[Boatanchors] Somewhat but not really OT: "New" sometimes radio truck and stuff

Kludge wh7hg.hi at gmail.com
Tue Jul 26 22:57:37 EDT 2011

Finally, Kludge got his “radio truck”.  Okay, so it’s not officially one but
that’s part of how it’ll be used.  


A 1982 Mazda B2200 Diesel pickup came back into my possession.  In the seven
years I didn’t have it, it was abused terribly and allowed to deteriorate
beyond belief.  I spent what I was able to put aside (including half my food
budget for June) to bring it up to minimums for the state safety check which
it finally passed so I could get it reregistered.  Now that that’s out of
the way, I’ve got a little work to do in the bed like straighten one side
that got pushed over, patch a bunch of holes, find someone to do some
welding on the driver’s side door post and do some mechanical work (mostly
in the front suspension & steering) before I can proceed on to Phase 2.  


Phase 2 is to create a “radio & camera carrier.”  (Odds favor no one caring
about the camera carrier part, especially since it’s associated with the
Noelle AV Project, so I’ll skip it.)  The radio carrier will have a variety
of power options, antenna options and rig options.  The basics will be a
(steel conduit?) frame over part of the bed for a canvas top to keep the sun
& occasional light rain off while allowing a breeze through, mounts for a
desk, rails for a surplus aircraft radioman etc seat from Warbird Parts or
whatever I can make to act like one, a couple elevated mounts for MP-65 or
similar antenna bases inside the bed at the rear, a couple 3/8”-24 antenna
mounts somewhere, provisions for a genset (which will be dismounted for
operation), ground or tree mounted antennas for more or less fixed operation
etc.  Space is tight – the bed is only 74” long by 56” wide and 16” deep at
the rail less wheel well protrusions – so I won’t be able to carry as much
as I originally planned although it can haul a trailer behind it if need be.
(Mazda says no but Hawaiian TelCom, the original owner, did so without
problems.)  I will be extending the sides up around 16-18” using 1x6s or
1x8s with outside bracing over the bed rails and inside bracing to the bed
deck.  The fittings for the top will attach to the outside of the side
extensions while the mount for the desk will be on the inside.  There are no
stake pockets but there are bolt holes in the bed rail from when Hawaiian
TelCom had a camper back on it to which I’ll attach 2x4s (probably) to use
as a foundation for the side extensions etc.   Discounting my weight, I can
carry around 700 pounds aboard so should be good that way.  With everything
internal (desk, chair etc but not the power supply box or military antenna
mount risers) removable, I’ll also be able to use the truck as a *gasp*
truck as well.  What a concept!  :-)


Rigs for the back will be mounted up as sets with the heaviest being the
HT-32/R-390A combination which will weigh in at around 200 pounds complete.
I’ll probably have a gin pole or something rigged to load it aboard as well
as anything else heavy that comes along 
 aside from me, that is.  :-)  Each
set will be wired up so it can plug into its required power and antenna
option without a lot of fuss and bother.  There are some things I have to
fiddle with to get the riding center of gravity of the bed mount stuff
somewhere over the rear axle (per Mazda’s recommendations) but the standing
CG will be well forward of that.


Aside from the HT-32/R-390A, the rigs I know will mount up back there will
be a heavily modified HW-18*, an HW-16 (plus VFO if I can find one I can
afford) and a currently rated Grade B SCR-274-N.  This will be upgraded as
far as possible with what I have on hand.  (For this last, I have three ARC
type 7038 Tx control box mounts which is common across all systems and no
ARC type 7054 triple receiver control box mounts so I’ll use two of the
former in place of the latter which should be good fun.)  With them, I have
one each SX-24, BC-312 and BC-348 plus a few other receivers to mate up to
something built from on hand stock or store-bought/auction parts & equipment
plus a GF-11/RU-16 pair in about Grade D condition I may be able to get
working again assuming I can find coils to cover 80 & 40m.  They won’t be
operated as original except for the RU-16 dynamotor which I also have but
will be “kit bashed” with some SCR-A*-183/-283 control boxes I have on hand
to create a mash up kind of thing that will work, just not be as intended.
My ChiCom 102E & East German SEG-15D should do quite nicely back there and,
finally, I have an RT-671/PRC-47 that I can light up to harass the folks on
80 & 40m.  


