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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
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Location: Conway, Arkansas
Since first listening to a Ham AM receiver and eyeballing an AM phone transmitter, I sorta knew that SSB would eventually take a back seat, which it now has. AM just grabbed me.
Anyway, I'd like to get an AM phone transmitter, but have no idea which one to look for. Also, since I could just be living an AM pipe dream, I'd like the first one :roll: to be reasonably priced...you know, the ole economy model that has always done the job fairly well (Heathkit, maybe?). I think my Hammarlund HQ-129-X will serve as a decent receiver.
Any suggestions?

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 6:22 pm 
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Joined: May Tue 30, 2006 4:46 pm
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
I've built dozens of Heathkits, but only one transmitter, the DX-40.

Would not get a used Heathkit. These were "economy" designs and also limited by the skill of the original builder.

I would get a Johnson Ranger or Valiant.

Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 6:37 pm 
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Posts: 385
Location: Worcester Massachusetts
Hi John- my Dad always swore by the Viking's- would be a nice match for your Hammarlund. He had both the Valiant and the Challenger. I'm not a ham radio operator, but I do see a lot of hams online restoring and using these. Very fond memories of him swapping out crystals. I love your videos! -Arthur

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 7:15 pm 
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Joined: Jan Mon 25, 2016 3:13 am
Posts: 117
Location: Allen, TX
My first foray into AM was about three years ago and I've tried a few boatanchor transmitters! As far as Heathkit goes, I would say that your best bet would be a DX-100, however, you take your chances as mentioned above with who built them and then messed with them. They can also be slightly more difficult to find ones in decent shape on ePay! I've now refurbished 3 Viking Rangers and 3 Viking Valiants. They are very similar in design actually (the exciter and audio sections) and I have found them to be pretty bullet proof. Between these two, I would pick the Valiant or Valiant II simply because they output three times the AM carrier than the Rangers. If you should get a Ranger, you will find yourself then wanting an amplifier to boost your output so that you can be heard in these waning sunspot cycle months, depending on which bands you operate. You will also need to built a pad between the Ranger and the amp in most cases.

My other advise would be to beware of eBay. The great majority of the Johnson's I've bought don't work and usually require recapping, alignment and sometimes more. Also, the sellers often can't ask simple questions about the history of the rig or what kind of shape its in. If this doesn't worry you, then go for it. There are plenty of parts and documentation available for the Rangers and Valiants online, should you need them. Sometimes you can do better at a local Hamfest, because you can check for new capacitors and talk to the previous owner, etc.

One other warning! :) You will probably catch the "bug", so whatever your first choice of AM transmitter is, it likely won't be your last, and that may be half the fun!

Good luck!
Rick
W5RAA


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 7:47 pm 
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Joined: May Fri 01, 2015 2:33 am
Posts: 825
Location: Roslyn,Pa 19001
Hi John,
I think depending what your goal is, just getting your feet wet or something bigger. DX-40 not so hot, DX-60 is better
especially with an amp. Both of these are control carrier txs and the duty cycle is like ssb. Both also require a vfo or xtals.
With a good ant I've had a lot of fun on 40mtrs w/25watts from a Havery-Wells TBS-50 from here near Philly I could reliably work Ohio, Mich, and up north to Maine with out a problem. On 80mtrs it's good to chat w/the locals. The Elmac tx's are good too at the 25 or so wt level.

For the 100w class would recommend the DX-100, Johnson Viking I or II. DX-100 (aka the Benton Harbor Kilowatt) is built like a brick house, heavy duty potted transformers. Easy to service with a built in vfo that's pretty stable. It's a little newer than the VkI or II.
Viking I or II good design easier to service than the DX-100 as it is about 25pd lighter. Generally not quite as robust but a good choice. All three cover the 160mtr band, the later Johnson tx's don't. Both Vkings require a vfo. Once serviced they stay fixed.

I can't recommend the later Johnson gear for a BEGINNER. Ranger and Valiant are nice looking but more difficult to service and have many underated parts. If you like having to pull it apart once a month or so to fix something else that burned up or exploded it's the rig for you! Many of these have had all sorts of modification so they can be a nightmare to sort out. I don't believe either cover the 160m band. Have never own a Ranger but did have a Valiant on the air for a while.

GL w/making your choice. Hope this helps.
Terry N3GTE


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 10:04 pm 
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I'd think the Valiant would probably be the best bet. They're not complex since they are AM only. They are self contained with power supply, Modulator, and VFO, and, they have sufficient output power you don't need an amplifier.

My daily driver for the last several years has been a Gonset GSB-100. Fairly complex in that it's an all mode transmitter, but as stable, and as tuff, as a rock.

Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 28, 2016 11:30 pm 
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badrestorer wrote:
Any suggestions?
John, when I got started in ham radio back in the 60's my station was an HQ-129X, DX-60 (original, not A, not B) and an HG-10B VFO (only part my dad and I actually built).

I enjoyed it thoroughly, but given the choice I would go for a Johnson Ranger or Valiant as well. The tricky part here is they were also built as kits and you can be dealing with issues just the same as any kit. However, any one of these still surviving today probably was built OK.

By the way the HG-10B VFO my dad and I built is still in use by Bob Hansen, NA7RH http://www.arizona-am.net/PHOENIX/NA7RH/

Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 1:27 am 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
Posts: 4210
Location: Conway, Arkansas
Thanks, my friends, great responses from everyone.
I've been doing some price checking here and there and found that they're not giving those Johnson transmitters away and of course the ridiculous shipping costs have to also be considered. Soooo, for me it looks like one of the Heathkit transmitters will have to do, the DX-60 or 100, VFO and maybe an amplifier, which I'm sure will all cost less than the price of a Valiant.

Further, any Heathkit (VTVM, o'scope, freq counter, radio, etc.) that may have been poorly/terribly built doesn't much concern me. I'm not opposed to tearing one down to the frame and rebuilding it again. It's why we have assembly manuals. In fact, for several years now it's been a sub-antique electronics hobby to do just that. There's folks out there making money from it. So not to worry, chaps, all is well in Heathkit River City.

But there's still a buncha research for me to do about all this, so I may come back and say I've changed my mind about getting a Heathkit. Then again, maybe not. :lol: There will be a follow-up posting with probably more questions. Again, I appreciate the considerate inputs.

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Last edited by badrestorer on Nov Tue 29, 2016 1:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 1:33 am 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
Posts: 4210
Location: Conway, Arkansas
Eickerman wrote:
badrestorer wrote:
Any suggestions?
John, when I got started in ham radio back in the 60's my station was an HQ-129X, DX-60 (original, not A, not B) and an HG-10B VFO (only part my dad and I actually built).

I enjoyed it thoroughly, but given the choice I would go for a Johnson Ranger or Valiant as well. The tricky part here is they were also built as kits and you can be dealing with issues just the same as any kit. However, any one of these still surviving today probably was built OK.

By the way the HG-10B VFO my dad and I built is still in use by Bob Hansen, NA7RH http://www.arizona-am.net/PHOENIX/NA7RH/

Curtis Eickerman



Curt,
It's good to hear from you again, my friend. I figured you had all but forgotten me. Anyway, I did check out BOB's page. He has a neat setup. I'd like to have something similar, minus the homebrew...not my cup of tea. You can bet I'll be back with added questions, meaning you gents will get tired of seeing me pop in. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 2:10 am 
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Joined: Mar Sat 01, 2008 10:02 pm
Posts: 1109
Location: Mission British Columbia
I don't know if you are in a ham club.....but

When I started the hobby only 4 years ago, the first thing I did was join a ham club. Great support and advice, plus if you ask, you will find that there is lots of old gear out here that members will part with. I found it extremely helpful.

Club not too far from you I think?
http://w5str.org/

73
Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 3:30 am 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
Posts: 4210
Location: Conway, Arkansas
fvan wrote:
I don't know if you are in a ham club.....but

When I started the hobby only 4 years ago, the first thing I did was join a ham club. Great support and advice, plus if you ask, you will find that there is lots of old gear out here that members will part with. I found it extremely helpful.

Club not too far from you I think?
http://w5str.org/

73
Frank


Thanks, Frank, but I do belong to a club. Unfortunately, in terms of vintage equipment there's not much available from the members. They prefer the new fangled rigs. Here's a YT vid of our Field Day I did back in 2012:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsZIq44RrFk

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 4:36 am 
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Joined: Oct Tue 11, 2016 4:41 am
Posts: 61
Location: USA
Any tube AM ham transmitter can be hacked up regardless of brand. Generally speaking, if you get a complete copy of the manual and you can read the schematic diagram and solder, you should be able to put a non-working unit right if it isn't hacked up too badly or if it hasn't sat in a barn or wet basement for years. Unless you want a major restoration project, get a transmitter that is in working order, or nearly so.

There are many brands and models, but I believe that the Johnson & Heath transmitters already mentioned would make good starter AM rigs. The B&W 5100 also has a following. My experience is limited to Heathkit AM transmitters. The DX100 & Apache are good designs, and tubes and parts are available. Minor modifications to the speech amp can make either model sound great on AM. The DX100 has 160m, the Apache does not. A number of hams use the lower power DX-60 barefoot or with an amp and the -60s I have heard on AM sound fine. There are lots of Heathkit AM transmitters around.

