Dave Richards AA7EE

June 3, 2011

The End Of A Good Relationship – FT-817 Up For Sale

Filed under: Amateur Radio,Ham Radio,QRP — AA7EE @ 11:24 pm
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I haven’t owned that many rigs in my amateur career which is surprising, as I’ve been licensed since 1978.  There was the 2M FM VFO-controlled transceiver designed and built by a local amateur, who was also a regular contributor of technical articles to the RSGB’s RadCom. He gifted it to me, and it became the first rig I owned. I won’t mention his name though because whenever I transmitted with that rig, I also unknowingly emitted spurii on the input of the local police repeater. Luckily the gentleman from the police department who drove up to our house, putting the fear of God into my 15 year-old heart, was also a licensed amateur. I was given a stiff warning and solemnly promised not to transmit with that radio again. Shame really, as I received reports of beautiful audio (probably because the signal was as wide as a barn door.)

Then came the Icom IC-22A, which my Dad bought for me from a local amateur (thanks Dad!) I later swapped that with Steve G4GXL for his Trio 2200G, used it for a bit and then sold it to buy a Palm II 2M HT. 2M FM was a very active and friendly place in the late 70’s/early 80’s and although my time would probably have been better spent on the HF bands (or testing the limited of VHF propagation on SSB and CW), my teenage self just wanted to pick up a mic and blab away as much as possible. Somewhere along the line an old AM Pye base station full  of vacuum tubes was converted to FM and pushed into service to access the local repeater.  I did spend a glorious few weeks with the Redditch Radio Club’s HW101 in my bedroom.  Not sure how I convinced them to let me borrow it, but lots of fun was had working all over Europe.  Around that time I built a QRP 80M DSB rig, and with the 80m dipole situated just 15 feet above ground, didn’t work very many people with the very few watts of DSB it put out, but was fascinated by the simple concept of it’s direct conversion receiver, which worked very well.

I’ve probably left a few out here and there, but those were the rigs of my early amateur career, after which I left home to attend University, then moved to the US, and except for a few short-lived returns to the world of amateur radio, was largely inactive for around 20 years. (Edit – I just remembered an FT-415 HT in the late 80’s and a TS-520 in the mid 1990’s – funny how these rigs came into and left my life!)

Then came the FT-817. I bought it in 2002 whilst in another phase of getting back into amateur radio and it just so happened that the sunspots were pretty good then. Long story short – I worked all over, on many bands with the 817. I took it to work and operated 10M on my lunch break, worked into Oscar 14 with a set-top whip (and later an Arrow Antenna), and had all kinds of fun on SSB with a Buddipole set up inside my second floor apartment in Hollywood. I’d also take it on regular trips to Canada and check into the 10-10 net from Calgary in Alberta. More recently, when I decided I wanted to try WSPR, the 817 rose to the task, and alongside a couple of kit-built rigs, it helped me when I decided to get serious about the code a couple of years ago. It has been a fun do-it-all rig for me.

But now I want to sell it. The initial trigger was the announcement of the upcoming Elecraft KX3. Indeed, I may well purchase one after it has been out for a few months but for the time being, I like the idea of not having a commercially built rig in the shack at all.  Jason NT7S is making headway with his new kit transceivers and I hope to build one for 40M and another for 20M. Along with the Tut 80 and the Norcal 2N2/40, I’ll then have coverage of 80, 40 and 20. Who knows – if I work enough DX with those rigs, I may not even want a KX3 when it comes out 🙂

The initial plan was to put the 817 on eBay, but those sellers fees are looking a bit excessive, so it went up on Craigslist last night (hey, you never know), and then I’ll try it on QRZ.  Not sure if there are any other forums that are good for selling amateur radio gear, but eBay will probably be the last-resort course of action. The price I’m asking may seem a little up there, but it has both 300Hz and 2300Hz Collins mechanical filters as well the BHI DSP module.

It’s going to be fun living just with gear I soldered together myself!

November 7, 2009

Old QSL Cards – My Life As A G4

I just got back from a trip to my home country to see family. The trip was brilliant – I got to spend time with my Dad, my brothers and sister-in-laws, as well as one of my nieces, her husband and their daughter (my grand-niece.) It was a really enjoyable trip. The main reason for the trip was to see my Dad, who is now in a care home.  The family have been clearing out Mum and Dad’s home (Mum passed away a year ago), which was a monumental task for them; I am eternally indebted to them for that. Amongst the things that they unearthed was a small collection of QSL cards from QSO’s I had while licensed as G8RYQ and then G4IFA in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The overwhelming majority of the contacts that I had in this period were on 2 meters FM for which very few QSL’s were sent or received, such is the nature of this band and mode, and unfortunately, my logbook from this period seems to have disappeared. All I have to remind me of QSO’s from this period are my sketchy memory and a handful of maybe about 100 QSL cards.

I’d love to have had QSL’s from some of my elmers and other notable locals with whom I communicated frequently on 2 meters, but usually with QSL’s you tend to seek cards from the distant and exotic stations and don’t bother to seek a QSO confirmation from Bert who lives down the road from you.

Even so, there were a few interesting ones in the bunch. There was this one from my first ever CW QSO, with UO5OBC in Moldavia:

I enjoyed looking at the QSL’s from the old eastern-bloc countries, as well as the USSR.  The design of the cards seems very evocative of that particular time and place in history:

They like their bears in Russia:

There were some QSL’s from countries that don’t exist any more:

I even found a copy of my first QSL, which I thought I would never find again.  The drawing was done by my eldest brother Martin:

Then I found a QSL which confirmed something that has been in my head for a while now.  A few months ago I signed up for a twitter account, and use it exclusively for ham radio twitters (in case anyone wonders why I never twitter things like  “New Beatles remasters sound amazing”, or “crank shaft on bike completely shot”.  I steer well clear of political comments also.)  One of the folk who subscribed to my twitter was G4GXL.  I remember thinking his callsign was vaguely familiar.  He wasn’t well known to me, but I had a feeling that I had met him before.  When I saw this QSL (with nothing filled out on it, meaning we had eyeballed) amongst the other old cards, I knew my hunch was correct; we had definitely met:

So Stephen, I’m wondering if you remember under what circumstances we met? I remember what village we were in, and the reason for the meeting.  My old callsigns were G8RYQ and G4IFA. If you don’t remember (and I don’t expect you to) I can give you a bigger clue which will almost certainly jog your memory.  By the way,  this old QSL of yours was pretty neat!

While I’m on the subject of QSL’s from other British amateurs, here are a couple from a husband and wife team, G4CHD and G4GAJ, Terry and Mary Adams.  If I remember rightly, I met them on 2 meters and cadged a ride to a local hamfest:

On the back of the card from Mary, she has sent me best wishes with my efforts to learn CW (I was a G8 at the time, licensed only for the VHF and higher bands).  I should let her know that after 30 years, I have finally learnt the code.  I got there in the end!

A couple more QSL’s just for fun – this time from shortwave broadcast stations. Happy Station was a show that ran on Radio Nederland for a long time, and Tom Meijer (pictured here) was the longest-standing host of the show.  In the cold war environment that existed in the world at the time, his show was a warm friendly place on the shortwave bands:

and one more for good measure:

Looking through these QSL’s (and the other 90 or so that were retrieved from my parent’s house) makes me a little sad that many of us don’t collect and send out physical QSL’s like we used to. Having these pieces of card and paper in my hand is more interesting and satisfying to me than if I were just looking at a confirmation generated by eqsl or LoTW.

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