joel Sampson / N5LXI
Amateur Radio Bio & Rigs
I was first licensed as WN9LHL in 1964. My Elmer was Don Broden, W9TNG, now a SK. Don was a good man and I owe him a lot! Don's son now has his old call. Ham radio and electronics has helped me change careers several times and been important in my life. Novice licenses could not be rewnewed and I was inactive for several years.
In the mid 70's I drove from Columbus, Ohio to the FCC field office in Detroit through a December snow storm. I passed the Technician test (latter called Tech Plus as 5 wpm code was required). I was issued WD8QIB and living in Columbus, Ohio. When I moved to Texas in 1986, I changed my call to the 5th district and got N5LXI. I now have an Amateur Extra class license.
The QTH is located in Grid EM12pv in Dallas County. I'm good in the 3905 Century Club QSL buros, OMISS buro or direct, no SASE needed. I QSL 100%, but sometimes I am slow. Sorry!
The following is the gear I use with some comments.
Elecraft K3 - This is my main big radio. I have been very happy with it since I "assembled" it. It's a great radio and the receiver is the best! I use a Yaesu SP-8 External Speaker and a Heil GM-5 microphone with it. I often run 5-watts QRP on SSB with the K3.
Kenwood TS-2000 - The TS-2000 is my backup 100-watt rig. I bought it for VHF/UHF (see below) but it's a great HF radio for rag chewing and more casual use. I like the user interface and can computer control it without buying anything more than a cable (a RS-232 interface is built in!), and the Kenwood free software is not bad. I like the way the memory works on this radio. It's a great all in one rig. I use a KLM stereo speaker and Heil GM-5 with it.
Flex-RadioFlex 1500 - An interesting little QRP SDR. I am less than thrilled with this rig.
I run a lot of SSB QRP. I enjoy the challenge, and when the band works, it does not seem to matter much if I'm running 5-watts or 100.
Icom IC-703 - I like the large display. The user interface is ok, once your figure it out. I also have an IC-706 in the truck, which has a similar user interface. I have had to send it back to Icom to get the finals replaced, which they did for free. I had to pay to get the antenna tunner fixed a few years latter. It's in my electronics R&D and test bench connected to a low 40-meter dipole fed with ladder line. The IC-703 does not have a computer interface to program it.
Yaesu FT-817 - The FT-817 is a legend for good reasons! It has never failed me and I like the fact it covers VHF and UHF in all modes and has 200 memories. The ham only VHF/UHF receiver is top notch! I use the Collins SSB filter which works on both receive and transmit. I do not like the small display and the user interface is a little funky. I use it with a LDG Z-11 antenna tuner. I also use the free Windows FT-817 Commander software. It's written by Simon Brown, the author of Ham Radio Deluxe. It manages memory and much more. Every ham should own one! I use a Heil HM-10 mic with the QRP rigs.
N5LXI HF Antenna Farm
Well, farm may not be too accurate. I live on a small city lot with two very large pecan trees that are in the way! I tend to install multi-band antennas fed with ladder line. I have struggled to get a good 160-meter antenna up. Although I have 46 states confirmed, including Alaska. My current plan is to build a small one-band antenna for 160. Got any ideas?
80-meter dipole - Mounted at about 35 feet this is my main antenna, although it is down at present. It's fed with ladder line and I use LDG BA-1 balun. I use it from 80 to 6 meters, and it loads on 160-meters. It's about the best all around antenna you can easily build. I love ladder line!
43' Vertical - This has been an inverted "L" and several other configurations. I'm still experimenting with it. The homebrew antenna is self supporting. I telescoped aluminum tubing which is attached to the house. It sits on a PVC pipe insulator. The radials are very limited as the house next door is close. It's fed with ladder line and I use LDG BA-1 balun. It loads all bands, from 160 to 6 meters.
Cushcraft D3 - This is my one commercial HF antenna. The D3 is a 10, 15 and 20 meter trap dipole. It's mounted at 25 feet on the chimney and I'm not rotating it. The antenna is made well and works good. I am feeding it with coax. If you only have one mounting spot it's worth looking at.
MFJ-914 - This is an antenna tuner extender. It adds capacitors which allows a built-in automatic antenna tuner to tune a wider range. It's simple and very necessary for my setup. Somewhat obscure, it may expand your multi-band antenna farm too!
MFJ-269 - The MFJ HF/VHF/UHF SWR Analyzer, while not an antenna, the MFJ antenna analyzer is a must have! I've been very happy with this versatile instrument. It's great to be analyze an antenna system without generating RF.
