My Station, summer 2019

The main operating area

My station is always a work-in-progress. I just can't seem to just have one rig! Over the years my interests have varied, but these days I'm spending more time acquiring and restoring older rigs. While many people like to collect 1950's boat-anchors, hybrids or military radios, I decided that my specialty would be first-generation all-solid-state rigs. (though I'm always a sucker for a neglected old beauty of any type!)

Despite my passion for older radios, I do enjoy modern technology too, especially when trying to work a rare DX station, or when operating as a member of CFARS. (Canadian version of MARS) My go-to rig for such occasions is a Kenwood TS-590SG, an excellent little radio with great ears. (though too many buttons on a small front panel for me to really love it) 

I recently purchased and built an Elecraft KPA500 amplifier and KAT500 tuner. The kits went together very easily, with no problems at all, and have integrated into my station seamlessly!

Several other rigs and accessories are visible in this photo. Included in the collector's items are an Atlas 210X (still looking for a 180), an Alda 103, a Cubic Astro 150A, and a Drake TR7 with an SP75 speech processor. Other items include a Heathkit HO-10 monitor scope, Icom IC-703+, Icom IC-22S and a Yaesu FT-7800. (I've also got a working IC-22U, which I hear is somewhat rare)

Microphones include a Kenwood MC-60 for the main rig, an Electrovoice 638 for the Atlas, and an Astatic D-104 currently wired up to the Drake TR7.

A Yaesu G-450A rotator controller can be seen in this image. Below that is an SCS PTC-IIpro Pactor modem, upgraded to Pactor III, which I mainly use for CFARS message handling.  

On the computer screen is WSJT-X, running FT8. I do play occasionally with digital modes, but I'm not really a fan. In fact, I'm a member of the True Blue DX'ers Club, a group that aims to get people back on the air actually talking to each other!

Have anything you'd like to sell?

I'm always looking for something "new" to add to the collection.  For example, a Swan SS-200, Atlas 180, Atlas 350XL (I have one but it's in very rough shape), an original Ten Tec Triton maybe...


Other rigs for occasional fun

I'm always working on something. Right now in this area I've got a working Ten Tec Triton IV (540) with a new Inrad filter (sounds great!) and a Yaesu FT-7B with digital display that are working. Below these are an Icom IC-701 that needs some work (new 9v regulator and need to find source of RF getting into Tx audio) and a Yaesu FT-301. The 301 does work but needs some TLC to get it back into fighting form. 

Soon to be added to this area (somehow!) will be a Kenwood TS-180S that's now in almost perfect condition. I had to do a lot of work to it, including replacing the digital display and repairing the analog frequency dial. But all it needs now is for me to install a new plastic coupling on the band switch. Can't wait to get it on the air!

The microphone connected to the Triton IV is a Shure 444. Sounds great! I've got several of these, though am only using this one at the moment.

Also seen are my two handhelds. One is an old IC-2AT in perfect working order. I don't use it much though as it doesn't have PL tones. A more recent acquisition is my Yaesu FT-530. It's certainly not a new radio, but is a lot easier to handle (literally!) than my last teeny tiny dual bander...


The pointy end of the stick...

My little antenna farm keeps slowly growing. After years of using various wire antennas (OCF dipoles, horizontal loops and doublets fed by window line) I finally shelled out some real cash and bought a hexbeam. This one is a Traffie 5 bander. I think I must have purchased one of his last, as Mike Traffie shut down production in May of 2015.


I'm incredibly happy with this little beauty. (only 19 feet in diameter, main reason I bought it) It assembled very easily, and we got it up on the roof without too much hassle. So far not a single problem with it. While you can't buy a new Traffie, most likely any other brand would be a great investment.

The hexbeam sits on a Glen Martin 4.5 foot roof-mount tower, which has been rock solid for me.  The rotator is a Yaesu G-450A, which is mostly good. Last winter a storm caused the antenna to go out of alignment with the direction indicator, though. At some point I might upgrade it. 

Also held up by the roof-mount tower is an Off-Center-Fed dipole for the lower bands. (not 160 though, unfortunately) Works OK though sometimes the doorbell rings or the TV shuts off when I transmit on 75m! I need to work that out some time soon.

Barely visible is a dual-band vertical for VHF and UHF. Lots of repeaters around here, though they're not all that active usually. I mainly keep it up there for possible emergencies.

Not visible on the far side of the house is a taller mast that's holding up a 40 metre delta loop. I thought it would be far better than the OCF dipole, but so far not really. Not sure I'll keep it there.

And way out back by the garage is a Wellbrook receive-only loop on a small rotator. Sometimes helps when conditions are very noisy on the low bands.


The work bench

My workbench is always full of projects. Right now I have about ten (!!) rigs waiting for repairs, half from the estate of VE6BV which hopefully I'll have time to fix before selling. Of my own rigs awaiting work, I've got a TS-120S, Atlas 350XL, Icom IC-701, Yaesu FT-301 and a Yaesu FTdx100.


An acquisition I'm very happy with is my Keysight DSOX1102G scope. Upgraded it to 100 MHz. I've used a lot of analog scopes over the years, but after the movers wrecked my last Tek, I couldn't go back. This scope is tiny but incredibly useful. It even has a built-in function generator, though I rarely use that.


My daily-use watt meter is a Diamond SX-600, a very nice little unit that does HF, VHF and UHF. Not perfect but fine for everyday use. Nearby is a Bird model 43 with various slugs for when I want to get serious. 


My bench meter is perhaps an unusual choice, but I wanted a simple one that wouldn't distract me with gee-whizzy features I'd never use. It's a Wavetek BDM40. An excellent, solid meter that just works.


A couple of years ago I got a heck of a deal on a Siglent SDG2042X waveform generator. I don't use it to its full capabilities by any means, but it gets used for generating higher-level RF signals when I need a steady source during repairs, and works well for audio also. (though I tend to fall back on my old Kenwood AG-203 analog audio generator for quick testing) Only problem is that it doesn't go below -50 dBm, so I will use an external step attenuator when necessary.


For most quick receive sensitivity tests I'll use my handy-dandy Elecraft XG-3. What an amazing little tool that is, incredibly versatile! 

The frequency counter is an older HP 5385 that I finally found on eBay. Lots of these around but many are badly beaten up. This one works perfectly and looks ok.