W6IWI is Mobile Only!

Louise (XYL) and I are moving from Arvada CO to Tucson AZ. So, the Arvada station is now in a storage unit. I will still be operating mobile SSB and FM with the Icom 7100.

Favorite band, image from the cover of a recent CRHS Journal, Solar-Terrestrial Data showing conditions for HF and VHF bands and the MUF for Boulder CO, the W6IWI QSL card, view of antenna ("Wow! You must have a really big TV"), view of W6IWI Mobile. The Optimal Working Frequency is about 0.85 times the Maximum Usable Frequency.

Search W6IWI:

The call letters W6IWI were first used by Kauko Hallikainen in the 1930s. See the 1934, 1936, 1937, and 1938 Amateur Radio Callbook. The 1930s QSL card was similar to that shown above (I may still have one of the originals somewhere). By 1952, the call had been reassigned to Carson Donaldson in Inglewood CA. He held it through 1977. I acquired the call in 2016. Prior to that, I held the call WA6FDN, and prior to that, WN6FDN. The WA6FDN license was first granted in 1969, with WN6FDN in 1968. WA6FDN shows up in the Summer 1969 Callbook. NL7XM offers a great service. He has over 100 years of Radio Amateur Callbooks and will find the first appearance of your callsign in the Callbook. For a reasonable cost, he'll provide certified copies of these pages verifying that the callsign was held by the particular person on this date. This is what he sent me for WN6FDN and WA6FDN.

WN6FDN started with a Heathkit DX-60 transmitter and a National NC-300 receiver running CW on HF. WA6FDN used a Viking Ranger transmitter running AM, CW, and RTTY on HF. RTTY used a Teletype model 15 printer (also see a slow motion video of a model 15 in operationg), and a model 14 typing reperf and transmitter distributor. W6IWI now uses an SEA 245 with a Dentron Clipperton-L amplifier running CW and SSB into a Cushcraft A3S with 40 meter adapter. Previosly, a HyGain TH-3JRS 3 elemement tri-band (10, 15, 20) beam was used. Finally, an inverted V for other bands (other than 40, 20, 15, and 10). VHF and UHF FM are covered with a Baofeng UV-5R and a Wouxun KG-UV-6X. The Wouxun KG-UV-6X normally drives an outside vertical antenna at home. Mobile info is here.

HF Station Details

Click in a box in the block diagram for more details. Antenna VSWR is tracked here. Your browser does not support the HTML5 canvas tag.

Maximum Usable Frequency (12.58 MHz at 15 Apr 2021 0501 GMT)

The graph below plots the Boulder CO MUF and OWF over time (times are local at the browser). Data courtesy of Paul N0NBH. The MUF is the maximum frequency that can be used over a 3,000 km path centered on Boulder CO. The optimal working frequency is 0.85 times the MUF. Due to the large amount of data in the graph, it is pretty crowded. Zoom into a date range for a closer look. Drag over an area with the left mouse button down to zoom to that area. Right click to go back to the full graph.

W6IWI HF Activity

The table below shows recent contacts logged on qrz.com.

RBN Report

The table below is generated by a PHP script that pulls JSON data from the Reverse Beacon Network, parses it, calculates distance and bearing based on latitude and longitude, then shows data for the last 100 spots. Frequency changes greater than 1 kHz or time changes greater than 1 hour are shown in bold. Reception farther than 2,000 miles is highlighted in green. The Rx links link to the QRZ page for the station.

TimeRxFreq (kHz)SNRModeSpeedRx LocationDistance and Bearing

The plot below shows a historic plot of W6IWI HF CW and RTTY activity.

Also see here for a graphical representation of all RBN data. There is also a new version under development that shows similar graphs but also paths between transmit and receive sites on a map.

Search RBN for Your Station

Enter your call and click Submit to see what RBN has on you. This can be useful for testing different antennae. Transmit TEST DE CALLSIGN a few times on one antenna, switch to the other, change frequency a bit (maybe 100 Hz) and transmit again. You should see spots recorded at several locations for each antenna. Compare the reported SNR to get an idea how the different antennae perform. Click Show/Hide on the right side of the results page to enable a map with grayline showing the location of the receive sites. If your site is not shown correctly, update your location at QRZ.COM. Once logged in, select your call (right side of menu bar), then Edit your call, then Map, Grid Square and Coordinate settings. RBN uses these coordinates to place your station.

NOTE: RBN only reports CQ or TEST. It does not report every QSO. Send one of the following (I use CW and RTTY) to generate RBN spots:

Also, note that RTTY is only reported if it is at "tape speed." Hand typed RTTY is not reported.

