Old Stuff (Like me!)

I like “stuff” like me……old, but still working!  (hi hi hi…..).

Over the year’s, I have been fortunate to locate a few “old” items, that occupy a special place in my shack.  Here they are, in no particular order…..  Click on a photo for a larger rendition of the item…..

 75 YEAR OLD VIBROPLEX SEMI-AUTOMATIC KEY (“Bug”)

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This is a “Signal Corps U. S. Army, Key Type J-36” Morse Code “Bug” – the metal plate indicates it is made by “The Vibroplex Co., Inc 796 Fulton St, Brooklyn, N. Y.  Date- 10-28-40  Serial No. 346” .  Yes, it has not been restored yet (cleaned), but it works!!!  I had another one that cleaned up very nicely, and also worked.

I pulled two of them out of the trash at a local government building back in the mid-90s (I’m guessing they were “cleaning” somewhere and figured it was garbage, so it was tossed in the trash) – hence the old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!).

I cleaned the other one up and sold it on eBay for $185.00 around 2005. I have had several offers over $100 for this one, exactly as it is!

 

HEATHKIT CODE OSCILLATOR and KEYER COLLECTION

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My collection of Heathkit Oscillators and Keyers.  Yes, I built everyone of these and they all work.  I have made contacts on the air with each of the keyers……..

In order from left to right

Heathkit CO-1 Code Oscillator (1968)

Heath HD-16 Code Oscillator (1969)

Heathkit HD-1416 Code Oscillator (1984)

Heathkit HD-10 Electronic Keyer (used with my HW-16 below – WN2TAW in 1971)

Heathkit HD-1410 Electronic Keyer  (1982)

Heathkit SA-5010 uMatic Keyer (Touch Keyer w/Memories) (1983)

(That small circuit board and wires is the original “Digipan” interface for digital modes – I built that in 1988 or 1989)

 

MY ORIGINAL 1971 NOVICE STATION – WN2TAW

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HW-16 3 Band CW Transceiver my Dad went with me to the Heathkit Store on 45th Street (NYC) in December 1969 and bought this for me for a Christmas present – it retailed for $116.95.  It took me over a month to build, and when I got my Dad and Mom to watch me turn it on, it blew every tube in the radio!  (Dad sent it in for repair, and believe it or not, they said I built it fine – there was a shorted variable capacitor that blew everything!  They replaced the defective part, all of the blown tubes, aligned it for me and sent it back in late February 1970). This was my WN2TAW Novice station when I got my FCC license in February of 1971 I had five crystals – Novice Bands – 3.740,  7.160 and 7.170 ……and 7.040 and 7.050 – I could use the 40M crystals on 15M by “tripling” the frequency….21.120 and 21.150) running 75 Watts INPUT Power (yeah, about 35-40W OUTPUT!). I bought the HG-10B VFO in January of 1975 when I became WN4OMM here in Florida and the FCC changed the rules and allowed Novices use of a VFO!  I don’t remember when I got the HS-24 Speaker, but probably around 1975-76.

When my Yaesu FT-767GX went in for service in 1989, I actually pulled this thing out of the closet and used it (I was going through withdrawal!)  Wow!  Horrible hum, no real selectivity, but it worked!  I made several CW contacts with the 50W of output from this ancient relic!  REAL RADIO – IT GLOWS IN THE DARK (the tubes, that is!)

I have a “re-cap” kit from Hayseed Hamfest that I will get around to installing that should remove the hum.

Thank you Dad, for believing in me and spending that kind of money on a 15 year old’s dream.

hamcw

UPDATE!!!  January 9, 2015!!!

I finally got time to “get into” the HW-16!  Completely re-capped, replaced all of the power and bleeder resistors.  Took me two nights (about 9 hours total), but when I plugged it in and turned it on……voila!  No more hum!  (and more importantly, it didn’t burst into flames!)  After an alignment, I put it on the air last night.  The VFO is not working (the next challenge!) but I had several FT-243 crystals so off to 40M we go, with a crystal and the HD-10 Electronic Keyer (yeah, just had to!).  I called CQ on 7036, and within seconds W7JX in Washington State responded and gave me a 479!  Wow!  IT LIVES……….W7JX gets a “special” QSL card!

HW-16 QSL FRONT W7JXTonight I worked 3 more folks, all gave me excellent reports (Alabama, Virgina, and Florida); well not the FL QSO, it was my friend K3RLL, and Don was just too close for the propagation 40M….but we did make a QSO!  Don used to have an HW-16 too many years ago and we both recalled our early days. Using the radio and the keyer had me reminiscing about my early ham radio period.  Then I realized I took my Novice Test the first week of January ’71, and got my license the following month – next month, 44 years have passed.  Dang, I’m old!  Using the radio made me feel good.  A little bit of operating challenge, stuff glowing, and slapping the keyer paddles was “magic”.  Good magic.   Life is wonderful!

