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Wes Schum Says Hello: HamNation 104

Bob Heil interviews the legendary Wes Schum; Schum, W9DYV, says Hello to Ham Nation!

First-Annual W9DYV Boat Anchor Field Day is in the Books!

JONESBOROUGH, TENNESSEE, June 24th, 2013 -- The weather was excellent and the company absolutely superb at this first annual W9DYV Boat Anchor Field Day. Many attendees were a virtual Who’s Who of vintage radio enthusiasts including Bob Heil K9EID; Brian Thompson NI6Q; Mark Mumaw NU6X; Bob Sullivan WØYVA; George Maier W1LSB; Joel Thurtell K8PSV and others.

In typical field day fashion, as it was in the 1950s-60s, the equipment gave us a few initial trials of patience: The generator failed to started, of course. Larry Labry, KC5DYL, did an on-the-spot carburetor rebuild and then we had juice….and soon after - smoke. The line voltage was an elevated 135 volts and the two HV caps in the Central Electronics 200V soon gave us a snappy and quite colorful 73. Fortunately, we were amply prepared. In due course and under the watchful eyes of WØYVA, W1LSB, NU6X and NI6Q we were soon operational with a variac-adjusted 115vac power feed and a much happier CE 200V.

But, not so fast folks!

An intermittent antenna relay within the Johnson Matchbox once again had us sidelined and head-scratching…. In all fairness, a Johnson Matchbox has four principal parts so how difficult can this be - right?? All we are willing to admit is it can and it was! In the end, a fine fashion of ham ingenuity of the First Order saved the day and soon the W9DYV rig - CE 200V exciter, 600L amplifier, Johnson 275 watt Matchbox and Drake 2A receiver - was on the air with a 130-foot dipole fed with 130-feet of 450-ohm line in the vintage way.

Yes, this type of antenna works on all bands. No, it isn’t a contester’s delight when the order of the day is band surfing at hyper-speed. A key observation found operating a vintage station that does not transceiver seems to be this: pick a frequency and don’t move frequently, so to speak! The popular Search-and-Pounce technique doesn’t do well in the vintage rig environment as this equates to a lot of wasted time zero-beating the transmitter which translates into a lot of added work for marginal benefit. By the time you get everything ready to make a contact, the guy you wanted may be long gone.

The most fun had was when we would camp out on one spot and make enough noise and gain enough attention to generate a mini-pileup. Now, that’s when the fun started! By the way, our Field Day rig did a fine job into Europe as we had S-9+ reports from station in Spain and Germany. Yet, one of the real reasons for this event station was not Field Day, per-se, but to share thoughts, ideas and experiences in rebuilding vintage radio gear – not just CE gear, but all others. Even the most experienced guys learned a few new tricks and you could see light bulbs lighting up in people’s eyes as a newly found hint or kink hit resonance.

Of course, the biggest reason of all for attending this year’s Boat Anchor Field Day was to meet Wes Schum and see him reunited with the legendary and sole-surviving Central Electronics 100R Receiver Prototype. Not wishing to steal any of Bob Heil’s thunder, please make it a point to tune into HamNation on Wednesday nights for the next several weeks as Bob dials up behind-the-scene glimpses and surprises yielded from the event and the man, himself, Wes W9DYV.

We wish to thank all who participated, both on-site and the many stations who wished us well on the air. Operating a vintage SSB station in any contest gives you an awareness of why contest scores were so generally low in the 1950s as compared to today. Operating those rigs was and is WORK. That said, having to adapt on-the-fly is what Field Day is all about - working through adversity and making whatever rig you have operational through raw ingenuity by applying theory to practice and stretching the limits of the parts you have on-hand. No matter how many spares you have, it is certain that the one part you really need is at home, whistling in the wind. That’s when the real fun begins!

On behalf of our team, we would like to thank the ARRL, HamNation and Electric Radio for helping get the word out about the first annual W9DYV Boat Anchor Field Day. Please make it a point to be at W9DYV next year…the food was great, the bands were open and the tall tales simply outstanding!

73, Nick K5EF June 24th, 2013

Field Day Site Photos of the 1st Annual SSB Meet in Jonesborough, TN

The weather, food and festivities were fantastic at the first annual W9DYV Vintage Single Sideband Meet held on June 16th at Storybrook Farms in historic Jonesborough, Tennessee. Those making the trek were able to meet Wes Schum - founder of Central Electronics - and were treated to an excellent lecture of the history of single sideband communications by George Maier, W1LSB.

Wes provided an oral glimpse of how the Central Electronics Model 10A, 100V and others evolved from idea to reality. Bob Sullivan, WØYVA, and Nick Tusa offered ideas on how to restore CE radios as well as provided one-on-one advice to future collectors.

The Schum property, on which Storybrook Farms is located, is ideal for hosting future vintage sideband meets….and idea that has taken root based upon the success and camaraderie enjoyed at this initial Meet. Our goal for next year is to recreate some of the excitement, discovery and information-sharing that surely occurred at the many Single-Sideband Dinners and Meets of the 1950s. Avid collectors and historians of vintage sideband equipment are encouraged to help safeguard this important 1948-1963 era of Amateur Radio.

Special thanks go to the Vintage Sideband Net and Electric Radio for their enthusiastic support.

73, K5EF



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