W1AEX Station Pictures of Studio A and B

Nothing really exotic here. Mostly it is old stuff that nobody else wanted that has been restored, or rebuilt, or modified, or homebrewed and then pressed into service.  The station equipment operates on all bands between 160 meters and 440 mhz with all available voice and digital modes. Amazingly, the little lunchbox sized FT-897D which has been retired to 2 meter sideband duty can do everything the huge mass of iron below can do and more.

4-400 Rig
W1AEX "Big Rig"

The first few pictures show the old AM station in Studio B which is in the basement. On the left is the Johnson Viking which has been built into a 6 foot rack to accomodate additional audio and power supply components. The final of the Viking was originally a 4D32, but this has been replaced by three 6146B tubes. The original 807 modulator has been scrapped and replaced by a deck with a pair of 811A tubes and a 300 watt Thordasen transformer. Below the Viking RF deck is the audio deck, which is composed of two 6550 tubes in a push-pull Williamson configuration. An audio compressor is installed just below the audio amp. The Variac above the Viking RF deck controls the 800 volt plate supply for the RF tubes and a separate 1250 volt plate supply for the 811A's, allowing power adjustment from milliwatts up to about 150 watts of RF power. The zero biased 811A's sound very clean at powers under 1 watt, making this a very unique QRP rig!  I have worked into Great Britain on 10 meter AM using only 1 watt from this rig! As I recall, one evening back in the 1980's on 160 meters I was able to work WA1KNX (Dean) about 100 miles to the north with a few hundred milliwatts. In the fall of 2009 the old Viking rig was rebuilt into a 3 foot rack and installed in the upstairs station. On the right side is the 6 foot rack housing the homebrew 4-400 rig which is bandswitched for 160 - 75 - 40 meters. The single 4-400 is modulated by a pair of 833A's in a push-pull heising configuration (using a multi-tap plate transformer as the reactor) suggested to me by Steve - WA1QIX. This rig is also variac controlled and can run cleanly from around 75 watts input to roughly 900 watts input. The 833A's have a regulated adjustable bias supply that allows a wide range of plate voltages to be applied without pushing the modulators out of class B operation. The antenna for these rigs is an open wire fed 160 meter inverted vee fed by a T-Match made from an old GPT-750 CU-658/UR ATU roller inductor and two huge cardwell bread slicers which feed into a homebrew 3kw balun. This station warms up "Studio A" very nicely in the winter!

op position
Studio A Operating Position

The station receiver is a reliable old SP600 which has been restored and works very nicely from the bottom of the broadcast band up through the six meter band. An FM detector has been built and added to the SP600 just for the fun of it. The volume control wiper has been tapped and used to feed audio to a pair of 6L6 tubes which drive a 10 inch KLH acoustic suspension speaker.  Not shown in these pictures is the "Deerfield Special" FRG 7700 shortwave receiver which is used for AM, FM, CW, and SSB on 160 through 10 meters.

The slightly more modern station in Studio B is shown below. It runs all bands from 160 meters through 440 Mhz in all modes. A Yaesu FT-8900 is used for the FM modes on 6 meters, 2 meters, and the 440 MHz band. I ended up selling my Flex 5000A after moving up to the Apache Labs ANAN-100 that sits between the Kenwood 590S and AL-82 amplifier. Although the Apache Labs direct sampling SDR platform is my favorite to operate I decided that an agile backup rig would be useful to have on the bench. I ended up with a Kenwood TS-590S that I now use for the digital modes and CW. It's an excellent little rig that handles most tasks quite well. The FT-897D is mounted under the middle shelf and is casually used for 2 meter and 440 MHz sideband. On the lower shelf is the ANAN-100 which does most of the heavy lifting on HF and has provided more entertainment than anything else on the operating bench. It lives up to its reputation as a reliable and outstanding performer on 160 through 6 meters and produces an ultra-clean signal with its pre-distortion linearization protocol that is wrapped around both amplifiers. The transmit and receive audio produced by the ANAN is top notch and with the AM mode it surpasses all my plate modulated rigs for fidelity, bandwidth control, and asymmetry. For most of the year I use the big full-legal-limit AL-82 amplifier but when the warm season arrives I switch over to the much cooler ALS-600 solid-state amplifier. The main station microphone is a Marshall MXL-770 studio condenser that is plugged into the DBX audio rack above the oscilloscope. The output of the DBX286S voice processor and DBX166A compressor/limiter near the top of the equipment pile is run into a UMC202HD digital interface that is plugged into a USB port of the station computer. The audio is then further processed in OpenHPSDR to produce clean, loud, and natural sounding audio for the ANAN-100. Underneath the AL-82 amplifier sits a Dentron DTR3K tuner that is used with my Hex Beam when I venture to the extreme upper or lower portions of 10 meters (no need for this on the other 4 bands covered by the Hex). The Ameritron AL-82 definitely keeps the room nice and warm during the winter months! Not seen in the picture below is a Palstar AT4K that is installed across the room at the antenna entry point of the station to handle tuning chores with the 160 - 40 meter center-fed wire antenna that uses 4 inch spaced open wire feedline. Gotta love cable TV that allows the HDTV sitting 6 inches from the amplifier to run cleanly on any channel even when the AL-82 is delivering full legal limit on any band to any of the station antennas!

