Newsletter Of The Month

If you were asked to come up with a name for I he Chicken Fat Organization's newsletter, what would it be? Key Clucks, of course! (CFO is a loose group of high-speed CW fanatics,) Editor Wayne Renard NZ4W carries the poultry theme to extremes; nearly every page of this newsletter has some sort of chicken on it.

Beneath the feathers lies a style of writing that made NZ4W famous as editor of the Nashville Radio Society's Rat s Tale; Wayne somehow manages to take the dull iacts of day-to-day ham radio and turn them into hilarious stories. Key Clucks is proof that club newsletters can be informative and tun.

To enter your club's pubfication in 73's Newsletter of the Month Contest, send it to 73 Magazine, WGE Center, Peterborough NH 03458. Attn: Newsletter of the Month


Peter H, Putman KT2B 84 Qurnham Road Morris Plains NJ 07950

This month's column is somewhat anecdotal. II pertains to all the careful plans that contesters put together for the big one— the January ARRL VHF Sweepstakes—and how. despite your best intentions, Murphy still has plenty of surprises in store!

I've been actively running the January SS for several years now> but have been plagued with a\i sorts of problems ranging from equipment failures to power hne trouble and adverse weather conditions. Every year, despite the numerous station improvements, something f'gremlin1' rears its ugly head and fm back to the drawing board Well, this year was going to be different, with all-new antennas, feedlines, power supplies for the high power amplifiers, and improved transceiving equipment.

I took the perennial line noise problem into account and employed an ICOM 740S with adjustable noise blanker to fight the electric heaters and blankets on t44 MHz (Believe me. itTs no fun trying to copy FM06 through S9 + 20 dB noise levels!) Not being very active on 50 MHz. I secured the use of an IC-551D for the contest as weli as a KLM 7-element beam. The 432 yagi array had been suffering from high swr after heavy rains which I traced to a marginal pigtail, and replaced with a more weather-tight version, A 220 MHz GaAsFET preamp went up on the tower, courtesy of the VHF Shop What better way to lest a preamp than during a VHF Sweepstakes?

I had earlier installed new runs of Prodelin 7fB" Splr-OLine on 1296 MHz and also put a surplus Adier Electronics cavity amplifier to use for about 65 to 70 Watts of power. The SSB LT23S 1296* MHz transverter was run through a MMT 144/28 transverter into my Kenwood TS-430S, allowing the use of scanning and memory channels for setting up schedules. New tubes and capacitors went into the 432-MHz power amplifier to improve its reliability and every switch in the station was clearly labeled, for a change, (This latter part is very important.

especially when you are frantically jumping from one band to another lo make skeds on trie UHF bandsi)

Having completed the improvements to the station hardware, I turned to creature comforts. My shack is in the basement in an unfinished room, and the walls and floor are concrete. This is fine in the summer on a hot day, but makes an excellent refrigerator in the wintertime! A space heater in the right place took care of the heating problem (yes, it was pre-checked for line noise) and \ added several layers of foam insulation under a couple of pieces of carpet to keep the feet warm, A nice wooden chair with arms was selected for the long late night hours, and I installed low-angie lighting with 25- and 40-Watt bulbs to avoid eyestrain.

The last area needing attention was the logging and duping position, 1 secured the use of a Hewlett-Packard HP 110 minicomputer with companion disk drive and printer from Charlie Rothschild WB2INB. Charlie has developed a very nice togging and duping program that runs on HP and ISM/IBM^compatible systems, and our club group SCORE has used it many times during our multi-multi contest efforts. The 110 uses an LCD screen and is well engineered for human comfort while typing The computer was set up next to the main 144-and 50-MHz stations, with the printer and disk drive on the side table for duping and backing up the memory during breaks.

The addition of a footswilch and selector to assign it to the tlvee main transceivers allowed me to remain in one position. The output of the sequencer box also went to a four-position switch to key the 220,432,432tube, and 1296 power amplifiers—again, alt at the flick of a switch. Of course, the transverters on the TS-430 could be switched from 220 to 432 or 1296 through a selector panel, as could the CW keyer! My final act of laziness was to install another rotor with the 50-MHz beam and a second 32-19 Boomer for 144 MHz. This way. I could jump 180s at the flick of a coax switch to work stations calling me off the back of my primary antenna. (This isn't a new trick. Steve WB2WIK and oth ers have used it for years, If you've got a few extra dollars and the tower space, it makes your 2-meter contact rate stay up there?) These modifications completed the upgrade of my station to make it contest ready.

Finally, all was ready I'd booked the date in my calendar and the XYt_ made sure we had no plans for the weekend, {We actually did, except we didn't know it at the time More on this in a moment!) The appointed hour rolled around on Saturday and at 2 pm KT2B was on the air on 50 MHz with 80 Watts.

It became apparent quickly that my 6-meter station wasn't going to make a big splash in the contest. Sure, the 80 Watts and the 7LD beam worked fine, but anything over 100 mifes away was going to be VERY hard to work. The beam was installed at 30 feel, which is hardly optimum for 6 meters. But it was th* only place I could install the beam, so I figured if I could add another 10 to 20 multipliers, it would be worth the trouble.