Kenwood TS-2000 - The TS-2000 is my VHF/UHF radio in the shack. It's the best radio I've ever had for this purpose. I replaced an Icom IC-910 with the TS-2000. The Kenwood works well on both FM and SSB, the 910 was not very friendly for FM work.
The TS-2000 is the best VHF/UHF base transceiver, especially for FM. Why? You can display and change the frequency and CTCSS (PL) tones at the same time. It has an excellent user interface. It has two FM receivers and I can also monitor the Dallas police and 222 MHz repeaters with it. I program it with the free software from Kenwood, which works well.
Alinco DR-235 - This was purchased for 222 MHz FM. Since I maintain the official DF/W Verified repeater list, I wanted something more than a HT. I really like this single band radio. It has a good user interface, is inexpensive and works great. I recommend it!
Yaesu FT-817 - The FT-817 has to show up again too. It's my backup and QRP VHF/UHF all-mode radio. With 200 memories you can program all the local repeaters you can find! Once again, use FT-817 Commander software.
Uniden Bearcat BCT15X - This modern scanner does trunking and more. It is very complex to program but has a computer interface. A scanner friend had his programmed which helped me get started.
I use Free Scan software from Six Spot Software on my BCT15X. The program is excellent and I would not buy a Bearcat scanner unless he supports it!
Kenwood TM-V7A - The Kenwood was moved from the shack to my electronic test bench. It's a nice dual-band radio and the Kenwood free software is very useful. It's connected a a low Arrow J antenna. I monitor the local repeater and Dallas police with when I'm working at the bench. I program it with the free software from Kenwood, which works well.
Icom IC-261A - This old radio is in the garage where my work and secondary test bench are. It's used with a home built ground plane mounted in the attic. I can monitor the local repeaters and check into nets when I'm working out there.
Comet CX-333 - The CX-333 is a tri-band (144/222/440) vertical is use on FM. It mounted at about 28 feet. I also use a CFX-324A tri-plexer. The antenna is ran through a MFJ-817 SWR/Wattmeter. This vertical works great! It replaced a Comet GP-15 (54/144/440) vertical because I wanted to operate on 1.25-meters.
VHF Notch Filter - My QTH is very near a lot of pager antennas and the RF trash is very high. I use a Par Electronics VHFTN 152-158 notch filter on the Comet. It cleans up all the junk and does not seem to effect ham reception. It does knock down some of the NOAA weater stations, if you like to DX NOAA WX. The strong NOAA stations come through great though. The filter works wonderful!
M-squared Loop - This horizontal antenna is all I have up for 2-meter SSB operation. It is mounted at about 30 feet and works fine. I'm working on a small horizontal beam.
Hand Held VHF/UHF
I have written free mini guides for these HT's. This and other information is at HT Page.
Yaesu VX-6 - The VX-6 is my favorite HT. It has the best scanning abilty. The user interface is somewhat complicated (most HT's are!). It covers 220 MHz with 1.5 watts output, which is useful. The VX-6 Commander is great and a must have!
Kenwood TH-F6 - This HT has a good user interface and 5-watt output on 220 MHz. The receiver is very poor out of the ham bands and the scanning ability is limited. The built-in bar antenna does not work very well either.
Icom IC-W32A - I have this older technology full-sized HT to work the FM satellites (which I have not done yet). It's a large, heavy HT that feels good in the hand and has dual volume and frequency control. Simple and easy to use. The original Ni-Cad battery is poor.
TYT GH-UV3 - I bought this little China radio in June, 2012 for $70 with a USB programming cable. It's quirky but cute! For a few local repeaters and listening, it is excellent.
Astron RS-35M - The RS-35M powers everyhing in the shack. I use Astron RS-20M power supplies in other locations. All equipment uses Anderson PowerPole connectors and West Mountain Radio RIGrunner power panels.
Icom IC-706 MKIIG - The 706 is mounted in my 2006 Sabaru Forestor with a 5-speed manual transmission. I've had the rig for some time in a couple of different vehicles. I like the large display and once you figure it out, the user interface is pretty good. I do not operate HF in the city -- too much Dallas traffic. It only has 100 memories and you can not program it with a computer, which sucks. However, it is a versatile and good HF transceiver.
Mobile Antennas - I use a Larsen 19" whip mounted on a "L" bracket near the hood for VHF/UHF. On HF I use a set of Hustler mobile antennas or a stainless steel whip fed to an antenna tuner. The HF antennas mount on hitch mount I made.