Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Christmas Memories





As the cold days of December dragged on, like most high school kids, I always looked forward to the arrival of the Christmas holidays  ... even more so once I had discovered the magic of radio.
For me, it meant being able to stay up as late as I wanted, listening for shortwave and broadcast band DX on my big old GE cathedral-style radio.



My radio shack was located high in a cozy attic bedroom, on the top level of our old three-story house in the middle of Vancouver. I can never recall having any kind of noise-related problem back then, in the pre-digital age. It seemed that even the power lines were quiet!

One particular Christmas holiday stands out above many others ... December '64. By then, I was licenced and on-the-air as VE7ANP. I was using a Heathkit DX-20 (30 watts out) along with the Heathkit VF-1 VFO ... the one with the mesmerizing green dial (it was the sight of one of these dials a few years earlier that tweaked my interest in amateur radio ... but that's another story!).

courtesy: http://www.transistor-repairs.com

 My receiver was an aging but lovely BC-779 Hammarlund Super-Pro.
 
courtesy: http://rigreference.com

On the peaked porch roof just outside of my upstairs attic window, was the base of my new 40m antenna ... a full-sized 40m vertical  groundplane. It was made from 33' of galvanized eavesdrop drain pipe, reinforced with an inner 2x2 and guyed in three places. The ground counterpoise system consisted of just three bell-wire radials, each a quarter-wavelength long ... one to the boulevard tree and the other two wrapped around the sides of the house, just under the eaves. The antenna was fed with about 10' of RG-58 coax. Switching was handled via a footswitch-controlled 'clunky' relay that also switched the VFO on for a better sounding note. The highly affordable VF-1 was not known for its great stability but by finding just the 'right' 6AU6, and keeping the switch contacts clean, it could do a pretty good impression of a real VFO.

This particular holiday stands out because I was intent on trying to work some JA stations on 40m, in the pre-dawn hours. I had worked several JA's on 20m CW earlier in the fall but working Japan on 7mc with my previous low wire antennas had proven to be very challenging. I hoped things would be different with my new 40m vertical.

I recall rising the first morning of the holidays to find that we had received a huge overnight snowfall, about a foot in total. This seemed to happen a lot more often back then than it does now. The peaked roof supporting the groundplane was piled high with fresh snow and completely covered the vertical's feedpoint and the radial wire junction. I pulled-up the wooden window's bottom sash and reached far enough out to clean all of the snow from the antenna's base while the rig, preparing itself for the impending assault of 40m's low end, warmed-up just beside me.

A careful tune across the band brought a plethora of signals sounding as clean and crisp as the morning air ... it was the perfect 'DX-morning'! I managed to work several JA's that morning and throughout the Christmas break. Several of the contacts stretched well past my local sunrise, as 40m revealed some of her DX secrets to me for the first time.


Like so many Christmases past, the memories of my Christmas '64 radio experiences are as vivid as if they had happened yesterday. I hope that your Christmas of 2016 is as joyous and memorable as well. 

Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas Memories





As the cold days of December dragged on, like most high school kids, I always looked forward to the arrival of the Christmas holidays  ... even more so once I had discovered the magic of radio.
For me, it meant being able to stay up as late as I wanted, listening for shortwave and broadcast band DX on my big old GE cathedral-style radio.



My radio shack was located high in a cozy attic bedroom, on the top level of our old three-story house in the middle of Vancouver. I can never recall having any kind of noise-related problem back then, in the pre-digital age. It seemed that even the power lines were quiet!

One particular Christmas holiday stands out above many others ... December '64. By then, I was licenced and on-the-air as VE7ANP. I was using a Heathkit DX-20 (30 watts out) along with the Heathkit VF-1 VFO ... the one with the mesmerizing green dial (it was the sight of one of these dials a few years earlier that tweaked my interest in amateur radio ... but that's another story!).

courtesy: http://www.transistor-repairs.com

 My receiver was an aging but lovely BC-779 Hammarlund Super-Pro.
 
courtesy: http://rigreference.com

On the peaked porch roof just outside of my upstairs attic window, was the base of my new 40m antenna ... a full-sized 40m vertical  groundplane. It was made from 33' of galvanized eavesdrop drain pipe, reinforced with an inner 2x2 and guyed in three places. The ground counterpoise system consisted of just three bell-wire radials, each a quarter-wavelength long ... one to the boulevard tree and the other two wrapped around the sides of the house, just under the eaves. The antenna was fed with about 10' of RG-58 coax. Switching was handled via a footswitch-controlled 'clunky' relay that also switched the VFO on for a better sounding note. The highly affordable VF-1 was not known for its great stability but by finding just the 'right' 6AU6, and keeping the switch contacts clean, it could do a pretty good impression of a real VFO.

This particular holiday stands out because I was intent on trying to work some JA stations on 40m, in the pre-dawn hours. I had worked several JA's on 20m CW earlier in the fall but working Japan on 7mc with my previous low wire antennas had proven to be very challenging. I hoped things would be different with my new 40m vertical.

I recall rising the first morning of the holidays to find that we had received a huge overnight snowfall, about a foot in total. This seemed to happen a lot more often back then than it does now. The peaked roof supporting the groundplane was piled high with fresh snow and completely covered the vertical's feedpoint and the radial wire junction. I pulled-up the wooden window's bottom sash and reached far enough out to clean all of the snow from the antenna's base while the rig, preparing itself for the impending assault of 40m's low end, warmed-up just beside me.

A careful tune across the band brought a plethora of signals sounding as clean and crisp as the morning air ... it was the perfect 'DX-morning'! I managed to work several JA's that morning and throughout the Christmas break. Several of the contacts stretched well past my local sunrise, as 40m revealed some of her DX secrets to me for the first time.


Like so many Christmases past, the memories of my Christmas '64 radio experiences are as vivid as if they had happened yesterday. I hope that your Christmas of 2016 is as joyous and memorable as well. 

Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas is coming….

No, I’m not expecting any new radio related ironmongery or a new rig. Especially as this week seems to have cost me a small fortune ( I had to buy a new car but that’s another story). Bust Christmas can give you a little bit extra, time that is.

I’ve only planned on doing 2 things, one is to activate the clubs callsign MX0WRC on Sunday, something that hasn’t been head on the air for a while. After refurbishing the shack the temporary antenna came down in the strong winds we regularly get so a Delta Loop will be helping us out. The plan is to show a few of the more novice operator how to use the clubs kit in the warmth. So if you hear a feint CQ from far off Cumbria then please call back. You may make a novice’s day.

The other little job will be to give away a few points in the RSGB VHF Christmas Cumulative contest. I’ve long lamented about the poor VHF signals that make it into St Bees but with a fair breeze I should work a few stations further afield than GD land (about 40 miles across the Irish sea). I’ll probably do it from the house so the QSO’s will be less than 10 but hey its only a bit of fun.

So If I don’t hear you or work you on Sunday then I hope to try again between 26th December and the 29th December for some armchair operating. Tea and biscuits at the ready!

A Ham’s Night Before Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly and give of yourself to your fellow man. Though I think that should be all year long, but still, around this time of year, it’s nice to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the time. This year I am feeling especially festive, simply because I am with my family. I know, I’m easy to please. But one of the other things I like this time of year is of course the entertainment. It’s a tradition for me to watch Miracle on 34th Street every year during the holidays. And this one may be a tradition I do every year. Post (or repost from this point on..) “A Ham’s Night Before Christmas”. The video is done by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, with guitar melody by Don Mercz, WA3AYR. So sit back with your coffee or hot chocolate, grab a candy cane or a sugar cookie, and enjoy!


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