* Some added notes on the HW-18 on hand 
 I may crystal this up for a few
nets, local and otherwise, as well as attach a VFO.  Making it a band
switching rig is no trick given the number of HW/SB-10x parts available
although I will need to get a bit creative in fitting it all in and making
it tunable.  Basically, it will be a “messing with” box to try different
ideas on.  At one point I had a PDF of the manual for it but I lost it in a
system blorf.  Oh, well.  Such is life.


In the cab will be a different story.  It’s tiny (Think: 1982 Ford Courier
which is the same vehicle) so I have to be careful how I do things there.  A
2m FM rig will fit vertically between the shift and the heater assembly so
that’s not an issue.  Its antenna will be on the roof of the cab so it won’t
be a problem tying them together.  What I have for HF is much larger and
that will be mounted on a special tray assembly designed to fit the
passenger side of the seat.  A Gonset Super Six converter with the IF
(retuned to 1430 KC) and output stages from a stripper 3-6 MC command Rx
with whatever I can whip together for a Tx will go there.  I have a couple
tube-type CBs to convert and go there and, since I’ve decided to keep the
TR-4 and HW-101 for a while longer, they’ll go there as well.  While these
will be used more for DX (i.e., anything out of state :-) ), I’ll also be
experimenting with mobile NVIS propagation for local EmComm net use even
though I won’t be active in EmComm.  (Long story for another time.)  Oh,
yeah.  Not all the rigs will be there at once.  Nope, ain’t gonna happen.


A “combination” I hope to mount up will be an 18S-4 which will have the rig
in back but the control head up front.  The current plan for it is to
crystal it up for the AM nets and maybe a few spots for CW within its range
then operate mobile and/or fixed portable, the latter with some type of
external antenna erected to handle it and will present a 50 ohm load to the
set.  I don’t have the dynamotor for it so I’ll have to create some means of
powering it.  If I can, I may add an AN/ARC-38A or, if money presents
itself, a 618T-3 (A -3B would be nice. :-) ) operated the same way.  


For power in back, there will be a fairly heavy 24v battery pack with
charger, an equally heavy 12v battery pack charged from the vehicle
alternator, an inverter for those odd times I’ll be running 115vac equipment
off battery, a 24vdc @75 amp power supply (filtered but not regulated) and a
115vac, 400 cycle, roughly 500va single phase supply for the several items
that need it.  There will also be a utility power supply along the lines of
a Drake AC-3 or HP-23 plus what I can whip together from what I have on hand
in transformers & chokes and vibrator supplies.  There are a few boxes of
them so I should be in good shape there.  All of the power will sit in the
forward part of the bed in its own box with the battery portion vented
around the power supply section to keep unwanted gasses away.  Up front will
be vibrator packs as needed to keep everything lit and crispy.


While not for vehicle use, I’ve got enough to put together a few Type 12
systems plus an entire FES 1240 which was the last pure ARC NavCom system
made.  (It will go next to a Type 11 which was the first.)  These are photo
and display only although I have to admit it would be kind of fun to have an
ADF-equipped truck.  :-)


The sets I’ve given up on are an ARA/ATA (although the ATA transmitters &
modulator on hand may wind up being used with the SCR-274-N on occasion just
for grins and giggles), a real SCR-A*-183, a real GF/RU, anything 1920s, a
number of the 1930s pieces, a fair chunk of the postwar projects and several
planned ones for book photos.  What I have available will be reorganized to
see what I can build, reusing components in a few cases by tearing down one
rig to build another.  Some “just for fun” projects like the all battery set
mini tube (except the PA) CW/SSB rig have to go away, and some more
important ones (like the soldering head positioner I’ve been working on to
compensate for the fact that my hands shake way too much and are getting
worse*) have to be redesigned.  Again.  


