Saturday, December 24, 2016

Me In Full-Geek Mode c.1967~1968

A high-school buddy of mine on FarceBook found this photo of me and posted it.

The ham gear is the Heathkit "SB Series" I built, consisting of the SB-301 receiver, the SB-401 transmitter, along with the SB-600 speaker, SB-630 station console, and HD-10 single-lever keyer.

The receiver had the optional 400Hz CW filter, and the transmitter had the optional "crystal pack" so it could operate as a stand-alone transmitter. If you didn't install the optional crystals, you were locked to the oscillators in the receiver. You could operate "split" or slaved together in "transceiver mode", but the transmitter couldn't operate by itself without the heterodyne crystals installed.

The box with the large meter to the left is the control box for my "HAM-M" antenna rotator, which was installed in my 70' fold-over tower that I bought used and refurbished.

The antennas in use were a Hy-Gain 402 2-element 40 meter Yagi at 75', and a Hy-Gain TH6DX about 10' above that.

Yep, I put out a pretty BIG signal, and then added about 10dB more when I built my dual 4-100 amplifier.

The receiver has my Renwal "Visible V-8" kit on it.

This is down in the basement of "The House I Grew Up In" back in Joliet, Illinois, and is before my Dad's buddy, Master Carpenter Al Poole, built the beautiful L-Shaped desk/console for me along the back wall, and down the left side of the picture for about 6 feet. I can't pin down the exact year for this as I don't remember when the desk was built.

I don't remember which one of my Dad's buddies did the electrical work, but I had him install  a 220V/25A circuit and outlet for when I had my linear amplifier finished. I knew I couldn't get enough power from a 110VAC outlet to be able to run a 1000 Watt DC Input amplifier, so the 220 outlet was a must.

Here's a shot without yours truly in the picture, showing the 220 Volt outlet directly above the transmitter:

The "Visible V-8" was one of the hundreds (possibly more) of model kits I built over the years, along with the "Visible Man", and the Monogram P-51 Mustang that was molded with a clear skin, and has numerous changes over their silver-skinned version of the same model.

I used to drive my poor Dad nuts every time I built a Monogram WWII Navy plane, and asked him if "I got it right"!

Took me a while to understand that my Dad was a SeaBee, and while it technically qualified as being "In The Navy", he never served on a carrier, knew very little about Naval Aviation in WWII, and the only time he spent on ships was going between islands in the Pacific on his way to build the next airstrip, bridge, base, hospital, and all the other stuff the SeaBees did.

As far as the Visible V-8 was concerned, it was a pretty neat kit, with little bulbs for "Spark Plugs" and a "working" distributor to light them up at the right time.

I was always jealous of the Visible Chrysler "Slant Six" that my best buddy Joe had.

His model actually had real metal screws to hold the connecting rods together, and as I recall, piston rings you had to install on the pistons! How cool is that!


  1. Oh, wow. I had a Visible V-8. That's the only thing I recognize in the pictures. :)

    Merry Christmas, Jim.

    1. Yeah, but you're not a "Radio Guy"!

      Merry Christmas, jed.

  2. Wow. When I first got interested in ham radio it was around then, and the Heathkit catalogs were better than Playboy. I could look at them for weeks. I dreamed of having an SB-301/401 station. Never did get one.

    Didn't become a ham until right after Christmas of '76, though, with a HW-16 & HG-10B VFO.

    1. I was first licensed in the Fall of 1964, and got my General just before Field Day 1965. My Novice station started out with a Hallicrafters SX-146 and a 6C4 triode oscillator (crystal controlled!) driving a pair of 6L6's. I built the transmitter out of parts I salvaged from TV sets. I don't recall what the plate voltage was, other than it being higher than the handbook stated.

      Then I "upgraded" to a Heathkit DX-60, a Christmas present from my parents.

      My Novice antenna was a 40 Meter Inverted Vee with the center at about 35', and the ends up off the ground about 8'. I also had a salvaged 10-15-20 Meter vertical ground-mounted with three copper 8' ground rods and a few radials buried for each band.

      The SB series, tower, rotor, and antennas came after I passed my General.

  3. Merry Christmas.
    2 elements at 75 ft. on 40 with a kilowatt. That was a powerhouse. Do you recall how many countries you worked with it?

    1. On 40? Not too many! I was active then during Cycle 20,, which was an "OK" cycle, but nothing like Cycle 19, the granddaddy of them all during "The Radio Era".

      I remember working KH6 (Hawaii), and a few German powerhouse stations, but I really blasted out on 20 Meters with a kilowatt and the TH6DX at 75'.

      I think I worked about 80~85 countries (confirmed), and had some rare ones. The biggest kick I got was working VR6TC, Tom Christian, on Pitcairn Island and getting a QSL card from him. When I was living in San Pedro I took my son down the street to the L.A. Maritime Museum, and found out they had a Ham Radio station there, and what to my surprise did I see but a framed picture of Tom thanking the guys at K6AA for showing him a very nice time in Southern California!

      And I worked CE0AE on Easter Island and got a card from him, too.

      I always enjoyed working VK/ZL/KH6/KL7/JA from Northern Illinois, but didn't seem to get into Europe very well for reasons nobody local could understand.

      Out here VK/ZL and the rest are pretty easy to get on 40 at the right time of day, but Europe, once again, typically eludes me.

      Maybe it's my voice....

  4. Thanks, LL!

    Are you planning on coming down to the Iowa this coming year?

    It doesn't have to be on a Wednesday when I'm doing the radio stuff, although if you do make it down on a Wednesday I can sneek you down to "Broadway" to see the transmitter room, and show you the electro-mechanical analog Ford Fire Control Computer in Forward Battery Plot.


Keep it civil, please....