With a little patience you will find the transmitter you want. Hamfests are still good places to find tube gear.


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 5:41 pm 
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Joined: May Tue 30, 2006 4:46 pm
Posts: 8991
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Johnson transmitters were available either factory-wired or as kits.

http://www.rlinwood.com/family_webpage/ ... mitter.htm

I had friends who had Johnson rigs (when I was a lad and couldn't afford more than my DX-40) and none of them were kits. If Collins was the "Cadillac" of ham gear, Johnson had to be the Buick or Lincoln.

Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 5:51 pm 
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bfo wrote:
The DX100 & Apache are good designs, and tubes and parts are available. Minor modifications to the speech amp can make either model sound great on AM. The DX100 has 160m, the Apache does not.
I also had a Heathkit Apache TX-1 and enjoyed using that as well. However, you do have to be prepared to wrestle a 107 pound transmitter. I wrestled one as a 130 pound teenager and getting it onto the work bench was quite the trick. :shock:

The whole back half of that thing is solid IRON (potted power transformer, chokes and modulation transformer).
Attachment:
Apache_TX-1.JPG
Apache_TX-1.JPG [ 145.64 KiB | Viewed 1439 times ]
The Viking Valiant is about 20 pounds lighter.

Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2223
Location: Potomac, Md.
Hi, John--

I graduated to a used Ranger in the early '60s from a Heathkit DX-20 I'd built and modulated with a homebrew controlled-carrier unit. I loved the Ranger and would look for one if I was in your position. But you're right. A good one is unlikely to be cheap unless you find it at a hamfest or get one from a benevolent local ham. An early Viking with outboard VFO would be an alternative, but Lord, they're heavy. A DX-100B (somewhat improved over the -100) is another heavyweight but has a built-in VFO and might be less expensive.

One thought is to look for an Eico 720 transmitter, 730 modulator and an outboard VFO from just about any maker. The 720 was unconventionally styled but is a solid little rig. The modulator is in many ways the equal of many a high-powered basic audio amp. And the individual components can be easily handled on the bench.

Otherwise I'd endorse a DX-60 or -60B, notwithstanding the carrier-controlled modulation, which doesn't give as much punch as plate modulation.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1611
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Thought I'd mention 'Electric Radio' magazine, which is mostly dedicated to tube ham gear of the golden age. I'm a subscriber and am learning a lot from the articles in it. There is a buy/sell section in it, and when you decide on what you want, could be a source to get your transmitter.

I have some AM transmitters waiting that I will eventually get on the air once retirement happens. One is a Collins 32V-2, another is a Valiant, and also a Hallicrafters HT-37 (also SSB). The Collins is all original, that I bet would work if I tried it. I recapped the Valiant and HT-37. I enjoyed doing both of those, and had no issues getting them done.

Never had a Heathkit, so I don't have an opinion on them.

You have a lot of options, and probably the biggest problem will be shipping.
It might be best to get one within driving distance so you can avoid that issue as well as look at what you're buying.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Tue 29, 2016 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
Posts: 4210
Location: Conway, Arkansas
Avery wrote:
Hi, John--
One thought is to look for an Eico 720 transmitter, 730 modulator and an outboard VFO from just about any maker. The 720 was unconventionally styled but is a solid little rig.


I just watched a Ham Nation YT video on that combo. The 720 is a neat-looking little transmitter, but to my notion requires a far more complicated setup arrangement than I prefer.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Wed 30, 2016 1:01 am 
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Location: Potomac, Md.
badrestorer wrote:
Avery wrote:
Hi, John--
One thought is to look for an Eico 720 transmitter, 730 modulator and an outboard VFO from just about any maker. The 720 was unconventionally styled but is a solid little rig.


I just watched a Ham Nation YT video on that combo. The 720 is a neat-looking little transmitter, but to my notion requires a far more complicated setup arrangement than I prefer.


Definitely several more cables are required for the interconnects -- one for the 730 modulator and one for the VFO at a minimum, but it's not as complicated as you might think.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Wed 30, 2016 1:07 am 
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Joined: Mar Mon 17, 2008 3:51 am
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Location: Conway, Arkansas
Frank wrote:
Thought I'd mention 'Electric Radio' magazine, which is mostly dedicated to tube ham gear of the golden age.
Frank,
I'd never heard of that mag, so goes to show what I know. It looks cool, but $36.00 a year is pretty steep.

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 Post subject: Re: Ham AM transmitter recommendations.
PostPosted: Nov Wed 30, 2016 1:23 am 
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Quote:
I'd never heard of that mag, so goes to show what I know. It looks cool, but $36.00 a year is pretty steep.
Thats not all that much, have you looked at the ARRL pubs?

ER is a good mag which is strictly for the vintage radio hobby.

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