* Part of the design problem is to be able to build it with the same shaking
hands.  It’s not an inescapable Catch-22 since I may be able to enlist the
aid of some of the younger folks here who won’t have a clue what the device
is for but do have significantly steadier hands.


The why part takes a bit of explaining.  The short version is money, time
and frustration.  Expanding on that, I’ve mentioned a few times that my
pension has been frozen (2 years thus far with no sign of it ever being
unfrozen) under the federal wage freeze against a rapidly increasing cost of
living, both mine and my daughter’s.  This means a vanishingly small amount
is available for projects.  “Time” isn’t time to time to allocate to
building or restoring equipment – that I can make around the Noelle AV
Project (which is what the camera truck is for) – but rather the time spent
on fruitless searches for stuff I know exists since I’m always told how
cheap people get it at mainland hamfests (itself rather like gloating which
is not a really helpful activity) yet none of it can be coaxed to come
southwest-ish to Hawaii.  That also leads to frustration but so do being
“too little and/or too late” at auctions and in buying items offered up for
sale, a small but increasing number of unreliable sources, some of which
were previously reliable (not that I’m much better than the Toonerville
Trolley at times :-D ), and an also small but growing number of just plain
dishonest people who have in hand money and/or parts/equipment sent in trade
but still have the parts/equipment they were supposed to send me*.  This
isn’t going back weeks or just a couple months but 6+ months into years, and
something I noticed when I did a short accounting of funds spend and stuff
sent with no return.  Nor does it represent a majority but, as always, a bad
small minority screws things up all around.


* Note that there is a definite difference between being dishonest and being
busy/preoccupied/???, a difference I recognize since I’m often in at least
the preoccupied mode if not a med-induced haze.  :-)


At the same time, I have to acknowledge that people have been very generous
to me with parts et al sent at no cost or for postage which I genuinely
appreciate.  I believe in “paying forward” – i.e., giving to others as
people have given to me.  Once my storage mess is straightened out, I’ll be
able to get back to doing so without facing the utter chaos things are in at
the moment.  (I really dislike chaos and rarely invite it ‘round for tea and
biscuits.)  I also enjoy sending things out with no forewarning which I’ve
done on occasion just for grins and giggles.  While Noelle is the most
common “victim”, others have been targeted on occasion when I’ve been able
to do so.


The end result, though, is that I’ve given up, written off money et al sent
& closed the books, and will work with what I have on hand, the rare auction
that I actually do manage to win and, in equally rare moments of
desperation, store-bought.  On occasion I may use other sources but only
those on which I know I can rely and even then when the alternatives are
particularly unattractive.  This is an approach that is easier on my
pocketbook and causes significantly less wear & tear on my mental faculties
which, as we all know, aren’t all that great in the first place.  I have
documented proof of that from the VA Psych Department in case anyone
wonders.  :-)


What this will bring about is a massive cutback on what I’ll be doing as far
as solder melting; circuit breaker testing; and the highly prestigious
island-wide WAHA (Worked All Household Appliances), WAN (Worked All
Networks) with endorsements for both private & public nets; and WACT (Worked
All Cell Towers) awards go but where there won’t be quantity, the quality
won’t suffer in the slightest.  For that, I have on hand my usual goodly
supply of duct tape (some previously used) in both grey and teal, rusty
baling wire and “experienced” chewing gum with the special island additions
of ammo brasses swiped from live fire ranges, bamboo and coconut shells.
Oh, and stuff dredged up from the bottom where it was dumped after the war
then smuggled ashore to avoid the technology cops.  :-)


Doesn’t all that sound like fun?


Photos of the truck as bought and after it passed through the safety check
will be available shortly as soon as I do a little editing and figure out
where I want to put them.  With the latter, I hope to add sketches of how I
envision the radio setup in the back will look after I straighten out the
side of the bed and do the other coachwork.  :-)


Best regards,


Michael, WH7HG ex-K3MXO, ex-KN3MXO, WPE3ARS, BL01xh ex-Mensa A&P PP BGI 

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Hiki Nô! 

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