A Woman’s Prerogative

June 19, 2016 3 comments

I was originally going to archive this blog and made an announcement that it would not be updated any longer. Then I changed my mind. I am sorry to say that many of the older posts have lost YouTube content due to me deleting my YouTube account. I could not bear to see myself, such is the nature of gender disphoria.

I have now decided that this blog should become my own again. I changed the  name of the blog to match my new callsign. There is not much I can do to change the old posts to match my affirmed gender nor my new name.

I have moved from acreage in a regional city to a one bedroom apartment in Australia’s largest city. My partner and I lost our business, almost all of our possessions and personal wealth due to my depression, anxiety and panic attacks due to gender disphoria. My new location, housing arrangements and budget mean that I will not have the impressive station that I once had. I will have to find new ways to operate and new interests within amateur radio.

For those of you still interested in what I post, thank you.

 

Kimberly Olsen VK2KMI/VK4KIM ex VK4MDX

 

 

The Echophone EC-1 Unboxing

March 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The Echophone Ec-1 has arrived. I had to carry it in it’s box from my work to home, on the train, no mean feat when also carrying a handbag, but I did get it home in one piece. I should say that it was not as well packed as I would have liked but it seemed to have survived the journey from the US nonetheless.

This radio known as the morale radio was commonly used by GIs to stay in contact with news of home. Like all radios of this era, I bought this one, fulling expecting that it would need extensive work, despite it possessing a sticker stating major modifications (1994). I am not sure what the modifier considered major modifications, I imagined a recap, I hoped not a major departure from manufacturers specifications.

At the point of unboxing, it is unclear what those “major” modifications may have been. Looking at the wiring, there is little evidence of significant change other than attempt to fit a polarised mains plug. The fitting of this seems to be non-standard. Typically when modifying an “all American 5” one would fit a fuse and ensure that the polarised mains chord had the neutral wire connected to the chassis and one would fit safety capacitors where necessary. One would also remove all wax paper capacitors and replace with modern poly units.

Whoever modified this radio, has connected the mains chord in a non standard way, with both wires going to the first valve in the series of five. No fuse is fitted. The mains chord is retained in the case by a knot which has resulted in the insulation being cut by the case- a common if deadly error. Not a single wax paper capacitor has been replaced and a large electrolytic is clearly leaking.

Another project for a cold, rainy day or two.

Categories: Uncategorized

Echophone EC-1

While I still have the restoration of my Hammarlund HQ170 to finish, and a repair of the audio circuit on my Viking Ranger II to complete, as well as a rectifier repair on a Yaesu FT101E, I could not go past this little beauty. While I have older receivers (1935 and 1936), I have been wanting a receiver from the period of WWII now for some time. This little radio was known as the morale radio.

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The original EC-1 was the GI’s radio of World War 2 and it was manufactured by the Hallicrafters company under the brand name “Echophone Commercial.”  It began production toward the end of 1940 and continued in production all through the war.  This model radio was about the only commercial, non military radio that the government allowed to be manufactured during WW 2 and they did it for morale purposes, that is, to provide lonely, homesick and bored servicemen with entertainment.  These rugged little radios have good short wave circuits so the servicemen and women could listen to shows, music and war news no matter where they were in the world.  The EC-1 sold at a  “reasonable” price of about $20 (about a month’s pay).  Actually, for this quality of radio, $20 was a very low price and a lot of GIs got to own them either by buying them outright or receiving them as gifts.

Hogarth
The EC-1 radios were marketed to the GIs directly and through their families to be given as gifts.  Ads for the radios appeared in magazines with a rather over the top campaign featuring a Private (later corporal) Hogarth.  Hogarth was always shown as a hopeless nerd with coke-bottle glasses, but very popular with pretty girls who wanted to listen to his radio. I don’t think this nerdy girl could attract girls with a short wave radio, but those were innocent if heteronormative times.

I may have some modifications to do to the radio when it arrives, most notably for safety, unless the appropriate modifications were done in 1994 when this radio had a major service. Known as an all American 5, the 115V supply is delivered to the 5 valves in series, without a transformer or fuse. One side of the mains chord connects directly to the radio chassis which is isolated from the external box by rubber grommets only. Without a polarised plug to determine which is neutral and which is active, there is a 50% chance of connecting the chassis to the active. Life was cheap in the 1940s :-).