UPDATE!!!  January 16, 2015!!!

Discovered two unsoldered wires in the power plug to the HG-10B VFO, and the OB2 voltage regulator tube bad.  Resoldered the pins, replaced the tube, and BAM!  The VFO works great!  Made a new RF cable with the RG-62/U; went to align it…..and it was “dead on” frequency without adjustment. Will try it out in the next few days, but it seems to be working great.

Also received some new crystals today too, so now have plenty of freqs on 40 and 15 to work.  Still need to replace the 80M heterodyne coil in the HW-16 to get 80M receive (I isolated that coil as the suspect in the 80M receive not working).  As soon as I can “cannibalize” another HW-16, I should be in business.

Standby for more on the HW16 as I progress……..

UPDATE!!  February 2, 2015!!

Got a replacement coil today, courtesy of Terry N3GTE…..he mailed me the coil and declined any payment…..and he paid for the First Class postage too!  WHAT A GENTLEMAN!  (He has a ten spot on the way via the mail).  Replaced the coil, and it now receives on 80M!  Yippeee!!!  While I was there, I did the “two resistor replacement” modification to increase the sensitivity of the receiver.  Re-aligned (didn’t need it), and was on the air with HG-10B VFO…worked CO8RRM!  He gave me a 599.  Loud audio into speaker, signals very nice and clean.  Whadda radio!  It’s on the shelf at the operating position with a coax switch so I can use it from time to time.  Next challenge – Novice Rig Roundup starting February 6, 2015 for a week.  I will be playing as much as I can.  Looking forward to the Roundup.  Here’s it sits in it’s new home in the shack!

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OLD TUBE RADIO RECEIVERS

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Hallicrafters S-38 Receiver, circa 1951

I purchased this from a fella at the Orlando Hamfest for $10 – he said it didn’t work and was junk.  After a general cleaning, recap and alignment, it works great!  I love the way music sounds from an old tube radio….more depth and resonance! I also performed a change to the wiring, eliminating the “hot chassis” and replacing the AC line cord with a “safe” one!  I would like to remain around to do more of this stuff!!!   SAFETY FIRST!  The case and innards are in remarkable shape for a radio this old.  This is a 9 out of 10 for sure!

 

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Hallicrafters S-38D Receiver, circa 1956

I purchased this from a fella for $5 at the Orlando Hamfest (no, not the same fella, and the next year).  This one too was, “no good”.  It worked after I cleaned it up some.  It needs some TLC, and a re-cap.  One day……….

 

HEATHKIT QRP CW TRANSCEIVER

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Heathkit HW-7 CW QRP Transceiver (circa 1975)

No, I didn’t build this one…….but bought it for $10 as “dead”….after replacing the PA Transistor and removing the dead bug (yeah, really, looked like it used to be a large ant that was “fried” across the 12VDC power connector), it sprang to life!  Had to do a serious re-alignment of it, as it was so far off, I had to start all of the coils and stuff from “zero”!  This rig is waiting it’s turn to get on the air and make a QSO……soon, grasshopper, very soon……..

 

AMECO AC-1 CW QRP Transmitter (circa 1965) (acquired February 2, 2015)

My “newest” adventure!  No tubes, no coil, but in pretty good overall shape.  Got the original manual too.  Thanks to W2ID!!  He was willing to part with it as I am looking to put it on the air, and we hope to make a QSO together in the very near future!  the transmitter has some mods (meter added to left side, SO-239 on right side) and I will have to re-cap and deflux…..No bad rust or damage, front panel pretty good too.  I just ordered the tubes today and have two 5 pin coil forms.  It will be one of my “priority” projects!  I hope to “mate” it on the air with the Hallicrafters S-38…..real old glow in the dark radio! 

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MORE COMING SOON……….check back often!

2 thoughts on “Old Stuff (Like me!)

  1. I enjoyed reading your website it was very interesting. I am getting very interested in learning more about vintage ham gear. I have an HW-8 and LOVE it! but would like to get some tube gear. I am hoping a local ham can elmer me so I could eventually learn to restore some ham history and keep it on the air! 🙂 Keep up your good work and I love that you still have your novice station!!!

    73 to you an yours de Dean, N8YA

    • Hi Dean,
      Glad you enjoyed the site! Yes, that “old stuff” really brings back memories of me in my “youth” when I first got involved in ham radio. There are many tube/old radio sites on the Internet, and a search of Yahoo!Groups will yield many more! I find hamfests, tailgates, and club auctions to be the best (and most honest/reliable) sources of older radios. A good VTVM (I use a Heathkit I built in the mid ’80s), a VARIAC – variable transformer (you can get them new on eBay pretty cheap!), and a tube tester are minimums for starting with the old stuff. And assume you will be replacing any paper capacitors and bleeder resistors!
      Good luck, stop by again, I usually add smoe new stuff about every one-two months……..
      73!
      Steve WB4OMM

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