Elecraft K1

When I was young, I had built HeathKits,  and home brews. One of the most fun radios I had built, was the first Elecraft radio, the K1. Wayne and Eric started their whole business based on the work they did for the Norcal 20, the Wilderness Sierra and produced a really nice, 2 band (mine was a 4 band) QRP, CW only rig. I loved mine. I’d take it camping, through a wire up in a tree, hook it to a gel cell, and go to town working stations into the wee hours in the AM. I want to get another one of these. But they do not make the 4 band any more, but heck, 20 and 40 is good enough. I supposed I could build another band module with 30 and 15 if needed. Just a great radio.

My Former Station

At one time, I had a great station that included a number of QRP radios and packet radio devices. Unfortunately I lost those pictures, but I found one, which has some of the stuff obscured by my 6 year old’s arm (He’s 20 now!). What you can see is a Wilderness Sierra, Icom-703, LDG Antenna tuner, Icom 2-meter for the packet station, and watt meters. What you cannot see is the Elecraft K2 to the right of the IC-703 and the Elecraft K1 on the upper shelf to the right and the 2 Rockmites in the anodized boxes (20M and 40M). Just below my son’s shoulder you see the Astron 35M which powered the whole station. I will rebuild, again!


Old Time Radio

It is not a secret that I not only enjoy QRP, Digital and SDR, but I am a fan of old time radio. When I lived just outside of Boston, I had a collection of “boat anchors” that were fun to operate. My favorite receiver was the National Radio Company’s NC-173.

The NC-173, like it’s sibling, the NC-183, were desktop radios that featured big tuning and band spread dials. They included a Beat Frequency Oscillator (known on the NC-173 as a CWO – Contunuous Wave Oscillator), so carrier injection could allow reception of CW signals as well as AM signals. The CWO could also be used to tune in SSB, with some finesse.

When I heard National had totally gone bankrupt in the late 80s, my friend Jack and I went and bought a lot of service stock (by the pallet) and soon I had parts to fix up NC-173s and the sort. I had rebuilt 3 of these radios, with new dials (as the service stock dials were not yellowed) , newer power transformers, Electrolytic power capacitors, and a ton of bypass capacitors. Masking and painting the radios and putting new badges found in the service stock made them look almost new. I sold a couple of them at the Deerfield ham fest (shows how long ago I was at a New England Ham fest). I kept one. When I moved out to the Pacific Northwest, 25 years ago, I brought one out. I ended up selling it to a nice gentleman in the Seattle area in the early 2000s. I wish I never sold it.

The thing about the NC-173 was the sound. Warm sounding. Especially if you had the matching speaker (I did). Listening to Radio Netherlands, or Deutsche Welle, or the BBC was a pleasure on this radio. And it would warm a room, too. Thermionic Emission is wonderful, sometimes.

I have been on this kick of acquiring some antique things, lately. in 2015, I bought a 1954 Willys Overland Jeep Pickup to ride around on the island. I also have old VOMs from Triplet and such.

I want to get a NC-173 or NC-183 again, but will have to temper. With all I am doing in SDR, QRP and the such, I do not think adding another radio to the mix will be met with harmony 😉


72 de Jeff – KD1IT


OpenWebRX and SDRPlay

My day job keeps me busy (I run a company and also try to be one of the engineers). Anyway, I was playing around this weekend with OpenWebRX. I have an SDRPlay RSP1. I decided to do a little hacking/configuration and build a remote receiver. I used, originally, a Raspberry PI 2, but found that the CPU would get maxed out. I switched to a Raspberry Pi 3 and discovered it has plenty of horsepower to do this. I downloaded OpenWebRX and then used HB9FXQ (Frank Werner-Krippendorf)’s SDRPlayPorts code to build play_sdr and feed it to OpenWebRX. The result, a nice running remote SDR.