Categories: Daily News, HF, Vintage Radio

Back to the Drawing Board

February 26, 2017 2 comments

Today I finally got myself organised enough to begin work on another mag loop, in the hope that this one will work. I believe the steel framed high-rise building is to blame for my lack of reception but in a last ditch effort, I decided to make a new multi-turn loop out of some heliax that I had brought back from Queensland. Unfortunately the PVC support I made was not robust enough for the heavier than expected heliax- back to the drawing board

Categories: Daily News, HF, Uncategorized

The Saga of the FT101E Rectifier Board

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Recently I brought all of my vintage radios out of storage including an FT101E. Anyone who owns one will tell you, that they don’t like to be stored, they need to be used or they stop working. This one had done just that on most bands, so I set to, going through the alignment procedure. Rather than try to remove the mains chord from behind the radio bench, I hose to use a spare on I had. Unfortunately it was, I suspect, incorrectly wired for the FT101E. When connected and turned on, R1 on the rectifier board promptly went “bang.”

I purchased the appropriate 5.6K 2W resistor some weeks ago and today got around to installing it. All went well except that now I have a solid hum from the speaker even with the AF gain at zero. gah!

Categories: HF

Antennas, Apartments and AM Reception

February 5, 2017 1 comment

For some time now I have struggled with the fact that no matter what antenna I use, they couple to the high rise building in which I live and are quite deaf. Today I draped the Lake Eyre special antenna off my balcony as far as I was game. The building management would come down on me if they saw it. It’s better but still quite deaf. This is my Hammarlund HQ170 listening to the ARNSW broadcast on 40 meters AM. Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 11.09.54 AM.png

Categories: HF

Of Injury, Depression and Productivity

January 28, 2017 1 comment

I had planned for some time to attend Symphony in the Park at Parramatta with my lovely friend, but due to my leg injury from falling down the stairs, I could not attend. This put me in bad mood yesterday. I don’t suffer depression as much as I used to do, in fact I rarely have any symptoms at all nowadays, but occasional mild situational depression still arises. I notice it most not by how I feel, but by the state of my apartment which yesterday got quite messy. My productivity suffers badly at such times. Being one who is always doing something, depression for me is most noticeable by my complete lack of interest in anything, and lack of desire to do anything.

I attempted to turn things around yesterday by going over to the community garden and picking a big bunch of various basil. I also contemplated going to the local ham radio trash and treasure but feel my leg would rather I stayed home. Instead I will come up with some recipes today for the basil. I will clean up my apartment and, of interest to all of the readers of this blog, will begin an antenna project. More about that later

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Categories: Daily News

Rebuilding a Life, Rebuilding a Shack- it is all Drama

January 26, 2017 1 comment

Well I got all of my vintage radios out of storage where they have been for about 2 years and have now got them all set up in my tiny apartment, though no suitable antenna yet.  I also managed to bring along all of my test equipment and various cables and audio mixer etc etc.

The problem is of course, when you leave stuff for so long, especially stuff that was the subject of restoration and many little and large projects, you kind of forget where you left off. I recalled as I began to test equipment with my meagre antenna and dummy load, that not all was 100% when I left it. The Yaesu FT101E was, but now isn’t- that is pretty normal for an FT101 left in storage, so no surprise there. I was disappointing when I connected the mains chord to it and blew resistor 1 on the rectifier board, because that was not my chord but one I had purchased and it was probably wired incorrectly – ouch!

More interesting when I remember that the plan of using the Johnson Viking Ranger II and the Hammarlund HQ170 as a transmit/receive pair had fallen on issues as well- issues I had forgotten. See the HQ170 receiver pulls wildly off frequency when I transmit on the Viking II and sounds very chirpy. I am convinced it is the way this radio uses AVC(automated volume control not AGC) – although switching off the AVC makes no difference. So now I recall that I had a huge project to do with the Hammarlund and had kind of decided to ditch it and get something vintage but more stable. That is out of the question now because I am nowhere near as financial as I was when I had my own business. Wonder what I can do to stabilise it? My fist attempt will be to replace the OB2 valve (tube in the US) with a solid state version.

The Viking Ranger II I was sure had no issues. I remember using it on CW and AM and it sounded great on AM, but then did I not change the value of a capacitor in the audio circuit in order to improve performance and some how stuffed that up? Or was it that an audio amplifier tube was to blame? Either way there is nasty hum and no audio from the microphone on AM today when I went to use it on AM. Since I can’t remember what I did two or more years ago, I will have to go through the service and construction manual and backtrack.

Maybe these radios will be working properly two years from now. You can follow the saga here http://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=314753

(Shack is a term used to describe the location from which amateur radio operators operate)

Categories: Uncategorized