Ham Shack

The WMØG ham shack is kind of eclectic, much like the operator himself. Here you will find an assortment of new and old ham gear. I like some of the old ‘boat anchors’ but I also appreciate the feature-laden newer transceivers too.

On the old radio side of the shack, you will find a collection of Collins gear. This was the gear I remember coveting back in the early 60’s when I was drooling over anything Collins Radio made but didn’t have the resources to afford any at the time as I was a young Air Force officer with a young family to support. The Collins ‘S’ Line was the transceiver set up I really liked. I had the opportunity to use the combo at the MARS station at our Air Force Base and enjoyed how easy they were to use. We always received good reports on the signal and audio. The 75S3 receivers were renowned for their keen ‘ears’ and still can hold their own up against the modern rigs. The legendary KWM-2 and KWM-2A rigs were real versatile and rugged rigs, even though they were tube type.

Last year I added another Collins legendary radio to my collection, the Collins built version of the R-390A/URR receiver. The R-390A is an 85-pound behemoth of a receiver with excellent selectivity and sensitivity. What a joy to listen to! This was the main receiver used in all of the ‘Listening Posts’ during the ‘Cold War’ and throughout the Vietnam War. Many of the ‘Spook’ outfits depended on the electromechanical marvel to intercept and decode enemy radio transmissions for well over 20 years.

The oldest radio I have in my collection is an Atwater-Kent 1927 vintage Model 42 with Matching E3 Speaker. It is a very nice AM receiver made in the days ak40_ib08before Regenerative and Superheterodyne circuitry. I received this as a gift from a dear ham friend of mine, Yardley Beers WØJF who is now a Silent Key. It was this receiver that he had in his laboratory at Princeton University back in 1938 where he received his Degree in Nuclear Physics.  Legend says that Einstein also listened to this radio when he was visiting that lab.

I have had many radios made by different  manufacturers during my ham radio lifetime. Most of them were decent performers, but a few were not (at least in my estimation). My first receiver was a vintage 1938 Hallicrafters S-19R. It left a lot to be desired in both the selectivity and sensitivity categories. This was the radio I used throughout my Novice year way back in 1958. I had built a Heathkit DX-40 Transmitter to accompany this receiver relic and that combination working into a 40-meter dipole provided me with hours of good entertainment and plenty of decent CW contacts too.

When I got back into ham radio in 1987, I bought a used Kenwood TS-120S transceiver. It was pretty basic and worked the same way. I usually work CW and this little XCVR was not one that I would recommend for that mode of operation. Many hams liked them for mobile SSB operation due to it’s relatively compact size.

Soon after, I bought a used Icom IC-745 and accompanying SP-3 speaker, SM-10 equalizer microphone, and AT-500 automatic antenna tuner. It was a nice combination and that rig was the one I made the bulk of my DX contacts on. It performed very well both on CW and SSB.

Since then, I have had other Icom rigs. The IC-735 was a nice compact transceiver that performed very well. I’ve also had the IC-706 and liked that one for my mobile HF rig.

I have bought and sold many other radios during the interim. Lots of Ten-Tec rigs and some Kenwoods too. I had never owned a Yaesu radio until a couple of years ago. I bought a very clean used Yaesu FT-1000MP and matching SP-8 speaker. I still have this and use it mostly these days. It has a nice complement of SSB and CW filters in it and performs very nicely both on CW and SSB. The matching MD-100 microphone gets unsolicited good audio reports.

I inherited an old 1973 vintage IC-255A 2-meter VHF mobile radio from my wife’s uncle, Ken Nichols, W7BDE. He is now a silent key. It still works well, but due to the lack of a tone module on board, I have dedicated it to be my packet radio coupled to an MFJ-1278B MultiMode TNC. Works flawlessly.

I also have a fairly scarce National NBS-1 receiver. This was a special ordered receiver made by National Radio in Malden, MA in 1954 for the National Bureau of Standards in limited numbers. The receiver was a modified NC-183D. The NBS-1 is marked as being the 10 MHz receiver in use here at the Boulder laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards. This was used in correlation with the first Cesium based Atomic Clock at the Labs also known as NBS-1.

I have a multitude of handhelds for VHF and UHF work. The workhorse of the bunch is an Icom W-31A. This one is very versatile and even allows it to be used for cross band repeater operations. With the optional battery pack that holds four AA batteries, it is one I can use for many hours in the field. My base 2M rig is a Kenwood TM-231A and works adequately for my needs.


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