One of my favorite hobbies!
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Ham radio is a family affair at the Hockaday household. My wife, Debbie, is a radio amateur with an Extra Class license and her call is AC4QD. My oldest son, Chris (age 28), is also a "ham" and his callsign is KF4DBX. My youngest son, Brandon (age 26), is interested in amateur radio thinking about getting his license. Radio Amateurs are often called "Radio Hams", or simply "Hams". Both of my parents are hams, their names and calls are: Duke KD4NNK and Florence KD4NYT. They both hold General class licenses (and those pics were taken back around '96). HERE is a picture of My dad KD4NNK with my oldest son, KF4DBX, also taken back around '96.
On the right is a cam that runs from my shack from time to time. I retransmit the R/C Flyers Net, heard on 3.933 mhz at 6am EST Daily. You'll likely hear and/or see other random ham radio operations at other times, including live video of QSL cards saved in my electronic picture frame.
I have been a radio amateur since I was 14 (mid-1974). I "cut my teeth" on tube gear, building from old ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbooks and using scrap TV sets for parts. My first commercial receiver was a Hallicrafters SX-42 that was given to me in true "scrap box" condition. Looking back at my early stations, it's a wonder I actually ever made contact with anyone! They were good days, though, and I learned much more about radio than if I had bought everything. I only wish I had taken pictures of my old station equipment...
At the top of this page is a picture of my "QSL" card. A QSL card is like a postcard. Hams often exchange these unique cards with each other and hang them around their radio room to remind themselves and others of the ability to contact distant locations. Some QSL cards have pictures of the Amateur Radio station, the operator of the station, their pets, drawings, etc. Some hams also call them "wallpaper". You'll see several hanging on the walls of my radio room (usually called a "shack" by most hams) in the photos below.
I hold an Extra Class amateur license. I'm active on the amateur bands 160 meters through 70cm (440). When on HF, I enjoy operating CW (morse code) and RTTY (radio teletype), AM on my mid-60's vintage station, as well as SSB and 10 meters FM on my newer equipment. I also enjoy working 10 meters through 70 cm FM via repeaters and simplex. More recently, I've discovered how much fun some of the digital modes like PSK31, Olivia, Domino, and SSTV are. Below is a partial picture of my "shack". Click the image below for an older picture of the shack...
The Equipment, from left to right is:
The Table: First, the table was built by my good friend, Glenn KD4BSP. Glenn is an interior trim carpenter, and works magic with wood. He built this table for me from some misc plywood I had, 2x4's, and formica. I've had this radio table in service since 1993. It's 8' long, and hasn't sagged any from the weight of all this gear on it for all these years!
Tabletop: The keyboard (black) for my Hal Telereader RTTY interface, monitor and keyboard for my logging/packet computer, Yaesu FT-901DE, Icom 756. In front of the monitor, you'll see my Bencher Iambic paddles. Next, a Heathkit SB-301 rx and SB-401 tx with a JPS NIR-10 on top, a Speed-X Straight key, an Ameritron AL-82 HF amp, a modified Turner mic stand with an electret condenser element (no preamp), and the mic on the far end is an old Astatic JT-30 I restored. You'll notice a small box attached to the bottom or the first shelf, between the Icom and Heathkit gear...this is a homebrew control that allows me to switch my DSP unit between the different rigs by flipping a switch. I route and switch all DSP connections via rear apron connectors on the rigs, thus leaving the headphone jacks and exernal speakers all working as normal.
1st shelf up: An
Astron VS-35 and and a
26 amp Pyramid 12vdc power supply that is backed
up by a homebrew trickle-charge circuit and a 35aH gel-cell battery. It
powers all of the DC stuff in my shack. Next is a
Daiwa cross needle VHF/UHF wattmeter,
an Azden PCS-7500H 6 meter
FM rig, an Alliance antenna rotator
control head, a small DC voltmeter to
keep an eye on things, a Hal Telereader RTTY interface
with the Amtor R/T converter on top, a Radio Shack HTX-202 and external speaker
that is used primarily on the local
VHF DX Packet Cluster, a Heathkit
Heathkit SB-620 "Scandalyzer", Heathkit SB-600 speaker,
Heathkit SB-500 2 meter transverter, and Heathkit SB-610 TX monitor scope.
2nd shelf up: A
Radio Shack 2 meter radio for the
local SEDAN network,
a Kantronics 9612 dual-port TNC and Kantronics Kam Plus. I use the 9600
baud port of the 9612 on 223.70 mhz for
W4RAL packet BBS access, and the 1200 baud port is used as a
port/node for the W4RAL BBS on 145.090 mhz.
I use the 1200 baud port of the Kam Plus for my
work and mailbox, while the 300 baud port is currently unused...I plan to use it on the 20m packet
network one of these days :-) . Next is a
stack of 3 rigs: A Kenwood TM-621 2m/220 dual bander
(bottom), a Kenwood TM-331 220 fm rig (middle), and another Radio Shack
2 meter rig (top). I use the TM-621 for connection to the W4MR DXCluster, the TM-331 for connection to
the 9600 baud port of the W4RAL Packet BBS, and the Radio Shack rig for voice connection to the
WB4IUY Repeater on 147.39+.
