Home Brew is the construction of a piece of Ham gear by a Ham in a shack, basement, or garage. Most Hams start out building kits. A large percentage of home brewers begin building a Morse code oscillator in order to learn Morse code. Soon they graduate to more sophisticated endeavor like tube receivers, transistorized equipment, and even surface mounted devices (SMDs).
My home brew career started with a 5-tube AM radio. I found a brown bag of parts and a schematic drawing of how the parts were to be wired together in my garage. My dad squirreled away little projects like this to be returned to at a later date. The garage attic became my unofficial “shack”. After several hours and globs of solder, I finally finished the 5-tube AM radio. It was pretty ugly, but it worked. The IF-stages needed some tweaking, but it worked. Oh, did I mention IT WORKED! From that point on, I was hooked!
About this same time frame, my dad brought home a Hellicrafter SX-71 receiver. More about that later.
In high school, I took electrical shop, in which the class sent off for kits for each student to build a 5-tube AM radio. I got an “A” for having the first radio that worked in class and having the neatest wiring (square corners).
I joined the Air Force, going through technical school learning electronics.
Fast forward several years. In 1994, my interests returned to electronics and simultaneously to Amateur Radio. Remember earlier when my dad brought home the Hellicrafter SX-71 receiver, a boat anchor by today’s standards. Well that planted the seed of Amateur Radio interest, so it was only natural that my interest funneled back into Amateur Radio and Home Brewing.
I attended the Technician Class Ham Class from the Santa Fe Trail ARC. I passed the test ending up with my Technician Plus license. Now, it was time for my first Amateur radio. So I decided to build one.
My first Amateur Radio kit was a Ramsey 80m transmitter bought from Associated Radio. I worked several nights soldering all the parts on the PCB board. I borrowed an 80m crystal from Jim Andera K0NK. I home brewed an 80m dipole antenna and placed it in the attic. It came close to becoming a folded dipole. I was all set to transmit. Then, it struck me – I didn’t have a receiver in order to hear myself, or anyone else for that matter.
I got a brilliant idea. I would call a club member, Tom Rose K0ZM-SK, and have him listen for me when I transmitted. I heard myself transmit over his receiver and into the telephone. My 80m transmitter WORKED! I got busy building the matching the Ramsey 80m receiver. They both worked. I was on a roll. I felt like the little boy in Oliver Twist, “Please sir, may I have some more?” More home brew that is.
Be careful for what you wish for; you might just get it. At breakfast one Saturday, I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a piece of test equipment called an Oscilloscope. The following Saturday, Harry Krout W0YQG-SK gave me his “started but unfinished” oscilloscope EICO “kit” (circa 1965). I eagerly and gratefully accepted the parts and the challenge of putting it together. It’s down a few notches on my “To Do List”, but still on my radar.
I have several home brew projects on my radar. The latest finished home brew project was Bob Heil’s sound mixer. I made a few changes, but the bones (schematic) came from him.The mixer takes the Ext. Spk output from your rigs and feeds them through pots into a 1 watt audio amp, which drives a speaker or earphones. The back wires show 4 radios “in” with the gray wire “out” feeding the earphone. Each input/output can be ¼ phone jack, 1/8 phone jack, or a RCA jack.
I encourage everyone to try and build something. Begin small and simple. Build, build, build, and have fun!