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 Post subject: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 11:43 pm 
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Joined: May Thu 09, 2019 12:06 am
Posts: 107
Since I have got back into shortwave radios here lately I have been thinking about getting a vintage transmitter. Perhaps a Hallicrafters. Would a vintage transmitter be worth restoring for ham radio use? The thought of getting my license and using something vintage interests me.


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 11:49 pm 
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Joined: Jul Sat 28, 2012 9:32 pm
Posts: 233
Absolutely. I'm 62 and excited to death about my little Knightkit T60 I've been working on.


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 12:20 am 
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Definitely very usable and fun to restore. I would start with something simple as your first project, maybe one of the "novice class" transmitters that were originally designed for use by beginning amateurs being introduced to the hobby via the old novice license. The transmitter would be in the 75 watt range and many include simple screen or controlled carrier modulation systems so that the novice could also operate AM when he upgraded to a higher license class.

The smaller transmitters are generally easier to work on, reasonably priced, and fairly simple to use. There are a lot of choices out there and for the most basic I really like the Johnson Adventurer and Allied's copy of it which is the T-50. The Heathkit DX-60 series was extremely popular and is easy to find and generally works well and although the function switch can be an issue there are solutions to that problem.

Larger and heavier transmitters like the Johnson Viking 1 and Viking 2 are well designed reliable rigs; the Heathkit DX-100 is Heath's copy of the Viking with a copy of the VFO-122 built into it while the Johnson rigs would use an external VFO. Any of these three would be a good choice for a popular power level rig that runs high level plate modulation. I would lean to the Viking 1 or 2 because Heathkits sometimes have build issues just like Henry experienced with his Knight Kit T-60. Component quality wise, the DX-100 (and 100B followup) are some of the best quality rigs out of Heathkit as long as the builder did a good job.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 1:49 am 
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Joined: May Thu 09, 2019 12:06 am
Posts: 107
Great info there. I do not know why I am leaning towards a Hallicrafters transmitter but I will for sure give something smaller and simpler a thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 1:56 am 
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Joined: Jul Sat 28, 2012 9:32 pm
Posts: 233
I rebuilt and sold a hallicrafters ht37. A fine transmitter, but a beast. 80 pounds I'd say. The power choke is BIG. My Knight kit is more of a fun, basic toy. AM/CW only. And since there's not much am, I'll be doing code mostly.


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 2:15 am 
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Most of the Hallicrafters transmitters are going to be fairly complex and heavy and I don't think that their entry level HT-40 is a great transmitter however the HA-5 external VFO that was often used with the HT-40 is an excellent VFO that is a hetrodyne instead of multiplier type and it provides excellent stability. And the price of the HA-5 on the used market reflects its performance level for the time.

The HT-32 and HT-37 SSB transmitters readily found but they are definitely complex and the HT-37 can be a bit intimidating to align for someone new to transmitters.

However the first question I neglected to ask is which modes you would want to operate. A lot of the older classic transmitters are CW or CW/AM only and although SSB begin to make a strong appearance in the 1950s, a lot of the early transmitters which operate on SSB don't do SSB that well (drift, fussy carrier balance, poor alternate sideband rejection, etc.) I have several rigs by Central Electronics, a Johnson Pacemaker (their sometimes trying early SSB offering), a Hallicrafters HT-30 (produced around 1955) that uses a low frequency IF filter like the SX-96 and later family for the SSB filter, and other interesting early stuff. But most of these aforementioned rigs wouldn't be something you would want to use on a daily basis and the better rigs of the 60s are a world apart in SSB performance.

I think the oldest Hallicrafters transmitter I own is a HT-9 from around 1939 and the oddest is a HT-19 CW/NBFM rig that I don't think ever went into full production given the lack of examples and documentation.

When you come across a rig that looks interesting and attractive to you ask questions in this section because there is a good chance that someone has experience with that rig and can provide helpful advice.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 2:38 am 
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Joined: Aug Thu 20, 2015 3:09 pm
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Location: Albion, CA, USA, 95410
Indeed yes, ham stuff and tube gear is a good mix! I don't have a vintage transmitter but I do have two vintage tube amps that I got running. A transmitter is going to happen one of these days. I do have a Drake TR3 that I should get around to. I would get something with SSB. While AM is fun and so is CW you limit yourself in terms of contacts.

Start by getting your license (do the Tech and General at one sitting) and taking a look at what your antenna situation is. Maybe see about hooking up with a local club or ham and see if you can do some operating. Then you will be in a better position to decide if a particular rig you find will suit your needs.

Hope to meet you on the air someday!


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 3:07 am 
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Joined: May Thu 09, 2019 12:06 am
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AM and SSB would be the modes for me


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 3:19 am 
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Maybe a HT-32 or HT-37 then, either is a very decent rig when in proper working order.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 4:03 am 
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Location: Liberty, Missouri
Older transmitters are fun to refurbish and use. I've liked AM since I first heard amateur radio back in the early 50s. I have about 25 old AM and SSB transmitters from the 40s thru the 70s, which see service for a couple weeks every year or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 4:12 am 
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Joined: Jul Sat 28, 2012 9:32 pm
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The whole point is to fix up an old piece of gear, knowing you did fine work, and the satisfaction of operating it. I do wish someone would buy the old Heathkit Allied, and other plans and re-issue new kits. I'd be spending ALL my money. But since they don't, restoring IS my kit.


