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W9SRK's Ham Shack - Brian Sokol

Brian Sokol
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W9SRK Ham Since 1984
United States

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The below is quite old. I now have an InLogis RF PRO-1B magnetic loop (formerly Pixel) for receive only which dramatically cuts out noise. Coupling the Windom and the loop, I've been working quite a bit with my new Yaesu FTDX-3000 barefoot.


After being out of Ham Radio for quite some time (roughly 19 years) I'm just now getting back into the hobby.

I've also lost my "antenna tree" due to rot, so I'm now working on configuring an inverted L so I can get my little TS-120 back on the air.

Update: I now have a Carolina Windom 160 Special up in the air, although it's only 20 feet up so the last 2 feet of the vertical radiator and the balun are on the ground. I'll get a standoff tower up soon to get it up to 30 feet or so.

Update 2: I now have a Kenwood TS-430S which is incredible compared to the TS-120.

Update 3: I now have a refurbished Heathkit HW-101 Transceiver, Collins 30L-1 Linear and Collins 180S-1 Antenna Tuner. Finally I have the ability to get on the air with some "fire in the wire" and with an all tubes station.

Yaesu FTDX-3000 - Transceiver
Heathkit DX-60 - Transmitter
Heathkit HW-101 - Transceiver
Collins KWM-2 - Transceiver
Collins 30L-1 - Amplifier
Collins 180S-1 - Antenna Tuner
Drake R-4A - Receiver
Drake T-4X - Transmitter
Kenwood TS-430S - Transceiver
Kenwood AT-250 - Automatic Antenna Tuner
Kenwood TS-120 - Transceiver
Heathkit SB-610 Monitor Scope
Icom IC-22S - Xtal Controlled 2 Meters Transceiver
Icom IC-2AT - 2 Meters Handheld
Icom IC-04AT - 440 Handheld
Icom IC-M5 - Marine Handheld
Heathkit HM 2140 - Wattmeter

Other Interests
Boating - Sailing
Radio Control Model Airplanes and Helicopters
Computers - Building Computers, Web Site Creation, occasional gaming

Collins Collectors Association -

W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/24/2015 5:41:58 PM

Finally an Extra

28 years later, I finally moved up from General to Extra.
Comment from K1CSA 1/8/2016 5:56:40 AM
Way to go, who knows, there may be hope for me.

God bless you.

K1csa, Mike

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W9SRK Updated Profile - 5/24/2015 5:41:18 PM

W9SRK is Connected to the following - 2/26/2010 6:58:00 AM

W9SRK's Blog Post - 2/26/2010 6:58:00 AM

3rd Harmonic

Yesterday we welcomed our third child, our first boy, into the family. Both Mom and baby are doing well.

I haven't been able to respond to all requests regarding lately - I'll get to them in the next few days.
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W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 2/4/2010 2:58:20 PM

My New AM Station
My New AM Station

W9SRK is Connected to the following - 8/21/2009 8:31:25 AM

W9SRK's Blog Post - 8/20/2009 7:30:04 PM

Got a new Collins KWM-2

I recently acquired a KWM-2 in excellent condition. After only a little extra cleaning and polishing, it looks good as new.

What I'm still amazed at is the stability compared to my HW-101. I love the HW-101, and it doesn't drift after the standard warm up period, but the KWM-2 seems to be rock solid within minutes.
Comment from KA6KBC 8/21/2009 8:31:25 AM
Hi Brian,

Very nice - I like the older stuff too. Have a good amount of old Heathkit gear. Amazed you could find the Collins stuff - Really hard get these days.

73's - Bill - KA6KBC

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W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/23/2009 6:39:37 PM

Returned from Dayton with a Heathkit DX-60

Well, I came home from the Dayton Hamvention with a Heathkit DX-60. Figured it would be a good way to get on AM reliably and with a good signal. And, couldn't beat it for $28! It was a last minute, last day deal I stumbled upon that I just couldn't pass up.

