The 1929 ‘BK’ QSO Party

The month of December will soon be upon us and that means it's 'BK' time once again! The Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party is the annual two-weekend event celebrating the sound of amateur radio as it was in 1929.

At no other time of the year can you tune across the bands and hear the melodic sound of radio as it once was ... before the days of crystal-control, when most hams were using self-excited one or two-tube transmitters.

With antennas blowing in the wind, these directly-coupled oscillators often make the band sound like a musical symphony gone wrong ... the wonderful whooping, chirping, buzzing, clicking, drifting, swishing, swaying, warbling, and other interesting sounds of '29, when amateur radio was in its infancy.

If you've ever considered joining-in on the fun, then you still have a few weeks to slap something together for the party ... it need not be 'pretty', but it must be 'compliant'. That is, the tube (or tubes) that you use, must have been available in 1929 or earlier. For receiving, use anything you like ... modern or vintage, as there are no restrictions.

I've penned several blogs on popular circuits and tubes that are commonly used among the BK regulars and they can be viewed here:

Building '29 Style

Building '29 - What To Build? - PT.1

Building '29 - What To Build? - PT.2

More BK Building

With the usual propagation of early December, it is not surprising that many transcontinental QSO's are made every year, even with the little two or three watters. Considering the 10 watt power input rule, it is surprising how strong some signals from across the country can become on the lower bands, especially on 40m.

Please consider rolling-up your sleeves, heating up your soldering iron and putting something together for the BK fun, especially if you are on the left coast ... and don't be the least concerned about how it looks!

For a gallery of inspiration from individuals that were too weak to resist the temptation, have a look at some previously built '29 time machines.

For the first time, I'll be using my newly constructed MOPA, a two-tuber that will hopefully reduce my annual BK windstorm angst. It seems that every BK weekend, I have gale-force winds here on the island, making my signal a little bit 'too musical', although some '29 diehards still claim to love the sound ... for them, there is no hope.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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