Equipment progression at Station M0OBU 1949 to 2014
65 Years Ago ! The start of my interest in radio
1949 ~ My First Radio !
My parents bought me a Crystal set for Christmas in 1949 exactly the same as the one above, when I was thirteen. It cost them 23 shillings (£1.15 in todays currency, but equivalent to about £15 in todays value). At Boarding School, and after 'Lights Out' I used my bed springs as an aerial, and the radiator pipes as an earth, and listened to '208 Radio Luxembourg' on my SG Brown Headphones' - I was hooked !!
After this, I bought germanium diodes and .0005 variable condensers (we couldn't get capacitors in those days !!), and wound coils on half pencils to make and sell crystal sets to other pupils, later moving on to constructing '1 and 2 Valvers' that needed a 90 Volt HT Battery, and a 6.5 Volt LT Battery to function.
After leaving school, I did 2 Years National Service in the Royal Navy as a Radio and Radar Mechanic, and then joined the Royal Corps of Signals where I was, after being trained, an instructor for Radio Mechanics for 3 years, as a Radio Tech (Heavy) and was retained on the Cadre (Staff) until I was posted out to Aden (now South Yemen) in the Middle East in 1962, where I was a Corporal (Chief Clerk) at 222 Signal Squadron (Air Formation). I held the Call sign of VS9AQP in Aden, and MP4BDS in Bahrain.
A Creed 7B Teleprinter from around 1944 - 1965 (with the cover off)
They were extremely noisy, smelled of 'hot oil', and operated at 60 Baud (50 WPM). As a R.Signals 'Special Operator' and Radio Mechanic, I operated and repaired these.
EQUIPMENT THAT HAS PASSED THROUGH MY 'SHACK' from May, 2009 to May, 2014
Kenwood TS-520SE (The first Transceiver ~ bought in May 2009, for £145)
With the DG-5 Digital Frequency read out, bought from USA for £105, SP-230 Speaker and AT-230 ATU.
The Kenwood HS-5 Headphones and MC-50 Desk Microphones were added , also the G0MCQ Digital Interface and the Mk706 'Straight' Morse key...
YAESU FT-767GX AT Transceiver
Purchased for £325 in October 2010 from G3RCQ Sold in May 2011 for £350 on eBay
Bought on Ebay for £600 in March 2012 Sold on eBay Aug 2012 for £650
.I was quite impressed with the Icom IC-746Pro, and together with my long wire antenna, I worked the world with it... My first experience of a relatively modern and more 'Top of the Range' transceiver with quite good receive sensitivity of less than 0.2 microvolts at 10db Signal to Noise Ratio. I still had 'itchy feet' and a yearning to find my ideal transceiver
Icom IC- 746Pro with Icom 2 Metre & 70cm Transceivers & Beam Rotator (Also Upgraded to SignaLink Digital Interface and Kent Paddle for CW) I continued to build a 'complete' Station with all the necessary ancilliaries to operate on all bands, all modes, and at this point in my stations evolution, I had a 2M and 70cm all mode Icom Transceivers, switched from a 'pump action' Morse key to a Kent 'Paddle' and was using the simple M0AOQ Interface for Digital modes on the HF Bands. Antennas were a Rotating Beam for V/UHF and a 30 Metre Long wire for HF. This was my first and last experience of frequencies above 30 Mhz, I was not impressed, as there was little activity, other than using the local repeater, and once a month the UK Contact session once a month on Tuesday from 8 to 10.30pm. HF. SSB, CW and Digital modes proved to be my main interest.
YAESU FT-900AT TRANSCEIVER
Yaesu FT-900AT Transceiver with MD-100 Desk Mic, and LDG AT11MP Auto Tuner. (pictured with a great receiver. the Grundig 650 'Sattelit' International) Sadly, after a couple of Months use, I was not impressed with the Yaesu FT-900AT transceiver, so sold it on for the £300 I paid for it - with its MD-100 microphone, worth £100 on its own !
Still not happy, so I moved on !! A Transceiver I always wanted, over 30 years ago, but could never afford and I still had a 'soft spot' for, was a Kenwood TS-830 Gold Label Hybrid Transceiver. In 1981, when I couldn't afford one while living in USA, they were almost 700 GB Pounds (1,100 US dollars) or 6 Weeks wages at that time, so in 2013 terms they would be 4,200 GB Pounds (7,000 US Dollars)
My Kenwood Dream !!! (Picture Above)
I fancied (for nostalgic reasons), a 1981 All Kenwood station - based around the TS-830 Transceiver.
The 830S Transceiver, the External VFO (Top Left), The SM-220 Station Monitor (Bottom Left), DM-50 Microphone, AT-230 Antenna Tuning Unit (Top Right), and the SP-230 Speaker Unit (Bottom Right).
KENWOOD AT-230 ATU (The first item I bought, as a starter for the new Kenwood 'Dream Station').
Kenwood AT-230 Antenna Tuning Unit (The first item I bought, as a starter for the new 'Dream Station').
