Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting into HF - My Journey - Part 2 : The Radio



But before we get to that, a little regression. In the months after getting home from Ten-Tec, I've wanted one so badly that I could taste it.  I probably pulled up the Ten Tec website at least a hundred times!  But alas, being a father of six, I just don't have the money to splurge on a new Argonaut or Omni.  So I turned to eBay.  For months, I searched for any new listings.  I was looking for anything HF that did SSB.  I started to narrow my search down to Argosy II's, Jupiters, and older Omnis.  But each time I thought I had one on the hook, WHAMMO, I'd get sniped, and lose it in the final seconds.

Fast forward to March 2014.  I had all but abandoned my quest to get an HF rig up and working at my house, when something great happened.  I'm a member of the Midstate Amateur Radio Club here in Central Indiana.  One of the great benefits of being a member of an ARRL based Club came shining through.  Someone had donated several radios to the club to sell.  When they offered a Kenwood TS-520S of unknown condition at $75, I jumped at the chance.  $75, that price couldn't be beat.  I thought that even if it didn't work at all, I'm sure some of the parts would hold some kind of resale value.

So I go back in the radio room and check it out.  There it is, all wrapped up in its original packaging.   The cardboard was pretty old, and needed trashed, but the radio itself was in almost immaculate condition for being close to 40 years old.  I leave the meeting, and rush my new found radio to KB9BVN's house to fire up and check out.  Wow, this radio was heavy.  I pulled it from the packaging and set it up on the bench.  Hmm.... something is missing.  The radio didn't come with an AC power cord, and my DC power supply at 10A, was nowhere near powerful enough to get the tubes going.

More on the TS-520S here.

So, after some talking with local HAMs that are knowledgable about the radio, I found a new power cord on eBay.  I would have tried to make one myself, but the cord had an adapter on it that was like 12 pins, and did some interconnect in the back of the radio as well as supplying the power.

With that power cord, I only needed one more thing for SSB operation: a microphone.  I began to search high and low, watching ebay, reading eham reviews, all kinds of searching.  I was coming up empty for something that was either affordable and known good, or a nicer mic with known issues.  Well, luckily participating in the local HAM community saved me again.  I am also a member of the local BSA HAM group, WD9BSA.  The station had an old Electra Voice that was hooked up to a Kenwood TS-530.  They were willing to loan me the microphone for test purposes, or until I can get one of my own worked out.

Well, the perfect storm of timing finally came together on May 10, 2014 around 11:00pm UTC.  Hooking the radio up to KB9BVN's TenTec tuner, and his attic dipole, I began to turn the dial.  My first contact on the radio was a station in northern Texas on 20 meters.  I picked up a 599 signal report, and boom the night started!  Over the next two hours I made 14 more contacts with stations up and down the east coast, Ontario, and Wisconsin on 40 meters.  It was a blast.

In the next part I will move the TS-520s over to my home, and get it rigged up with the MFJ Versa Tuner II I bought, and an Eagle One Vertical Antenna.  I can't wait to get it fired up.

73s de N9AWM

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