Final Homage to a wonderful pair of homebrew rigs from the 50s

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by W7UUU, May 15, 2014.

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  1. W7UUU

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

    I came into this gear today - saved from the dump it would seem. Alas, it was not
    well stored over the decades and rats or mice have had their way with much of the
    wiring underneath - many connections have been eaten away and without documentation,
    there's really no way to set it right again....

    But as one final Homage to the builder, I set it up in our study today. The XYL kindly
    let me use the study desk as if it were a 1950s/1960s shack (she's a ham too so cool
    about such stuff!). I arranged it as it might have looked back around the time it was
    built - late 50s to late 60s - no real way to tell (dymo labels on the left unit could be a clue).

    The thermometer and coffee coaster were inside the "station console" - surely must be
    part of it, so are in the photo.

    The rig on the left: 28.000 to 29.000 10m CW/SSB transceiver with full VFO control. No
    power supply.

    Above that: Station console - clock and speaker remain - where my QSL is taped there
    was something - no idea what - just some holes. Used my card to make it look nice.

    Center: 80-40-20-15-10-10 ... the fact there is no 11-meter band dates it post 1958
    when we lost that band. Above is the matching power supply, complete with 11-pin
    Heath/Collins style plug. The supply is very beefy - I should be able to resurrect that
    part of the rig - it was spared from the rats/mice. Transmitter is SSB as well as CW
    and uses an ARC-5 VFO with a full heterodyne chassis to address all the bands.

    Right: Knight Kit receiver I added just for looks. Surely whomever built this rig used
    a VASTLY superior receiver - it's just what I had on hand.

    I added: D-104 for the transmitter, as well as my 1974 Novice logbook, homebrew antenna
    tuner, and keys.... just to make it all look "right" for one last photo. But the thermometer
    and coffee coaster were original - and now are in my shack in use :) I was going to include
    an ashtray - the builder clearly smoked (EVERYone did back then it seems!) but chose not to...
    the rigs have ancient nicotine abuse evident.

    I'd love to know more about the original builder - W7BJW (at least as the 10m rig is labeled)\
    but as we all know, calls/vanity calls go through many changes over the years - I'm quite sure
    it was NOT John Watson (technician class) who built this rig.

    It's future? Probably parts.... VERY heavy. NOT operational and not likely to ever be again.
    ZERO documentation... and no idea if it ever worked as it appears - yep - it's probably a parts
    supply for my many homebrew projects, as much as I hate to say that.

    But I just wanted this station to have "one last hurrah" and live in infamy on the internet.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    N7ANN likes this.
  2. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just because the transmitter doesn't have 11-meters on it doesn't say that it is post 1957. The 11-meter band was never very popular for a number of reasons including being third in line behind r.f. heating and diathermy as well as not being harmonically related to the other HF bands.

    When the FCC started making inquiries about creating the Class "D" Citizens' Radio Service, the ARRL tried to get some activity on the band to "prove" that amateur radio operators actually used it by having a contest on 11-meters. The participation in the contest would have to have improved by at least a hundred times to even get to the level of dismal!

    When the FCC first created the Novice Class license, those operators were restricted to 50 kHz on the 80-meter band and to the 11-meter band. It was not long before the FCC deleted the 11-meter band and gave Novice Class operators privileges on 80-meters, 40-meters, 15-meters, and 2-meters because there was basically no real operation on the 11-meter band.

    Glen, K9STH
  3. W7UUU

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

    Thanks Glen - there's other clues too though. Printing on filter caps and other things - aluminum
    panel, the dymo labels (Dymo was founded 1958 which was AFTER hams lost 11 meters), the
    overall appearance of the parts - I've seen LOTS of home brew gear from 50s 60s and 70s so
    I'm pretty sure this dates to around 1960 - 1970 at the latest. MAYBE 1958 or 1959 but I
    doubt it.

    Either way, it'll all never be on the air again - the rats did a number on a bunch of key areas
    and with no schematic or anything else to go on, not much can be done but save the parts.

    Going to try very much to save the power supply though - it's very much intact - just needs
    to be recapped and possibly new tubes. Would make a very nice boatanchor bench supply.

    Sure looks sweet on the desk though :)

  4. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is so cool, a jewel from the past, no doubt there is a little of the builder's soul in that project as always the case. Thank You for sharing that bit of history.
  5. KJ4VTH

    KJ4VTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    My Dad labeled lots of stuff with Dymo labelmaker in the mid 70s. He passed some years ago and your photo brought back some fond memories.
  6. W7UUU

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

    Thanks Sue - I very much feel the same... to the extent of at least setting it all up in our study (XYL
    approval even!!) just to give it one last "hurrah" to the original builder. No, it'll never run again (if it
    ever did - but I strongly suspect it did!!) - and will end up a treasured parts supply for an avid
    "old school" home-brewer (ME!!). But I just thought it fitting to let it live on here, in a setting
    befitting what it might have been back around when I was born (1961).

    I might add - all the cabinets match - all handmade and quite expertly. I won't dispose of them,
    but store them in case I should build a project that could benefit.

    Wife says "leave it up this week - that's nice - someone's grandpa/Elmer built that stuff"

    I agree.

  7. W0AAT

    W0AAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Now that is a project I would be interested in bringing back to life. Draw a schematic of sorts and try to match it to a Handbook...
  8. W7UUU

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

    Going to try - actually been doing just that based on front panels, functions, etc. and not finding
    anything in my library that matches. I have a strong feeling this is true home-brew. Nothing
    looks like anything I've seen in my 40 years - not like an HBR-16 or Lew McCoy transmitter from
    a ham fest at all - this is pretty alien in all my years of playing with homebrew stuff.

  9. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    With one of them being SSB you might look for a couple of vintage books.
    Single Sideband for the Radio Amateur by the ARRL
    You also might look for early editions of The Radio Handbook.
    You might find clues that could lead to restoration or at least the origins of the design.
  10. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    The multiband transmitter looks like a version of the "Sideband Package", which appeared in QST and in the ARRL "Single Sideband For The Radio Amateur". There were a couple of versions of it - the original was a filter rig, and then there was a phasing version. The giveaway is the ARC-5 receiver tuning cap.

    The 10 meter rig looks like nothing I've ever seen.

    Do not be surprised if they are all original designs, or heavily modified versions. A lot of us have built stuff that was not a copy of anything in any Handbook or magazine. And they may still work!

    Take and post more pics!
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