Dream Station; Let's Pretend

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When I was a kid, like many of us, I started out with a home brew transmitter and a surplus receiver.  I used to daydream of having a perfect amateur radio station when I started making "real" money, not just what I earned from my paper routes. 

In the Navy, twice I got to put together what were pretty much dream stations.  When the command became aware of how phone patches contributed to morale at out-of-the-way duty stations like Adak, Alaska and Diego Garcia, they told me to put together a base amateur radio station.  Both times I put together Collins S-line equipment with Henry amps, based on those dreams I had as a kid.

Just for fun, let's put together a dream station, starting with nothing.  I will start by contributing a Flex 6700.  We need everything else from paddles to antennas, meters, transmission line, etc.  Assume that we have a blank check, already signed.
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Steve W6SDM

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Posted 4 years ago

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Mark - WS7M

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Cool idea!  I'd vote for another 6700.  Two is always better than one.

Next a 5 acre lot with room at the corners for 200 foot towers.  Then a big loop between them.

I'll let someone else pick the amps but I'd vote for experts.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I have always wanted a nice Bagali paddle for CW, but couldn't justify the cost. So I settled for a Bencher some 30 years ago. I'm still using it.

Add a nice boom and studio Mike....PR40 or others in the same category.
Wait for the Flex-Amplifier. And Maestro.

Either a four-monitor computer, or a large 4x resolution screen.

Of course a Heights Fold-over tower with a nice antenna...perhaps a big heavy duty LP, or Th11DXX, or Mosley Pro-xx....

Ken - NM9P
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Asher - K0AU

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Outside of contests I'm 70% CW and 30% SSB.  I have a Begali and a W3ZN paddle.  ("CW paddle" answers the "what do you want for Christmas" question).  Begali is "click" and W3ZN is "clack".  For now I prefer clack.
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W3DCB

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Sure brings me back!  My first "real" Rx was a Halicrafters SX-101 obtained through working two paper routes as an early teen...The Penny Saver, a Sunday-only advertiser...Eventually, I obtained a paper route with Long Island Newsday in Bay Shore, Long Island.  I paid about $110.oo for the Rx.  Before I received my SX-101, I collected old "junk" radios which I would modify a bit to get them to receive into some of the SW bands.  Once, I even found a junk radio that actually had several SW bands.  I could occasionally listen to an SSB signal by finding a local AM signal against which to "beat" which would sometimes make an SSB signal readable.  I remember to this day the thrill of bringing home the SX-101 after school one day.  I  purchase it from an elderly gentleman who had an electronics surplus store on the Main Street of Bay Shore, Long Island.  He opened the store irregularly...mostly to have something to do in retirement.  I would spend any free time I could with this fellow of whom I became most fond.  Eventually, he opened the store most afternoons after school so that I could be with him to pass the time.  He would entertain me with stories about old-time radio and radio engineering in the "golden days of radio."  We both needed each-other.  He sold very little.  Equipment seemed to come in, but seldom left via sales...Equipment mostly moved between his own basement and the store.  As a kid, I thought he was cheap, b/c he wouldn't let any piece of equipment go except for top dollar.  Of course, when I was older, I realized just how attached he was to each piece.  Each piece had specific memories for him and he would hold onto those pieces of equipment which reminded him of younger days aboard Navy Ships as a Radio Operator and later an engineer, etc.  My first real introduction to ham radio was through our Junior High School radio club, WB2SRJ, advised by K2KMX, Doug Smith.  I would pour over the ham radio catalogues and magazines as a youth dreaming about that perfect station!   What any of us would have done for an S-line!  A complete Heath-Kit line was pretty impressive, too!  I was a youngster during the transition from tubes to solid state.  I remember when the Heath SB-104 was introduced.  It was the most sleek looking radio I had seen.  By that time, Yaesu and soon Kenwood were already producing some really great hybrids.  Everything still had tubes at least for the driver and the PA.  My first "real" transceivers were the SB-102 and later a Tempo-One...They were great little radios.  Eventually, I figured out that I could buy broken radios at ham-fests, make repairs, and then sell for a profit.  This eventually bought me the "ultimate" station (at  least to me at the time).  By about age 141⁄2 or so, I actually was able to purchase a set of used Kenwood Twins, an R-599a and T-599a.  I also found a talent to buy and repair TTY machines.  Eventually, I happened upon a Model 28-ASR.  A department store, Korvettes, located a couple miles from home on Sunrise Highway in West Islip, Long Island, burned down.  It was "investigated" by a few friends.  I was too scared to go in fearing that I would "get in trouble."  I was a real wimp as a kid.  My good friends saw the TTY and knew that what ever it was, Baral would really love to have it!  Friendships that one has at age ~13 & 14 are unlike friendships at any other age, especially for boys.  This was a huge store that was completely gutted by fire.  It was a stable building, although the roof was leaking onto the TTY machine and the doors were always open.  Of course, I reasoned that after nearly 2 years of this building having been left vacant in poor condition with this beautiful Model 28 that I just knew that I could resurrect and I just had to have was reason enough for me to gain the courage with my friends to liberate the TTY one late winter afternoon after sundown!  After getting the machine working and cleaning it from the soot, it became a prize possession.  It looked pristine by the time I had finished.  By that time, I was in high school.  Bob, WB2MIY was the auto-shop teacher who was studying for his ham license. We became instant close friends despite the difference in our ages.  Soon after, I left home b/c of very difficult family living conditions.  Serendipitously, just at the right time, I was offered my first full-time position just before I was to turn 17 at Dowling College (previously known as Adelphi Suffolk) for a position called, "Computer Specialist."  They didn't quite realize how young I was until after they offered the position.  This was a time in the mid-to-late-70s where anyone who knew about computers could be hired even if they were a bit short on age or credentials...I already had a degree as I had graduated high school on the early side.  Any way, that was a bit of my introduction to ham radio and my earlier search for the "ultimate" station...
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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What an amazing story!  Impressive.  Mine not nearly so.  I think my Dad got me into ham radio in the late 60's to very early 70s to keep me out of drugs.  He'd seen my interesting in the radio setup at a military base we frequented.

