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Vintage military and amateur receivers and transmitters

I'm Steve, G7HEP; my chief interests are construction, and the restoration of vintage military and amateur receivers and transmitters. My first "proper" receiver was an RCA AR88, followed by assortment of Murphy B40s, R 1155s and others, all of which I've restored to good working order, and some of which I've sold, usually to make room for something more interesting - there's only so much the shack will hold and still allow me inside.

The Station

The shack itself, which also doubles as my workshop, is heated to maintain a minimum of 15 degrees Celsius throughout the coldest weather, and condensation is never a problem.

The main HF aerial is a 120' doublet at about 20 to 30 feet high, and anything but straight: it seems to work though.

For all bands 80M to 10M it's driven from an Icom 735 through a homebrew single coil Z-match and 300 ohm balanced twin feeder. For Top Band, I use just half of the doublet / feeder as an inverted L, driven through a simple L/C matching unit against earth.

For VHF and UHF there are various aerials about the site, including a Diamond WX1 vertical (for 6M, 2M and 70cm), a 7-element ZL Special for 2M ssb (the one with the 300 ohm ribbon phasing line that the Gulls keep breaking), a 3-element homebrew Yagi for 6M ssb, and a long Yagi for 23cm.
A simple dipole serves for the local 4M chat channel. Local users all appear to have acquired more modern synthesised 4M rigs (like Philips,Ascom, Key)instead of the old rock-bound Pye Westminsters and Cleartones of a few years ago - I've still got mine if anyone wants it - I.m curr ently using a Key KME80.

Apart from the Icom 735 and the Key, there's a selection of more (almost) modern equipment to cover other bands plus a (G1JRU homebrew) transverter for 23cm.
My Icom IC 202E, which got me a 78th in the 2004 PW 2M Low Power contest out of not too many more gets used portable. If more output is needed on 2M ssb, there's the FT-221R (about 10 -12 w) and the Icom 706 MkII G DSP (40w, which also works superbly portable), but I don't have a valve linier any more. Last one I had used a QQV06-40 and produced about 90W of SSB on 2M - took up a lot of space though, so it had to go.

Restorations

For the Southampton Area Top Band A.M. Net of a Sunday morning, (1969 kHz, 09:00 UKT onwards) I use either a Codar AT5, or a Geloso G210TR amateur-built clone.
 

Codar AT5 and HRO top Band rigs.

 

I bought the AT5 a few years ago at the Andover (Wildhern) rally, complete with its power supply, after looking for one for several months.
Apart from some tidying, a meter replacement and needing new coaxial connectors, the AT5 was in very good condition, and gives about 7W of nicely rounded a.m. on a good day.
Incidentally, it uses choke modulation, and if by some mishap the modulation choke dies, provided you have the Codar Power supply, you have a direct replacement component in the HT choke - you can then use (almost) any old HT smoothing choke in the PSU. As for the Geloso, it's a 1950s design, with a pair of 6L6s in the modulator driving a single 807 p.a., and producing something like 16W or so: that too, gets good audio reports all 'round the Solent.
For receive on Top Band I have several choices: an HRO, restored about 10 years ago (I use the '735 if anyone wants an objective signal report) a Canadian Marconi 52 set, or a Soviet R 311 (amazing sensitivity and a very fine tuning rate), or one of my latest restorations (and the subject of talks at local radio clubs) choice of Hallicrafters SX-24 or Hallicrafters Super Skyrider SX-28.
 

Marconi 52 Receiver

Soviet R311

SX28

The R 311's manual is all in Russian, and I'm in the process of attempting a sort of translation - but as it was 40 years ago that I last studied the language, this may take some time........I just hope it stays working in the meantime.
In the (slightly) more modern section, a Larkspur R 210, but with external mains PSU: I couldn't stand the noise of the vibrator pack on 24 volts DC, and that goes for the R209 too which will shortly have its electro-mechanical vibrator replaced by an all solid state device.

 

Larkspur R210

The latest hernia-inducing lump is a Racal RA 17L, now in working order - just as well really because at 66 lbs. (about 30 Kg in new money), just getting it onto the bench requires a certain determination and a good breakfast.
You could say the same for the SX-28 too - every time I get the brute out of the shack for a talk, I have to plan very carefully - 70-odd lbs of WWII hardware could make quite a mess if it gets loose.

 

RA17L

On the bench at the time of writing is a Yaesu FTdx400. In waiting there's a Yaesu FRdx400, and a Heathkit HW101.
Naturally all this vintage gear requires a fair bit of test gear to get it working and into line, and here I have a Marconi TF 801D HF/VHF signal generator - massive by any standards, but up to now reliable, also an old Advance (grey case, nice vernier dial) HF generator.
There's a 'scope too, but that's (relatively) modern - I sold the Tektronix 545 a few years ago (54 valves and a right useful shack-warmer), plus a Bradley multimeter and homebrew wobbulator.
Unfortunately, I still have to work for a living which involves a fair amount of overseas travel, and I'm never in the shack when the good openings occur. I do get to listen a fair bit though, and the Sony SW 100 is always with me on my travels - although the QRM in modern hotels doesn't help.
Apart from the vintage receivers and the Icom 735, when I'm at home there's a choice of either Drake R8E (amazing filters, but not everyone's cup of tea ergonomically, and inclined to overheat because of the cheap mains transformer - best run on 13.8v external supply) or Icom R 75, also very competent, but not so fully featured, or the Icom 706.

Useful Resources

Chris Parry (G8JFJ) has published an electronic book, which is an invaluable reference source for the Restoration of Valved HF Communications Receivers.
It is only available via the Internet and is therefore accessible free of charge to all - see the F&DARC links page.
The book is under constant revision by Chris: in later forms it will appear with photographs of the equipment concerned.

Habits

If I'm around, I'll be listening on 4M f.m., and regularly contribute to the weekly insanity which is the F&DARC Tuesday evening 2M net (145.475 MHz or thereabouts from 8p.m. UK time). On HF I like Top Band and 17M (nice and quiet, free of contesters).

I like to listen - and occasionally contribute to - the # VMARS week-end nets, but I don't wear either camouflage military clothing or drive olive drab hand-painted vehicles: there's no known cure for that!

Steve G7HEP surrounded by his radios.

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all images are ęSteve Ellis G7HEP and used with permission