The IC-551 has a decent receiver but really needs a good preamp in front of it, so out came the JANEL MOSFET preamp that Mike Crawford WA2VUN had loaned me with the rig and beam. Only problem was we had blown out the MOSFET in June of 19&4 during the June VHF QSO Pany and he neglected to tell me that (or forgot). Out came the soldering iron and a new 3N204, and after a 15-minute delay I was back on the air Some interesting prefixes were bagged during this period (nothing exotic) and J worked about 35 stations before turning to 2 meters

Aha! Now this was more like it. The combination of the two Boomers—the main at 45 feet and Ihe second at 35 feet—worked very welL With my 200-Watl MML amplifier (reviewed in March, 1986, 73) I was able to stan piling up the contacts right away. In short order I worked 70 or 80 stations and 10 grids! The 2-meter setup was working better than t had hoped!. After several hours here, I broke for dinner and planned to attack the higher bands.

Soon I was back on 50 MHz checking for more new contacts and quickty added about 10 more before some incredible buzz in excess of +30 dB wiped out the front end of the IC-551D, Another electric blanket, probably. I jumped up to 220 MHz to see what was happening and fired off a few more contacts and grid squares—

among them my first ever contact with FM28 on 220 MHz, We quickly jumped up to 432 to duplicate the contact, then to 144, and finally 1296 MHz (no luck). No matter! The station was really hopping now. I was finally appreciating all those hours of hard work during the summer and fall! 432 yielded more contacts and grids, including several in Maryland and southern Virginia. 1296 was even more fruitful with contacts into Mary-¿and and northern Virginia. A quick check back on 144 MHz yielded many more contacts as stations wandered onto the band.

I took another quick break at 10 pm and went upstairs to grab a snack. My wife was looking a little funny and ment ioned that she was having mild cramping sensations that evening. Unusual? Not if she's eight months pregnant, it seemed too early to be thinking of a baby! I had this strange sense of impending doom but shrugged it off and went back to work.

By now I was bouncing back and forth between 144 MHz and 1296 MHz (10 to 11 pm is the 1296-MHz activity hour in these parts) and working lots of stations. The total contacts were well over 200 and! the grids in excess of 40 on all five bands. Not bad for 300 Watts on 144 and 432+ 100 Watts on 50, and 220 on 70 Watts on 1296.

Activity tapered off on the higher bands so I went back to work on 50 and 144 MHz until about 2 am, when I decided to call it a night and get a few hours shut-eye. I had made 250 contacts and 52 grids—decidedly belter than my previous year's totals at the halfway point In fact, I was run ning about double last year's score and well expected to break 500 + QSOs and 80 grids.

J knew I was in trouble when I came up to the bedroom and my wife was bent over on all fours on the bedT breathing slowty and looking at the clock. You guessed iti Her contractions had started and she was into active tabor! f especially liked her comment as I came through ihe door: "I don't think you'll be going back on the air again this weekend1 To make a iong story short, she indeed did wind up going to the hospital the next morning and by 5 pm we had ourselves a healthy 6-pound 5-ounce boyT three weeks early, and I'm sure it was because of my carefully laid contest plans! As she was wheeled into her hospital room, I pondered the meaning of it alL This had to be Murphy's biggest prank ever, after all the bJown GaAsFETs, shorted power supplies, and constant line noise. He's a resourceful guy! Makes you really respect him as an opponent. (And no, I didn't name my boy after himf)

As 6 pm roiled around, there was nothing left to do but go home, as Gayle was tucked away safely in her hospital bed, while Ross Lewis Putman was the subject of much admiration and attention of the nurses. Feeling like a fifth wheel, I was about to leave when my shocked ears heard my wife say "Gee, there's still a few hours left in the contest. Why don't you go home and operate them? 11 might relax you!" She had a point. Even though I hadn't had any sleep since early Saturday morning, the adrenalin was flowing like the mighty Mississippi. What the heck! A quick stop at Burger King, and t was home again, warming up the rigs.

News spread fast, especially when you ve got guys like Steve Katz WB2WIK and tvars Lauzums KC2PX in your contest Club, 1 think every fifth contact included a "Congratulations, Dad!" with the grid exchange, not to mention a few expressions of surprise that I had actually bothered to get back on the air. Weil, you just can't keep a contester down, and at 11 pm 1 pulled the plug with 290 QSOs and 58 grids for my efforts. It wasn't what 1 was hoping for, but I'll take it. ♦.

AM-6155 update: Well, Fair Radio is still out of stock on AM-6155s but is now getting rid of their AM-6154s at a fast rate Many readers have called with questions on how to modify these radios for 2-meter operation! As they come from the box, they will tune the 144-148-MHz band, although you'll only see about 50-

60 Watts out for 10 Watts of drive. I do not have any specific information on modifying this unit and would welcome it from readers who have done the mods, A suggestion might be to work from the 144-MHz mods to the AM-6155 from last month's column, as the plunger is reset on the 6155 to gel 2-meter operation. The plungeron the 6154 is already set for it, so the grid compartment will have to be tweaked up. Basically, there are three places that will require attention: C1. the input coupling capacitor needs to be increased in value to about 10 pF. C2 and C3 will also have to be increased to about 30 pF and 100 pF respectively. (Refer to the schematic in ihe March column.) The existing output tuning circuits need not be modified to result in about 300500 Watts with 1-10 Watts of drive, depending on how tightly you couple the input.

