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How My Guitar Playing Started

On my 12th birthday my uncle gave me a guitar. It was an Archtop made by Framus. Sorry, but I don’t have it any more.

My parents payed for the weekly guitar lessons. My teacher was Mr. Thomsen in Elmshorn, Germany. This lasted until I was 16 years old. At that time I was pretty good in accompanying swing and dance music.

When I started my apprenticeship in electro mechanics, I put away the instrument and stopped playing. I became more interested in Model Flying and Ham Radio.

Between 1970 and 1974 I was a Radio Operator (Sparks) on various reefer ships, like the “Pica” of the “Laeisz” company:

On the long and lonely  trips I missed my guitar. On one of our stops in Bordeaux, France, I took the opportunity to buy a classical instrument. It was nice to play again and it made my life on board easier. When I left the ship in Rotterdam, it was no problem to bring the guitar home.

After my holidays I had to enter the next ship in Los Angeles. Since I did not want to carry so much luggage, I left the guitar at home. Our first trip was to Tokyo, Japan. I only had a half day off to do some shopping. When I walked past a music shop, I saw an infinite number of guitars hanging on the wall. I could not resist and bought one of them, a Yamaha G-150A.

During one of my journeys my parents had to move and wanted to get rid of all “unnecessary” things. So they sold the Archtop and the guitar from Bordeaux.


How I Rediscovered My Guitar

After many decades, in 2008, I rediscovered my Yamaha. It had spent its life in its gig bag covered with dust and had been pushed around from one corner to another. Despite the poor treatment she was in relatively good condition. The D-string was broken and there was a small dent in the front binding. After cleaning it and putting new strings on, I tried to play it again. The sound was pretty good and I could still remember some of the chords. But my playing had become very bad.

In the summer of 2008 I attended a classical guitar concert of Heinrich Wittrock in Darmstadt. I really loved his music. At the end of the concert I gathered all my courage and spoke to him. He was very friendly and I asked him if he knew someone who could give me some lessons. I was very surprised when he offered me to do it. We agreed on a date and started our weekly guitar lessons. He showed me everything; that is, he gave me a complete classical guitar training. Now I really learned to understand sheet music. The picture shows Heinrich playing on my 60th birthday party.

New Instruments

When I spent the first week of 2010 in Norddeich/Norden (East Frisia), I missed my guitar. So I bought a Ukulele in a music shop in Norden. It is a cheap instrument and the sound is a little dull, but playing it is a lot of fun.

My last acquisition is a new classical guitar. It is a Hanika 50MC. I bought it in the Musikladen Eberstadt. It is a wonderful instrument and a real improvement over my Yamaha.


New Guitar Teacher

Since 2015 I have a new guitar teacher because I became more interested in jazz and blues.

Another advantage is that she lives not far away from my home (15 minutes walk).


My Chuck Gliders

At the age of ten I found the plan for a small chuck glider in a Mickey Mouse magazine. I asked my mother if she would buy me the necessary balsa wood. She did and my father promised to buy me a kit for a larger model, if I managed to finish the chuckie and bring it to fly. He did not seem very convinced.

The instructions in the magazine were quite detailed and although I did not build the plane very well, it eventually flew.

The model shown in the picture is a new one that was built when I led the youth group of the club. Wingspan: 380mm (15″), weight: 43g (1½ oz).

The next glider is a little bigger but lighter. Wingspan: 475mm (18¾”) weight: 36g (1¼ oz). It was made as a study model for a bigger RC version that I want to build.

Also as a study model for a bigger RC version I built a tailless chuckie. Wingspan: 500mm (20″), weight: 21g (¾ oz).

All of my chuckies are a little damaged from the test flights in my garden.

My School Project

In the last year of my junior high school I had to prepare a final year project. The subject was free. So I decided to build an RC sailplane and write about it. At that time, at the age of 15,  I had only built models from kits. But now I wanted to design this one on my own. As I had read a lot of articles written by Werner Thies and Karl-Heinz Denzin in the German “Mechanikus” and “modell” magazines, I had pretty clear ideas about the size and the shape of the model. The picture shows me holding the finished product.

I’m sorry that I can’t show a drawing of this plane, but it was lost. Also the model doesn’t exist any more. So I can only describe it from memory:

Wingspan: 1800mm (~71″)
Root chord: 200mm (~8″)
Tip chord: 150mm (~6″)
Wing section: Goettingen 613
Stab section: Flat bottom, 10% thickness
Stab area: 25% of wing area
Weight: 1200g (~42oz)

The fully sheeted wings were fixed to the fuselage with tongue and box. The elevator was initially covered with tissue. 

But after the first crash it was fully sheeted for greater stability.

We already had a 3 channel Metz Mecatron radio. But the original receiver was damaged. So I built a new 2-channel RX from a kit offered by the “Reuter” company (doesn’t exist any more). This gave me perfect rudder control. The picture shows the radio installation: A 6 volt DEAC accumulator in the front, followed by the receiver and the Bellamatic servo. There was no elevator control.

