What made you choose AM?

Discussion in 'Amplitude Modulation' started by N6YW, Aug 15, 2019.

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  1. N6YW

    N6YW Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    The Grand Daddy of all voice modes. It's old and to some archaic, but to us
    it's "Angel Music" or any other symbolic term we coin. I know this much,
    judging by the amount of posts by members here, the love for, and the amount
    of effort brought forth for AM is undeniable.
    I'm very curious as to what brought you to this venerable mode, so please
    indulge us. Be as verbose as you like, hell write an entire manuscript if you like,
    just do it. I think it will become an awesome thread and the subject deserves the
    very best treatment.
    This is one of the very reasons I started this forum to begin with, so let it fly.
    Your audience awaits!
    Billy N6YW Billy N6YW AM is King.jpg
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  2. K9ASE

    K9ASE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

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  3. N2DTS

    N2DTS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mostly the sound quality.
    I started out in the 70's when used tube stuff sold dirt cheap at fests, most was AM.
    I like playing with tubes, I learned a lot of practical tube electronics on a $10.00 DX100, it worked, was stock when I got it, and looked like almost new.
    I could not afford a new Drake or Collins setup, and ssb died early with me, CW was fun and cool, but ssb was dull.

    The first 20 or 30 years was trying to get a transmitter to sound the best with (hifi) audio, then added home brew to get
    plenty of reliable RF output.
    Now I am much more interested in clean, not wide, and the designs to get tube stuff there.
    In my book, almost all 'ham' gear is crap, if its not, its too tight to play with inside.
    Broadcast stuff belongs in broadcast stations, and its too huge and heavy to bother with.
    Mil stuff is mostly ugly and its often not very clean sounding.

    Homebrew is fun, so I have done that.
    The scene is fading though, not many home brewers or even AM operators like there used to be.
    Mostly just a bunch of old guys...
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  4. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Easy to explain! When I received my General Class license in 1959, AM represented well over 90% of the phone activity!

    Every since then, I have had at least 1 transmitter capable of AM. I don't operate AM all that much, but I do have a fair number of transmitters that are, or can easily be, connected to my antennas and put in operation in a very few minutes. For HF, the following transmitters are on my main operating console: One of the last 5 WRL Globe Champion 350A (according to Leo Meyerson a couple of years before he died) made, a Heath DX-100, a Hallicrafters HT-20, and, I don't really use it for AM, a TS-440SAT. On my Heath original "twins" operating position, a TX-1 Apache. Available, but not on any operating position, a Heath DX-35, a Heath MT-1 Cheyenne, and a WRL Globe Chief 90A with the matching SM-90 screen modulator. For VHF a Heath VHF-1 Seneca, Heath HW-30 "Twoer", an Allied / Knight TR-106, Gonset Communicator I, Gonset Communicator III, and a Gonset Communicator IV.

    Virtually all of my receivers can receive AM. However, depending on how I "feel" at the time, I generally use one of the following receivers: For HF Collins 75A-1, Collins 75A-2, Collins 75A-3, Collins 75A-4 (with 8 kHz filter), Collins 51J-2, Collins R-388 (51J-3), Hallicrafters S-85, Hallicrafters SX-100, or Heath RX-1 Mohawk. For VHF the receiver in the AM transceivers or numerous receiving converters into one of the HF receivers.


    Glen, K9STH
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  5. W2VW

    W2VW XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The technical ability of others who were active on AM at the time.
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  6. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I didnt have any choice in 1956 when I got the General. After a DX-100 disaster I settled in with a Viking I that was bullet proof and idiot proof., The RX was a HQ-129X with a BC-453 and Heath QF-1. By 57 I had a Central Electronics 10A along with some base modified 1625's to get my feet wet on 20M SSB AND at the same time built an AM KW amp with stuff hauled out of Mitchel AFB thanks to the MARS program.

    Joined the USN in 59 and by 62 was tearing up 20M SSB with a shipboard Collins URC-32 running lots of phone patches and a fair amount of ragchews. I was hooked on Donald Duck .

    By 64 I was a civilian (but still in the Reserves) and picked up a HT-37 since it was a phasing rig which meant great audio on SSB with AM thrown in. Using the NCL-2000 prototype (I was a Service Tech at National by then) that cost me $20 which helped all modes. A year later I got a deal on a one owner CE-100V right in the same town I lived in and I still use that rig, the same NCL-2000. And a 75A4 I modified the H out of so it worked well, Collins knew very little about ham requirements until the 75S3. AM was a small part of my life then but I never dropped it; 10M was often very active with it.

