1. Helpful tuner-upper
2. The funniest thing that ever happened to me on the air....
3. My favorite antenna
4. QSL Cards through the
5. Early ham memories
6. K5LAD SO2R Setup
7. K5LAD Rotator Correction
8. "I cant work 80
meters, I dont have a good 80 meter antenna"
9. Modifications to the Dentron Super Tuner
10. Good Documentation for the
Dentron MT-3000A antenna tuner
11. Modifying the MT-3000A
tuner for additional features
12. Good Documentation for the Dentron
AT-3K antenna tuner
14. A Simplified View of Roofing Filters
15. K5LAD Logbook Lookup Test
Super-Duper Tuner Upper
What is more irritating that trying to talk to another ham, only to have things spoiled by
a tuner-upper on your frequency? This is the system I use to make sure I don't do
that to someone else.
To make sure I don't cause problems to others when I tune up, I use the system
below. By placing the switch (S1) in the "Tune Antenna" position, the MFJ
Antenna Analyzer is connected through the Antenna Tuner to the antenna. I set the
Analyzer on the frequency I plan to operate, or somewhere close around there, and adjust
the Tuner until I have the lowest SWR. Since the Analyzer is calibrated to 50
ohms, my coax from the Tuner, when adjusted, is pretty close to 50 ohms
I also use switch S2
which allows me to tune up into my Dummy Load, which is 50 ohms. Using the Dummy
Load keeps my signal pretty much within a close area from my station.
At this point, I only
need to turn both switches back to their home positions (both S1 and S2 to Operate) and I
have the transmitter matched to the input of the Tuner and the Tuner matched to the
Actually, my system goes one step further than the
picture shown above. Instead of a manual switch at S1, I use a coax relay from the
"good ole' days." I have a convenient switch directly in front of me to
press and it performs the switching task shown at switch S1. I could also use a coax
relay to replace S2 but did not have a spare when I built up the circuit. It looks
something like this:
Purists and some older timers than me (I'm from the
mid-50s era) will tell you things like, "well I once worked a guy on CW who was 18
miles away while I was using my Dummy Load!" and "that MFJ Analyzer has an
oscillator which can also be heard while you are tuning the Tuner...." and they are
both correct. I have heard Dummy Loaded signals several miles away too.
I also once was surprised that my MFJ 259 was able to key a local repeater while tuning carefully
around the input frequency when I had an antenna attached. It does emit a signal,
although it is quite small.
The plain truth is, however, that if you use a
system like this you sure won't be QRMing an existing QSO.
Funniest Thing That Ever Happened to Me On the Air
The following addition was originally placed in my
"Profile" section in eHam.com. They had asked those who filled out the
form to tell "the funniest thing that ever happened to me on the air
was..........". I told this story, which is all true, and I have received
several email from those who saw it, telling me that they enjoyed reading it. I
figured that I probably should port it over to my web pages too. So here it
|The funniest thing that ever happened to
me on the air was..........
In my earlier ham days, I had lots of ambition but
very little money. My S-40B receiver needed an S-Meter and I had to scrounge parts
from everywhere. You could buy fancy meters which were calibrated in S-units and
some even had pretty, colored scales. A few even had translucent scales which
allowed the user to place a light behind it.
All I had for my meter was a hand-me-down, very
non-linear 50 microamp meter calibrated in some weird scale with the word "FLOW' on
the scale. I use to have great fun in giving S-Meter reports in "so many
'Flows'." I would then explain about how my meter was calibrated and we would
all have a good laugh. I did this for several years until I was finally one-upped by
a ham in Arkansas who had run a large chicken farm. He, also, had used whatever was
available for his radio parts and the only meter he could find for his receiver's S-Meter
had come from a poultry incubator. I gave my reports in "Flows" but he
gave his S-Meter reports in "Chickens per Hour." I couldn't beat that.
He was the winner and I stopped giving my Flow reports.
My Favorite Antenna
If you were to ask most hams about their favorite
antenna, you will probably hear about a wonderful; multi-element yagi that allowed them to
talk with hams all over the world. Or perhaps they will lean back in their easy
chair and tell about a dipole which they placed in a big tree when they were a new ham and
the excitement they received when they first heard their call coming back to them after
calling CQ for three hours.
Some might tell you about some contraption they built
which followed absolutely no rules of physics, electronics, or anything else. What a
thrill they received when someone actually heard them and returned their call.
All of those antenna hold a special place in the heart
of a ham but I wanted to tell you about my favorite antenna. It wasn't fancy, it
certainly wasn't expensive to build, and it didn't even work particularly well.