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 12:01 pm 
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Joined: Jan Fri 27, 2017 8:41 pm
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Location: Springwater, NY
henry finley wrote:
I do wish someone would buy the old Heathkit Allied, and other plans and re-issue new kits. I'd be spending ALL my money. But since they don't, restoring IS my kit.

Maybe someday your wish will come true...see the products at this site: https://www.heathkit.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Jan Mon 28, 2013 9:35 pm
Posts: 1444
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Heck yes, find, restore and use a vintage transmitter! It can be a
fun but sometimes frustrating endeavor.

Personally, I'd steer away from the Hallicrafters transmitters. Maybe its just
me but have had very little luck with getting them to work properly.
Especially the HT-44 and early versions of the HT-32 of which I've owned
several.

The good news is there is a wide variety to choose from and prices are
reasonable if you're willing to do the restoration work yourself.

AM transmitters; Johnson is at the top of my list; Valiant, Ranger (both are
AM/CW and have a built in VFO) as well as the Viking. The Heath DX-100 is
excellent as are the Collins 32V series.

SSB transmitters; Drake 2 and 4 line, Heathkit made some excellent rigs.
Restored an Eldico SSB-100F a while ago which works fine but is on the rare
side. The one to avoid is the Johnson Pacemaker.
Steve W6SSP

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 3:49 pm 
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Location: Freeport, LI, New York 11520
The Eico 720 (9o watt) and the 723 (60 watt) transmitters come to mind. Operated both while a Novice. Easy to maintain, easy to load. Worked world wide with both.

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 4:06 pm 
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Location: Liberty, Missouri
Aside from their very old model 4-20 transmitter, save any further Hammarlund transmitter projects until you have a few restorations under your belt.

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 7:52 pm 
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Location: Ohio 45177
I got a simple Viking Adventurer working OK that I had setting on the shelf for a long time. It was apparently the kit version and I thought the wiring looked a bit sloppy as it was apparently built by someone without vast experience. However I replaced or reworked only a little of the wiring. Have not put it on the air. I am stuck on the memory that I got a pink card in the mail for harmonics with one when I was a novice. Then again my antenna was not particularly good at the time and I suspect that might have had something to do with it. At least I think I can check it for harmonics at this late date. And it is not a terribly large transmitter. I have admired and pondered the big heavy boatanchors but not given in yet. I had to do filter caps in series as the HV is pretty high. I thought of building a modulator for it and even got a transformer, but 40 watts of AM is not gonna impress the big boys.

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Fri 21, 2019 2:44 am 
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Joined: May Fri 01, 2015 2:33 am
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Location: Roslyn,Pa 19001
+1 to Steve w/a few exceptions.

Viking Valiants and Rangers are ok if you can find one that hasn't been "improved" by some want to be engineer. Those can be a real headscratcher. Valiants are kinda quirky. Personally I like the Viking I and II's but the drawback is that they require crystals or a vfo. The 122 or VF-1 work fine.

The DX-100 is good am/cw tx. Built like a brick house and pretty easy to get going.

32V is about as heavy as car engine and it's layout makes it difficult to service. When working there great. They suffer from LV transformer failure.

If you want to tryout some lower power AM the little Harvey-Wells TBS-50 is a dandy transmitter. Will run abt 25w output on fone and abt 32w on cw. Again requires xtals or vfo vf-1 works well, much better than the matching H-W unit. Also needs a power supply 425vdc@ 200ma and 6 or 12v to power the heaters.

YMMV
Terry N3GTE


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Fri 21, 2019 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 317
Location: Michigan, 49712 - SC, 29577
Multi-Elmac made good transmitters. The AF-67 & AF-68. Known as the poor man's Johnson Ranger. Built in VFO AM&CW

I have several.

http://www.w8zr.net/vintage/transmitters/af68.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Fri 21, 2019 4:52 pm 
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Joined: May Sun 22, 2011 11:27 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Dallas,TX
I am a fan of Johnson transmitters. I have a Viking 1, Ranger 1 And a Ranger II. Also Johnson Courier and Thunderbolt amps. But my favorite boat anchor is my Globe King 400B. It had been restored and was in use when I bought it. It came with a sack of AM crystals and a full set of coils. Also has a WRL 755a VFO. Legal limit AM at a cheap price. I love it!

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 Post subject: Re: Using Vintage Ham Transmitters
PostPosted: Jun Fri 21, 2019 8:56 pm 
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Joined: Oct Sun 15, 2006 12:57 pm
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Location: Liberty, Missouri
I agree with Mike, I too like Johnson transmitters and also have a few. I think E.F. Johnson made more transmitters than anyone else, and if you want to work "top band", Johnson transmitters are the most common. Most other transmitter makers tended to shy away from 160 because of the power restrictions of the era.

As I remember, many areas were limited to 50 Watts maximum and only at certain times of the day as well. The restrictions were because of the marine LORAN navigation system. All restrictions on the band weren't removed until the mid 80's.

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