Posts Tagged ‘’29 style’

Here Comes The ’29 QSO Party!

courtesy: Lou, VE3AWA




This Saturday night as well as the next will be the annual Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, otherwise known as the '1929 BK'.





Only transmitters that are 'era-appropriate' are allowed to be used. More specifically, transmitters must employ tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier, and transmitters must be self-excited. No crystals allowed! Crystals were new and largely unaffordable for most hams back in the depression days.

The year of 1929 marked a real turning point in amateur radio as governments finally cracked-down on things such as frequency stability, out of band operations and re-alignment of call districts. In short, hams were henceforth required to behave themselves and to clean up their signals and methods of operation.

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/
Although the new rules did a lot to improve things when it came to 'signal purity', there was still a long way to go ... but the wheels of improvement had been officially set in motion. The next decade would see monumental changes in both transmitter and receiver architecture, as engineers along with some particularly gifted amateurs, strove to unlock the challenges of this relatively new technology.

If you tune across the CW bands during the next two Saturday nights, you will have the rare opportunity to hear exactly what the bands must have sounded like back in the early '30s'.

For the most part you will hear single-tube Hartley, Colpitts or TNT oscillators along with a few two-tube MOPAs thrown in. Many of them will suffer the same problems encountered by the boys of '29 ... chirp, drift, buzzy notes and frequency instability from antennas swaying in the wind.

Again this year, signals should be a little louder as well, since the previous long-time power limitation of 10W input has been increased to 25W.

The MOPAs will sound much better but some surprisingly nice-sounding signals can be heard coming from properly tuned and optimised single-tube oscillators. I recall being blown away by the lovely sounding signal I heard from such a rig when first tuning into the BK activity several years ago, only to learn that it was a self-excited Hartley using 1/4" copper tubing for the oscillator tank circuit!

The '29 watering-hole on 80m will be around 3550-3580 kilocycles (be careful not to confuse this with kilohertz!) while the early afternoon to post-sunset 40m activity will be found from 7100-7125 kc. There may even be a few on the very low end of 160m. Although many of these transmitter styles were used on 20m and higher, BK rule-makers have wisely decided not to inflict these sounds on the present populace as it would likely keep the 'Official Observers' busy for several days writing pink-slips.

This year I will leave the MOPA on the shelf and set up my Hull Hartley as I haven't used it since building the MOPA a few years ago. If it's very windy (almost assured), the Hartley will really sound like 1929!


My own Hull Hartley

You can learn more about amateur radio happenings leading up to and following the 1929 crackdown in my earlier series of 'Why '29' blogs here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Those wishing to put something together for next year's event can find everything needed here:

Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

Building '29-Style - Part 1

Building '29-Style - Part 2

Heck, there me even be time to throw something together for the following Saturday if you have a few parts and an older tube or two ... the '27 comes to mind and is readily found in many junk boxes. Maybe you know an old-timer or two with lots of parts that could help you out.

Let's hope for good conditions for this event as the last few years have been adversely affected by geomagnetic storming. Poor propagation or not, I guarantee there will be plenty of '29ers busy calling 'CQ AWA' on the low bands.

Complete BK details are available here.

Upcoming ’29 BK QSO Party

courtesy: Lou, VE3AWA




This Saturday night as well as the next will be the annual Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, otherwise known as the '1929 BK'.





Only transmitters that are 'era-appropriate' are allowed to be used. More specifically, transmitters must employ tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier, and transmitters must be self-excited. No crystals allowed! Crystals were new and largely unaffordable for most hams back in the depression days.

1929 marked a real turning point in amateur radio as governments finally cracked-down on things such as frequency stability, out of band operations and re-alignment of call districts. In short, hams were henceforth required to behave themselves and to clean up their signals and methods of operation.

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/
Although the new rules did a lot to improve things when it came to 'signal purity', there was still a long way to go ... but the wheels of improvement had been officially set in motion. The next decade would see monumental changes in both transmitter and receiver architecture, as engineers along with some particularly gifted amateurs, strove to unlock the challenges of this relatively new technology.

