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All W1JA, all the time

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If you're here because we worked on the air, thank you for the QSO.

After living in Georgia for three decades, I returned to New England in 2014. (I knew I kept that 1-land callsign for a reason.) Starting over in Massachusetts, station W1JA has been reborn on a smaller scale in my unfinished basement. I didn't want to build any permanent walls but I did want separation from the rest of the basement. A cubicle from Craigslist and a carpet from a home store were the start of a comfy shack in a basement corner. From my Georgia shack came the 1980s wood-look computer desk on the right. It completes the layout, forming a 'U'-shaped shack.

[W1JA shack, wide-angle view]

The shack layout has modern equipment on the left, and old gear on the right. Starting on the left side, the main station consists of an Icom IC-7600 and a Ten-Tec Titan 425 amplifier. The Ten-Tec 238 tuner to its right is currently used only for its antenna switch and power meter. Below the IC-7600 is a Heathkit GC-1005 digital clock that I built in 1974. To its left is a panel that I built around 1975. It contains an AC line voltage meter and some switches that control coaxial relays behind it. To the right of the clock is a March R3a paddle and a Logikey CMOS-4 keyer. Further right, and mostly blocked by me, is a grouping that contains power supplies, rotor controls and an IC-7000, which is an HF backup rig and a VHF/UHF multimode transceiver.

Moving even further rightward to the vintage section, there's a Swan 500C with 117XC power supply, Kenwood R-599 and T-599 twins and a Drake TR-3 transceiver with L-4B amplifier. There's also a Drake C-4 station console on the top shelf, used for its wattmeter and power, microphone and keyer switching functions.


[My heabeam] [What makes the dipole a multiband dipole] [The vintage side of the tracks]
For the 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 and 6 meter bands I use this six-band hexbeam atop an aluminum push-up mast at a height of approx. 40 feet (12 meters). For 80, 60, 40 and 30 meters I use a dipole. It's 130-feet (40-meters) long and up about 60 feet (18 meters). It's fed with open-wire feedline. I use an MFJ-998RT remote tuner installed outside in a Suncast SSW1200 "wicker storage seat." It's entirely plastic and makes a good insulating, weatherproof enclosure that fits the tuner well. Between the unbalanced tuner output and the balanced feedline is a Balun Designs no. 1171 1:1 current balun. It's difficult to get a good picture of a wire dipole high in the air, so here's one of the tuner and balun in their box on my under-deck basement patio.

This system also works on 160 meters, but not very well. I plan an inverted-L for the future. In the meantime, thanks to all who manage to hear me on 160.
 Here on the vintage side of the shack, there are also two keyers, a CMOS Super Keyer II (behind the paddle) that I built from an article in November 1990 QST and a ca. 1960 Hallicrafters HA-1 "T.O. Keyer" (above the Drake L-4B). The T.O. Keyer uses six—count them!—vacuum tubes to automatically create precise dots and dashes. How cool is that? But I keep the T.O. around mostly for looks and nostalgia. It has no dot or dash memories, so it does not forgive the slightest timing error from me, the operator of the paddles. Alas, I learned my paddle skills on an electronic keyer with dot memory and cannot unlearn my dependence on it.


Comments? Questions?


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