As I mentioned in another place I started with rock bound stuff we bought form some guy in a nearby neighborhood.  This guy also gave me my novice test.  At the time I had a 50W crystal CW transmitter, I don't even remember the band and a matching Rx that half the time didn't work.  I think I had 4 sets of crystals so I was limited on where I could op.  My first antenna was a homemade dipole.  Later my Dad helped me put up a Hustler trap vert on the house.  I still had crappy chirpy tx and rx.

At the same time the guy that sold us the tx/rx also sold me a 1/2 built linear and a bunch of parts.  He had no business putting that junk into the hands of a fresh novice but I guess we were gullible.  I had saved about $500 from work I'd done and spent it all on this crap.

I used to get so frustrated trying to work on my 4 freqs and have the receiver crap out all the time sometimes in the middle of a QSO I almost gave it up.  I spent many hours just sending CW to myself because it was easier than trying to really get on the air.

Then one day my Dad came home with a kenwood R599 to replace my horrible rx.  I was in love!  I almost became a full time SWL because I spent so much time tuning around all over listening in places I was not legal to transmit or did not have the rocks to do so.

I had my code speed up to almost 20 or so I thought and I headed to LA to take the general test.  It was then that the examiner asked me if I had any clue how fast I'd sent code.  I think I as a little nervous and he said I'd done like 26 or so.  He had me copy a short segment at 20 and then asked me if I wanted to take the extra questions.  I declined as I really wasn't that good at the tech stuff.  I got my general a couple weeks later in the mail.   The following weekend my dad showed up with the T599 transmitter.  I was so happy!

But still I had a small station.  100W max (at times) and a lousy trap vert antenna.  Then I saw this tower being setup a few miles away and talked some friends into going and checking it out.  Some older guy with lots of money had decided to get into radio and was having a 150 foot tower and beams put up.  In his "shack" which was like a luxury shop with refrigerator, TVs couches he had a full collins S line including amps.  We asked him for his call sign and he told us he was taking the novice test the following week.

Well when he finally got the air and pointed that damn beam my direction I might as well shut down and call it a night.  I couldn't hear a thing!  Luckily he didn't op much so there was "room" for me.

In high school I met other hams in the club and we got into building stuff.  We'd have fun build nights trying to get a minimal parts Tx on the air fastest.  There was one guy that was always winning.   He just knew his stuff.  

We did field day and a number contests and they had RTTY machines.  I knew what they were but didn't have the space or knowledge to get one setup.  I pretty much stuck to CW and some SSB with my friends.

I built a beam for myself and built a small tower out of pipes.  It worked ok but I didn't have a great location.

Since then I've been in/out.  I've always dreamed of having lots of land with big towers and nice equipment so this thread fits.  I could completely imagine the dream station:

6700's two of them
Expert amps on both
4 towers 150 feet each sporting stacked beams, then run some loops between the towers, everything fed with hardline.
I'm a software guy so I could setup the perfect computer to run all of this.  It'd have four 4K screens.
Boom mike yes
Keyer/paddle - I'd have to buy them all and figure out which I liked the best
Then automation.  To me having a great station means it is easy to do stuff. You want to work 40m CW you should press a button on screen and everything just happens.  Antennas switch, beams light up, amps are ready and all you have to do is tune and hit the paddle.
I'd probably also through in like an icom7xxx top of the line as a third radio.  Then of course some VHF/UHF stuff with beams at the top of the towers
The shack would have to be super comfortable with room for 3-4 ops and space with couches to relax and chat.  
I'd also like the station to be removable.  IE on a sunny day I'd have a shaded porch outside and the ability to run a wireless remote with control of everything.