If you tune across the CW bands during the next two Saturday nights, you will have the rare opportunity to hear exactly what the bands must have sounded like back in the early '30s'.

For the most part you will hear single tube Hartley, Colpitts or TNT oscillators along with a few two-tube MOPAs thrown in. Many of them will suffer the same problems encountered by the boys of '29 ... chirp, drift, buzzy notes and frequency instability from antennas swaying in the wind.

This year, signals should be a little louder as well, since the previous power limitation of 10W input has been increased to 25W.

The MOPAs will sound much better but some surprisingly nice-sounding signals can be heard coming from properly tuned and optimised single-tube oscillators. I recall being blown away by the lovely sounding signal I heard from such a rig when first tuning into the BK activity several years ago, only to learn that it was a self-excited Hartley using 1/4" copper tubing for the oscillator tank circuit!

The '29 watering-hole on 80m will be around 3550-3580 kilocycles (be careful not to confuse this with kilohertz!) while the early afternoon to post-sunset 40m activity will be found from 7100-7125 kc. There may even be a few on the very low end of 160m. Although many of these transmitter styles were used on 20m and higher, BK rule-makers have wisely decided not to inflict these sounds on the present populace as it would likely keep the 'Official Observers' busy for several days writing pink-slips.

You can learn more about amateur radio happenings leading up to and following the 1929 crackdown in my earlier series of 'Why '29' blogs here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Those wishing to put something together for next year's event can find everything needed here:

Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

Building '29-Style - Part 1

Building '29-Style - Part 2

Heck, there me even be time to throw something together for the following Saturday if you have a few parts and an older tube or two ... the '27 comes to mind and is readily found in many junk boxes. Maybe you know an old-timer or two with lots of parts that could help you out.

Let's hope for good conditions for this event as the last few years have been adversely affected by geomagnetic storming. Poor propagation or not, I guarantee there will be plenty of '29ers busy calling 'CQ AWA' on the low bands.

A Weekend ’29 Transmitter Project

A recent posting to the Yahoo AWAGroup, reminded me of a wonderfully simple transmitter that would easily get anyone on-the-air for the Bruce Kelley '29 QSO Party coming up in December. The AWAGroup is largely composed of '29 builders and operators and is often the source of much good discussion related to these activities.

When builders first tackle a '29 style rig, eligible for the BK Party, the first thought is often about finding an affordable tube that might make the transmitter a 'legal' entry. A suggestion of tubes and their relative availability can be found here in one of my earlier blogs. Although some of the tubes may not be typical junk-box items, one that is often very readily available and inexpensive is the '27' or the '227' / UX-227.

The '27 was a popular audio tube used in receivers back in the 20's and can easily be pressed into service as a self-excited oscillator on HF. When properly adjusted, the '27 can produce up to 4W of RF, more than enough for you to join the '29 fun a make plenty of contacts over the dual-weekend event.

Scott, WA9WFA, has produced a great article describing the construction of a 1929 Hartley oscillator using the 27. There is no need to utilize period-appropriate parts, other than the vacuum tube itself. If you are pressed for building time or just want to get something on the air, there's no need to be overly concerned about construction aesthetics ... there's plenty of time for that later, and besides, the uglier ones often work and sound the best!

WA9WFA's 27-Tubed Hartley

Power supply requirements for the transmitter are pretty minimal and could even be an old receiver supply ... something that delivers 250-300 VDC at 35ma. An effective way to easily double the power of this transmitter is to add a second tube in parallel with the original one, providing your power supply can supply the extra current (~35ma) required. Although Scott's information describes an 80m Hartley, there is no reason why you could not wind a coil for 40 or for 160 and take advantage of any activity on those bands as well. Like most of these link-coupled outputs, you'll probably squeeze a little better efficiency from the circuit by adding a variable capacitor (~365pf) in series with the pick-up link and the hot-side of the coaxial feedline.

Nick, WA5BDU, wrote his description of building the 27 Hartley which can be found here. He also includes information on running the 2.5V filament from a 5V transformer.

WA5BDU's 27-Tubed Hartley
ABØCW uses two 27s in parallel for the oscillator section of his 1929 MOPA. Details of his interesting Hartley can be found here.

