Building a Dream Novice Station, Kim Johnson, KC0JQH

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by W9GB, Dec 13, 2011.

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  1. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    The January 2012 issues of QST features an article by Kim Johnson, KC0JQH.
    Kim creates a late 1950s Dream Novice station, including the construction of an appropriate desk.

    He used a vintage library of 1958 and 1963 ARRL handbooks, three specific QST magazine issues from the 1957-58 period,
    and the ARRL publication, How to Become a Radio Amateur.
    The receiver and transmitter were from B. Goodman, W1DX articles.

    A very good inspiration for Kim's work was the homebrew work on Tom Nickel, KC9KEP
    Tom's beautiful builds of classic radio articles from the 1920s to present can be found here:
    KC9KEP Homebrew Radios

    Homebrew Work in Progress

    Need a Challenge? How about the HBR-12, 50 years later Still have you steel/aluminum chassis punches?


    Here is his version of Ted Crosby's HBR-12 Dual Conversion Super Heterodyne (late 1950's/early 1960's series in QST)

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  2. W8JI

    W8JI Ham Member QRZ Page

    KC9KEP does great looking work!!!
  3. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    The only thing missing Tom is the "smell" of fresh bakelite ....
  4. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is really nice workmanship.
    Thank You for sharing that.
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Both KC9KEP and KC0JQH do great work. Wonderful to see a complete homebrew station - including the desk! - featured in QST.

    At first I thought "that's not my dream station in terms of rig performance, even for a 1958 Novice". But then I realized that each of us has a different dream.

    So...what would *your* dream Novice station consist of?

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  6. KJ6RMM

    KJ6RMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow are those radios beautiful ! What dedicated work. I will want to show some people what can be done, what the spirit of ham radio meant.
  7. KA3ZLR

    KA3ZLR Ham Member QRZ Page


  8. KB7NRN

    KB7NRN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not sure what a "Dream Novice Station" is supposed to look like but I do know what a "realistic novice station" looks like. (no, it doesn't come from Radio Shack.)

    I put this station together a while back, a three tube superhet and single tube TX. The receiver has a regenerative detector with a crystal controlled LO, aka: Regenerodyne. The transmitter is my push pull 6SL7 based on a 1930's Frank Jones design. The grey box to the right of the TX is a CW monitor. Also not seen in the photo but essential for proper novice operation is a spoting oscillator, actually two oscillator in one box, one 100kc harmonic osc and a xtal controlled spotting osc. I put my tranmitting crystal in the spotting osc to spot the receiver then put the crystal in the TX and away we go. The other item not seen is a double pole knife switch for antenna T/R changover. The receiver has a muting switch, lower right knob. To transmit the RX is muted and knife switch is flipped to connect TX to antenna. To receive flip both switches back. It actually is easy once you get used to it was standard practice for a Novice back in the day.

    Not a "Dream Novice Station" by any means but a typical or realistic novice station to be sure.


    Attached Files:

  9. K5UOS

    K5UOS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You probably get tired of me saying this but I love your HB gear, John. Black crinkle adds so much.

    N2EY posted....I like his HB tube station, too.

    My dream novice station was one with a RX that didn't drift > 50 cycles a minute. My 1st novice station was so bad! I remember the receiver PS capacitor bursting in a geyser of steam and the look on my wife's face. The 33' 40M vertical on top of the house made her really happy, too!


    I missed the January CW part:

    Classic Exchange "CX"

    January 29, 2012 - CW

    February 12, 2012 - AM - SSB - FM
  10. AB9LZ

    AB9LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm back working on my modified simple-x-super, anyone have any experience with using oven cleaner or draino to give the bare aluminum that nice satin sheen? Black crinkle is nice, but the satin is what I remember from the handbooks (and the "how to become a radio amateur" series).

    73 m/4
  11. K5UOS

    K5UOS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I used super fine grit rubbing compound. I bought my plate aluminum from On-Line Metals. They try to send unmarked pieces but there was always light marks or scuffs where the cutting gear gripped the piece.

    I wanted shiny, unblemished face plates so I tried the rubbing compound and it works well.

