Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's just one Boatanchor !!

It's insidious. It starts small and grows exponentially and quite rapidly. Of course, I am talking about the "Boatanchor Phenomenon": that dark elusive subculture within the Ham Radio hobby that intertwines itself in the deep, dark recesses of an unsuspecting Ham Radio Operator's gray matter, only to quickly overwhelm his mind. There is no cure for the "Boatanchor Phenomenon". Once "bitten" you're jones-ing for life! There is no 12 step program. You're done! Period.

OK, the Drake 2B came my direction about 4-5 years or so ago. At that time I had a bunch of Boatanchors in the old place in PA. With the upcoming move to Georgia, I sold off almost all the stuff I had including several really cherry military rigs, one of which was specifically made up for me by Mark Francis, KI0PF. The things we do to keep the peace! Yes, it was depressing. No, I didn't need or use all those radios enough to warrant keeping them all. Yes, I was sad to see them go. No, I won't do it again.....yeah, right!

The 2B and a Heathkit Novice station (HR-10B, DX-60 & HG-10) were all that were left! The Heathkits went to N2APB last summer. The 2B was so very, VERY lonely! It was only a matter of time before the 2B started "communicating" via the Drake Collective (visualize the Borg, here). Seriously, these old radios can communicate with each other! Yes, I's crazy! BUT IT'S TRUE!!!

Shortly after I decided to restore the 2B I received a call from Dave Kuechenmeister, N4KD, who just happened to have a lonely, oh so VERY lonely Drake TR-4 transceiver. Arland got sucked in.....again! Of course, it doesn't have a AC-4 power supply (PSU) or MS-4 speaker cabinet. Why in God's name would I need a PSU? Oh, power the radio! Whew! Almost forgot that these older rigs required an outboard PSU. However, Dayton is on the horizon so I should be able to find one of each there....especially if both the 2B and TR-4 both start "communicating" on the Drake Collective. Funny thing about that is extremely effective in finding gear for Boatanchor Dudes needing to feed their addiction. Yeah, funny...very funny. Peppermint Patti (KB3MCT) ain't laughin'!

Flash forward to the North Georgia QRP Group (NoGA) meeting on January 8, 2013: there is David, N4KD, with his hands full of Drake TR-4, staring at me with an evil gleam in his eye. I took the rig and started looking it over. Cosmetics were very, VERY good: at least an 8.5-9 on a 10 point scale. All the knobs, pots and switches were functional, no rub marks on the front panel, good cabinet paint, just a few small nicks, and the copper circuit board looked very good for a 40+ year old radio. All the tubes were in their respective sockets and it even came with an original manual. S/N: 29510 (for whatever that means).

David assured me that he borrowed a Drake AC-3 PSU and had the rig powered up. It received well, with the receiver being nice and sensitive (this is subjective as David didn't have access to a calibrated RF signal generator to actually check for minimal discernible signal or MDS). Lacking a proper microphone, Dave managed to fire the transmitter up in the CW mode and got approximately 120 Watts OUTPUT power from the rig. As I seem to recall these Drake TR-4s used three TV sweep tubes in the final power amplifier (called the final or PA) and they were good for about 300 Watts INPUT power, which, given approximately 50% efficiency of the PA put us in the ball park for RF output power.

So, here is the current situation: I have a Drake 2B receiver that needs some work and I now have a Drake TR-4 AM/SSB/CW transceiver (circa early 1970s) in working condition needing an AC power supply (AC-3 or AC-4). Of course, this now means that I have to find (and most likely re-cap) a PSU for the rig along with finding a matching speaker cabinet (MS-4), not to mention a RV-4 remote VFO to complete the set. OH! How could I forget: I need the W-4 watt meter that matches the radio/VFO/Speaker/PSU.....then there is the MN-4 antenna tuner....Oh, GOD!!! When will it stop?!

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