K9WK Amateur Radio Web Pages
Antennas Bio Links Past QSL Station Work


K9WK Shack

My HF station consists of a Yaesu FTDX-1200, an Ameritron AL-80B amplifier and a Palstar AT2K tuner:

K9WK AT2K Tuner

I use an Icom 9700 with an SM-20 microphone for VHF/UHF FM and SSB/CW weak signal work:

K9WK Icom 9700

On 2 meters, the output of the 9700 is fed into a Mirage B2518G amplifier and with about 25 watts input, produces about 150 watts into the antenna according to my MFJ-849 and Diamond SX-400 watt meters. The amplifier is keyed using a cable and amplifier buffer produced by Dan, W7RF.

K9WK Yaesu FT-736R

The Yaesu FT-736R is used for 144 MHz, 220 MHz, and 440 MHz all mode operation. I was very lucky to be able to find a 220 MHz module for this radio.

K9WK Bridgecom 220 Radio

A BridgeCom systems BCM-220 transceiver is used for 220 MHz FM. It is built like a commercial grade radio. Heavy duty with a front firing speaker. Plenty of receive audio and easy to program.

The vintage equipment on the upper shelf consists of a Heathkit HD-1410 electronic keyer, Heathkit HG-10 VFO, Heathkit DX-60, and a Lafayette HA-700 receiver with the matching speaker.

The shelving unit on the left contains a Lafayette Explor-Air Mark V receiver, Lafayette Comstat 25A with a Turner +2 microphone, SBE Console II with an SBE amplified desk microphone, and a set of Lafayette Dyna-Com 23 walkie talkies.

I use a Vibroplex Square Racer Deluxe for CW.

K9WK Vibroplex Square Racer Deluxe

On HF SSB, I use the Yaesu MD-100A8X microphone. I set the gain at 40 and the processor level to 35 from the FTDX-1200 menu.

My amplifier is only used when needed. I purchased a 10 pin DIN cable from W7YEN on eBay that connects to the Linear jack on the back of my FTDX-1200 and has RCA outputs for the relay and ALC.

Tuning the amplifier properly is very important in order to have a clean signal. The amplifier must always be tuned using maximum output power, not at reduced output.

K9WK AL-80B Amplifier

With the amplifier turned off, set the ALC control on the back of the amplifier fully counterclockwise when looking at the back of the amplifier.  This only needs to be done once.

Set the carrier level to 65 watts output when in the RTTY mode on the FTDX-1200.

Set the band switch to the correct band on the amplifier. Turn on the amplifier and set the ALC SET control on the front of the amplifier to 1. Tune for maximum power output just to get you in the ballpark for resonance.

Now, set the ALC SET control on the front of the amplifier to 4 and tune for maximum output power. This corresponds to about 130 ma of grid current, 400 ma of plate current and about 55 watts of output power from the FTDX-1200. This should produce about 700 watts of output power from the amplifier. Note that you should never exceed 700 watts of key down output, if you do, reduce the power output from the FTDX-1200.

If everything is correct, setting the ALC SET on the front of the amplifier higher than 4 should cause no change in grid current, plate current or power output from the amplifier.

Once the amplifier has been tuned properly at maximum power, reduce the ALC SET control on the front of the amplifier to 3 - this keeps everything just below the maximum limits for the 3-500Z, about 100 ma of grid current and 375 ma of plate current and about 50 watts of output power from the FTDX-1200. 

The FTDX-1200 ALC meter should indicate that everything is within the proper range (the blue area of the ALC meter) when operating on SSB under normal speaking conditions.

These settings will produce about a kilowatt on voice peaks as registered by the AT2K peak reading meter​.

I use the following switch settings on the bottom of the MD-100A8X microphone:

  • MAIN set to THRU.
  • HIGH EMPHASIS set to ON.
  • LOW CUT set to OFF.

​I have also changed the following SSB menu settings on my FTDX-1200:

K9WK Yaesu FTDX-1200

  • Menu item 101: SSB HCUT FREQ set to OFF.
  • ​Menu item 104: SSB TX BPF set to TTBF.

There is a secret "Power On" function built into the FTDX-1200 that allows the rig to transmit from 50Hz to 4kHz. It is called "TTBF" which stands for Total Transmit Bandwidth Frequency. Once enabled, it will extend your transmit bandwidth to 4kHz. 

In order to use the "TTBF" setting, do the following:

  • Turn the power off.
  • Find the "CS" and "TXW" buttons just left of the frequency dial.
  • Push and hold "CS" and "TXW" buttons in while powering on the radio via the "ON/OFF" switch. 
  • Select menu item 104 and you will see that "TTBF" has replaced "3000WB".

Here is something that I found that really helps out with the readability of received signals:

  • Menu item 108: RX DSP CONTOUR LEVEL set to 10.

Press the "CONT/APF" button on the front of the radio. Adjust the "CONT/APF" control to 1500 (or to your liking) and you will be amazed how the signals just seem to pop out of the noise and are so much easier to copy.

I do not use the IPO on 160, 80, 60 and 40 meters and as needed on the other bands. I set the RFLT (roofing filter) to 3kHz and the AGC is set to MID.

These settings may or may not be to your individual taste but they sure work FB for me!


K9WK Lafayette Explor-Air Mark V

This is my Lafayette Explor-Air Mark V short wave receiver. It was brand new in the box and it was never used before I got it. This is the first receiver that I had when I started out as a short wave listener back in the late 1960s. It brings back some really nice memories that I had when I was growing up.


K9WK Heard In Turkey

I had a nice QSO on 40 meters with Mike, WW0Y in Missouri. Mehmet in Adana, Türkiye heard the QSO and made a recording of it. It is nice to hear how your signal sounds thousands of miles away! I guess my end-fed long wire must be working pretty well. Click on the image above and take a listen.