    I put the piece in the kitchen sink under a trickle of running water while I rubbed the surface with the compound. It takes a while with the really fine grit but refects like a mirror when done long enough.

  12. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Homebrewing a Dream Novice Station

    Here's what I'd do if I could do it all over, starting in the mid-1960s. (Prices are from then, not now!):

    - Operation limited to 80 and 40 CW.

    Receiver: WW2 surplus BC-453 "Q5er" with typical ham mods. Add crystal-controlled converter for 80 and 40, using mostly parts and tubes commonly found in AM BC receivers. Simple 200-250 volt supply on separate chassis to run it all. With scrounging, total cost should be less than $25.

    Transmitter: W1ICP's "65 Watts At Low Cost" 6K6GT - 2x 6BG6G MOPA from QST and Understanding Amateur Radio. Most parts and tubes from defunct B&W TV sets. Total cost less than $25 with careful scrounging.

    Antenna: 80/40 parallel dipole cut for Novice bands. $10

    TR system: DPDT knife switch. One pole shifts antenna hot lead, other mutes receiver. 25 cents

    Headphones, key, test meter, crystals etc. - Mostly surplus or homebrew.

    Desk: Old flush door on two old wood filing cabinets.

    I figure the whole thing could be done for less than $100.

    I've built the rx, and it is much better than any simple/inexpensive rx of the era. Still pretty good today. No drift, solid mechanical construction, calibrated dial, good selectivity with the IFT rods pulled up. IMHO the only reason anybody struggled with the low-cost receivers of those days was because they didn't know the BC-453/converter trick. I only discovered it after I upgraded.

    The transmitter is a good basic design that uses common parts of the era. Being a MOPA it is a bit more complicated than the one-tube power oscillator rigs, but has the advantages of being easier on crystals, easier to get a chirpless T9X signal from, and running more power. Plus, when the cherished upgrade came, it could be easily driven by an external VFO and/or modulated for AM.

    The "65 Watts" rig is a bit unusual in that it runs 2 tubes in the final at relatively low B+, rather than a single tube at higher voltage. This turns out to be a good idea for several reasons: First, it simplifies the power supply, which only has to provide one DC voltage. Second, the pair of tubes has a reserve of plate dissipation which is a good idea for a beginner's rig. Third, the final tubes used were common TV types that cost a fraction of what a 6146 cost - if you even had to buy them.

    73 de Jim N2EY
  13. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    A readily available product for polishing aluminum, stainless steel, brass, copper, or whatever, can be found at most supermarkets. It is called "Bar Keeper's Friend". I use this, along with a toothbrush, cloth, paper towels, etc., to polish all sorts of things. Getting a "mirror finish" is pretty easy without a whole lot of effort.

    Glen, K9STH
  14. AB9LZ

    AB9LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not looking for a mirror finish, one of the older handbooks describes dipping the chassis in lye to give the aluminum a satin finish, my elmer had done this on some of his homebrew gear ( he was a motorola engineer and a master builder ) and the effect was spectacular. I'm going to try it on a sheet of scrap alumninum this afternoon with some draino, I'll let ya'll know how it goes.

    73 m/4
  15. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've done it. The effect is pretty nice, but IMHO not worth the effort.

    I used only pure lye crystals, not Drano or other chemicals.

    But if you want to try it, here's how (from 1967 ARRL Handbook):


    1) Thoroughly clean/degrease/dry aluminum items to be finished. It is a good idea to drill and deburr all holes and make all bends before finishing. Also a good idea to test the process on a few scraps before trying it on an expensive chassis you've spent hours drilling.

    2) Make up etching solution in a plastic container using 1/4 to 1/2 can of lye per gallon of cold water. Mix lye into water, not the other way around. Stir until dissolved. Use rubber gloves, eye protection and old clothers; the stuff is nasty! Make up enough solution to totally immerse the items to be treated.

    3) Immerse items to be finished in lye solution. Allow to bubble 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on solution strength and finish desired.

    4) Remove items from lye bath and rinse in cold water, removing black deposit and cleaning all corners.

    5) Spray with light coat of clear lacquer or other protective finish.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
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