Now, I'm on the hunt for a good AM receiver. Currently taking a peek at a Collins 75S-1, possibly a Drake 2C/B/A or the Drake R4 series. I'm leaning towards the 75S-1 at the moment.
Comment from KA6KBC 5/23/2009 10:08:46 PM
Wow - Great Deal - Never been to Dayton - Hope to go sometime.

73's - Bill - KA6KBC

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W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/13/2009 7:59:49 AM

Heading to Dayton 2009

I'm heading out to Dayton in a couple hours with my dad, W9JXN. We're driving and should arrive in time for dinner.

I'll likely be most easily found around the Collins Collectors Association booth (near the large ARRL setup) if anyone is interested in an eyeball QSO.

Hope to see you there!
Comment from W9SRK 5/19/2009 5:58:33 AM
Had a great time at Dayton - it seemed to be bigger this year, compared to last.

Ended up coming home with a Heathkit DX-60. Now I'm on the hunt for an HR-10 Receiver and HG-10 VFO.

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W9SRK is Connected to the following - 3/11/2009 9:04:15 PM

W9SRK's Blog Post - 3/11/2009 9:04:15 PM

The vertical radiator is bad

After extensive testing (tuning up the HW-101 with the 180S-1 antenna tuner, and then the Kenwood TS-430S with both the matching AT-250 auto tuner and the Vectronics VC300DLP tuner, I've isolated it to the antenna.

Turns out, there's some scorch marks at the PL-259 junction between the 22 foot vertical radiator and the isolator.

After further examination, and swapping out of components (including an entirely new vertical radiator and isolator, on loan courtesy of Tony Sokol W9JXN), the culprit appears to be the coax for the vertical radiator.

It appears to be a pre-formed length of coax with molded on PL-259's. The offending component seems to be the questionable dielectric in the connectors - it's an odd plastic looking substance, definitely not the typical brown or white teflon I'm used to seeing.

After replacing the 22 foot length for the vertical radiator (the original pre-molded wasn't quite 22 feet - more like 21 feet, 4 inches) everything is back to normal.

Up to this point, I've been more than pleased with the RadioWorks Carolina Windom 160 Special. The rest of the construction is good and the performance is great.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 3/10/2009 8:54:43 PM

Something odd

I tried to tune up and have an unreal SWR with more than 10 watts.

It's very odd - I can tune everything completely flat with the 180S-1 every time. Will look into it more and report.
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W9SRK is Connected to the following - 12/1/2008 8:51:05 PM

W9SRK's Blog Post - 12/1/2008 8:51:05 PM

Just before the snow flies

I lucked out more than I could have hoped for this time. I have three 4 foot sections of the ex-military fiberglass poles I'm sure you've seen available at just about every hamfest.

I decided those 3 sections would be used to anchor the long end of the Carolina Windom to my "barn" shed.

After a little drilling of holes for the U-bolts and some assorted stainless steel hardware, I managed to get it in place and haul up the antenna just as the snow began to fly.

Couldn't have planned it any better if it was intentional (which it wasn't HI HI).
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 11/22/2008 8:37:02 PM

That didn't work out as planned

As it turns out, I've learned quite a bit about house construction while trying to put up the Rohn extendable pole.

The first story of our house is brick. The second story is a different... story. It's siding. Okay, no big deal, right? Well, turns out that only the corners have plywood in today's construction techniques.

I climbed up the ladder in the intended mounting position for the new "tower" (read: extendable Rohn pole) and found that it was extremely too easy to drill.

Later, I learned about the "plywood only on the corners" construction technique.

On to Plan B.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 11/20/2008 8:31:59 PM

Center support for the carolina windom

I've decided I need to do something about getting the center support higher than 20 feet for the Carolina Windom.

The plan is: obtain a wall mount (which I've recently found locally) that I can mount an older Rohn extending pole to.

Going to see how it goes this weekend.
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W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 11/13/2008 7:15:03 PM

Heathkit SB-610 Oscilloscope
Heathkit SB-610 Oscilloscope

W9SRK's Blog Post - 9/22/2008 8:45:15 PM

Got a Heathkit SB610 Oscilloscope

This past weekend I attended the Princeton Hamfest. Ended up coming home with a Heathkit SB610 Oscilloscope for what I consider to be a deal.