ABØCW's Parallel 27s

As further proof that you don't need a lot of power to have fun in the 1929 BK Party, here is the rig that Kevin, WB2QMY, used when we worked on 80m CW. His little TNT, just barely putting out 2W, made it all the way from New York!

WB2QMY's 80m 2W TNT
When it comes to the BK ... if you build it, they will come. Hopefully you can join the fun this winter as well.

Building For The BK Party?



It's almost that time of the year when, once again, the '29ers start preparing for the winter Bruce Kelley 1929 CW Party. A recent posting on the Yahoo AWA (Builder's) Group by Lou, VE3AWA, reminded everyone that there were only 108 more sleeps before this year's Party.



In case you're not familiar with the 'BK', it's a winter CW event celebrating the early days of amateur radio.

Transmitters used for the event must be self-excited only ... no crystals are allowed ... and the tube(s) used must be those that were available in 1929 or earlier. It's an eye-opener to hear how the band must have sounded in the early days of amateur radio CW... even better if you're making those beautiful sounds yourself.

The 'BK' usually spawns a flurry of construction, so if you think it is something that might interest you, you have until December to get ready! Unfortunately many aspiring '29ers always leave it too late and inevitably run out of time before any last glitches can be overcome.

For many builders of  '29-style gear, especially transmitters, the two-weekend December event is the highlight of the year as it gives them the opportunity to get on the air with their early-style rigs and work as many other '29ers as they can.

Every year there are numerous transcontinental CW contacts made with the simple, usually single-tube, self-excited oscillators that look as if they would have difficulty just being heard across town! Tuning in to the BK Party may be the closest thing you can find to a 'time machine' these days, as a small section of the CW bands (160-40m) take on the same sounds you would have heard when tuning across these bands in the late '20s.

When I first listened to a BK Party several years ago, I was surprised at the wide range of signal quality coming from these faithfully reproduced exhalers, running the gamut from the 'almost Collins-like' MOPAs to the unique sounding raw-AC notes coming from some of the one-lungers.

Most of the stations I have worked in past BK events were running less than 10W input yet, even with the terrible conditions experienced in the last two events, their signals were making it across the continent on the low bands ... and all were having a great time doing it!


Larry's (NE1S) TNT makes it back to the west coast every year in the BK Party.



Shown above is a fine little TNT built by Kevin, WB2QMY, in New York. It uses a very affordable UX-201A triode, originally manufactured in 1925 for radio receivers. Although Kevin's TNT puts out barely 2 watts on 80m CW, we had no trouble working each other in the BK QSO Party. If you build it, they will come!


If you've ever entertained thoughts of wanting to participate in the '29 QSO Party, this late-summer 'heads-up', could be just what you need to make it happen ... there is still plenty of time to put something together for this year's event. Here is the specific information for this year's BK Party.

There is plenty of information available right here on my blog that will answer many of your initial concerns surrounding tubes, circuits and components:

An Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

'29-Style Transmitters ... What To Build? - Part 1

'29-Style Transmitters ... What To Build? - Part 2

As well, my own website contains several detailed construction procedures on various transmitter styles used back in the day ... and an inspirational 'Gallery of '29-Style Transmitters' from other builders. In addition, there is a lot more '29-specific information in this blog, all of which can be found here, for several nights of bedtime reading!

Should you decide to take on a simple transmitter for this year's party (and there are dozens of participants hoping that you will), here are a few things to keep in mind:

You don't need much power to make contacts ... just a few watts will do it. If your antenna system is efficient and you can hear reasonably well, expect to work '29ers all across the continent.

Your transmitter does not have to 'look pretty'! You can breadboard up something with modern components and as long as the tube-year qualifies, you're good to go. Too many get bogged-down with making a showpiece ... that can always come later.

I, and others, have found Hartley oscillators to be the easiest to get going and often produce the best notes. Although the power limit this year has been increased to 25 watts DC input, just 2 or 3 watts coming from a simple Hartley will guarantee you a ticket on the BK time machine.

A wonderful source of advice, inspiration and even help with parts, can be had by joining the AWA (Builders) Group.