The time was in the early years after I had gotten
married, had graduated from college and had even gotten a job. As a struggling new
school teacher, we sure didn't have much money to spend on amateur radio but the
excitement of the hobby was intense. I had always wanted to try operating on 144
MHz. and, thanks to my participation in Army MARS, I had a set of military units which
could be converted for 2 meter operation.
The ARC-3 receiver received a homebrew VFO to replace
the crystals and allowed me to hear signals between 100 - 156 MHz...... come to think of
it, I wasn't able to listen to anything on "mega-hertz." I was listening
on "mega-cycles." The ARC-3 transmitter got a nice big power supply built
up from MARS shipments and I not only hooked up a Heath VF-1 VFO to it but I was able to
actually convert it to go from AM to FM and back with just the flip of a switch.
But I needed an antenna. Buy one? No
way. Build one........... hmmm...... I tried to find aluminum pieces but had no
success. I couldn't even find any old TV antennas to tear apart and reuse. The
year was 1964-65 and I still needed a 2 meter antenna.
Finally I was able to build one from some junk parts I
was able to locate. This was my favorite. I tried to find just one piece
of aluminum to use as the boom but had no luck. I even tried to find an old broom or
mop handle but couldn't even find that. What I did find was a piece of bamboo which
someone had abandoned. It wasn't particularly strong, it wasn't even particularly
straight but it would work. I found some heavy steel clothesline wire to use for
elements. Back then, there were more clotheslines and fewer dryers than there are
now. The wire, which was probably about #4 gauge, worked fine as elements.
It was fairly easy to find some old 300 ohm twinlead to
feed the folded dipole driven element. Down in the shack, I had some sort of a balun
to convert to the short piece of coax which someone had given me. I can't remember
what I found to use as a mast but I remember that I did use the "armstrong
method" of rotation.
My favorite antenna was not very high, it didn't allow
me to work into lots of states and most 2 meter veterans would probably have laughed at it
and said I was crazy for calling it my favorite. This antenna was not my favorite
because of it's appearance as that was terrible. It was not my favorite because it
worked so much better that any other as it really didn't. My reason for calling it
my favorite antenna was taken from its name which came from the building materials used to
construct it. After all, who among you wouldn't enjoy telling your contacts that you
were using a "Bamboo Boom Beam?" Say that aloud................
isn't that fun? -----
Early Ham Memories
1. My First Receiver
I'm reminded of my experience with the AR-3
which was my first receiver and also the first kit I'd ever built. The year was 1957 and I
was a new novice and anxious to get on the air and at least listen to some hams.
First time kit-builders sometimes are guilty of skimming over the instructions in order to
get to the main project and see it work. I didn't know about trimming the leads on
components so all mine were full lead length, just like the day they were manufactured.
I quickly hurried past any cautions and soldered it all together. Amazingly, it lit up and
even would receive something, although now I don't remember what I heard. Perhaps it was
only noise from the speaker, but it was something. My very first kit and it worked. I was
The book suggested that I take it to a ham friend to do the alignment and I knew just the
guy, Tommy - W5CFF. He was a member of our small amateur radio club and also worked for
the telephone company. Best of all, he had lots of really good test equipment and offered
to do the alignment for me. I remember the anticipation as I watch him with my wonderful
receiver on his bench as he set about to line it all up. The frown on his face worried me
a bit but he continued to work on it.
Finally, he put the tools down and said, "Jim, I can't get it to hold still long
enough for me to align." I asked him why and he told me long lead lengths caused it
to be unstable. I didn't know a lot about radios then but that didn't sound good.
I said, "What can I do to fix it?" He said, "Well, if it were mine, I'd
unsolder everything and start again." He carefully showed me how to use minimum
lengths on the components and even showed me how he lined them up so they were going the
same direction. He told me that didn't make it work any better but just looked nicer when
others viewed my handi-work.
I've never forgotten his excellent advice. I took my spidery-looking AR-3 back home and
removed all the soldered-in pieces. I then took my time and rebuilt my receiver kit, but
this time, like it was supposed to be. Not surprisingly, it took me quite a bit longer to
build it the second time but it sounded, and looked, so much better.
I took it back to Tommy to realign and this time it was solid as a rock....... at least as
solid as an AR-3 could be. I used it for several years and it was a great receiver. I
would love to have it back now since it still has a special place in my early ham years
----------- Added August 4, 2005
Last updated 11/06/2012 16:59:21 PM
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