Tag Archives: NE1RD

Thoughts after 1000 Posts

Going back to my first blog entries, I thought it would be worth an update:

Welcome to With Varying Frequency – Amateur Radio Ponderings.

With so much to learn about Amateur Radio, the use of Internet Based Communications to coordinate & share Amateur Radio, and Netiquite there seemed only one way to go – to simply jump right in!

I still have so much to learn – what a wonderful hobby where the opportunity to learn and do more never stops!

I’ve been greatly taken by the Feeds & Blogs of great amateur radio works like 100 Pound DXpedition by Scott NE1RD and Long Delayed Echoes by Jeff KE9V. I highly recommend you check out their projects.

Both Scott NE1RD and Jeff KE9V have changed what they are doing, both with great success. Scott NE1RD has done more DXpeditions, used his leadership to get the MassCon QRP event launched, written great things and seems busy as all get out.

Jeff KE9V has morphed his Blog several times – well really LOTS of times – and is on the cusp of launching a new Audio Series at this time called “Cornbread Row.” Again his creative output is huge, impressive and an influence on the amateur radio community.

I’m hoping to be able to touch a few topics I’ve stumbled across & share some the lessons about amateur radio I’ve had the good fortune of learning!

It is NOT my intention to post daily, or even on a set schedule, or to compete with established references, feeds and blogs.

It is my goal to share links to these fine works and maybe help another radio amateur in their efforts!

I am still doing Hamcrams, coaching (Elmering) where possible and now have an all-ham household! Lots more to do thought!

Ponderings on the K9ZW Shack 21 – January – 2007

My ham shack has been in transition for the last year, with an end goal of acheiving specific goals of:

Being Able to Hear Other Stations Much Better
Being Able to be Selective About What I do Hear
Being Able to Work those Stations I Hear
Expanding the Bands I can Work
Allowing QRO (Amplifier) Operations Safely
Moving the Vertical Antenna, the XYL’s (Wife’s) #1 Goal in My Station’s Upgrades
Reducing Actual or Potential RFI
Having Fun doing the Upgrades
I’ll try expanding on each of the goals, what worked, what didn’t, and what might be planned for further upgrades.

At the start of the project the then KB9GPN Shack consisted of:

A Dell Desktop Running Windows XP Home
A Ten-Tec Pegasus with Internal Autotuner for HF
A Yaesu FT-90R 2m & 440 transceiver
A GAP Titan DX Vertical badly located (long story – future post)
A Homebrew Dipole from the ARRL Antenna Building Class
A Homebrew 2m Welding-rod Antenna made for the same class
Software being run was:

N4PY’s Pegasus Control Software
MixW Digital & Logging Program
N4PY’s Spotter Program
Buckmaster Hamcall Database
Operations were pretty much limited to 20m, 17m, some 30m, and 2m, mostly due to antenna limitations and RFI issues with the GAP reacting to copperwork gutters, steel members in the house framing I wasn’t aware of, and RFI into the household systems at more than QRP levels of power.

This made digital up to 30 watts the station’s limits.

It did work well enough to place second in one small national digital contest, earn a WAS award, PODXS awards and enough countries for a DXCC if I had only known more about getting confirming QSL’s

I’ll explore in further posts my ideas, choices and results in improving the shack.

My Shack has been the major evolving project at home during this process.

Current set up is:

Flex-Radio Flex-5000A Software Define Radio
The supporting computer
Alpha 78 Amp
QRO King 6m Amp
Palstar AT4K(m) Tuner
Array Solutions PowerMaster SWR/Power Meter
Array Solutions RatPak6n Antenna Switch
Begali CW Machine
AmpKey Transceiver/Amp interface relay
Tennadyne T-8 Log Periodic Antenna – 20m to 10m
Tennadyne T-28 Log Periodic Antenna – 6m to 1.3GHz
W9INN 160m-20m 1/2 Sloper

You can read much more about the present shack capabilities in the posts.

Have picked up some “wallpaper” in the way of awards during the time I’ve written this blog, and close to having a number of those folks I helped Elmer earning the first milestone awards!

I’m almost ready to lay out my short term and next 5 year shack and operations plans, so for now I’ll hold those to be part of a post in the next few weeks.



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Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 Kit Arrives and Project Start

The Retro-75 Board Kit has arrived this week. It came in two parts, everything but one component which arrived separately a few days latter (there was a note in the first package).

I’ve a satellite antenna project with my son Victor KC9NWB and a frequency reference for my shack to finish, both “on the bench” to complete first, putting the Retro-75 into a May build.

That will give me time to layout & source an enclosure, the second crystal socket & switch I will install and have those items on hand for the build.

My initial post on the Retro-75 is at: Going Retro on 75m AM – Small Wonder Labs Kit

I’m planning to shoot pictures and write something about all three projects as they go along.



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Diana Eng KC2UHB reports from Mass QRP Convention

Diana Eng KC2UHB does a short video report on Masscon – the QRP Convention spearheaded by Scot NE1RD

More at Make Magazine’s Blog: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/03/massachusetts_qrp_convention.html

(You may remember Diana KC2UHB from A Visual Demo of How a Yagi Antenna Works – MAKE Magazine )

Masscon has posted a whole bunch of post-event items at: http://www.masscon.org/



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Going Retro on 75m AM – Small Wonder Labs Kit

Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 AM Transceiver

Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 AM Transceiver

Based on write-ups and recommendations from Scott NE1RD and Jeff KE9V, I took at look at Dave K1SWL’s newest offering “The ‘Retro-75’ 75/80 Meter AM Transceiver board kit.”

