The Berry Family of Central Texas

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Richard's Ham Radio

 

Ive been licensed since 1961 with call signs: WA5AME, in Albuquerque, NM; WB4WVJ, in Cary, NC; KA5BXJ and currently KF5SA, in Georgetown, TX.  After 40 years holding an FCC Advanced Class Amateur Radio License I finally decided to upgrade to the highest level, Amateur Extra.  I studied for about 6-weeks and took the exam in February.  My study paid off as I achieved a 100 on the 50 question exam.  I learned a lot about some newer technologies and relearned topics I had forgotten. 

 

Recent Addition - Flex 6300
In October 2015 I added a Flex 6300 Software Defined Radio (SDR) to the shack.  I can switch between it and the Pro3, and still use the THP amp and Palstar tuner. 

At this time I'm still using the Pro3 for PSK and other digital modes with DM780 and WSJT-X.  The additional bandscope width on the Flex doesn't seem to offer an advantage for these modes. 

The Flex really is fun to operate and I'm getting very good reports on the audio using the stock handheld mic.  I've used two slices to do Split mode using one panadaptor.  It can also do two panadaptors so you can watch two bands at the same time. 

Window management is an issue and I'm still trying to master the best combination and positions for SmartSDR,  DDUtil, CAT, DAX, FRStack, PstRotator, Ham Radio Deluxe, HRD Logbook, DM780, and VoiceKeyer!  A second display is very likely in the future! 


Current Radio Station - Home QTH
The home QTH station consists of:

Icom 756 Pro III
Tokyo Hy-Power HL-1.5KFX solidstate 1KW amp
Palstar AT-Auto auto-tuner
Yaesu FT-7800 VHF/UHF
Kenwood SW-2000 SWR & Power Meter
Kenwood SP-930 Speaker
Ameritron RCS-4 Remote Coax Switch
Yaesu G-800SA rotator
Heil iC Headset
D104 Mic w/Heil element
SignalLink USB
Force 12 C3E 8-element beam at 40'
80M Inv-Vee & 40M Inv-Vee
KU4AB 6M loop
Rohn 25G tower with Hazer
Yaesu FT-60 and VX1R VHF/UHF handhelds
Wouxun KG-UV3D VHF/UHF handheld
Comet VHF/UHF antenna
HP Core2Quad Computer
Ham Radio Deluxe with  DM780. 

I acquired the 756 Pro III in October 2008 at the Belton hamfest.  It's a great transceiver and I really enjoy operating with it.  I acquired the HL-1.5KFX amp in September 2009.  I operate SSB and several digital modes including PSK31, RTTY, and have tried MFSK and Olivia.  I've also listened a bit on digital voice using FreeDV and enjoy watching pictures using EasyPal. 
 

Current Radio Station - RV
My radio station in the RV consists of:

Kenwood TS-480SAT
Flex 3000
KJ7U Screwdriver antenna
Yaesu FT-7800 VHF/UHF
IBM Thinkpad W520 laptop computer
Ham Radio Deluxe with  DM780. 

I also run an FT-7800 in my truck and Mustang.  Having several FT-7800s makes it easy to program them all from one computer file of repeater and tone frequencies. 

I added the Flex 3000 this year to get my feet wet with a Software Defined Radio (SDR). I had intended to replace the TS-480SAT but for now I'm just moving the 3000 back-and-forth from the RV to the house. 

I originally used Workman single band "stick" antennas mounted at the top of the RV ladder, but climbing the ladder to switch bands got old fast.  I finally decided to invest in a screwdriver and purchased the KJ7U version.  Getting an adequate counterpoise proved quite difficult.  I finally got all of the metal in the RV tied together with the antenna's ground and now have a great SWR on all bands 160M - 6M. 
 

Prior Radio Station
The Tokyo Hy-Power amp was preceded by a Heathkit HL-2200 amp running a pair of 3-500Zs.  I had this amp for about 20 years.  I turned it on to verify operation once or twice a year.  Before selling it I replaced the filter caps, fan & motor, rectifier and metering board, and installed soft-start, and soft-key boards from Harbach.  It put out full legal power before and after these updates. 
 