Obtained as a 'Swap' for the LDG AT11MP Auto tuner (above) .... Valued at £119 (The cost of the LDG Auto one).
At Last, my Dream was achieved ! Bought from the Isle of Man, June 2012 From GD1MIP for £500 My 'Dream 'Transceiver' .....AKenwood TS-830S 'Gold Label' with all filters. Together with the matching speaker SP-230 and VFO-230
Kenwood TS-830S Gold Label Transceiver
My TS-830S Gold Label Transceiver
Matching Kenwood VFO-230 - External VFO
KENWOOD SP-230 SPEAKER
Matching Kenwood SP-230 Speaker
This was a 'Top of the Line' station, that over 30 years ago, I could only dream about - as I just couldn't afford it at that time. It is still a very well respected and very good transceiver, and its performance is better than many of todays models - costing several thousand pounds, for those who can afford them. I was very lucky to find this model, and so quickly !!
This complete station is in fantastic condition, and will never leave my safe keeping, until I curl up my toes.
Advertisement in the December, 1981 Practical Wireless Magazine. The Kenwood TS-830 in 1981 was £700 (1,100 Dollars), which at that time would have been over 10 weeks of my wages!! With a young family to support, and moving to USA to work, I had to wait 30 years for my dream of owning this transceiver to materialise. Note also the Kenwood DFC-230 digital remote controller at £180 at that time... Today these are quite rare, but 18 months after purchasing the Transceiver, I managed to buy one on Ebay in December, 2013 for £50, which was half the normal price, as it was not working. I managed to do a simple repair on the interconnecting cable, and it now works perfectly.
An Advertisement from the American 'QST' Magazine - March, 1982
KENWOOD MC-50 MICROPHONE
The Kenwood MC-50 Desk Microphone (Purchased from a friend for £50)
KENWOOD HS-5 HEADPHONES
Kenwood HS-5 Mono Headphones These headphones are made to match into the older hybrid transceivers - they are mono, comfortable to wear for long periods and have the frequency response needed for communication purposes, from 300c/s to 3Kc/s which is all that is needed.
KENWOOD STATION MONITOR SM-220
The Kenwood Station Monitor SM-220 Purchased off Ebay for £150 These Station Monitors are quite rare, and cost almost as much as the Transceiver when new at about £500 in 1982. They sometimes come with a BS-8 Panoramic Adaptor installed, but it only displays strong signals that are about 150Kc/s each side of the tuned frequency, so not really worth having.
KENWOOD FREQUENCY CONTROLLER DFC-230
Kenwood DFC-230 ~ External Digital VFO (Purchased on Ebay for £50 'Spares or Repair' it was cheap at £50). A join in the connecting cable was poorly done, and when repaired the unit worked perfectly. The DFC-230 External VFO Simply plugs into the 8-Pin 'Ext VFO' socket on the rear of the TS-830 Transceiver, and provides digital control of the VFO function in the transceiver. It provides stable frequency of the VFO as well as providing slower motion tuning, essential for using to operate modern digital modes.
I now had, for a total outlay of £800 (1,200 US Dollars).....
A Complete working 1982 'Quality' HF Radio Station. (In January 2013)
Sadly the TS-830 Transceiver has no Data In/Out. I needed to buy a more 'Modern' additional Transceiver to operate the Digital Modes of PSK 31, RTTY, SSTV and MT65, so was looking to buy a good, but small HF Transceiver to do just Digital modes, permanently wired into my Computer. I decided to buy a cheap 'Plastic Pig' the ........
The Station ~ March, 2013
On the Top shelf For Digital Modes is the Yaesu FT-747GX with M0AQC Interface and matching Yaesu FC-700 Antenna Tuning Unit
On the Bottom Shelf For CW / SSB Modes, The complete Kenwood TS-830S Gold Label 'Line Up'.
MORE CHANGES ! The 'Opposition' to Kenwood in 1982 was Yaesu, and at that time, the Yaesu FT-101ZDwas the competing model with the Kenwood TS-830 line..... SO..... I decided to set up a complete 1982 Station based around the Kenwood TS 830 'Line Up' I already owned together with a....
Yaesu FT-101ZD MkIII Transceiver
An advertisement from 1981
I advertised on a couple of Amateur Radio Forums, to see if anyone had a good FT-101ZD Mk III. Eventually, I traded some of my spare equipment and the Yaesu 747 Plastic Pig for a Yaesu FT-101ZD Mark III Transceiver with an Amateur in Doncaster ~ Value, about £250.
My Yaesu FT-101ZD Mark 3
But to make the complete 'Line Up', I needed some more units !!!
YAESU YO-901 STATION MONITOR
Yaesu YO-901 Station Monitor
These are quite a rare item, but are occasionally available. I managed to find one and it was from a friend, Jon G4FUT, who let me have it for £150
YAESU FV-901 EXTERNAL VFO
YAESU YP-150 DUMMY LOAD / WATTMETER
Yaesu YP-150 or Yp-150Z Dummy Load / Wattmeter Bought for £100 off a friend These come either as the 150 or 150Z Version - no difference, except that the rarer 150Z version has a 230V fan to cool the Dummy Load resistor.