    By 67 I had my own home on 8 acres in NH, 2 towers and included homebrew transverters or TX/RX separates for 50 -432 MHz where AM still ruled. Another NCL-2000 prototype was converted to 6 and is also still in use.

    Ive long since replicated most of my 1957 station including the PP 250TH's modulated by 810's BUT I soon took the easy way out and started using linears on AM; some commercial and some homebrew. The only thing remaining with plug in coils is a pair of Hallicrafters HT-9's; a prewar black one and a postwar gray one and those are going on the market soon.

    Ive already posted a list of most of my hollow state gear a couple of times so wont repeat; suffice to say it is rather extensive and really needs to be thinned out. At 78 I dont feel like lugging them up and down the basement and attic stairs as packing to survive will be a major PITA. I just passed on a nice HT-20 lead from a forum member after days of thinking about it!
    Probably going to be kicking my ass by next week:eek::rolleyes:

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  7. KB2FMH

    KB2FMH Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I played with crystal kits from Lafayette, Heath and Radio Shack in the '70s as a Boy Scout (where I learned code and semaphore) and found it fascinating. When my grandmother gave me an old Zenith TransOceanic i got hooked as an SWL and loved the way those distant stations sounded as they drifted in and out.

    Into the early '80s now and I was enjoying radio via citizens band in the car on trips to the country. I soon set up stations at home and at the country house in the mountains. All were using AM despite SSB being a useable mode on the radios. I liked the sound and was thrilled that my voice could be heard far away. I was using Johnson Messengers, Sonar and Browning radios, all Tubes and crystals.
    I soon made a friend who became my radio buddy and we found some Ham gear that we ran on the chicken band (Drake B twins). I put an old Moonraker 4 on my mother-in-law's roof and talked all over the globe with the twins, above ch. 40 or below ch. 1.
    I then found an L-4 and boy, was I talking! So much so that I would come through phones, TVs, toaster ovens and one time a neighbor said she heard me in her son's mouth while he had his night brace in - imagine that...

    I then was lucky enough to find an KWS-1 / 75A-4S combo for a mere $400 and then the fun began.
    Needless to say Uncle Charlie was on to me and visited several times with threats of confiscation. My wife at the time would tell them the shack was the kids room and they couldn't go in as they were sleeping. She denied any radios in the house even though you could see that Moonraker from blocks away (it was up 30 feet on a two story house in Brooklyn).

    My friend Sal and I decided that we'd better go legit or loose our equipment. It's 1985 now and we found a guy who gave us our Novice test over dinner at his house. Nothing like tapping brass and stuffing your face at the same time. He got KB2FLM and I got FMH. He was witty so I became "Find My Hat" while he was "Fun Loving Man".

    Not liking the limitations of that level we quickly got General so we could "Talk" again, with our now fancy Ham gear and of course, in AM. I found any info I could from locals or friends of them on how to beef up the audio in the T-4XB and KWS-1.

    I then picked up an Apache / Mohawk set and played with those for a while before giving them to my friend Sal - they were just too big and I liked how the Drakes sounded over them and the Collins.

    When I really did have kids I drifted away from radio (first one in '88, second in '90) so by '91 I was not on the air at all. I put the twins and a TR-4 back in the boxes and stored them at the country house until 2016 when I got the bug again after seeing a Drake for sale on eBay while just perusing for no reason but to kill time.

    I learned my now Ex had tossed the radios (it was he family's country house) so I found another set, but had to get licensed again after lapsing out by 2007 after renewing once in '95. I found a local club and tested through to extra over a few months (easy without the code) and was soon hanging wires on my present roof of 7 stories on the waterfront in Brooklyn. I was so happy when I learned my call was still available and quickly got it back as a vanity (It's who we are, right?)

    Soon, I put up two yagis, a few verticals and more wires while gobbling up any Drake radio I could find. I decided that I liked the 4 series and gave away a TR-3 to a friend who helped me put the yagis up. He was in heaven. The reason I didn't like the 3 was it sucked on AM! It was a job to use it in that mode so I focused on 4 line twins and TR's until I saw a TR7 so I got one of those, which turned into three, with L-7s and every other accessory. I found the internet had a trove of info on these radios so I was able to tinker with the modulation output to get what someone called BBC quality sound from the B twins (the C line just can't get close). I became such an eccentric that I had to give each set, twins and TRs, their own Drake amp so now I have a Drake for each band complete with legal limit amps. I once drove an L-4 so hard in AM that it was hitting over 1400 on peaks until the tubes exploded and the PS burst into flames under the desk. That was an adventure I didn't want again so I learned how to upgrade the PS's and backed off on the drive a little.