Call Sign:

Find Hams in your Neighborhood

Amateur Radio License Map maps US amateur radio operators in an area centered on a call sign, grid square, zip code, or street address. Pretty neat!

The Ham Shack

Here's an overall view of the operationg position (a rolltop desk). On the top shelf ia a lamp with a mechanical watt-hour meter. On the base to the right is a more modern version, the Kill A Watt AC power meter that measures line voltage, frequency, load current, load power, load VA, power factor, and kWH (pretty amazing). To the right of that are the two VHF/UHF handheld radios (Wouxun KG-UV-6X and a Baofeng UV-5R). The Wouxon is used as a base station with an outside antenna and a speaker/microphone. To the left of the handheld radios, you can see a couple antennae for using the handhelds portable. Behind the handhelds is a black carrying case holding the SARK-110 antenna analyzer (another truly amazing instrument). To the right is the Dentron Clipperton-L with a pair of Daiwa 501H RF wattmeters on top. The left one measures the transceiver output power, while the right one reads the amplifier output power. To the right of that is a USL CM-8E cinema booth monitor. The center channel of the CM-8E is bridged across the balanced audio line between the SEA 245 and its control head. It's used as a headphone amplifier since the SEA 245 does not have a headphone jack. In addition, the equalizer in the CM-8E is set to a narrow bandpass to act as a CW filter. On the desktop surface, starting on the left is the Chromebook laptop. To the right of the laptop is a Flesher TU-170 Teletype terminal unit with a Wave 2 handheld digital scope as an XY tuning indicator. To the right of the TU-170 is the control head for the SEA 245 HF transceiver. Below the TU-170 and SEA245 is the controller for the MFJ HAM-IV rotator that aims the Cushcraft A3S antenna. To the right (the silver box) is a switch that switches 12 VDC to the MFJ-4712 antenna switch. The bug and key are to the right. The bug is wired in parallel with the key. There are several diodes on the key so the bug and key can drive the code practice oscillator part of the MFJ 557 to provide sidetone, drive the SEA 245 and drive the CW ID input of the TU-170. On the far right is the Teletype model 15.
Dentron Clipperton-L with the cover removed. The power supply is on the left, the output tuning network on the front right, and the four 572B triodes on the right rear.
Here's a view of the SEA 245 control head. It has an RS-485 bus (called SEABUSS) that carries control information between the control head and the trnsceiver. It can also communicate with the SEA 1630 tuner, but I currently have the tuner operating stand alone. Instead of being on SEABUSS, the tuner (of course) gets the RF and PTT. It returns an open collector signal that goes low when the tuner has tuned. When transmitting, the SQL indicator (squelch) is replaced with TND indicating the tuner has tuned the antenna. Besides SEABUSS, the control head connects to the SEA 245 transceiver with a balanced audio line, the PTT line, a power on/off control (switch to ground to turn on the radio), and switched +12V. The balanced audio line is run as an analog tristate bus. When receiving, the transceiver puts audio on the bus. When transmitting, the control head puts audio on the bus. On a ship, there are typically multiple control heads connected to a single transceiver using SEABUSS.

On the right is an MFJ-557 code practice oscillator. The straight key keys both the code practice oscillator and the SEA 245 transceiver. The code practice oscillator provides "side tone." You may see a few diodes on the left side of the straight key. They provide isolation between the code practice oscillator, the TU-170 CW ID input, and the SEA 245 transceiver.

To the left of the MFJ-557 is a Vibroplex Blue Racer Deluxe. This is serial number 229386 originally owned by my father, K. E. Hallikainen (Hal). This list puts the manufacture date as 1962, which seems a bit late. Note the Round Arm Vari-Speed Accessory added to the bug. This slows it down to about 13 WPM. The bug is connected in parallel with the straight key so it also keys the code practice oscillator, the SEA 245 transceiver, and the CW ID input of the TU=170.

This is the actual SEA 245 transceiver (bottom right black box with blue Power Pole connectors). Above the SEA 245 is the SEA 1630 antenna tuner (see below for more details). To the left of the SEA 245 is the Astron SS-50M 12V, 50A power supply to power the SEA 245. Just to the right, but not shown, is a APX SUA2200 UPS that can run the station (without the Clipperton L) for an hour or two. The UPS weighs 139 pounds!

The Work Bench

Here's a veiw of the work bench. Test equipment includes a Belar FMM-2 modulation monitor. On top of that is homebrew frequency converter that converts several frequencies to the 650 kHz IF input frequency. Other equipment shown includes an audio voltmeter, oscilloscope, audio generator, distortion analyzer, and a small USB logic analyzer. There's a desktop Windows computer shown running a G4L backup. The large microphone is used for web conferences. The PTT switch on it enables the microphone and mutes the speakers making conference calls pretty easy. To the left of the computer is a CZUR book scanner I use mostly to scan broadcast equipment manuals (see http://bh.hallikainen.org ). It's a pretty amazing scanner. It takes a high resolution photograph of a pair of pages of an open book and generates PDF with background OCR. While photographing the book, it puts a few lines across the book with a red laser. It then adjusts the image to make these lines straight, flattening out the curve of the pages as they approach the binding.

