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AM Phone-- The Slight Return

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by W1YW, Oct 13, 2014.

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  1. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    On 12 October I witnessed something I had not heard since 1966: a huge DX pileup on AM.

    Now AM has and always will have its stalwarts . To some it never went away. Like most hams, I use it rarely, if ever. My purpose is to report an interesting recent revival of AM, shown here by example, and to suggest why it is justified.

    The DX pileup was for well known US op K1KW. Chuck normally uses a FLEX 5000 transceiver, and he certainly does get on AM on more than one occasion. But today he brought up a classic AM system--I will not be a spoiler--you can listen in to see what he uses.

    Chuck is as modest as he is an excellent engineer, and his 4 antenna directional array may provide one of the strongest AM signals on shortwave, given the demise of most BCB SW AM stations. People noticed on ten meters and within minutes he had a huge pileup of AM stations from Europe calling him. I listened in awe. Pileup. DX. AM. Wow!

    What makes this newsworthy is the rarity of the pileup--you never hear(literally) anything like that on sideband--and Chuck’s AM quality.

    What is apparent on AM--excellent quality AM-- which is absent on sideband , is presence. You don’t just hear words, you hear the style and vocal ‘body language’ of the operator, the ambience of the room, the immersion into a friendly and personal space. How many of us can say they have experienced that as hams?

    Chuck is one of several skilled ops who have lovingly brought back AM. But appropriately--not bullying away sideband spectrum on 20M, but placing it in uncongested phone slots. And those who called him obviously shared that belief that this is worth saving. They were extremely experienced engineers. They didn’t have to use AM but chose to.

    Should we be formalizing and recognizing this place for AM on the bands? Surely its time to acknowledge that AM , when done well, has a ‘cool’ factor that is both appealing and educational--very little analog RF gets taught these days. Sure, there is a nostalgia aspect, but unless you were first licensed in the mid 1960’s or before, you never could be part of it. Now there is a time to let have AM have its voice. Your thoughts?

    Chip W1YW
  2. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    This sounds exciting! The parts for a nice 10 watt AM rig to drive the ol' amp are in my bins... just need time to get going on the project. I'll gladly share the design/build here when it gets going (probably early next year because my "inbox" is over full right now!) Working on 10M where congestion isn't as bad seems like a good idea. Knowing that there will be people around to talk to when it gets up and running is a motivator.
    Chris KD2ACO
  3. K7KE

    K7KE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I was on AM in the early 60s. Forget the nostalgia. It's inefficient and takes up too much bandwidth. de WA6OHJ
  4. K9ASE

    K9ASE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    There's another station out there that works a lot of 15m AM. His Call is VE6CQ
    His audio is amazing. You only need to hear him once then you'll know him the next you the next time you hear him.
  5. W6UDO

    W6UDO Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's really cool!! I have a good buddy back in San Diego who gets on 75 meters with a group of hams who are really into high quality AM. Joe Walsh (guitarist for the Eagles) is one of them, in fact. My buddy operates with vintage gear, old tube, rack-mounted boat anchors. A real fun evening for me years ago was helping him test out an old phone-patch he'd just repaired. I got to yak with him and another ham in AZ by land-line.
    K6QQQ...sure it takes up bandwidth, but so does FM and ATV. It's not like everyone's gonna read this and the HF bands will be clogged with AM stations. As I always like to say, ham radio has something for everyone, whether it's nostalgia or cutting edge.
    Vy 73, all...Joe
  6. ZL1API

    ZL1API Ham Member QRZ Page



    AM would be a great cheep way for newcomers to ge into ham radio. They could even build there own transmitter. I've been there and done that.

    73s, John
  7. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I respectfully but strongly disagree. When I got into this hobby, that's what I wanted to do. Time and money are why I ended up going the SSB route.
  8. KF5EN

    KF5EN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Collins Collectors Association holds monthly AM nets on the first Wednesday of each month. Although the net primarily caters to Collins Radio operators, all hams interested older radios are welcomed. Frequency is 3880 kHz at 7 or 8 pm in each time zone moving from east to west:
    7:00 PM-8:30 pm Local East Coast Time
    7:30 PM-9:00 pm Local Central Time
    8:00 PM-9:00 pm Local Mountain Time
    8:00 PM-9:00 pm Local West Coast Time
  9. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    FWIW, I have a DX-60A on its way to me for the sole purpose of firing up on 40/75 this winter
    and checking in to the several PNW AM nets. It's a mode I've wanted to use since the 70s and
    nostalgia being what it is for me sometimes, this winter I hope to give it a go.... D104 and all :)

  10. KX5JT

    KX5JT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    So is SSB, everyone just use CW. See where I'm going with this? This is a hobby to enjoy. There's plenty of room on the bands now. We are in a sunspot peak and the bands are open, but there's always plenty of elbow room. If people like me love to run old school tube gear and we run a clean signal, regardless of a larger bandwidth, then we have the room to do it and the right. de KX5JT
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