The best thing was that it worked "out of the box" . I took it apart and cleaned it up. Nothing like a bath for some gear in a mild solution of dish soap. Cleans up great without harming any components, and after drying a little Pledge shines everything up.

Now I can monitor my signal nicely. Turns out I had the mike gain turned up just a tad too high - was flat topping a little. Shouldn't have that problem in the future, now that I have the scope. HI HI.

As a side note: Larry, WA9VRH, cooked the best smoked prime rib I've ever had at the 'fest.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 8/17/2008 8:25:57 PM

Carolina Windom from RadioWorks

Finally got the radiating element off the ground. I still don't have the apex higher than 20 feet (the radiating element is 22 feet long), but at least it's off the ground.

What I did is to use some dacron rope to tie it off so it could hang from an adjacent gutter downspout.

Sure, it's not ideal, but my entire configuration isn't from the get-go. I don't have the antenna up very high, it's not in a straight line, and the longer end of it has about 10 feet angled downwards at a roughly 75 degree angle.

Tell you what, though - I get great signal reports across the board. That thing works like gangbusters, almost regardless of the configuration. Can't quite imagine if I had it actually hung to spec.
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W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 6/14/2008 12:37:40 PM

D104 Microphone
D104 Microphone

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 6/14/2008 12:37:15 PM

Collins 108S-1 Winged Emblem Antenna Tuner
Collins 108S-1 Winged Emblem Antenna Tuner

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 6/14/2008 12:36:36 PM

Heathkit HW-101 Transceiver
Heathkit HW-101 Transceiver

W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/31/2008 8:17:39 PM

HW-101 is working

I can't take credit at all - my Dad, W9JXN Tony Sokol, treated me to a "Tony Sokol Special" (we've liked to say that when Howard Mills has done restoration work on his Collins gear that it's a "Howard Mills Special".

To make a long story short, there turned out to be quite a bit of work involved in getting my HW-101 on the air. There were numerous modifications that had been done, by someone (or some people) over the years, that were completely undocumented.

In a marathon weekend session, my Dad poured over it all, reversed the unknown work, restored it to the originally intended configuration, replaced multiple components, added a bit, and got it into a usable state.

Hopefully, at some point, I'll acquire some of the skills he has in this area. While I could have done some things, there's no way I could have gotten the HW-101 back to the condition he's accomplished.

Needless to say, he's gotten the rig on the air for me, for which I'm eternally grateful. And... it's an absolutely great rig, now that it's working.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/25/2008 8:06:33 PM

New transceiver - Heathkit HW-101

I wasn't quite expecting to come home with one (I was originally looking for a HW-12, mainly for the Collins Collectors Association 80 meter net, but I ended up finding a HW-101 with the PS-23 power supply for $100.

We'll see how she fares when I get her home. I'd love to have a Collins KWM-2 but the HW-101 is kindof the "poor man's" KWM-2 in my opinion.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/24/2008 11:17:32 AM

New vanity callsign

I finally made the decision to apply for a vanity callsign to drop the KA prefix.

It took the full 18 days the site mentioned for it to process, but I received it just in time for Dayton so the timing was perfect.
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 4/24/2008 9:17:40 PM

Some Fire in the Wire!

I finally have a little oomph in my signal with the addition of a Collins 30L-1 amplifier (on loan from W9JXN). What a difference it makes!

