Author Archive

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.

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

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



AM and CW on ANZAC Day- Make some Contacts on 25 April 2015 using WWII modes.

February 26, 2015 2 comments

This year is the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, the disastrous WWI campaign, that saw the Aussies and Kiwis in particular -the Australian New Zealand Army Corps- (ANZAC), distinguish themselves in battle and in retreat. The battlefields of WWI, happening at the time they did, when our nation was brand new, helped build a mythology, that has forged a nation of doers.These soldiers are honoured to this day in Belgium and France.. Again in World War II, Australia and New Zealand contributed disproportionately large numbers of men, to fight in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.  Radio equipment and methods pioneered by ham radio operators provided our countries and the US with a ready source of radios, antennas, operators and methods of operating. To honour our veterans,Mike VK4MIK and others, some years ago, proposed that all amateur radio transmission from Australia on ANZAC day be in the modes employed by our veterans during WWII- those being AM and CW. This simply requires all nets that normally operate say on SSB to switch to AM or CW if that is possible. Those already on AM and CW can of course continue in those modes.

All VK stations are permitted to use the AX prefix in place of the VK prefix on ANZAC day, and this year, the 100th anniversary, they may use the prefix for 48 hours 25 April – 26 April (local time). All stations using this prefix are encouraged to send QSL cards using this prefix. This provides a great opportunity for DX stations to collect some unusual call signs and cards.

I have a few minor modifications to do to my station prior to ANZAC Day and then will be operating it portable on the weekend prior, to test it. I don’t have WWII radio equipment, but I do have vintage boat anchor equipment that operates in much the same way as WWII equipment and is very reminiscent of the equipment used by our WWII veterans.

My station will be

Hammarlund HQ170 receiver

Johnson Viking Ranger II transmitter

9m squid pole antenna with 80m coil, or ZS6BKW random length dipole antenna.

I’ll have a 3m x 3m marquee and some exhibition banners with explanation of the event, the TARC and the equipment.

I hope to have a QSK relay T/R setup, and an issue with noisy VFO sorted by then.

Transmission times will depend on not interfering with the ANZAC ceremonies. If I am far enough away from the action, I will try to operate as follows.

April 25

1900 utc 3599 Gnarly Net CW

2030 utc 3600 AM

2100 utc 40m AM

2130 utc 40m CW

2300 utc15m and 10m CW

2400 utc 10m CW

0100 utc 15m AM

0130 utc 15m CW

Break Skype me

0400 utc 15m CW

0500 utc 20m AM

0530 utc 20m CW

0600 utc 20m AM

0630 utc 7120kHz AM Friendly Afternoon Net

0700 utc 40m CW

0730 utc 80m AM

Categories: Uncategorized

The Eico 950B Demo

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment

In a recent Youtube video and blog post I mentioned my capacitor leakage tester. The Eico 950b is more than that and I am only just learning to use it, but anyway here is a video of me explaining some of its uses.

Categories: Uncategorized

Going Vintage- Part 1- My Latest Projects- A Hammarlund HQ170 Receiver and a Johnson Viking Ranger II Transmitter

February 22, 2015 1 comment

I’ve slowly been drifting towards a vintage radio shack and an interest in restoration of radio history. I began with a Yaesu FT101 and then a Yaesu FT101E, I then restored a 1936 Pilot MW/SW receiver. Recently I had a real desire to operate AM and CW using vintage valve equipment. With that in mind, I sought some vintage gear that I could use to build an interesting station. I first began looking at receivers. I loved the look of and the quality of the Drake receivers, but I wanted a bigger lump of metal more reminiscent of the 1940’s and 1950’s receivers, and one with a lower price tag. I settled on the much larger Hammarlund series of radios, and was able to pick up a Hammarlund HQ170 for a reasonable price. The sales blurb said ” I turned it on and it lit up.” Many of us with experience of old valve equipment would much rather hear you had not turned it on but instead used a variac and current limiter for a few days then finally fired it up on full power. “I turned it on and it lit up” is actually not a good selling point for vintage equipment, except to say that the capacitors at least lasted that long- maybe.

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Now the Hammarlund HQ170 is not an ideal choice for AM reception, but I like a challenge. It used a “new” negative feedback system that had as its goal, the preservation of sound quality at low AF gain. Later on this would cause me a few issues.

When the Hammarlund first arrived I set about examining it for paper capacitors and anything likely to fail. I found only ceramic and mica capacitors except for the main filter capacitor which I tested for leakage using my Eico leakage tester. I decided not to change this capacitor because it is a bit of an oddity and will be difficult to replace with something aesthetically pleasing, though I know I will have to.

The receiver uses 110 V AC supply and at the time of the arrival, I did not have a variac, so set about constructing a power supply from an old Yaesu FT101B main transformer. I also constructed a light bulb current limiter, and ran the Hammarlund on that for a while, changing wattage of the light bulb as I grew in confidence, that the magic smoke was not about to escape.

I made a job list of things I would like to fix, but many of them would have to wait for a later date or perhaps never be done. They included

– replace discoloured perspex indexing- I now know very difficult and will not do this

– replace blown dial lamp- GE No 47.

– replace filter capacitor

– full alignment.

From the moment I turned the receiver on, I was impressed with its sensitivity. I could not wait to get it on a better antenna.

Over the next few weeks I used it to listen to a few nets and some DX and found it an excellent receiver. When I attempted to use in on AM though, I found it quite deaf.  I investigated possible causes and now believe  a weak tube is to blame, but have not yet examined that, preferring to order a new tube before examining things further. Thanks to Rodger WQ9E for the advice.

“Check that the noise limiter switch is off and cycle it a few times to clean, I have run across odd faults in receivers related to these clipper type noise limiters. You could try a different 6BV8 if you have one, it could just be a weak tube here. Check voltage readings at the 6BV8. I recall finding an open L10 in one HQ-170, due to part manufacturing defect (poor solder joint) and not caused by another receiver fault. Of course also check/confirm the three sets of contacts for switch S7 that should show continuity in the AM mode position are making good contact.”

I hope to fully examine the weak AM issue shortly.

A week or so after first firing the Hammarlund up, I chose to do a full alignment. The HQ170 is triple conversion, and the third IF is 60 kHz, but for some reason I mistakenly did the alignment at 65 kHz, so had to redo it a week later. The alignment procedure is very well documented on youtube in multiple parts- whereas the service manual is hopelessly inadequate.

One interesting issue that arose, came about when I used the receiver to monitor my own CW signal.

I noticed as I keyed my transmitter, the received signal “moved” on the 170 so I had to retune with the vernier to monitor my sending. I discovered that this is due to  the designers applying AVC voltage to one of the mixers, resulting in pulling of one of the coupled oscillators with the much higher AVC voltage encountered when monitoring your own sending. Removing the AVC voltage from the mixer fixes that problem. I came across this solution after noticing that the pull changed as RF gain was changed.

I hope to have these radios on active display (being used) for the AM and CW on Anzac Day event.

More about the Hammarlund HQ170 and Viking Ranger II in Part II.


Categories: Uncategorized

FT101 Better Method for Alignment of Tx and Rx

October 24, 2014 Leave a comment

I have posted previously at least three methods of alignment. This one, using a second radio to tune in to the VFO frequency gave the best results.

Categories: Uncategorized