Shack Shelving Upgrade

The new shelves to the left of my Ham Radio operating position

The upgraded shelving above my electronic workbench

Apologies for the low lighting and poor photography, hopefully you get the idea.

As you can see – I moved the parts bins from the electronic workbench at the right to the new shelving that is just to the left of my computer and wall mounted big screen above. Where there were parts bins in this photo – now there is test equipment ….

This all started because of the accidental vintage Gold Dust Twins station – which stressed my stations floor space to the max.

But it has turned out very “FB”, and everything has it’s place.

I had so much fun restoring the KWS-1 power supply and then getting the transmitter on the air that I wanted a serious electronics work and test bench.

And now I have that!

K1EL WinKeyer SMT Kit Review

The WinKeyer USB Kit

The WinKeyer USB is superb – it is powered from my laptops USB port and can be used with two rigs – so when I get the Begali HST III – I won’t have to plug and unplug between the ICOM IC-7300 and the Collins KWS-1. I will just turn the internal 7300 keyer off an use the WinKeyer.

Its simple and effective – I made a mistake and put the push buttons on the wrong side of the board – and K1EL sent a new set of 4 and I just cut the leads short and soldered them on the other side – and it works like a champ. As far as it being a kit – because the components are SMT – the only thing you solder are the connectors. Don’t make the same bone head mistake I made!

You can download the manual, the test and config software, and it even works with my Ham Radio Deluxe software – although I will have to dig in a bit to figure that out.

This is one of those products that has an “elegant design” – it does exactly what I want it to, was reasonably priced, and is convenient in every way in the station.

KY6R 40M Bobtail Element Supports

I just realized that with the three aluminum elements – I will need to keep it to the classic broadsided Bobtail

This center element will be fed against ground

The dual feed idea is great – but support wise – because its 140′ wide – I will need to guy the end elements – the center might need a few guys as well – all Dacron 3/16″ UV protected rope, and the DXE resin guy rings.

One big benefit will be that I will no longer need my Ratpack or DXE DV-40-P control box in the shack – I can replace them with my two QRP rigs, which I haven’t had room for on my operating table.

Oakland Key Line

The Oakland Key System branched out covering the East Bay.

Key System Street Car

The system covered the Town very nicely.

Flat Iron building in Oakland? You betcha …

Two 40M Half Squares with Variable Phasing

Two 40M Half Squares fed in a variable phasing configuration

Just for laughs – I decided to take that old “Mod Bob” idea that I had a few summers ago and see if that feed system might better apply to a true Bobtail Curtain – full size. It does seem to be the case. The above diagram would feed two half squares in the center, using the two Collins 180S-1 tuners in the “L Mode”:

Collins 180S-1 antenna tuners at KY6R . . .

Two Phased Half Squares with 90 degree phasing adds up to 2 dB over my DXE DV-40P system.

I checked the 180 degree phasing – and its the same as the DXE DV-40P. The cool thing is that I could phase this system using “variable phasing” – or phase angles in between 90 and 180 degrees – and sure, the pattern can get a bit weird – but it opens up the idea that with two tuners and 4 stepper motors (L and C on each leg, each fed against a ground rod) – I will have a lot more flexibility – PLUS – the ability to run this antenna on multiple bands – something the DXE-40_P can never do. Just retune each 180S-1 remotely.

The antenna can be used on 80M and 30M with decent patterns and gain. Its even decent on 160 …

OK – very soon – I will be re-purposing the three aluminum elements that I have – and will make this 140′ wide beast. It will require weed whacking and tree branch trimming – the perfect Summer project.

My neighbors 60′ cedar tree just snapped and fell this morning, reminding me of how temporary tree based antennas are. I’ll use three aluminum masts with a top wire connecting each.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the KWS-1

The Begali HST III

Totally by accident, and because the KWS-1 doesn’t have a keyer built in, I tried to go the “nostalgia route”, but all roads led to failure – until yesterday where the “logical conclusion” in this journey ends up with a Begali HST III sideswiper “Cootie” key – more on this below.

Speed-X Prototype – manufactured where Twitter’s HQ is now

First, I thought, OK – lets try a bug. I haven’t used one since about 1976, and yuck – I hate it – I just can’t go back.

N3ZN Paddle with Hallicrafters TO Keyer

Next, I tried the TO Keyer with a modern paddle. Yuck – another FAIL. I hate the cadence of this old keyer.

Begali Pump Key – now we are talking

I made my first KWS-1 QSO with this straight key – and while it was nostalgic and fun (a keeper) – it will be reserved for special occasions (Straight Key Night).

The Begali Intrepid – a “happy accident”

Totally by accident – the Begali Intrepid is two keys in one – a bug – when you really have that itch – but better yet – a “sideswiper / cootie” single lever key.

OMG – using it as a single lever sideswiper is the shit. Why in the world have I been buying dual lever paddles all these years when I hate “squeeze / Iambic” keying?

N3ZN dual lever paddles

I will keep my N3ZN paddles, the Begali Intrepid and straight key. The problem with the N3ZN paddles is that their base is small and I usually have to hold the key down. I am a “slapper” Keyer – a bad habit from my bug days.

K1EL WinKeyer USB

Since the WinKeyer USB has outputs for two rigs, I’ll use it for the KWS-1 and the IC-7300 and use the Begali HST mostly. I’ll reserve the N3ZN keys for use with my portable QRP rigs – the NorCal40A and the Red Hot 40.

I will also use the Begali Intrepid as a sideswiper key – maybe as my IC-7300 key. I have to try various combinations to finalize what gets used and where, but one thing that has happened to me since getting the QRP rigs and the Gold Dust Twins is that CW is more than ever my concentration.

CW in many ways is one of a handful of reasons to stay in the Ham Radio Game.

KLX: Oakland Radio and the Key System

I work at the 19th Street BART stop – literally above the station – and its very close to the 12th Street BART stop – where the Tribune Tower is located. 

Its fun to know that there used to be a radio station with antenna hanging from the Tribune Tower

500 watts when KLX was owned and operated by the Oakland Tribune

I can imagine listening to this station on my SW-3 in 1931. By the time the Collins Gold Dust Twins were manufactured, the station was about to change hands and become KEWB:

Now when I look at the Tribune Tower, I’ll imagine that big fan wire antenna hanging from building to building.

The Key System Street Cars – that must have been really great back then . . . 

Besides old tyme radio – I also love the old street car lines in American cities, Here is the logo for that railroad:

The Key System did go near our house in Oakland – and if we move there and I ride my bike to work, I’m guessing that I will be riding along that old route – streetcars would travel along the flattest path possible, and from the map above, travel along East 14th Street would have made sense.