I currently have no shack, and operate from wherever I may roam or setup. I have a portable setup and a base station setup.
Rigs and Radios
I own more radios than I thought I did, but I guess you can never have too many radios. I started with VHF/UHF as any technician would and then purchased one of the best sounding rigs I’ve heard to date.
BaoFeng UV-5R EX
I started with a BaoFeng UV-5R EX to hit my local repeaters and later upgraded to a Yaesu FTM-7250DR in my car not long after. The mic quality is not the best and has low audio output unless I have my face on the unit and talking loudly, but it gets me on the air and has gotten communications done during Skywarn in 2020.
My first mobile rig, a Yaesu FTM-7250DR. Dual band single VFO unit that performs extremely well and reliably. Also C4FM and Wires-X capable unit. Made a few contacts with Puerto Rico and South America with thus unit through a local Wires-X node.
My own Kenwood TS-850S (technically Kenwood TS-850SAT — AT for auto tuner) that I acquired shortly before upgrading to General. I gave it some TLC and upgraded the factory oscillator to a SO-2 compatible TCXO from N3BA and now the rig performs great! I got my WAS with my 50ft EFHW and this rig. I usually operate this rig on 100W barefoot to either a 50ft EFHW or a ZS6BKW antenna (both made by me).
In November 2021 I bought a Kenwood TS-50S through eBay (shipped from Japan). The rig was untouched inside and came with all original accessories. I replaced the battery and added a SO-2 compatible TCXO from N3BA. Since the TX frequencies when this rig was made did not account for our frequencies today, I removed the diode that limits the TX frequencies to be able to use it on the frequencies I can operate on. I call it the little cousin of my Kenwood TS-850S.
I acquired an older Yaesu FTM-400DR which I repaired after many issues and put it into service. I used it quite a bit and during late July 2022 I connected the positive PowerPole to the negative and I believe there was grounding through the antenna. RIP.
At some point in 2020 a fellow ham gave me a Yaesu FT-2700RH that he had. I gave it a once over, replaced the memory battery, and tested it attached to a dummy load. The unit works perfectly! I have made a harness to connected it to the NucleoTNC that I built and have used it both with APRS and packet on VHF with great success! Very solid unit even if it looks a bit ugly and is missing a few teeth.
I got a QYT KT-8900D from a fellow ham and have experimented with it on APRS and TNC nodes, very slow TX/RX switch so it is not great on packet. Currently using it as a base station after the untimely demise of my Yaesu FTM-400DR. While not the best of my rigs, it has performed reliably and so far has not had any problems.
Having rigs means you need power. I have acquired power sources that I have repaired or bought and work to keep my rigs powered and on the air as long as I need.
An Astron RS-50A unit I repaired that came from a set of 3 that was used to power a church organ. I have added a Ametherm MS32-10015 to reduce inrush current draw when first powered on (I kept annoyingly tripping the breaker when the A/C cycle was just right and I powered on my Astron). I used the excellent article from Repeater Builder by WA1MIK as a reference and then contacted Ametherm which provided me with the proper part number. The email is referenced in the Repeater Builder article.
Recent acquisition from the same source as the Astron. Had some burnt components on the control board. Finding information or schematics on this thing is impossible. Kenwood says this unit doesn’t exist and they have no record of it (don’t mind the thousands of brochures it was advertised on) and Astron, who manufactured it for Kenwood, never answered my inquiries. I ended up finding specs from an old advertisement for a Kenwood rig and I matched it to a Astron RS-20. I ordered a control board for that model of Astron and resurrected the Kenwood KPS-21. Works great!
Got a Powerwerx SS-30DV to replace my Astron RS-50A during normal operation (my electricity bill was growing) but ended up putting it on my portable case and bring it along with it. Steady power and low noise on this unit. Full power from the binding posts on the back as well as from the front Anderson PowerPole ports which is very convenient and helpful.
I have either built or bought a few antennas and we all know the deal … we can never have too many options for antennas!
2M Copper J-Pole
This J-Pole was given to me by a fellow ham and was made by KC0P years ago — a testament to good workmanship. I had it working at my previous QTH and is a very solid and great antenna. Currently sitting in my friend’s back yard.
80m-10m End-Fed Half Wave
I got a 9:1 UnUn by Nelson Antennas from eBay and added a ~55ft piece of 14GA to make this antenna into a sloper with the end at about 28ft up and the feedpoint at about 4ft off the ground. Generally take it with along with the ZS6BKW on the portable setup or whenever I travel. Depending on the terrain and if there is space available, I may add a 20ft counterpoise and make this antenna
Built from scraps and very few brand new materials, I take it with when I travel to CT and was very pleased with its performance during ARRL Field Day 2022. Wanna build your own?
40m Magnetic Loop
With manual tuning box. Haven’t used it yet.
Very light on this one since I don’t have space or the antenna to use an amplifier, but I do own one.
I acquired a Heathkit HA-14 along with the Heathkit HP-24 power supply. I bought the PM-HP24 kit from Harbach Electronics to upgrade the power supply and plan to do a few mods to it to improve and make it safer to operate. If you look at the pictures below you will notice a SK-201 soft key by Harbach Electronics board for a SB-200 that I adapted for the HA-14. Future mods for the HP-24 are the 120V soft start board by Harbach Electronics, a 12VDC feed instead of a 120VAC for the power switch that will instead operate a relay in the PSU to power on and off.
The one tool that is the bane of our existence, but useful to have.
A MFJ tuner. Enough said. I have the K variant that included the Kenwood cable that works with both my Kenwood TS-850S which I originally used it with and with my Kenwood TS-50S which has no tuner of its own.
Things that make things happen
The NucleoTNC comes as a kit, I ordered my PCBs and used the BOM to purchase parts and assembled them in about an hour, taking my time. The result was a very simple to use TNC for packet and/or APRS use.
Used with my Kenwood TS-850S to provide a waterfall with HDSDR.
West Mountain Radio ISOpwr+
I use the ISOpwr+ to power any of my rigs from a battery and charge from a power supply or from my car. Has a serial interface for configuration for which I lowered the charging voltage to 13.9 to match my power supplies. Normally the application would be to use in vehicles with a secondary battery for isolation with the appropriate unit for my setup being the Super PWRgate PG40S or Epic PWRgate… or even an Astron BB-30M.
The Bencher JA-1 is a Japan-only version of the Bencher BY-1. Smoky finger pieces in place of clear ones and the spring tensioner from the ST-1 single lever paddle. The serial number is not in the old list of SN’s but falls between 1945-1960 runs of paddles.
Your basic straight key, cheap and plastic.
West Mountain Radio RigRunner 4012
The RigRunner 4012 is a 1 input and 12 output (40A max) Anderson PowerPole power strip. Very good quality and serves very well when paired with my Astron RS-50A for powering all my 12VDC devices.
G4ZLP DigiMaster CW Keyer
A nice UK-made keyer which supports the K1EL WinKeyer standard on all programs I’ve thrown at it.