I can't wait to get my antenna a little higher so the radiating vertical element of the Carolina Windom isn't laying on the ground. Once I get a few honey-do project knocked off the list, a tower of some sort is in the near future.
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W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/24/2008 9:10:01 PM

Heathkit HM 2140 Wattmeter
Heathkit HM 2140 Wattmeter

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/24/2008 9:08:10 PM

Kenwood PS-30 Power Supply
Kenwood PS-30 Power Supply

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/24/2008 9:07:27 PM

Collins 30L-1 Showing off the tubes
Collins 30L-1 Showing off the tubes

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/24/2008 9:07:01 PM

Icom IC-04AT
Icom IC-04AT

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 1/23/2008 6:41:25 PM

Heathkit HM-102 Wattmeter
Heathkit HM-102 Wattmeter

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 1/23/2008 6:40:47 PM

Kenwood MC-50 Microphone
Kenwood MC-50 Microphone

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 1/23/2008 6:40:10 PM

Vectronics VC300DLP Antenna Tuner
Vectronics VC300DLP Antenna Tuner

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 1/23/2008 6:38:10 PM

Kenwood AT-250 Automatic Antenna Tuner
Kenwood AT-250 Automatic Antenna Tuner

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 1/23/2008 6:34:58 PM

Icom IC-M5
Icom IC-M5

W9SRK is Connected to the following - 1/5/2008 5:50:35 PM

W9SRK's Blog Post - 1/5/2008 11:41:28 AM

160 Special

My Radioworks Carolina Windom 160 Special arrived yesterday. It'll be going up today to replace the CW 40 if everything goes smoothly.
Comment from W9SRK 1/5/2008 5:50:35 PM
Well, it just made it. I have a few modifications to do once the weather improves a bit, but it's up, not touching the house, and is fairly close to straight (about 20 degrees along the two lengths).

The only major obstacle is that the support at the corner of the house, two stories up, is only about 20 feet. The vertical radiating element is 22' feet long. I'm going to have to come up with something, but for now, it's up.

What a difference on 80 meters! I made 3 QSO's earlier today, to gentlemen in Decatur, Illinois; Springfield, Illinois; and Iowa. All 3 reported 10 over 9. Previously with the CW 40, I could hear everyone, but couldn't be heard at all. It's night and day!

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W9SRK's Blog Post - 1/1/2008 11:15:02 AM

New (used) Radio Acquired - Kenwood TS-430S

I now have a Kenwood TS-430S tranceiver with an AT-250 automatic antenna tuner, courtesy of W9JXN.

What a difference over the TS-120! The VFO doesn't drift, speech processor, notch filter, etc.

So far, I'm absolutely loving it!
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 12/29/2007 4:05:48 PM

Got a real antenna now

A couple days ago the temperature was up to 45 degrees - it was just about as good as it was going to get.

So this time, I installed a screw eye with a pulley under the eave on the corner of my house, 2 stories up. Much better than the 16' temporary solution I had before.

I've ordered a Carolina Windom 160 Special that should arrive in the next week or so. In the meantime, I have a Carolina Windom 40 on loan and raised it up. What a difference! It doesn't tune up well on 80 meters, but it's gangbusters on 40 and 20. I've already made a couple DX QSO's on 20 that were 20 over 9 for both myself and the other parties.

Can't wait to get the 160 Special up in the air.

One thing I need to resolve, and maybe one of you can help. I need to get some sort of stand off from the side of the house, at least 2 feet. I want to tie off the short end of the Windom to that so that it doesn't lay against the house. For the next week or so, it's okay laying on the siding (vinyl) but that's obviously not a great solution.

I was thinking something like a small tripod mounted on the side of the house that the guy line can run through to push it out.

Any thoughts?
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W9SRK's Blog Post - 12/1/2007 3:09:56 PM

Finally have an antenna

About a month and a half ago, I decided I needed to get some sort of antenna up before the snow started blowing.

Earlier this week I decided it was now or never, so Saturday would be the day. Lo and behold, on the next day, the first snow and ice storm of the year was forecasted for Saturday. No matter - it isn't supposed to hit until late in the afternoon.

Since I have no trees in the back yard, I devised a plan for an inverted L. Come out the window well, straight up to the peak of the house, and back diagonally to the shed. I anchored a small pulley to the flood light at the peak of the house. I ran some large twine through the pulley and tied it to one end of a ceramic insulator. The wire is fed through the other end so that it can move freely through the insulator. The far end of the wire is secured directly to another ceramic insulator that is then tied off to the shed.

Now, the snow storm started earlier than previously forecasted - it began around noon. It was now or never.