Studio B Operating Position

Fall 2011 - The upstairs AM operating position with the resurrected Viking III and FRG-7700

Morning coffee on 40 meters with the Johnson Viking III. What could be better?

The modest antenna farm is shown below. The tower is a very old EZ-Way 60 foot crank-up and tilt-over galvanized steel monster. It was spotted by my good friend Joe, W1AIU, who tipped me off back in 1987 that it was being retired from commercial service and was available. Purchasing that tower was probably the best hundred bucks I've ever spent in this hobby! It has a 5 foot nosepiece on top and a 14 foot mast above that, which parks the highest antenna at slightly more than 70 feet when the tower is fully extended. Unfortunately, during the infamous snow and ice storm of October 2011 the tower was clobbered by a falling tree. That collision mangled the antennas at the top and put a lot of stress on the tower. During the summer of 2012 it took several weeks to get the tower back into shape along with the 2 meter and 6 meter beams, which were badly bent. A good friend in a nearby town, Bob - K1AO, also suffered severe antenna damage in the big storm. The Traffie Hex Beam that had served him well for 10 years was crushed by several large branches. Bob decided to replace it with a new Hex Beam and offered me his damaged one if I would help him raise the new one. I gladly took him up on his generous offer and with some expert support from Mike Traffie was able to rebuild the old Hex Beam. After some trial runs on a 10 foot pole in the backyard I placed the Traffie Hex Beam at the top of the tower and have been enjoying it ever since. The Hex Beam works beautifully at heights between 30 - 50 feet so out of respect for the age of the old EZ-Way tower I only extend one section of the tower and park the Hex Beam at 50 feet. The rebuilt 2 meter and 6 meter beams are mounted below the hex at heights of 45 feet and 40 feet respectively. With the big Hex Beam upgrade I now have directional coverage from 20 meters through 2 meters. It's been a long time since I've had so much fun on the upper bands!

The rebuilt Traffie Hex Beam cranked to 50 feet

The Hex Beam along with the 2 meter and 6 meter beams up in the clear and pointing south.

Thanks to a coat of Krylon black paint the tower and antennas blend right into the trees very nicely!

A GP-15 Tri-Band vertical sits at 30 feet with an eave mount to offer omni-directional coverage with a Yaesu FT-8900 for the FM sections of 6 meters, 2 meters, and the 440 MHz band. A Grove Scanner Beam at 30 feet handles most of the scanning duties for public service and aircraft listening. I can easily hear all the ground control frequencies at Bradley Field as well as some of the Military aircraft stuff up north at Westover and Westfield.

190 Foot Open Wire Center-Fed

For 160/75/60/40 meter operation, I use 90 feet of homemade open wire feedline to a center-fed 190 foot inverted vee. If you look closely at the upper center of the picture, you can see the feedpoint and the open wire line trailing off at the top of the picture. The apex is sitting at just under 70 feet, and the ends are tied off at 45 feet. The open wire feedline is very easy to construct and superior in several ways to the commercially available "window line" commonly sold by antenna product vendors. More details about how to construct your own homemade open wire line can be seen at the link here.

Before entering the station the open wire feedline is connected through an Array Solutions AS-309H balanced line lightning arrester that is bolted to a 12 foot steel post pounded into the ground and staked out with several eight foot copper clad electrodes. The AS-309H does a great job of bleeding off static and when my feed lines are disconnected as bad weather rolls in it offers an outside low impedance straight shot to ground. So far so good but time will tell...

Array Solutions Open Wire Line Lightning Arrester