The KEØVH Hamshack For September 2014
By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT
KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.
Remember when radio stations had the BIG VOICE legal ID that would play at the top of the hour? I remember listening to great radio stations in Chatttanooga Tennessee where I grew up, Atlanta, Chicago, and so many others late at night on the radio down below in the article here, and even before I got into radio I loved hearing the “Legal ID”. So many times these days stations bury the legal ID in a stop set. Sometimes even just sweeping the top of the hour. As a disc jockey when you really ran a board, hitting the top of the hour ID was an event each hour, and you really wanted to come out of that ID into a hot song tight and exciting. If you would like a nostalgic look back at how much fun radio could be, live and with a great personality running the board, take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7lfOWu4TNk
This is the kind of radio I grew up with, sure wish it existed now!
By the way, I still have the headphones!
And by the way, here is a tour of the very first transmitter and station I was on as a young Disc Jockey. The 50,000 watt WFLI Chattanooga Tennessee, uses a Western Electric 407A that came to Chattanooga as a used piece of equipment. Its’ original location was at the original WJSV/WTOP station outside of Washington. If you want to see mercury vapor tubes and the way it used to be (and still on the air at WFLI) take a look at this video.
Well and speaking of transmitters, the latest in the saga of the KRKA Armstrong FM10000T2 transmitter is that since the last writing we have had 2 more failures. The thing ran for 4 days and then the plate transformer failed. Greg Beveridge, (WB7AHO) one of my contractors was up at the site a couple of times, and finally during measurements found a shorted secondary. So much for that one. Fortunately our fine folks in Rocklin had one in the warehouse and sent it to me. So we had it delivered to where we could have it loaded onto a trailer, then pulled it up to the site where Greg and I were able to get it into the transmitter with a couple of hours work, shifting, and prying. Got it hooked up, everything buttoned up, and lo and behold, the transmitter came up on the first shot, worked like a champ! No problem tuning for full power, getting it back on the air, saying “QAPLA”! (Klingon for “SUCCESS”) and calling it a day.
Greg wiring up the new plate transformer
Well, the doggone thing ran 4 days and shut down again. Greg had just gone up on a Saturday for a confidence check on the transmitter, and got home to his driveway when I called after hearing from the NOC saying that the thing was off the air again. SO, back he went, and determined that there was no where near enough filament current and voltage. So we put the trusty Crown FM-600 back on the air (left there for just this purpose) and broke for a later conference again with Armstrong on Monday.
After checking out the filament transformer and as many check points as possible with help from Armstrong tech support, the problem (3rd major) seems to be in the control brains board. BUT, the question is, how reliable is that going to be. At this point now the circuit that controls the filament voltage coming on to full strength is not operating properly. We are getting new parts from Armstrong to try to fix this failure. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Greg, he was taking care of transmitters long before I even got into radio. Here he is back in the 70’s taking care of Armed Forces Radio and TV transmitters in Vietnam.
Greg writes: “Attached is a photograph of me in front of the main TV transmitter of the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN-TV) in Saigon, South Vietnam. In 1969 I was 21 years old, and in the U.S. Army as a Specialist 5th Class (equivalent to a Sergeant). I traveled all over South Vietnam to work on some of the AFVN broadcast transmitter sites from Quang Tri just below the DMZ in the north, to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, and many points in between. AFVN had people from all branches of the military, as well as civilian advisors from NBC International and RCA Service Company, on contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. My experience in the U.S. Army helped me get technical work after my military service, led to successfully completing an undergraduate engineering degree program at Arizona State University, and subsequently enabled a technical career in telecommunications that allowed me to work in the U.S., Europe, Russia, and Australia over many years.”
I (Jack) have been having fun with the SDR dongle I have written about the past couple of months. I have built a collinear ADSB receive antenna and can track airplanes in the Denver area. ADSBScope uses the ADSB # within SDR# to decode the information transmitterd by aircraft for location and identification. Again, all this software is free.
Using the ADSBScope software running thru ADSB #.
Using the spectrum analyzer feature of the SDR has been useful. And the Ham It Up converter works well as advertised. The software is free. When using the converter into the SDR USB dongle with HDSDR free software, you have a powerful shortwave receiver with a spectrum view that will show you entire ham bands, receive DRM shortwave, plus all the regular CW, AM, SSB and FM. The adapters are MCX male to SMA male for the connection from USB dongle to converter. The converter has a SMA male to SO-239 to connect into my antenna’s. The converter uses 125 mHz as an IF, and so you have to use the offset controls in the software so the frequency comes up from the dongle. For the price ($8 for the RTL-USB dongle, $54 for the Ham It Up converter, and the needed adapters) you cannot beat this setup for have feature rich capabilities. I highly recommend getting setup with this your self.
As seen in the pictures below you have a very inexpensive and easy spectrum analyzer. I have used it at a transmitter site to take a look at the carrier of a station of mine. The software (SDR#) also will display RDS from the station. I am soon going to put the converter and the dongle into a box to make a nice little SDR box that will protect the parts and be handy and easy to carry or adapt into my station setup.
The “Ham It Up Converter” The RTL-SDR USB Dongle
The “SDR # (Sharp)” software The HDSDR software
By the way this is the radio that got it all started for me. Listening to short wave late at night in my room. To the BBC, Radio Moscow, HCJB, and many others just fascinated me late at night. Then CB radio, Ham Radio, being a Disc Jockey from the time I was 15 until just a couple of years ago. And this GE Globestar transistor radio was my companion for several teen age family vacations and always before going to sleep at night. This will be one of my cosmetic restoration projects soon.
PLUS, it STILL WORKS! After all these years!
And it even survived an incident where it spent some time at the bottom of Chickamauga lake near Chattanooga during one of those family trips up to the lake. I knocked it off the dock next to the boat and had to dive in muddy water to find it, but after some searching I did, let it dry out a couple of weeks, and it hasn’t stopped working since! They made them good then huh?
Don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first and third MONDAY EVENINGS of the month. AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio. Details on how to join are at http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet. I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!
73’, God be with you, & see you next time! KEØVH