Antenna Tuner

Here's a view of the Seacom SEA 1630 antenna tuner with the cover removed. It is designed to drive a wire antenna on a ship, so there is a ceramic insulator on the top to connect the wire to. Here, the tuner is driving coax (to the balun driving the inverted V). Therefore, an SO-239 was added to the side of the tuner. AWG #6 wire connects the SO-239 to the antenna tuner output at the ceramic insulator and to the ground plate in the tuner. The tuner is a pi network with capacitors to ground at the input and ouput and an inductor between the input and output. Both the inductor and capacitors consist of several binary weighted inductors or capacitors. Relays short out the inductor sections when they are not needed. Relays also ground the low side of the input and output capacitors as required. The microcontroller (in the metal box) drives the relays as appropriate to put the minimum SWR on the input. Also visible on the bottom right of the tuner is a "doorbell button." This allows the transmitter to be keyed at the tuner for checking its operation. This photo shows the tuner when it was outside As noted in the block diagram above, the tuner is now in the shack, immediately above the transceiver. It is electrically between the SEA245 and the Dentron Clipperton-L. When the amplifier is not in use, its internal bypass relay (also used in receive) connects the input to the output. The SEA 1630 then matches the antenna, as seen at this end of the transmission line, to the transceiver. When the Dentron Clipperton-L is in use, the SEA 1630 matches the transceiver to the untuned input of the Dentron Clipperton-L.

Power Line Noise

My adventures with power line noise. Xcel Energy did a lot of work to solve it. Now I see some noise the day after a rain storm, but generally noise is not synchronized with the line. I look forward to a power outage go see how much noise goes away. There seems to still be quite a bit of noise, but it is not synchronized with the power line. It could be switching power supplies in the neighborhood or may just be th way the HF fands are. I can drop AC power to the QTH and the noise level remains the same, so it appears to be from outside.

Ham Radio Resources

Ham radio resources will be collected here.

Interesting Stuff

Here's a short list of interesting radio stuff.
Broadcast History - My own online collection of broadcast equipment manuals along with LOTS of other interesting links.
California Histrical Radio Society - A great group of people collecting old broadcast equipment and history. They publish an excellent magazine that has included stuff like restoration of a mechanical television and other wonderful articles. The museum is in a 1900 telephone exchange building in Alameda CA.
Restoring a Teletype model 19 - Great series of videos on restoring a Model 19. Includes a visit to Mr. RTTY, the ultimate Teletype parts supplier.
Maritime Radio Historical Society - An operating Morse radiotelegraph shore station. The transmit site is in Bolinas CA, and the receive site and control point is in Pt. Reyes Station CA. Here are some photos from our visit in 2015. This is a wonderful project!
Remote Ham Radio - Can't put up a 200 foot tower with a four element 40 meter Yagi and 1.5 kW amplifier in your backyard? Operate one of these stations from your kitchen table with a web browser. There's an annual membership fee plus a per minute charge for use of the stations. But, this is an interesting way to get on HF from a condo with strict CC&Rs.
Reverse Beacon Network - Software defined radio receivers around the world are continuously monitoring the ham bands. These SDR receivers drive "skimmer" software that decodes CW and various digital modes. Send CQ or TEST DE CALL and see where you are received, the signal to noise ratio, and the speed (such as CW WPM). Another amazing intersection of ham radio and the Internet.
Web SDR - Software defined radio receivers around the world. In simplified form, these receivers connect an antenna to an analog to digital converter which drives an Ethernet interface (with an FPGA between) which drives a server. All tuning, filtering, and demodulation happens in the server. Multiple users use a web interface to receive the frequency of interest to that user. Each user operates their SDR software independently. It's a great way to hear what your transmitter sounds like. The web sdr can record the audio and send you the audio file. Key clicks, chirp, good speech quality? Web SDR lets you know.
Kiwi SDR - Another software defined radio running on very limited hardware. It supports 4 users and includes decoders for CW, RTTY, FAX, Loran C, Navtex, and more (see the list under Extension)
Jean Shepherd was an announcer on WOR and wrote and narrated the movie "A Christmas Story." He talked about ham radio several times on WOR. Jean Shepherd audio clips
Contra Dance - Great Fun!


I look forward to your comments! Write me at harold@w6iwi.org.