up 34′.

TEST #2: 7.163 DX Group – Miami, FL area 0825 utc (both ends of the circuit in the dark)

DXE – S9

UrbanBeam – S7

Test #2 Conclusion – not sure what this means – I’m kind of surprised, actually . . .

TEST #3: DF2BO at 0322 – ESP on both, but better on the DXE.

Test #3 Conclusion – this makes perfect sense – the lower angle is at play here

The prognosis (so far) is that getting the UrbanBeam up in the 50-ish foot range will equal or surpass the phased vertical array.

One thing that is most interesting is that the low angle aspect of the verticals is noticeable on certain paths. It’s impossible to tell how low an angle works in my bowl QTH and what is getting cut off. I suspect the EU signals would be stronger if I were on flat ground for miles our or on top of a small Hill or rise.

For W1AW, the lower yagi consistently was better several nights in a row. If I ever were to chase County Hunting awards, some days I’d have the AB-577 lower and for EU or ZS, higher.

I2VRN was in the grey line at his sunrise – the West Coast has about 1+ hours before sunset

TEST #4: I2VRN – S7 on the DXE – but at least 2 S units are noise. The UrbanBeam is S5 – but no noise, and Q5. Its not too much of a surprise – especially given we are getting into the summer noise . . .

3D2CR at 0637 utc – they were in their grey line at sunset – its as far as most of EU

TEST #5: 3D2CR – DXE – F/B (S5 in NE dir – S6 in SW – which is 3 dB – totally on spec)

UrbanBeam – S6 – so even a low dipole does OK

TEST #5 Conclusion – OC-PAC is easy from the West Coast on any antenna – including a wet noodle

Gold Dust Miner

In the last 6 months I’ve made several treks to the Northeast of Orinda – Gold Dust Territory!

Its perhaps a coincidence, but the Gold Dust Twins and now the AB-577 had me travelling to the Northeast. In fact, the succession had been the 75A-4 in Pittsburg, CA, then the KWS-1 in Sacramento proper and the AB-577 – a lot closer to Lake Tahoe than I had anticipated – I was almost all the way to Blue Canyon. Definitely “Gold Dust / 49er” territory for sure.

Squaw in the Lake Tahoe area and Mammoth in the Southern Sierras are still open for skiing!

On my way back, I was up on a ridge above Auburn, and I looked to my southeast and saw beautiful mountains just covered in snow. I also read recently that Mammoth Mountain – quite a bit south will be open for skiing until August – which is just amazing. I’m pretty sure what I saw was the mountains in and around Kirkwood and the Dardanelles. California may be criticized for a lot of things – but it is still a beautiful state – with a ton of interesting things going on. Much of the complaints and grousing really is the price of success – I have lived in places back east where it was a ghost town – where everyone moved away, not to as they have California. The Rust Belt . . .

My family moved here in 1979 and I followed in 1982, and while I think its unfortunate that its a state that is too expensive to retire in, I respect that so many have come to California to find their fortune – and its an echo of the Gold Rush Days – where so many came to places in and around Auburn, CA (especially Sutters Mill in Coloma – very close to Auburn). In fact, when my kids were in grade school I was a chaperone and stayed over night at Sutters Mill (epicenter of the Gold Rush) – it was really awesome. I could feel ghosts of those who had “Gold Fever” way back when. My favorite story is how Levi Strauss was smart enough to sell supplies to those with Gold Dust Fever – especially his famous “Dungarees”.

I think I have eliminated the possibility that my KWS-1 was used in the 1955 SAC SSB tests – due to the fact that mine was built in 1958 – after these tests would have taken place. But it could have been used at Mather or Travis AFB.[w3my_russ].pdf

Anyway – California may have gotten overpopulated and has its share of problems, but it has also provided a good living for so many – so I think I’ll respect that sometimes maybe you can be the victim of your own success.

I’ll stay thankful that this Computer Science college graduate from Lock Haven State College ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a lot like those Gold Dust Miners who ended up here looking for their fortunes in 1849.


The 2019 KY6R Antenna Plan: Simplify

My old dual band Moxon on an AB-952 Military Mast

This picture (above) looks more like what the UrbanBeam will look like on my new AB-577 than this Monster:

DXU-32 on AB-577 – up 55′

While I am not in any rush, I will soon put up the AB-577 and take down the 40M phased array and the 80M vertical – leaving just this one support. The new 80M wire antenna will hang from the new mast and act like guys in 2 directions.

This means I will have 80 – 6M covered and 20 – 6M with gain.

Since there are 4′ weeds all around my DV-40P phased vertical array – I’ll swap the ALM-31 with the AB-577 and add the new 80M ladder line fed inverted vee as one of the highest guys. I’ll weed whack and take down the 3 verticals Sunday.

I will still keep the ALM-31 – since it could be used for a bunch of things, and is a keeper. The UrbanBeam did turn out to be the perfect antenna – and getting the antenna up so it plays as well as my DV-40P on 40M will be fun.

WTB: Three AB-577 Extension Tubes

55′ is the best “Nominal” height for the UrbanBeam for 40 Meters

This time around, I will have a SteppIR UrbanBeam on top of the tower, also without a rotator – and I will rotate the antenna from the base manually. I have found that pointing the antenna in one direction – for weeks or even months – works like a champ. The standard kit (which I picked up yesterday), has 8 tubes – because I don’t use the “carrying cage” as the last extension tube, the height overall is 40′. I do have a 6′ double walled aluminum mast that I can attach to the top,  so even if I could find 2 extension tubes, I could get the UrbanBeam up 55′ – which is a very good (lowest) height for a 40M horizontal antenna. The gain, takeoff angle and pattern aren’t that much better at 60′, so even if I can only find 2 AB-577 extension tubes – that would be fine.

On 20M, at 55′ the takeoff angle is quite low – 15 degrees

I looked at 30M and 20M and they both benefit quite a bit from the height going from 34-ish feet to 55-ish feet. So, that’s the plan. I will keep the ALM-31 because it should fit any neighborhood I move into when I retire – not sure about the AB-577, but I will avoid CC&R’s and HOA’s like the plague when I retire. My parents had the “HOA Police” on then about the cut of their lawn – which I thought was disgusting – HOA’s and CC&R’s can go shove it. I have none of that here – I made sure of that when I purchased my house.