I’ve worked W7QQQ 3 times now over the course of 4 nights, and each time has been a pleasure. Jack is a retired engineer who lives in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and is an accomplished homebrewer. However, in this case he’s not whipping together small solid state rigs and fitting them into Altoids tins. There are no surface mount devices or printed circuit boards in Jack’s projects, because the home brew station that he used in our QSO’s consisted of a one tube regenerative receiver and a one tube transmitter. You can see a picture of his homebrew station here on his QRZ listing. There are also some pictures of his station here on Flickr. When we were chatting, he had the output of the one tube TX fed to a pair of 813’s in grounded grid. He gets about 500 watts out this way, and his signal sounded great at my QTH in Oakland. What was pretty cool was that I gave him a solid 59, and he was hearing my 5 watt sigs at 57 on his regen receiver!
Jack’s crystal controlled TX operates at about 7050.5 KHz give or take a few hundred cycles. One thing I love about his transmitter is that it has it’s own distinctive sound. The note has a great timbre, and occasionally a bit of chirp creeps in; when that happens, you’ll hear Jack key down for a few seconds and retune to stabilize the note. Listening to him tune up and getting ready to call CQ, I thought to myself that this must have been what the bands sounded like 70 years ago – the majority of operators rock bound on their own frequencies, operating transmitters, each with their own distinctive sound. I don’t know how to explain this, but I’ve really enjoyed listening to him work stations on 7050 these last few nights. Even if I’m not decoding his code; if I’m doing other things and letting the CW float around the room as background, there’s a magic and romance to the sound of the CW notes from his one tube rig making their way the 800 miles to my apartment in the Bay Area.
This evening when I heard someone key down and send QRL? on 7050.32 I knew who it was. Before he even had a chance to call CQ, I called “W7QQQ W7QQQ de AA7EE AA7EE AA7EE KN” The combination of knowing what frequency his crystal controlled transmitter operates on, and knowing the sound of his TX helped me recognize his signal before he had even sent his callsign. I think the amateur bands must have been a very warm and friendly place back in the 30’s and 40’s. We chatted back and forth for just under 45 mins, mainly about homebrewing, before I mentioned that hot chocolate was calling me and I’d need to say 73.
If you haven’t QSO’ed with Jack before, listen for him a few hundred cycles above 7050 in the evenings and give him a call. He’s great to talk to, and a knowledgeable and generous conversationalist.