The KY6R “Curated” Ham Radio Shack

The New KY6R Ham Radio Operating Position

I have been working on a ham radio shack re-model since about Christmas Time. Part of the deal was getting the Collins KWS-1 RF Deck from W3HM – who did an awesome job restoring it (while I restored the Massive Power Supply). With a small room that is about 8 x 12′, every inch of space was important – and before, I had been wasting that space. Its amazing what happens when you economize and use space effectively – and how long it takes. Its like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle – and the results are something to be proud of.

The first thing I did was get rid of an old Ikea kitchen table – actually – I cut it down to a size where I can use it in front of the KWS-1 power supply. You can see a little bit of it in the lower right of this photo. The second thing I did was add a small workbench on wheels – and framed it with redwood so I could build up a nice electronic workbench. The KWS-1 and power supply also slide right in between that and my operating table – and where no wires get pinched or pulled. That’s important – especially because one wire is 2000 volts!

I also added a Geochron 4K with large screen TV. Its hilarious that I bought a TV so I can dedicate it to a world map / clock, but that’s how I roll. No binge watching mind numbing TV shows for me – I’m way too busy doing stuff hands on – with mind engaged. Even when just goofing off and relaxing in the shack – I’m at least dreaming – my “inner dialog” is my TV show – heh heh. I do come up with tons of “What if?” questions – and while maybe 20% of these lead to something, that’s pretty good in my book. The point is – you need time just to relax and “muse” a bit – its a form of meditation, and its always fun.

I moved the electronic parts organizers to a new framed in shelving unit above the bookshelf, and added lighting there. The only last thing I need to do now is build a steam punk style lamp for a little additional lighting.

I have a 4 position antenna switch – where the SW-3, IC-7300, one QRP rig (NorCal40A or Red Hot 40 are used) and Gold Dust Twins can be switched in. The really, really big deal is the Begali HST III – I still cant get over what an epiphany stumbling on that idea was / is. Its changed the way I send CW – and for the better. I can now switch it between the IC-7300, QRP rig and Gold Dust Twins – with the new switch box that I built. The Collins 75A-4 is such a joy to listen to – I use it to copy the nightly W1AW code bulletin in my head.

After I build the steampunk lamp – which will most likely be attached to the wall behind the laptop on wall monitor, I will take some decent pictures using my wide angle lens and decent lighting.

My shack is now “curated” – every piece and every inch of the shack has a purpose and everything fits like a glove. I can experience a different aspect of ham radio and electronics “Making” that covers different time periods:

+ 1931 Regenerative Receiver (National SW-3) while listening to KPIG AM on 1510 khz

+ IC-7300 – SDR technology

+ 1990’s QRP Technology

+ 1958 Collins Gold Dust Twins technology

I also use the shack as my home office – to write blogs and sometimes do work – work. And lastly – I can build and test and repair gear when I need to.

Out in the Back 40, the UrbanBeam and Diamond W735 work the Etherial Magic, all from one single and tall support.

Radio Nirvana?

Oak Hills Research WM-2

Oak Hills WM-2 QRP Wattmeter

One of the most interesting things that has happened since October is how I have re-invented myself from avid DXer to CW QRO and QRP enthusiast, but with a full on living history twist.

It’s not based on a nostalgia kick, but it is nostalgic. It’s more like keeping some old traditions alive, and celebrating the past, but not as a collector or sniveling angry “kids these days” point of view, but more as a “technology archivist”. Think Computer History Museum, but with an even more hands on, working bent. Maybe KPH or Alameda’s California Historical Radio Society – two places I really have to get to, and soon.

The two QRP rigs that I have, the NorCal40A and the Red Hot 40 are 1990’s QRP Classics, and they are very serious rigs that have a sound and “feel” all of their own.

Because most wattmeters just don’t cover QRP power levels very well, it’s time to have a meter for this purpose.

Luckily, I also have dummy loads that can handle much more than 5 watts, so as far as alignment and testing, I’ll be all set up.

Inverted Vee’s and DX-ing

The Inverted Vee (in Green) pales in Comparison to other DX Antenna Options

No surprise here – my Diamond W735 80/40M trapped dipole – configured as an Inverted Vee and with the apex up 45′, pales in comparison to my UrbanBeam up 50′. On 40M, the UrbanBeam is a folded dipole – and as expected – both in the EZNec model as well as from my reading – the Inverted Vee is more of a local – or (at best) short distance DX antenna when used for DX.

