A Tube on the Blink

Thoroughly enjoyed John Schneider’s article “WFBE’s Home-Brew Rig” (Sept. 1).

Here’s a true story about the old 204A tube. As a teenager my father, Art Nott, 5MM, W5MM and W5SL (SK), assisted Earl Hull build WKY in Oklahoma City in 1925. The transmitter was in Earl’s garage, the studio was in a bedroom of his house and the antenna was a wire up in the back yard. Earl had little cash, so he paid my dad in excess parts.

One time Earl gave him a 204A tube, which was a real treasure for a young ham. Dad built a CW transmitter around it in the garage by his mother’s house.

The antenna was a dipole with bicycle wheels at each end suspended just above the ridge of the house. When the rig was finally finished sometime after midnight, he tuned it up to about 500 watts and began calling CQ. In just a few minutes, his mother entered the garage saying, “Art, Art, all the lights in the house are flashing on and off!” So he tied the key down and took a look. Sure enough, all the bulbs were glowing dimly.

The house wiring was the old knob-and-tube type; the field from the dipole was just a few feet above the shingled roof and it coupled into the wires.

I don’t know how he resolved the problem. Maybe my grandmother just had to ignore the flashing lights.

The WFBE rig is quite neat, but as John Schneider wrote, OSHA would come unglued if they saw it.

Ron Nott
Nott Ltd.
Farmington, N.M.

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