Well while having something like this would be fun it might also not be so fun because I find that I like having some challenges.  IE building a better antenna, fixing some issue, better software you name it.  With the "pretend" station everything would be done.  You'd just hit a button or two and start operating.
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W3DCB

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Now, that's a dad!  You must have loved him very much... de W3DCB daniel
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Lee, Elmer

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Great stories also brings back memories for me.  When I was 6 my Grandpa gave me a AC/DC radio with 160M on it.  One day after school I was messing around stringing hookup wire around my room for an antenna, trying to electrocute myself and I heard a couple of real strong stations on 160.  They were some high school kids from the Catholic high school about 1 mile from my house talking on AM to each other as they left school.  This was maybe 1958.  I was HOOKED!  I was in Chicago and my Dad took me down to the Allied radio store every week to the novice class.  Missed the code by 1 letter, which was for the best since you couldn't renew the novice in those days and I didn't have equipment or skills, just desire.  Instead I got a sub to Popular Electronics for Christmas and waited every month for the adventures of Carl and Jerry, and later Hardy Boys and Boy's Life ham radio stories.  I moved to Indiana and retook my Novice at 11 and had a S-40B by then purchased from paper route money.  40M was like 3/8 of an inch on the dial.  I added a Q multiplier and some 6L6 xtal rig I built from discarded TV parts, a dipole and some helpful locals to get me going.  I had a freakin knife switch to switch between TX and RX.  I was using the S-40 as my side tone God   My first QSO was a guy in Louisville 75 miles away.  First phone rig was a HT-37 which was a phasing rig so I've been doing I/Q since near the beginning.  Acquired some parts for some large amps (because that's what you do when you're 16, continue to try and electrocute yourself) and set forth on 75M with true wide band side band to give old W2OY up there in Buffalo run for his money.  He hated kids.  By then I was back in Illinois and the boys I talked to every night called me the Carbondale kid since I was living in Carbondale.  Eventually I was led into Engineering because of ham radio.  Both my Dad and Grandpa played strong roles in nurturing my ambitions even though neither one of them had the first interest, plus my Mom fielded my TVI complaints.   What a Saint!  I moved her down to FL so she can run interference in case someone complains.

I have met so many great people over the years and had such good times.  I'm still talking to some of the guys I talked to back in the early 60's though most have passed.  Three or four are still living.  All because my Grandpa gave me a AM radio and a couple of jokers had 160M AM rigs in their jalopies.  

73  W9OY
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W3DCB

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I haven't thought of Boys' Life mag. in so long...Is it still around?
de W3DCB Daniel
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W3DCB

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I did a search an read some of the old Boys' Life magazines...Really amazing stuff...brought back memories.  The stories and articles are full of the old values of honor, brotherhood, love of country...You really felt like you were part of a greater brotherhood of boys when you read these publications...They were up-lifting, inspiring, and made you feel good about striving to be better.  There is nothing out there today which instills those values AND elicits those warm feelings of purpose and belonging to something greater than one's self....
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Lee, Elmer

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5 acres is not nearly enough.  Better would be to separate the RX and TX antennas especially for the low bands.  For RX a variety of Beverage antennas and a couple of the RX 4 squares or even 8 direction receiving vertical arrays and a switching panel in the shack to allow for different diversity set ups.  For TX a 80 and 160 4 square with 4000 ft radial screens and some high dipoles or perhaps some fixed wire beams.  Stacks of 40M and 20M monoband beams on rotating towers.  And some kind of steppir multiband stacks for the other bands including 30M and something on 6M and 2M.  If you're going to stay legal then some kind of solid state auto-band switching amps, if not separate single band RF decks on 160 80 40 and 20 with a common power supply since these antennas can readily be designed for high power say 10dB over legal, and something auto-tune for the steppir beams.  I would like about 2500ft between TX and RX sites and a QTH on the coast in rural FL a mile or three inland away from population centers.  Remote base 6500's driving 1500W amps and antennas on the farthest northeast and farthest northwest points in the continental USA, thereby giving you the greatest gray-line coverage and very wide reaches of first hop water as the terminator flashes across the face of the country.  If you're going to build a contest station, 40M and 20M sterba or bruce curtains aimed at EU.   

73 W9OY
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Now there's a guy with shack-worthy dreams! Also spoken like a true low-bander, too. 4-squares and beverages on 160! If only!
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Mark, did it work???
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Burt Fisher

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A dream station for me would be a rig I could hook to a WAN to demonstrate ham radio at school live.
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AA0KM

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A Flex radio with a SCU TX/RX for each band with many antenna connection combinations.

Or Mono bander SCU TX/RX and many software options.


VHF and UP Flexradio.

(Edited)