For now, I'll tempt you with the basic information regarding the QSO Party as published by the 'BK' sponsor...the AWA.

The Bruce Kelly 1929 QSO Party is a yearly AWA sponsored event where participants build their own transmitters using the designs, techniques, and tubes that were available in 1929 and earlier, and then put those classic transmitters on the air and try to contact as many other 1929 stations as possible.  Since they use early designs, it is a cacophony of whooping, chirping, buzzing, clicking, drifting, swishing, swaying, warbling, and other interesting signals.   This is what ham radio sounded like in 1929 and for two weekends in December its 1929 again on the ham bands.

Rules:  Transmitters must be 1929 or earlier types of self oscillators such as the Hartley, TNT, PP tuned grid tuned plate, MOPA, Colpitts, etc.  No crystal oscillators.  Tubes must have been available during or before 1929.  Typical tubes often used are type 10, 45, 27, 211, 71A.  Individual stations can be worked only once on each band over the course of two weekends.  You can use any vintage or modern receiver that you wish.  The event is open to all 1929 stations including non-AWA members and AWA members. 

Input Power:  Transmitters are limited to a power INPUT of 25 watts or less. 

Frequencies:  The QSO Party typically operates between 1800 to 1810 Kcs, 3550 to 3580 Kcs , 7100 to 7125 Kcs, plus or minus depending on QRM.  40 meter activity is up significantly because it offers both night time AND daytime propagation!   

Presently, a large percentage of the activity is from Minnesota and points eastward ... the west is poorly represented for some reason but activity out this way has been slowly increasing over the past few years.

You don't need much in the way of power ... every year I work several eastern 'BK' stations that are running just 2 or 3 watts, usually using  receiver tubes pressed into RF oscillator service ... much like the original 'boys of '29' probably had to do


With the solar cycle winding-down and the expected return of undisturbed great winter conditions, this year's BK Party should be better than ever ... especially with even more new clunkers chirping away in the night.

Should you join the fun, there will be many '29ers looking for you I can guarantee!

courtesy:VE3AWA

Building For The BK Party?



It's almost that time of the year when, once again, the '29ers start preparing for the winter Bruce Kelley 1929 CW Party. A recent posting on the Yahoo AWA (Builder's) Group by Lou, VE3AWA, reminded everyone that there were only 108 more sleeps before this year's Party.



In case you're not familiar with the 'BK', it's a winter CW event celebrating the early days of amateur radio.

Transmitters used for the event must be self-excited only ... no crystals are allowed ... and the tube(s) used must be those that were available in 1929 or earlier. It's an eye-opener to hear how the band must have sounded in the early days of amateur radio CW... even better if you're making those beautiful sounds yourself.

The 'BK' usually spawns a flurry of construction, so if you think it is something that might interest you, you have until December to get ready! Unfortunately many aspiring '29ers always leave it too late and inevitably run out of time before any last glitches can be overcome.

For many builders of  '29-style gear, especially transmitters, the two-weekend December event is the highlight of the year as it gives them the opportunity to get on the air with their early-style rigs and work as many other '29ers as they can.

Every year there are numerous transcontinental CW contacts made with the simple, usually single-tube, self-excited oscillators that look as if they would have difficulty just being heard across town! Tuning in to the BK Party may be the closest thing you can find to a 'time machine' these days, as a small section of the CW bands (160-40m) take on the same sounds you would have heard when tuning across these bands in the late '20s.

When I first listened to a BK Party several years ago, I was surprised at the wide range of signal quality coming from these faithfully reproduced exhalers, running the gamut from the 'almost Collins-like' MOPAs to the unique sounding raw-AC notes coming from some of the one-lungers.

Most of the stations I have worked in past BK events were running less than 10W input yet, even with the terrible conditions experienced in the last two events, their signals were making it across the continent on the low bands ... and all were having a great time doing it!


Larry's (NE1S) TNT makes it back to the west coast every year in the BK Party.