2007 Radio Station
Prior to the Icom 756 ProIII I had a Yaesu FT-920 acquired to replace the 18 year old TS-440S.  When I became more active after retiring in 2006 I decided I should upgrade the old TS-440S.  The FT-920 looked like it had all the bells and whistles I needed.  Unfortunately it has a well-known problem with AGC pumping, which I noticed immediately.  It doesn't bother some but it bothered me.  The FT-920 uses an AF DSP so I decided to upgrade to a radio using an IF DSP.  I would have opted for an Elecraft K3 but there was a 3 1/2 month waiting list!  The Flex 5000A is also a fine radio but I'm still a knobs and dials guy.  I was ready to buy a Yaesu FT-2000 but was concerned that it might have similar problems as the FT-920, so I finally decided on the 756 Pro III - and I'm very pleased that I did. 
 

2006 Radio Station
Not long after moving to Georgetown in 1978 I sold all of my Heathkit equipment and bought a simple Kenwood TS-820S transceiver, but in 1989 my tower was struck by lightning and I lost most of my gear, not  to mention a lot of other stuff around the house.  Fortunately, I was insured and got all new equipment, including a Kenwood TS-440S with built-in automatic antenna tuner.  Along the way I added the Heath HL-2200 linear running a pair of 3-500Zs, and several  dual-band VHF/UHF transceivers.

I converted from a KAM and homebrew computer program for RTTY and AMTOR, to the new soundboard DSP based programs for PSK etc.  During this period I used TrueTTY for PSK and RTTY and MMSSTV for slow-scan television. 
 

1976 Radio Station
While in Raleigh and Cary, NC, I did a lot of building.  I built several of the Heathkit models of ham gear, and I did quite a bit of homebrew building as well.  In the 70s I got into RTTY (radio teletype).  In this photo you can see the Model 15 teleprinter I started with (on the left).  The rest of the equipment included a Heathkit SB-102 Transceiver with matching Station Console, Monitor, SWR Meter, and speaker.  Above the SB-102 is a homebuilt version of the famous ST-6 teletype converter.  A friend of mine fabricated the printed circuit boards by  copying pages from an original ST-6 manual.  We scrounged all of the parts and I built two sets of the circuit boards.  I think there were  four or five circuit boards involved.  I built mine into a Heathkit SB-303 cabinet, to match the SB-102, and I added a 1 oscilloscope for tuning.
 
To the right of the SB-102 is an HW-101 VFO in a Heathkit speaker cabinet with a  homebrew front panel.  I used this as an external VFO to operate split frequency. To the left of the SB-102 and Station Console is a homebrew linear amplifier that ran a pair of 4-400As in grounded grid, capable of 2KW.  Barely visible under the table is the power supply made from a pole pig, a commercial power transformer removed from the oil bath and familiar cylinder container you see on power poles.  Running it backwards from 120V gave an output of  about 3600 volts at plenty of current!  The antenna in Cary was a Swan TB-3H, 3 element tri-bander on a 40 foot phone pole installed beside the house. 
1977 VHF Mobile
While in Raleigh I was a member of the Raleigh Amateur Radio Society (RARS).  I built this Heathkit 10 watt 2M transceiver for my 1970 Chevelle SS396.  The 50 watt amplifier mounted on top was a RARS club project.  I missed all of the club meetings devoted to building it in stages.  I finally got to attend the last meeting where everyone was doing final assembly and tuning - but I had to build mine from scratch!  In about two hours I had it completely built and working fine. 

I used it until 1987 when it was stolen from my van on the first day of a temporary assignment with IBM in Boca Raton, Florida.  The cop who wrote up the report could only say "welcome to South Florida". 
 

Tower and Antenna
Heres my Force 12 C3E antenna during an ice storm in 2001.  It sure did droop - but nothing broke!

I use a Hazer to raise and lower the antenna.  It's fantastic!  Inverted Vees for 40M and 80M are supported by a cross-arm on the Hazer. 

 

1964 Radio Station
This photo is from my WA5AME shack in Albuquerque, NM around 1964.  The receiver is the famous Hammarlund HQ-170C next to a Gonset GSB-100 SSB transmitter, and a homebrew amp running a pair of 4-400s with built-in coax switch, SWR meter, and hybrid phone patch.  That's a BC-221 frequency counter sitting on top of the HQ-170, a 3" RCA oscilloscope and tape recorder on top of the 4-400 amp.   

Prior to this FB station I had used a Knight Kit single 807 transmitter, Hallicrafters SX-25 receiver, Harvey Wells TBS-50 (C or D), Lysco transmitter with homebrew modulator for AM, and a homebrew amp running a pair of 813s in a 4' rack.  Those were the AM days and I could run 700 watts AM all day long with that amp.