Although AM has long been supplanted by more effective modes of communication, AM activity is largely channelized into ‘watering hole’ frequencies2. It’s therefore pretty easy to find activity on the air. Here in the Northeast, 3885 kHz is the ‘hot spot’, and 3880 kHz is similarly used on the West coast.


The receiver front end is entirely conventional. …. Rather than wrestle with more stages of filtering or the use of ceramic filters, I reverted to a tried-and-true crystal filter. ……

The IF amplifier uses the so-called ‘cascode’ configuration…..

The following stage is a peak detector which serves to recover the modulation envelope from the received signal. Q3 is an ‘infinite-impedance detector’- a JFET biased near cutoff. I’d always wanted to say I’d used one- the phrase has a nice ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ ring to it…..


The audio output waveform is also peak-detected … and applied back …. as a form of Automatic Gain Control (AGC). Without it, nearby ‘Big Gun’ stations are easily capable of saturating this amplifier stage, yielding harsh-sounding clipped audio. …. With this feedback path in place, even the strongest of stations sounds fairly clean in the receiver.


The RF strip consists of a crystal-controlled Colpitts oscillator, a FET-driver IC, and a MOSFET Power Amplifier stage. The PA stage runs class-C to keep the transmitter efficiency reasonably high. Generating an amplitude-modulated output is done using one of the oldest tricks in the book: the transmitter’s supply voltage is varied by superimposing audio on it through … an inexpensive 48Ω:3.2Ω audio output transformer. ….

In theory, this method is simplicity itself….. The transmitter runs about 2W of carrier power and 6-7W peak output. I ran key-down tests of up to a half-hour duration- they showed minimal transformer warming.


Receiver ‘Test’ function:

One of the impediments to building an L-C oscillator (here used as the receiver LO) is that component tolerances make the resulting operating frequency somewhat uncertain. CW/SSB projects can usually count on a borrowed signal from a ‘big rig’ in the shack to locate and adjust the local oscillator to frequency. With AM, though, there’s no ‘beat note’, and you’ll probably hear an ‘in-shack’ AM signal everywhere you tune. The circuit block labeled ‘Test’ provides a built-in frequency adjustment tool. …. (Quotes taken from Dave K1SWL’s Kit Instructions)

The Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 AM Transceiver Board Kit is so new it isn’t even linked from Small Wonder Labs Homepage and can be found at Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 AM Transceiver Web Page

It is listed in the ordering section of the main Small Wonders Lab Website.

I received a nice note from Dave K1SWL thanking me for my order. And I have to admit I am enthused to see it arrive; even more to do the build & get it on the air!



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CaribbeanBUDDIES 2010 – Activate St Lucia Island (J6) from Feb. 2-10

Our Friend Scott NE1RD provided a copy of the group DXpedition’s Press Release for CaribbeanBuddies 2010. Scott NE1RD again is a DXpedition member, and I hope to work him while he on-island this trip!


Caribbean Buddies off to St Lucia (J6) for 2010

Members of the Caribbean Buddies 2010 team will mount a DXpedition to St. Lucia (J6) February 2-10, 2010. Nine operators from eight states will have fixed operations from a cliff-top villa and portable operations from various points on the island using CW, SSB, and digital modes. The team consists of the following operators: Chris Drummond (W6HFP), Budd Drummond (W3FF), B. Scott Andersen (NE1RD), Dan Gagnon (WZ1P), Steve Galchutt (WG0AT), Mike Greenwood (KC4VG), Guy Hamblen (N7UN), Paul Van Dyke (KB9AVO), and Weymouth Walker (K8EAB). Licensing is not yet complete but each operator is expected to receive their owncall sign. QSL via LoTW, eQSL, or mail to operator’s home call (SASE required). See the DXpedition daily “journal” blog at http://caribbeanbuddies.blogspot.com/ or the 2010 Dxpedition website at http://sites.google.com/site/caribbeanbuddies/ for new announcements.



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Scott NE1RD and the Massachusetts QRP Convention

MassCon QRP Convention Logo


Scott Andersen NE1RD was kind enough to forward the press release on this very interesting QRP event!

Westford, MA — The first Massachusetts QRP Convention (MassCon) will be held March 12-13, 2010 in the Westford Regency Inn Conference Center in Westford, Massachusetts. The event is made possible by a generous contribution from Buddipole Antennas, and PART, the radio club of Westford, Massachusetts, host of the event, and also a major contributor.

Presentations from leading figures in the QRP world will be made in a comfortable, modern classroom setting from 8 AM through 5 PM on Saturday (March 13). Speakers expected to present include Allison Parent (KB1GMX), Dave Siegrist (NT1U), Bruce Beford (N1RX), Michael Rainey (AA1TJ), John Sexton (KO1H), and QRP Hall of Fame members George Heron (N2APB), Joe Everhart (N2CX), and Dave Benson (K1SWL). Attendees will receive a conference proceedings, CD, and other gifts at registration.

In addition to the Saturday seminar, a Friday evening gathering will be held on March 12, 2010 for attendees to meet the speakers, browse through vendor offerings, and do a little show-and-tell of their own. Vendors tables will continue to be available through Saturday evening.

Finally, a banquet will be held at the conclusion of the conference in the Westford Regency Inn. Steve Galchutt (WG0AT) will keynote the event showing movies and talking about operating portable QRP and hiking the peaks of Colorado with his pack goats Rooster and Peanut. Ticketing for the banquet is separate from the conference and attendees are invited to bring their friends and family to the event.

Registration for the conference is $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Seating will be limited. Details about how to register, obtain hotel reservations at the conference rate, and banquet reservations will be published on the conference web site later this summer.

Further information for the event may be found on the event web site http://www.masscon.org



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