As I assembled everything, the snow started coming down pretty good but I was able to get everything in place within about an hour.

Now to get it all hooked up and get back on the air for the first time in... roughly 20 years (i.e. when I moved out of the house on my own, and thus away from my father's Shack).

Based on past experiences, it'll probably work like gangbusters just because I put it up during a snowstorm. Almost made it before the snow started flying, but hey - it's up!
Comment from NG9R 12/3/2007 3:49:17 PM
Congrats on getting back on HF, how has the antenna worked so far?

Comment from W9SRK 12/4/2007 7:21:49 PM
Thanks. :)

So far, it's not bad. It's been a while since I've been on the air, so I've been listening more than participating - my terminology is definitely lacking.

I did make a QSO with a special events station W2W on 40 Meters on Saturday.

Tonight (Tuesday) I tried to check in the Collins Collectors Association net on 3.805 but the band conditions were pretty poor overall. Definitely going to try on Thursday.

While tuning up on 20 meters I got a small RF burn from the chassis, so I need to do something to improve that situation. Right now the ground is a 14 gauge wire to a cold water pipe in the ceiling almost directly above the rig.

Overall, the antenna is decent - not the best, but definitely better than nothing. And my long wire antenna tuning skills are getting better once again. :)

Comment from W9SRK 12/6/2007 7:27:20 PM
Well, in talking with my dad, he said the band was pretty open overall that night.

Soooo.... I'm now looking into how I can get a Carlina Windom up in the air. Even if it isn't the ideal recommended installation, I hear great things about them.

Comment from W3NRL 12/28/2007 1:32:16 PM
Way to go on getting the antenna up
hope to get you on the bands
Happy Holidays and great New Year
de w3nrl

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W9SRK's Blog Post - 5/9/2007 7:48:43 PM

Heading to Dayton 2007

I'll be heading to Dayton for the first time in a long time. I'll likely be within a decent radius of the Collins Collectors Association booth, and also with W9JXN and W2IMK.

Looking forward to the trip and potentially getting to know any of you who might be interested in the site, to answer any questions or suggestions you might have.

TNX & 73,

Comment from W9SRK 5/31/2007 7:41:19 PM
It had been 20 years, and I expected Dayton to be much smaller due to the compression of time. However, it was still just as large and great as I remembered it.

Working the Collins Collectors Assocation booth much of the time, I was able to meet many great people and was also humbled by how much I didn't know as well as how much I have forgotten over the years.

The CCA Banquet was absolutely great. There's nothing like meeting a bunch of great guys.

There's also nothing like getting together with a group of avid Hams. It re-lit the fire within me to get my rig back on the air and I'm now trying to figure out how to get a decent antenna in the air so I can participate in the weekly CCA nets.

Overall, I can only summarize Dayton 2007 as a Smashing Success.

Comment from W8RO 6/12/2007 9:35:20 AM
It was nice to get together with Brian for our 1st eyeball together at Dayton this year. Yes, attendance was down a bit, but I believe that all who were there still had a great time. The weather was outstanding! Glad to hear that Brian also enjoyed the CCA activities too...

Yep, I agree, there is nothing like getting together with a bunch of avid hams, sharing in some great fellowship. Hope to see all of you there next year and also hope to catch Brian on the air!

Floyd Soo, W8RO
Past President & Founding Member,
Collins Collectors Assoc.
HI-RES Communications

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W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/28/2007 7:46:04 AM

Third Ham Shack Photo
Third Ham Shack Photo

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/26/2007 7:30:11 PM

Collins 30L-1 Open Cabinet
Collins 30L-1 Open Cabinet

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/26/2007 7:29:20 PM

Kenwood TS-430S Transceiver
Kenwood TS-430S Transceiver

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/26/2007 7:27:28 PM

Collins 30L-1
Collins 30L-1

W9SRK Uploaded a Picture - 4/26/2007 6:47:29 PM

My Ham Shack
My Ham Shack

W9SRK Joined My Ham Shack - 4/21/2007 1:07:39 PM

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