Shown above is a fine little TNT built by Kevin, WB2QMY, in New York. It uses a very affordable UX-201A triode, originally manufactured in 1925 for radio receivers. Although Kevin's TNT puts out barely 2 watts on 80m CW, we had no trouble working each other in the BK QSO Party. If you build it, they will come!


If you've ever entertained thoughts of wanting to participate in the '29 QSO Party, this late-summer 'heads-up', could be just what you need to make it happen ... there is still plenty of time to put something together for this year's event. Here is the specific information for this year's BK Party.

There is plenty of information available right here on my blog that will answer many of your initial concerns surrounding tubes, circuits and components:

An Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

'29-Style Transmitters ... What To Build? - Part 1

'29-Style Transmitters ... What To Build? - Part 2

As well, my own website contains several detailed construction procedures on various transmitter styles used back in the day ... and an inspirational 'Gallery of '29-Style Transmitters' from other builders. In addition, there is a lot more '29-specific information in this blog, all of which can be found here, for several nights of bedtime reading!

Should you decide to take on a simple transmitter for this year's party (and there are dozens of participants hoping that you will), here are a few things to keep in mind:

You don't need much power to make contacts ... just a few watts will do it. If your antenna system is efficient and you can hear reasonably well, expect to work '29ers all across the continent.

Your transmitter does not have to 'look pretty'! You can breadboard up something with modern components and as long as the tube-year qualifies, you're good to go. Too many get bogged-down with making a showpiece ... that can always come later.

I, and others, have found Hartley oscillators to be the easiest to get going and often produce the best notes. Although the power limit this year has been increased to 25 watts DC input, just 2 or 3 watts coming from a simple Hartley will guarantee you a ticket on the BK time machine.

A wonderful source of advice, inspiration and even help with parts, can be had by joining the AWA (Builders) Group.


For now, I'll tempt you with the basic information regarding the QSO Party as published by the 'BK' sponsor...the AWA.

The Bruce Kelly 1929 QSO Party is a yearly AWA sponsored event where participants build their own transmitters using the designs, techniques, and tubes that were available in 1929 and earlier, and then put those classic transmitters on the air and try to contact as many other 1929 stations as possible.  Since they use early designs, it is a cacophony of whooping, chirping, buzzing, clicking, drifting, swishing, swaying, warbling, and other interesting signals.   This is what ham radio sounded like in 1929 and for two weekends in December its 1929 again on the ham bands.

Rules:  Transmitters must be 1929 or earlier types of self oscillators such as the Hartley, TNT, PP tuned grid tuned plate, MOPA, Colpitts, etc.  No crystal oscillators.  Tubes must have been available during or before 1929.  Typical tubes often used are type 10, 45, 27, 211, 71A.  Individual stations can be worked only once on each band over the course of two weekends.  You can use any vintage or modern receiver that you wish.  The event is open to all 1929 stations including non-AWA members and AWA members. 

Input Power:  Transmitters are limited to a power INPUT of 25 watts or less. 

Frequencies:  The QSO Party typically operates between 1800 to 1810 Kcs, 3550 to 3580 Kcs , 7100 to 7125 Kcs, plus or minus depending on QRM.  40 meter activity is up significantly because it offers both night time AND daytime propagation!   

Presently, a large percentage of the activity is from Minnesota and points eastward ... the west is poorly represented for some reason but activity out this way has been slowly increasing over the past few years.

You don't need much in the way of power ... every year I work several eastern 'BK' stations that are running just 2 or 3 watts, usually using  receiver tubes pressed into RF oscillator service ... much like the original 'boys of '29' probably had to do


With the solar cycle winding-down and the expected return of undisturbed great winter conditions, this year's BK Party should be better than ever ... especially with even more new clunkers chirping away in the night.

Should you join the fun, there will be many '29ers looking for you I can guarantee!

courtesy:VE3AWA

1929 QSO Party Weekends





This Saturday as well as the next will be the annual Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, otherwise known as the '1929 BK'.





It's the once a year opportunity to celebrate the sounds of early amateur radio ... only transmitters that are 'era-appropriate' are allowed to be used. More specifically, transmitters must employ tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier, and transmitters must be self-excited. No crystals allowed! Crystals were new and largely unaffordable for most hams back in the depression days.

