My First-Ever QSO -- 50 Years After Passing Ham Test

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by G3EDM, Aug 27, 2021.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Such as?

    "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.

    But that's the way to bet."

    All the more reason for high standards.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    G3EDM likes this.
  2. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    For a couple to start, think one-time uber-famous DX'ers involved with bogus DX'peditions. Both acknowledged first class CW op legends.

    Example 1 ... Example 2

    Regarding use of "code readers" etc., certainly there are plenty of "Bogeymen" hiding behind keyboards these days in all sorts of forums :p

    But in the case of the mysterious inquiring caller that perhaps both Martin and I encountered, it seems NOT so, unless they programmed a PC very well to imitate a somewhat sloppy paddle-fist as can be heard at 1:35 toward the end of this clip.

    I am supportive of appropriate "standards" for modern amateur licensing and using Morse code, my favorite radio mode. But IMO simply having that knowledge & skill does not entirely make nor is absolutely required for someone to be a conscientious good radio operator.

    73, John, WØPV
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
    G3EDM likes this.
  3. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, that sounds mightily like the fellow/lady I came across but I am pretty new at recognizing "fists". Of course when someone does not ID, it makes it pretty hard to nail them down short of deploying D/F. (Or perhaps there are now sophisticated digital tools to ID non-identifying stations??).

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  4. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm on the air, calling CQ 40m, with the newly power-optimized transmitter. It is probably a coincidence, but: today RBN is showing a moderate but noticeable dB increase in my signal. However, CONDX seem only "fair" here and so far, my signal has not been spotted by North American skimmers.

    Fun fact for @SM0AOM. The Electron-Coupled Oscillator circuit that he recommended, and that I ended up building, was largely taken from the Eico 720 crystal-controlled transmitter. This was a fun Novice rig that could go right up to the then-limit for Novices, 75W plate input, and a bit beyond (the panel meter had a little red line to warn you if you went over the limit!).


    Well, my crystal collection was purchased about seven years ago from a U.S. ham who was "downsizing" his collection of vintage gear. That included his Eico 720 and its accompanying crystal collection, stored in a U.S. military crystal case. I bought the crystals, but not the Eico 720 (in keeping with my rule that everything must be homebrewed).

    (Random Eico 720 photo found on the Web.)

    Well, on quite a few crystals he had stuck a label on the back, with a handwritten notation of the "true" transmission frequency. With the "Boosted Pierce" oscillator this was way off (about 1.5 kHz). But with the new ECO, those handwritten frequencies are often right on the money. It's almost as if these crystals have found their home again....

    By all accounts the 720 was a decent piece of gear, unlike some of the other ham equipment that Eico marketed such as the "Drifty-Three" transceiver.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  5. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been diligently chasing E7BOSNIA for the past day.

    This morning, they have a strong signal calling CQ on 7022.0.

    But I am still not sure about the protocol for these "special event" stations. I started out answering the standard way:


    But listening to other stations, it seems the answer maybe should be different and much briefer, something like:



    G3EDM 5NN

    Confused. So far they have not answered me, probably because I'm QRP and inaudible there, but maybe it's just a question of protocol?

    (Yes, I know I already asked this question but that's quite a few posts back now. I'd love to "bag" this one to add to my entity count.)

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  6. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    A few years ago, I was given an Eico 720 by old friend from Uni, SM6GXV.

    It had been salvaged from the "junk heap" at the Onsala Space Observatory, where it had supplied some ISM frequency (a crystal for an unmentionable frequency band "just south" of 28 MHz was fitted). A general "clean-up" and the restoration of the pi-network made it work again on more legitimate frequencies:).

    A NOS Mullard YL1370 (6146B) was located in the tube inventory and with silicon rectifiers replacing the elusive GZ34 (which audiophools pay more for the tube, than the transmitter usually is going for...) it became possible to load the 720 to slightly more than 100 W input on 80 and 40 m.

    The note is somewhat "clicky" but not worse than many other contemporary rigs...

    G3EDM likes this.
  7. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Uses a 6146 for final, and so does the Heathkit DX-60, which has a similar power output but adds an AM modulator. I'll find some time to study those schematics.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  8. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    @SM0AOM: There is some evidence of frequency drift after the latest power improvements. The frequencies reported by RBN for a particular crystal are now in a + or - 100 Hz range. Also, the crystals can feel a bit warm after sustained use, but that may be only because they are being warmed by the oscillator tube not too far away.

    Probably only on-air reports will clear up whether there is any problem. For sure, it is not how it was back in September when one of my crystals drifted by a full kHz during a QSO. Also, even before the power improvements, RBN frequency reports could vary but usually not quite as much as now.

    It is notable that when I peak the power using the new power meter and with the new, optimized setting of the tune and load controls, the grid drive ends up being substantial: 3 mA or more on some crystals, and more than 2.5 mA for all of them. In contrast the screen/plate current on the PA is pretty steady at about 45 mA over a fairly wide range of the tuning control around the power peak.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  9. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You may have some interaction between the oscillator and PA, which influences the feedback amount in the grid-plate oscillator circuit.

    You could decrease the screen voltage of the 6AH6, and/or decrease the 22 pF capacitor between grid and cathode to make the oscillator somewhat easier on the crystals.

    But if you cannot hear any "yoop" , there is no apparent risks for crystal damage or drift. The RBN frequency measurements are influenced by the received SNR and should be taken with a "grain of salt" regarding the decimal values.

    G3EDM likes this.
  10. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you. Right now we have 150V on the screen and 258V on the plate. By swapping some regulator tubes and adjusting resistors if necessary, I can lower the screen voltage if necessary, and/or change the capacitor.

    However, I've conducted several QSOs under the new power regime and so far there is no concrete sign of trouble with the signal. Best "let sleeping dogs lie" unless firm evidence of trouble emerges. I am pretty sure that the high grid drive is a factor in that nice power peak that I'm getting now that the Load control has been optimized. If I look at the grid drive meter, and the output power meter, in tandem, they move in lockstep when approaching that power peak on the Tune control.

    I cannot monitor my own signal locally because both of my receivers are regens. What I will try to do is use the Web remote-recording system that you suggested to me in the past. It works quite well, as long as I do it during a relatively quiet time on the bands.

    Also: in the current setup the oscillator runs continuously during transmit. Even back in the "Boosted Pierce" days that made a huge difference in eliminating "yoop".

    Ideally of course, I would query my contacts during QSOs, but my Morse copy skills are still very poor unfortunately. I am now likely to do some supplementary "taped" QSO drills when I am not on the air.

    The commonly voiced idea that simply "getting on the air" will automatically improve your Morse skills just hasn't worked for me (sorry, @WB2WIK).

    I suspect that stopping the "taped" drills after I went on the air three months ago was a mistake. It must be something about how the 64-year-old brain functions when learning a totally new skill. What is true is that my operating skill has improved immensely, allowing me with some ease to bluff through a QSO and catch RST, NAME and QTH ... but not much else. That is, in part, because it is fairly standard procedure to send the aforementioned items several times, so I get several chances to copy them! But then the QSO gets under way in earnest and it gets really hard.

    Of course it is also linked to the relatively low rate of QSOs with my QRP, Xtal-controlled station and its regenerative receiver: it is hard to practice when you only get a few minutes a day of actual conversation. I am, however, pretty good at copying callsigns by now, with the huge amount of listening that I do!

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021

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