Again, I coutd use input from you readers. Send aiong your schematics and notes and I'll publish them posthaste. Incidentally, I ordered one of the M5-TUN*CAV assemblies from Fair Radio and it showed up today, so I'll give a brief report on what I've found out so far: The unit does contain a 4CX250B and aiso contains a type 6816 tube, which won't be used. The input connector is a type SMA, and the hole it's in can be drilled out to take a BNC or N connector. The ouptut is type BNC and can be left alone. There are several adjustments, including a "PA FREQ ADJ" control, which resonates the cavity, and an output coupling control next to the tube using a flapper. The output of the 6816 also has a tuning control which could be used to resonate the grid of the 4CX250B,

Some kind of input grid circuit will have to be made up and I'll pass atong my notes on this as I proceed Although there is a hole marked "VHF-UHF PA BAND SWITCH/' there is nothing in it so the cavity is luned for one band range. I'll determine that also by the next column, but most likely it's set up for around 200 MHz. This unit also needs a blower andi power supply voltages of +2000 VDC, +360 VDC, -135 adjustable VDC and 6.0 VAC for filaments. This might turn oul to be a nice amplifier assembly, especially if you've got the power supply already built up. A single 4CX250B on 220 MHz should be good for around 300-400 Watts output with 2-6 Watts of drive. The cavity might also make a good repeater amplifier. The cavity design lends itself to a Hl-O tuned circuit, important in repeater installations to avoid desense. And 4CX250'$ are rugged and easily replaced. You can often find them at flea markets for as low as $10 apiece. Contrast that with 8930's which retail brand new tor over S130!

READER INPUT DEPT.: Aside irom the usual letters asking for more information on Fair Radio Amplifiers, I get newsletters from radio clubs. One of the strangest and funniest I've seen comes from the Pittsburg Repeater Organization and is called (appro-priatety) the PRO-Crastinator, Published by KCQES. George WiHard, it's a loose collection of local news, excerpts from the W5Y1 Report, and some funny articles on topics of general interest, This month's deals with the absurdities of mathematics in which the author proves that among other things, everything is white, and Alexander the Great did not exist while having an infinite number of limbs. What does this have to do with amateur radio9 Beats me but \ laughed pretty to be counted in, "at least 10 votes, i would iike to do away with all unnecessary components .. all I need to know is where I can cut in the external loop to drive the keyboard."

Louis Hutton K7YZZ of Belle-vue WA is another ham who has tried to hook up a Modei 33 to a computer. He has ' been able to successfully modify the TTV to run from TTL ouput signals from the CoCo's serial! I/O port. But like anything you try, there are problems."

Down south, Bob Furlong WDOCBN in Miami FL would like hard when reading the newsletter

The Southern California Six Meter Club is sponsoring the Southern California Six Meter QSO Party on May 10 and 11. The purpose is to generate and maintain high activity levels on the six-meter band using any mode of communication, it runs from noon till noon PST, and entry forms are available from the club Write them at: PO Box 448t Cypress CA 90630,

In future columns, I'll be discussing power measurements and tackle the subject of swr and what it means to you on the VHF and UHF bands. I'm also working on getting one each of the IC-471 and TS-811 multimodes for a side-by-side comparison in the lab. Many users of the 432-MHz band want full; coverage of 430-450 MHz with the ability to work SSB, CW, and FM repeaters, as well as the OSCAR uplink. These rigs are full-featured and both will set you back a nice big piece of change. How well do they really work? Are they worth the investment? I'll try to have both qualitative and quantitative answers for you in the next few months.

Look for reviews of the new EME VHF/UHF wattmeters from Germany, including muitiband models with coverage from 144 MHz all the way up to 2304 MHz. Also, more new transverters from Microwave Modules and SSB Electronics, as well as the Microwave Modules ATV transmitting and receiving converters. ThereVe plenty of products out there for the VHF/UHF enthusiast and I'II try my best to have a look at as many as I can get for you. If you're out at Dayton this year, why not stop by the PX Shack booth and we'll have an eyeball QSO! Until next imonth, see you above and beyondf to hook up his Model 33 to use as a slave printer for his setup. He cautioned me in his letter that he has only "put together Heathkit projects and simple one-tube receivers, but I will give anylhing a try," That's the spirit, Bob!

Ted Malafouris W90VZ in Howell Ml has used some of the information presented here before to hook up his Model 33 to a receiver, but says that all he prints is "garbage." Well, Ted, I'd like to remind you that the 33 is an ASCII-encoded machine, and most amateur transmissions remain Murray (5-level) encoded. Also, there is

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