With stations in VK-ZL, the UrbanBeam up 50′ delivers a solid S9 signal and the Inverted Vee peaks at S7. With a second (weaker) VK station – he is in the noise on the Inverted Vee and Q5 copy – or S5 on the UrbanBeam.

My W735 is intended and planned just to get me on 75M for a couple of nets that I check into – and due to its higher take off angle – it is doing a great job for that purpose.

The HST III Switchbox

The HST III Switchbox – drilled and just needs to be wired. I left space at the top in case I want to add leds to show switch position

When I get home after work and the gym – I will wire up the HST III Switchbox (left). Over the weekend I finished my big Summer Antenna Project – moving the UrbanBeam from a US Towers ALM-31 to an AB-577, and gaining 20 feet in height. I also took down the DXE DV-40-P and 80M vertical and hung a Diamond W-735 40/80M coil loaded Inverted Vee from the tower – and where it acts as a set of guy ropes and also gives me 80M for nets and 40M as a backup to the UrbanBeam.

Now I am onto smaller projects. The Antenna Project required driving to Colfax to get the AB-577 (and renting a van), tree trimming and weed whacking – so I would have a decent work area – taking down and putting up 2 towers – so it was a 3 full weekend project. I was able to d it by myself – and it was hard work. Now I can concentrate on smaller fun projects like this switch box and a Steampunk Lamp I am building for the shack. Once these are done, I can get back to tinkering and fixing the KWS-1 for good and also using my test equipment on Maker and Maker-Ham projects. I can also play the guitar a little more – that was slightly disrupted due to this big project.

This HST III switch will switch the HST III between the IC-7300, the Red Hot 40, the Norcal40A and the KWS-1, so its a simple project with huge value. I just can’t go back to a double lever paddle now that I have the HST III – its really that good.

I’m very busy at work and I hit the gym on the way home just about every day – I’ve lost 6 pounds in 2 1/2 weeks (which won’t be sustainable in the long run), but I do expect with my trainer – who is kicking my butt – that I will finally lose the weight I’ve been struggling with for some time.

Its all good – and the days just fly by when you are busy from sunup until sundown.


3Y0I: Bouvet in November 2019

The DX Rebels are Going to Try Bouvet Again in November

There isn’t much going on DX wise for me anymore, but I still get excited when I hear news of another attempt at Bouvet. Who knows – maybe we will get some Glorioso news some day too – preferably when the sunspot cycle swings up for Cycle 25.

Maybe I will make my 3Y0I QSO with the Gold Dust Twins?

It will be cool if I can use my Gold Dust Twins – at 700 watts, why not? I won’t even need to borrow someone’s amp or buy another amp – the KWS-1 is a linear amplifier and exciter . . . .

The 75A-4 is plenty sensitive – and now with the UrbanBeam up 50′, I’m again confident I can finish DXCC #1 here in Orinda before I retire and we move away.

SW-3, Brave New World and KWS-1, Brave New World Revisited

The SW-3 and Brave New World were Created in 1931 . . . 

and . . .


The KWS-1 and Brave New World Revisited were created in 1958 . . . 

Its just a coincidence – that the two radios are of the same era as Huxley’s famous book and his musings on that book almost 20 years later.

Brave New World Revisited really clears up what Huxley’s motivations were when he wrote Brave New World. On its own – its a somewhat unsettling account of the future – a “dystopian utopia”. Its not quite as grim as 1984, but they both are a combination of sci fi and poly sci, and they both are brilliant.

What was important to me was to try to get an account of the thinking of the day and era of each radio – what was going on in the world, why were each radio designed and manufactured as they were – that sort of thing.

Reading Brave New World Revisited fills in some blanks and answers some questions I couldn’t really get just from reading Brave New World – in fact – Brave New World opened more questions than it answered, but now I better understand why. Brave New World stands on its own – but I think Revisited really is worth reading – especially if you are re-reading this after many years and wanted to get a little more insight.

Some of Huxley’s predictions about the future were right on – he nailed it in a few areas was back in 1931 – when he was writing Brave New World – and then again when he wrote Revisited. He combined all of the thoughts of the day – Scientific Advancements, the Environment, Medical Advances, Social Mores and ethics at the time, and Political events that both threatened to change the world and what actually did change the world.


I’ve Retired My DX Engineering DV-40-P

The DV-40-P beats the UrbanBeam on 40M when its up only 34 feet on the US Towers ALM-31. but when the UrbanBeam is up 50 feet, beats all others pretty much across the board.

All recently considered antennas – including the Inverted Vee

This has been a great test of multiple antennas, and so now I’ve moved onto the next stage in my ham radio antenna journey.