1929 marked a real turning point in amateur radio as governments finally cracked-down on things such as frequency stability, out of band operations and re-alignment of call districts. In short, hams were henceforth required to behave themselves and to clean up their signals and methods of operation.

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/
Although the new rules did a lot to improve things when it came to 'signal purity', there was still a long way to go ... but the wheels of improvement had been officially set in motion and the next decade would see monumental changes in both transmitter and receiver architecture, as engineers along with some particularly gifted amateurs, strove to unlock the challenges of this relatively new technology.

If you tune across the CW bands during the next two Saturday nights, you will have the rare opportunity to hear exactly what the bands must have sounded like back in the early '30s'.

For the most part you will hear single tube Hartley, Colpitts or TNT oscillators with a few two-tube MOPAs' thrown in. Many of them will suffer the same problems encountered by the boys of '29 ... chirp, drift, buzzy notes and frequency instability from antennas swaying in the wind. The MOPAs' will sound much better but some surprisingly nice-sounding signals can be heard coming from properly tuned and optimised single-tube oscillators. I recall being blown away by the lovely sounding signal I heard from such a rig when first tuning into the BK activity several years ago, only to learn that it was a self-excited Hartley using 1/4" copper tubing for the oscillator tank circuit!

The '29 watering-hole on 80m will be around 3550-3580 kilocycles (be careful not to confuse this with kilohertz!) while the early afternoon to sunset 40m activity will be found from 7100-7125 kc. There may even be a few on the very low end of 160m, later on the first Saturday night only. Although many of these transmitter styles were used on 20m and higher, BK rule-makers have wisely decided not to inflict these sounds on the present populace as it would likely keep the 'Official Observer' guys busy for several days writing pink-slips.

You can learn more about amateur radio happenings leading up to and following the 1929 crackdown in my earlier series of 'Why '29' blogs here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Those wishing to put something together for next year's event can find everything needed here:

Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

Building '29-Style - Part 1

Building '29-Style - Part 2

Heck, there me even be time to throw something together for the following Saturday if you have a few parts and an older tube or two ... the '27 comes to mind and is readily found in many junk boxes. Maybe you know an old timer with 'lots of stuff' that could help out.

Unfortunately due to a number of coinciding events, I'll not be on-the-air for the event this year, the first one I've missed since getting in on the fun several years ago.

Getting Ready For The ’29 QSO Party





Although the Bruce Kelly 1929 QSO Party is not until December, now is really the time to be putting something together if you've been thinking about getting in on the fun this year!




Like almost all of the operating in 1929, this is a CW only affair and if you've taken a listen in previous years, you know that the chirps, yoops, sudden frequency excursions and musical notes are all part of the original difficulties faced by the boys of '29 as they struggled with the relatively new adventure of 'amateur radio'.

Why 1929 you ask? It was the Radio Act of 1927 that came into effect in 1929 that laid out the foundation and future of amateur radio, with most of the early tenets still in effect today. The BK QSO Party celebrates the turning point in what had been pretty much a radio 'free-for-all' up until that time. Real progress was made quickly once the ground rules were established.

Rules of the BK Party require that all transmitters use tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier and must be self-excited ... no crystals allowed! This might seem to present a daunting task but in reality there are many readily available tubes that will make your transmitter legal.

In three previous blogs I've outlined some of the construction options available to new BK entrants and you can probably find enough information there to get you well on your way to some mid-winter fun. You will find links to these on the sidebar to the right.

Over the past three years I have posted a lot of 1929-related material, covering construction as well as BK Party activity. You can get all of these '29 blogs here and get enough bedtime reading for the week and hopefully, enough inspiration to grab the soldering iron and think about throwing something together for the party ... and it doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it works and is 'legal'! As well, my website has detailed construction information for three of my own '29-style transmitters.

I'm always impressed with the level of operating seen in the BK Party. For some reason, these guys can copy the weakest most awful sounding signals with ease. If you can get something going with a couple of watts or more, I guarantee that you will be heard and will work many of the '29 stations ... just don't wait to late to start building as I'd hate for you to miss all the fun!


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