    As an aside, I found a nice Viking II / 122 at a hamfest in '17 and grabbed it, then found a very nice NC-303 to go with it. I converted the T/R switch to PTT via mic plug and that was fun for a while until I stumbled upon a Thunderbolt to complete the heavy metal position. I don't use those much after moving them to the side and focus on the wall of Drakes (my friend's term) because they are easier to operate, especially since I don't have to change bands on any having one on each, 6 through 160 including 17 and 60 (yes, I Talk on 60 meters, but ssb only per the rules). I especially get a thrill on 6 meter AM with a TR-6 at about 180 + peak mod output. It's rare, but there are people out there on 50.400 who answer in AM. No 6 meter amp since Drake never made one and I simply cannot mix brands.

    In the early part of my re-birth I sought my old friend Sal, excited to tell him I am back on the air but was saddened to learn he went SK in 2011 from some congenital heart thing. I went to visit his widow, who happened to be the sister of my sister's best childhood friend, only to find he had stayed active until passing. his basement was a Ham's dream - radios everywhere in all forms of repair or modification. His old B twins were there, the Heathkits I'd given him were on the bench as were some old Collins 390s and dozens of other assorted radios and test equipment. There was even a set of Kenwood Twins, the 599s, new in the box still unopened. I told his widow I'd help her sell them if she wanted but she declined, as they were very well off with his becoming a doctor after we lost touch. I bought a tile at the ARRL Diamond Club garden in his name and gave her the certificate in respect and every year I participate in the AM rally with the call W2A (A for AM) in his honor.

    Overall, I find Am the most enjoyable mode to listen as well as talk. I love the way the envelopes look on the scope
    I use an old Calrad 500C mic which I find the best for my voice after trying dozens of different mics and processing devices. With just the Calrad on a custom boom mount with a reflector to cathe the air that passes and send it back, the radios out-talk anything I've heard on the air.

    I am on a slight hiatus right now as I fight with my coop board about liability of the antenna garden so I set up a small station at a Scout Camp in the Catskill Mountains which I operate on weekends. There are some old coots up there who like 160 meter AM which I found while doing the last AM rally from the camp in Feb of 19.

    For me, AM is the mode of choice for talking for pleasure. I wish some of the DXpeditions would use it but they don't seem to care about anything but the number of Qs they get. I did get a Belgium station on 15 AM during the last rally though so that was exciting for a while.

    Thanks for reading if you made it this far,

    James, KB2FMH
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  8. W4KJG

    W4KJG Subscriber QRZ Page

    My answer is the same as K9STH's first sentence in his post above, except I was a couple of years behind him. My first sideband rig was a homebrew DSB transmitter. My first SSB rig was a Heathkit SB-10 connected to my Heathkit DX-100, which was a wonderful AM rig.

    I just wish I still had the old Astatic JT-30 microphone I used with all my old AM rigs.
  9. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I tried to operate AM once around 15 years ago using a plastic radio and I guess I got into something in the neighborhood and someone didn't like it because the next day I found my feedlines and antennas vandalized. After my parents both passed away I had more radio time but it was boring running plastic radios and a leenyar. I remembered how when I was a new ham, all the experienced hams I knew had benches, shops, and knew how their gear worked and did their own repairs. There was no "my rig broke and I sent it to the vendor for repair." I wanted to be the kind of ham who could fix his own stuff. Coincidentally I tried AM one Sunday morning about 10 years ago and liked it. I liked the challenge of transmitting and receiving at a level that made it enjoyable, the challenge of the duty cycle, and I liked the hams who operated AM. And, I could sort of understand and troubleshoot the gear and I like tube equipment. That was a time when big plate modulated tube rigs were still the way to go for QRO AM. The solid state rigs are better now but 10 years ago they were still kind of touchy for ham bands. I realized I had found something that had everything I was looking for in ham radio.
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  10. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Same here. I used to have one and gave it to a friend. Now the blues harp folks pay $300 for one. :rolleyes:
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