Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking a dip..

My venerable and longtime buddy -- the MFJ 259 antenna analyzer -- took a dump the other day. Actually, I helped it over the brink by reverse polarizing it. (Yes, I am a real sweetheart when it comes to those things.)

Here's the deal: there's an SMD 1N4007 in line with the power switch just lurking out there for jerks like me and it pounced. No, I do not know why I flipped the battery connections and, yes, I do know why I didn't load the '259 with batteries. (Hint: if I did, you'd be reading about how my '259 crapped out because of battery leakage.) In attempting to fix it --removing the diode and soldering a conventional one in its place, I must have goosed some of the traces under the adjacent power switch. In any case, after the surgery was complete, I was not able to revive the patient.

Anyway, before I proceed, I want to say that this instrument has special meaning to me because it was a birthday gift from my dear friend, K6BNC, who has left these golden shores for the wilds of Ohio. The '259 has become a gift again, as it were, to N6VCW who is a much better SMD surgeon than I will ever be.

But I wander off topic.

After plying eBay and the internet and realizing that these beasts require serious coinage to replace -- as much as $300 shipped from Mississippi -- I decided that (1) I was more poverty stricken than I originally surmised and (2) I had a GDO that was willed to me by my late father, N6ABV, back in 1992. It was/is a good one, by the way; an immaculate Millen 900652 replete with coils and docs.

I fondly recalled the Sundays when he would come over and we would spend doing essentially the same thing the MFJ 259 does with his (now my) Millen and a Palomar RX Noise Bridge and his trusty HP calculator. (Never could get the hang of RPN, though.)

So I have opted to eschew the convenience of the MFJ and embark on a path of learning to really use the GDO and a noise bridge to unravel the mysteries of antennas, half-wave lengths of coax, velocity factors, and so on.

With the Millen in my quiver, I sought out another dear friend, the World Champion Resuscitator of O-Scopes, WB6JDH, who has an inventory of used ham equipment that would put AES to shame. Seems he could let me have a Palomar RX Noise Bridge for a modest honorarium.

At this writing, I have been dipping and bridging up a storm and, true to my motto "why own one of something when two or more is much more fun", I was able to score a Heathkit HD-1250 off of Dick very reasonably.

Again, not content with what I have and constantly on the prowl, I came across VK3AQZ's RX bridge kits -- and tumbled for the RX2.

In the process, I struck up a friendship with a ham who is one of the most affable and interesting fellows you'd care to meet in this hobby -- Lou Destefano, VK3AQZ.

But I am getting way ahead of myself and this is enough of a set-up. Over the course of the next few entries, I propose to share my experiences with the above-mentioned equipment in my quest to replace the '259. The focus on these will be my construction and appraisal of the RX2. I have just unbundled the kit and am incredibly impressed to say the least..

..but more later.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

Everything's gotta start some place and some time, so here goes:

..having grown weary of wall-to-wall political blogging as well as the shenanigans perpetrated on the citizenry by asshole Democrats and incompetent, complicit Republicans, I seek refuge in another blog.

The purpose of this site will be to document my miscellaneous amateur radio (and related) projects. I also might throw in some commentary on my guns, reloading, and black powder shooting escapades.

I frankly do not care who visits or comments; this is for my enjoyment. If any of this is of interest to you, feel free to make comments or ask questions.

Otherwise enjoy!