The picture to the right is my old Gonset GSB-201a amplifier. I bought it from my a good friend M.M Preston K4SQC (now SK). It runs 4 each 572-B tubes, and will run near the limit on SSB and CW, about 500 watts on RTTY, and about 250 watts on AM.
In the picture to the left, and hanging just under the edge of the table, is a Motorola Micor that I converted for use into the local 10 meter repeater's UHF gateway and on the local 444.950 FCARC repeater. I also have an old Yaesu FT-901DE that I use from time to time.Here are a few older pictures of my shack
- Another old pic of my VHF/UHF stuff...
- A older picture of some of my Heathkit gear
Here's a picture of my tower. My antenna system for 40 meters is currently a set of 3 switchable full slopers built into the top guy wires of the tower and starting at 95 feet. You can see the coaxial current chokes about 35 feet out from the tower in each of the top guy wires. The feedline from each dipole swings down from the coaxial chokes and over to the tower, where a remote coax switch provides control. A dipole for 75/80 and a dipole for 160 are also mounted on my tower at 95 ft. The flat top and thrust bearing for the rotatable yagis are at 97 feet, with a 2 3/16" inch galvanized steel mast used for support. The yagis are: Cushcraft A3S for 10/15/20 meters, Cushcraft 5 element 6 meter yagi, Cushcraft 13B2 horizontally polarized for 2 meters SSB, and Cushcraft 13B2 vertically polarized for 2 meters FM. On the very top, with the base mounted at about 115', is my 10 meter vertical. You'll notice a side-mounted 220 yagi in this photo at about 70 feet, and you can just barely see a small 440 yagi mounted behind it (off of the rear tower leg). In the following photos, you'll be able to see some of the other side-mounted yagis that I use for specific repeater control functions and dedicated connections.Here are a few more pictures of my tower and antennas...
- This is a fair photo of my tower and antennas from a distance.
There are still several pieces of my vintage gear in various stages of restoration. I collect primarily Heathkit, but I have a few other various rigs of other manufacture. Here are a few pictures of my other "boat anchors"...
-Heathkit SB-101 transceiver -Heathkit SB-630 Station Console and SB-600 Speaker -Heathkit SB-303 receiver -Heathkit SB-401 transmitter -Heathkit SB-301 receiver -Heathkit SB-310 receiver -Heathkit SB-650 digital frequency display -Heathkit HR-10B receiver -Heathkit DX-60B transmitter -Heathkit HW-101 transceiver -Heathkit HW-101 transceiver -Hallicrafters SX-42 receiver -Collins R-391 receiver -National NC-300 receiver -Boat Anchor! -Lafayette HE-50a/HE-62 -Old mics -WRL Galaxy -Broadcast receiver -Craftsman Broadcast receiver -Craftsman Broadcast receiver -Transformers
Now that you know I like to tinker/ build/restore radio gear, let me take you on a quick tour of my dungeon, where I spend a lot of time "playing".
I have W.A.S. on 10 meters phone, WAC, and am currently tracking W.A.S. on all bands. It's a lot of fun, but will take a few years, yet. My DXCC count is about 240 worked/156 confirmed. Boy, it's a lot more difficult to get contacts confirmed than I thought it would be! Contesting is one of my interests, but I'm certainly not a "die-hard" at that facet of the hobby. I have been a "homebrewer" of ham radio gear for 28 years, and enjoy the hands-on aspects of the hobby. I have built/maintain several amateur repeaters, and have the makings of an ATV repeater in the shop. 900 mhz is a new frontier for me, and I'm working on a ATV project for that band with a couple of other local hams now.Here are a few of the certificates and awards I've collected:
- VE Certification, required to administer amateur radio exams.
- The Great Lakes Award, for having contacted every state surrounding the Great Lakes on 10 meters SSB.
- WAC, for having contacted every continent on the planet.
- IARU HF Championship, for having taken 1st place in the NC division (single op, mixed mode) in 1994.
- AMI (Amplitude Modulation International) membership certificate, for those interested in preservation of AM as an enjoyable mode.
- SKN (Straight Key Night) participation certificate, an event that is held each year on New Year's Eve.
- RCC (Rag Chewers' Club ) certificate.
- 1st place in the US/NC division of the Nebraska QSO Party
I enjoy working amateur radio while driving. I spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and ham radio is a perfect way to pass the time. My mobile amateur radio station is comprised of a RCI-2950 10 meter monoband rig coupled to a 200 watt rf power amplifier. I use it primarily to work into my local 10 meter FM repeater on 29.620. For VHF/UHF operation, I use a Kenwood TM-621 2m/220 dual band radio.
Another facet of ham radio is all the organizations that one can enjoy. I'm a member of the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), SERA (Southeast Repeater Association), TEARA (Triangle East Amateur Radio Association), and the 5CRG (Five County Repeater Group). These organizations enrich my enjoyment of Amateur Radio, and they all have various attributes that make them interesting.
Hey, check out an antenna party at my friend's home, Tom W4SIS...
Look at another antenna party at my friend's home, Jay KQ4MS...
Check out the following ham radio links at
my buddy Steve KD4WIW's website:
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