I eventually managed to buy the needed ancilliaries for the Yaesu 'Line Up', but sadly the FT-101ZD Mk3 I bought (or rather 'traded'), had a fault on the RF end, so .... I have another Yaesu - an FT-101E - in my loft that has been in a box since I last went 'off the air', over 20 years ago I dug it out it out and wound it up to see if it still works as well as it did 20 years ago ... was that too much to expect ?? No, it wasn't, and after 20 years of inactivity the Yaesu 101E was working perfectly. Meanwhile, I got the 'Duff' 101ZD repaired, and decide which one to keep. All I needed was the Matching Yaesu SP-901 Speaker, and that would be another 1980's 'Line Up' complete !!!
My 1979 Yaesu FT-101E Transceiver (Kept as a 'spare', bought in 1994 for 80 Dollars (£55) in USA - Sold in May 2013 for £175)
My Complete Hybrid 1982 Radio Station - as at May, 2013
On the top shelf is the complete Yaesu FT-101ZD 'Line Up'. On the bottom Shelf is the complete Kenwood TS-830S Line up.
Another Change of Direction !!
Sadly, although I loved the Yaesu FT-101ZD, I found that although it was stable as far as Yaesu hybrids go, it drifted a little too much for the intended use on Digital Modes. This was unacceptable, so in June 2013 sold it on eBay for £350
Very fortunately another friend Terry 2W0TCL had a really 'mint' Yaesu FT-950 for sale, so I snatched his arm off. It was a current model on sale at the time (June 2013) at around £1250, and I managed to twist Terrys arm for less than this !!
That was the end of all my equipment comings and goings for a long while. The new FT-950 is loved, almost as much as the TS-830, so neither of them will be going anywhere in the forseeable future. Surprisingly, in spite of a 32 years age difference. The 'receive' on A/B switching is about equal - even without the FT-950 using DSP !!. The 'Transmit' on A/B switching gives me great comments on just the 32 years older Kenwoods quality of Audio.....You just gotta love those Valve (Tube) finals that glow in the dark.
My New Yaesu FT-950 Transceiver
MFJ-949E ANTENNA TUNER
The MFJ-949E Antenna Tuner (Bought on Ebay for £70 - Later sold for £95)
The Station as at 31st June 2013
FROM JUNE TO NOVEMBER, 2013
At this point, I am more 'settled' and Happy with the present set up in my 'shack', but opportunities happen, and on just a State Pension, to buy equipment, I have to sell equipment with just small cash additions if needed. I value my current station in total and at current prices, at around 2,500 GB Pounds (3,800 US Dollars), and in most cases, equipment I have sold at a profit has paid for what I have now. In total, I think the station as it is now (November, 2013), has cost me in total about 2000 Pounds, plus 400 Pounds (620 Dollars) for a new computer, so all the equipment I have had through my hands in the last few years has never really cost me anything more than that. The 32 year old Kenwood TS-830 'Line Up' will always be here until I curl up my toes. In the last couple ofmonths, I have added - all 2nd User and mint condition...... Yaesu MD-1 Desk Microphone (£55 pounds on eBay) BHI Noise Cancelling Speaker NES 10-2 (£55 Pounds on eBay) SignaLink USB Digital Interface (£50 Pounds off eBay) Heil Pro 6 Headset with HC6 insert (£100 pounds from a friend - New and Boxed) MFJ-926B Remote Antenna Tuning Unit (£177 pounds on Ebay)
2014 - A New Year - A New Start
A New Callsign - A New Licence - A New Radio.
Amateur Radio Station M0OBU ~ January, 2014
The Yaesu FT-102 was added to the station, also a Daiwa CN-801 Power and SWR Meter.
In the Air outside ~ Antennas
HF Long Wire Antenna - LW20 Claimed to operate on all HF bands from 80m - 6m via an ATU. 20 Metres in length.
It was discovered in actual practice, that the manufacturers claims were not justified, but when a 20M long counterpoise was added, it was tuneable with low losses on all HF Amateur Bands, but was replaced with a 'Western HF-10' A half-sized G5RV Clone multi HF Band antenna, made by Fred Western in nearby Sandbach .
The 'Western HF-10 - 61ft Half Size G5RV Clone Both of the other antennas were taken down and sold to finance the new HF-10 (75 Pounds) This antenna was erected in September 2013, at about 25ft high on a Fibreglass Fishing Pole, with the ends going to my bungalow chimney and the other leg to a tree branch in this retirement complex communal garden, both ends coming down to about 15 feet. I am restricted as to what metal I can put in the air, and this antenna is an ideal solution, both for restricted space, and low visibility. A bonus is, that with an ATU this antenna is exceptionally good, and I have 'worked' stations in New Zealand, Phillipnes, China, Japan, etc and 94 Countries in 30 days.
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