The header image above shows the result of my NHC entries last year. Not very impressive, but gratifying nonetheless. I hadn’t brewed anything specifically for the event and just chose a couple of beers I had on hand to submit. I hope to do a little better this year, as I brewed a couple of my favorite recipes for this event. I don’t expect to place, but I do hope for significantly higher scores.

One is not my own recipe, but is a slightly modified version of a recipe I have brewed again and again. It is based upon a Russian Imperial stout by Annie Johnson. I like it too much to fiddle with the recipe  extensively but I did substitute Crisp Maris Otter malt for the original base grain of American pale ale malt. It is a big beer; uses 32 pounds of malted grains to make 10 gallons and comes out with over 10% abv. It has a big stout flavor, though (especially when brewed with the Maris Otter), and that balances the high abv. I call it Black Hole Russian imperial stout.

The other submission is my own recipe and is a more conservative beer. It is a chocolate porter, the result of many iterations in search of one that I can both enjoy and call my own. The chocolate flavor comes entirely from the grains selected; no chocolate, cocoa, or flavoring added. I’ll even share the secret that made this batch the final version: I replaced about half of the usual chocolate malt with chocolate rye malt. I don’t usually like the taste of rye malt. Fortunately, the roasting process that brings out the chocolate flavor tames the rye “twang” and yields a very smooth, sweet chocolate taste. I prefer it to the bitter flavors of the usual chocolate malts derived from barley. This Dark Nebula porter is around 7% abv and is another balanced brew.

The big issue now is whether they arrive in time to make the submission deadline. For whatever reason, I didn’t get around to shipping until Monday. The required arrival date in Chicago is today. They are scheduled to be there on time but we will see…



Dunno how much time I’ll be able to commit to these, so I don’t know when I’ll have results to share. As shared on a previous post, the S-38C is an attempt to reexperience my very first shortwave receiver. The KWM is an attempt to approximate my primary station from the 70’s, which was a Collins S-line (32S-1, 75S-1) from the early 60’s. The KWM-2 was the platform from which Collins derived those. The  S-1 line design and performance were very similar to the KWM-2 which spawned it. The later S-3 series (32S-3, 75S-3) from the late 70’s was a significant upgrade but I never owned those.

I wanted to find an S-1 pair (and may still, some day) but the collectors have really grabbed those up. The KWM-2 is much more available because it was produced in far greater numbers (many were placed into military and commercial service) than the separates (which were marketed only to the ham radio market segment). This should satisfy my desire to experience the S-1 line again, while using up less space and tying up less money. I haven’t yet attempted to date this one, but until I do I’ll call it a 50’s project as this model was introduced in 1959. I admit that it is probably from the 60’s. The model was produced into the 70’s, but a logo change took place somewhere along the line and this one has the earlier badge so it’s not a later unit. Once refurbished, I’ll use it as a backup station until I have an opportunity to swap it for an S-line inj need of attention.

My other 70’s station that I would like to re-create was Heathkit’s later homage to the S-line, the SB301/401 pair. The design, styling, and functional arrangement were very obviously modeled after the early S-line. Mine worked great, but was eventually replaced by an S-1 pair, despite that gear being at least ten years older.  I probably never managed to put as many hours on the S-line as I did on the Heathkit pair, as I owned those during my peak active years. The good news is that these sold like hot cakes and there are plenty of them out there. The prices have remained modest; I won’t have any trouble getting a set of Heathkit twins put together.

All this vintage gear will be fun to have around, but it is already obvious that modern gear has the whole DSP (digital signal processing) thing figured out. As good as the S-line receiver was, and as rosy as my memory of it is, the FTDX-1200 with DSP has  a vastly superior receiver. I have spent lots of time listening on that, using a short random wire on the floor. I am getting closer to getting a real antenna erected so I can hear better and also transmit. Antennas will be modest, as I am now on a very small downtown lot. I have made up a multiwire dipole that should get me on 40 through 10 meters (no WARC) and may get that strung this long weekend. I picked up a trapless vertical antenna for 20 through 6, including WARC bands, but I don’t yet know where I will place it so it may be a while before it goes up. When it does, I’ll be ready for my first-ever WARC band activity. I was never equipped for those bands before.



This arrived recently. Background: the first shortwave receiver I ever owned was a 1952 Hallicrafters S-38C. It was about ten years old at the time (as was I). Dunno what happened to it. Every five or ten years I wonder whether I should try to obtain one for old time’s sake. This time I did. Looks great, but (of course, for $20) doesn’t work. Into the project pile it goes – maybe with a little extra priority. Come to think of it, I think I paid $15 for the first one, and it worked…

The next receiver was a Heathkit GR-64 in 1968 or so. Bad mistake; I haven’t felt any nostalgia for that one. I built it to be the receiver in my first Novice station. It wasn’t a very good performer in that application (though it was better than the S-38). I was seduced by the features and glossy appearance but I soon realized that I should have selected the HR-10 instead for ham use. I don’t think I’ll be looking for a GR-64 to cherish.

When I got my General class I picked up an Eico 753 SSB/CW transceiver. It was better, but not well respected in the ham community. Then a few other transceivers until I got my next separate receiver. This one was designed for amateur use and was loosely modeled after the very highly respected Collins 75-S series receivers. It was a Heathkit SB-301 and worked alongside its companion SB-401 transmitter for several years until both were replaced by the Collins S-line (75S-1, 32S-1) it emulated. I don’t remember what happened to the S line, but that was the last tube receiver or transmitter that I owned. I could easily see me grabbing a set of Heathkit twins or an S-line again just to enjoy having them around.