How I Got Started

About W5ALT

Currently I am working on a Ph. D. at the University of Texas at Austin. While here in Austin, my wife and I are living in a small, one bedroom apartment. I have my Yaseu FT-100D and a Blue Star P1 portable vertical antenna that I can clamp onto the balcony. It's on the ground floor, so it's not great, but I've made a few QOS's on 20, 30 and 40m CW. I am usually operating with a straight key or bug on CW and sometime tinker with the digital modes. Since I'm officially a student at UT, I also operate N5XU, the UT club station when I have time.

From 1997 to 2009 I was working in Maracaibo, Venezuela and spent very little time at home in Houston, Texas, USA. Consequently, I maintained 2 separate stations so I could operate at either location. In addition, I have a portable QRP (low power) tranceiver that I carry with me when I travel, so I can operate from hotels or where ever I may happen to be.

My home station in Houston consists of an Icom IC-756 Pro II tranceiver along with an Icom R-71A that I use for shortwave listening. The antennas are a random wire about 65 feet long in the trees in the back yard and a Butternut vertical. Station accesories include an MFJ keyer with Bencher paddle, and an MFJ-941B antenna tuner. I also use a Lionel J-36 bug for CW.

My station in Maracaibo consisted first of a Yaesu FT-100D tranceiver then the IC-756 Pro II. The antennas were a 30m dipole drooping outside the apartment window and supported on plastic cup hooks and a homebrew vertical sitting in the corner of the living room that was 2 meters tall with 2 radials running along the baseboards. Station accesories included an LTA combo CW paddle and straight key, an MFJ-941E antenna tuner, and a Hi Mound bug.

For travel and QRP operations I use a Yaesu FT-817 with a small CW paddle. For antennas, I usually carry a couple of Radio Shack "reel" antennas that consist of a roll of wire inside a small case that can be reeled in when not in use. Sometimes I carry a Radio Shack 2 Amp power supply, other times just use batteries. I've also carried a MFJ portable tuner, but I've found I can usually get the wires to match without a tuner, so lately I just leave the tuner at home. I also have a Blue Star P1 vertical that can be carried easily and assembled and disassembled in a few minutes.

Other equipment I have used over the years includes a Knightkit T-60, Hallicrafters S-40B and SX-99, Heathkit DX-60B, SB-200 HW-101, HR-1680 and 2036, all of which I built. I also have a Kenwood TS-50S, TS-850SAT and a TS-930S that are not currently in use.

Here's what my novice station consisted of in 1970 when I first got on the air from inside the Jester dormitory at UT Austin:

Knightkit T-60 Transmitter

Hallicrafters SX-99 Receiver