In Praise of the 50KW Powerhouse Ham Stations

During the periods that  I’m active on the bands, I spend most of my time on 7030 or nearby, occasionally scanning down to the bottom of the band at times when there might be a bit of DX to listen to.  Sometimes 40 sounds good, sometimes not so good, but it seems that W6JL is always there, sending very good CW with perfectly readable signal strength. Whatever the condition of the band, W6JL’s signals will be peeling out of the noise, clear as a bell.

Obviously, the title of this post is not factually accurate, but Don”s signal is the closest thing to the ham equivalent of the 50,000 watt powerhouses on the AM broadcast bands at my QTH.  It helps that he’s in Southern California, only a few hundred miles south of me.  He’s not running legal limit power – 550w according to his QRZ entry from his all-homebrew station. Whatever his antenna is, it’s probably pretty high and in the clear. It’s not just his strong signal at my QTH that makes him stand out, it’s the fact that I hear him most every day that I’m listening on 40.  He’s nearly always on, and his QSO’s are not the cookie-cutter type (which I have to confess is my style).  He is so comfortable with CW as a form of communication that he ragchews at consistently decent speeds.  Don sends so much CW so regularly that his signals are the nearest thing to an AM powerhouse broadcast station in my neck of the woods on 40m.

As a QRP op who spends much of my time on or around 7030, I have a strong appreciation for the variety of interesting CW sigs I hear there.  They vary from 599+ to the rather fascinating 319c signals with odd-sounding modulation on the CW note that always makes me wonder just who the signal belongs to and what kind of homebrew concoction it’s coming from. But there’s room for everyone on the ham bands, and there’s nothing like an ever-present signal from a fine operator to show the rest of us what we can aspire to if we keep pushing ourselves with the code. In fact, as I write this, I am hearing him on 7034.

Thanks Don – and for readers of this blog, who is your local powerhouse operator?

Edit: Cam N6GA just e-mailed me with a link to a page that gives interesting information about Don and his homebrew DDS station with a phasing-type direct conversion receiver. You can view it here. Thanks for the info Cam. From the article, it looks as if he is using a 2 element beam on 40 on that tower.  EDIT:  There is an updated version of the page about Don’s station here.

4 thoughts on “In Praise of the 50KW Powerhouse Ham Stations

  1. Nice post. I don’t hear boomers as much as the casually cool ragchewing masters on CW. Since I’m also hanging out on 40m at night, the conversation turns a little more national than regional—and I’m just happy to hear stations a little farther than neighboring states. I still get a bit of a thrill hearing 6’s and 7’s from here in W9 land. It’s always been that way.

    Sometimes, the difference between ordinary and wonderful is the simplest turn of a phrase. Even a casual ‘nice to meet u’ or even relaxing the standard RST/QTH/Name to something like, ‘ur booming in 5NN to Milwaukee, Wi es im Danny on the J37’. I dunno, seems like I might have tried to be different.

    As a kid (and future DJ and program director)–I would DX AM radio at night from my home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and when WLS or SuperCFL would fade in and out on skip–perhaps I was being trained to listen a little harder for a 5w station in Yuma. Even then, with the music pretty much the same, it was went on BETWEEN the records that made the bug bite me.

    With CW–it’s more than RST/QTH/Name/Rig/WX. Yawn. The beauty is when someone drops in some personality in the space of a few lines.

    I wandered off topic a bit. My point, love a nice strong signal–but MORE loves goes to the ops who can COLOR that QSO.

  2. Agreed Danny. During my DJ days, I think I became pretty good at being a presenter, but I am nowhere near being able to color my CW QSO’s with personality yet – still working on the basics.

    Perhaps we’ll work each other on the bands one of these days,

    73 for now.

  3. He’s not really a blowtorch here, but I think one of my favorite stations to hear on 40 meters is JA1NUT. It seems like you can hear him just about every morning from the West Coast, unless propagation is just terrible. He’s definitely a fixture of the bands for me.

    Jason NT7S

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