Sunday, August 30, 2009

Transmitter Rescues And Rebirths

Ham radio has been a great hobby to me and many others around the globe. So much to do, so many frequencies to talk on, so many technologies developed and passed on to commercial interests, with many more technologies to be discovered! Even so, there is one technology that has not gone by the wayside: AM mode!

Some call it "ancient mode"; when FM radio came into favor, some called it "average music". No matter, there is a segment of the Ham community that still love the warm, rich, full-bodied sound of a large AM transmitter. There is even a segment of that community who have been fortunate enough to rescue old AM transmitters from the trash heap, retune and refurbish them and get them on the lower Ham bands: "160 meters" is just above the top end of the AM broadcast band and is a fairly easy conversion and "75-80 meters" which is above that, is also used. Rescues of 1 kilowatt and 5 kilowatt transmitters have been successful, and, with our limitation on output power being at 1.5 kilowatt, some of the larger transmitters are tuned down in power and loaf along, to live a long life, possibly longer than that of it's owner/operator!

Coupled with a vintage receiver, these make for a wonderful station! I have talked with several fellow Hams who have been involved with a rescue; one comes to mind, Mr. Paul Courson, WA3VJB, who has a tremendously warm and powerful signal on the air! If you heard one of these beautiful old AM transmitters rescued for Ham radio, you'll know the difference.

If anyone is interested, here are a couple of links to read abouth the rescues, complete with pictures:

Many Hams have been (and many still are) broadcast engineers, and get to play with and maintain equipment that many of us only dream about. To be sure, there is no way a 50,000-watt transmitter could be recued and put back on the air on our service, BUT, the smaller aforementioned ones can be...and most are free for the taking.

I remember talking with one Ham years ago who worked for a local AM station; about twice a year, the transmitter would be taken down and off-line for repairs and maintenance from midnight to 6AM, local time. He gained permission to use the transmitter, after all was done, and run legal Ham limit (power) to talk with other Hams on the transmitter, listening to the Ham stations respond on a separate receiver. He was only able to do this a couple of times, since it was a little tedious and it had to be over with and the transmitter ready to go back to full broadcast power at 6AM, but he was glad he was afforded the opportunity.

Wow, what us Hams do for a quality signal....AM still lives on!

Bud S., KC4HGH (

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