The model flew very well and I had a lot of fun with it. At that time my father was a member of the FAG Kaltenkirchen and so I made most of my flights on their Moorkaten airfield. For high start we used 200m of fishing line. The high weight of the model was an advantage in the windy weather conditions of northern Germany.

Additional Pictures:

My Regenerative Receiver

Here I want to show you my regenerative receiver:

It uses two 12AH7 double triode tubes. They just happened to be available in my junk box.

Here is the schematic: Regen.pdf

The first two triodes are connected in series, so that they act as a synthetic tetrode. This „cascode“ configuration was discussed in detail by David Newkirk on his excellent website.

The detector circuit presented here was originally used in a receiver that was lent to me by a fellow ham in 1968 when I just started my amateur radio career. It was a kit sold by a German company (Technik-Versand Bremen) and worked perfectly well in those days even on the 10 meter band. I always regretted having given it back so, I wanted to build a replica now. This works even better than the original.

Regeneration is controlled by adjusting the voltage of the second triode’s grid. When the regeneration control is at its minimum position, that means we have 0 Volts at pin 5, there is also no anode voltage at pin 3. The voltage at pin 6 is at its maximum then. When the regeneration control is engaged (voltage at pin 5 increases) the voltage at pin 3 also rises up. At the same time the voltage at pin 6 decreases, because the tube is drawing current and there is a drop across the 100k resistor.

The second 12AH7 works as a two stage audio amplifier. I tried to reduce the number of components to a minimum so, there is no cathode RC-combination in the audio stages. The necessary negative bias voltages are produced by the small grid currents flowing through the 10 MOhm grid resistors (grid leak bias). With my 10 MOhm VTVM I can measure about -0.65 Volts at the grids so, the actual voltage should be about -1.3 Volts. There is no noticeable distortion of the audio signal.

The coupling capacitors in front of the grids are quite small. This helps to reduce the hum. I tried an output transformer in an earlier version (you can still see the slots on the chassis where it was mounted). I hoped to get more audio output this way. But this was a disappointment. So, it was replaced with the original RC-combination (25k/.68µ) shown in the diagram with no ill effects. I can use high and low impedance headphones with good volume. The low impedance ones sound much more „bassy“.

The receiver is very sensitive compared to the pentode circuits I tried before. Using a two feet test lead as an antenna it hears everything on 40m that the R-388 does. Of course, the selectivity is not comparable. But in most cases this is no problem (the selectivity is between the ears of the operator ;-)). Regeneration control is very smooth without any noticeable frequency pulling or hysteresis. But, the regen needs a good ground. In my installation this is a connection to the heating pipe. My shack is located under the roof in the second floor.  So, this ground connection is quite long and probably also acts as an antenna. Without this ground the receiver shows severe hand capacity effects and is difficult to tune.

The big center knob drives the band-spread tuning cap. This cap is rather small. I had to remove most of the rotor plates to get a tuning range from 7.0 to 7.2 MHz. It rotates very smoothly and without using a reduction drive tuning in an SSB station is no problem at all. In the lower left you see the control for the band-set capacitor. The knob in the lower right drives the potentiometer for regeneration control.

The plug-in coil is tailored for the 40 meter band where we find a lot of active CW stations here in Germany. It has 18 turns (about 9 µH) with the tap at 5 turns from ground. This tap position needs some more experimentation. I will try to lower the tap to 3 turns so that oscillation starts at a slightly higher voltage at pin 5 of the second triode.

The power supply for my regen is mounted inside the box of a butchered PC supply. I ripped off everything and just kept the case, the AC input socket, the on-off switch and two 330µF electrolytic capacitors. The ‘ugly construction’ works flawlessly ;-). The B+ output delivers about 70 Volts. In spite of the simple circuit, this voltage is quite stable and clean because the receiver draws very little current (about 10mA). Rectification and stabilization of the heater voltage was applied to prevent any hum. The diode in the ground lead of the regulator raises the output voltage to exactly 12.6 volts. Later I added a bleeder resistor of 1 kOhm to the output which is not shown in the diagram.

Additional pictures:

Jones QRP TX

The components for this transmitter had been laying around in my scrap box for almost 40 years. Now I thought it was time to build it.

The first time I came across this circuit was in 1961 when I read the book “Funkfernsteuerung für den Modellbauer”. This was a translation by H. Bruss and Hans-A. Pfeil of the English title “Simple Radio-Control” by H. G. Hundleby. The circuit was called the “Aeromodeller Transmitter” and was a free running oscillator without a crystal. I found the adaption to crystal control in the German book “Drahtlose Fernsteuerung von Flugmodellen” (Radio Control of Model Aircraft) by Karl Schultheiss, DL1QK.

After looking at the circuit diagrams offered on the ‘Glowbugs’ server I realized that this actually was a Jones transmitter. But there was no reference made to the Jones circuit in the above mentioned publications.

See the circuit diagram here: jones.pdf

The transmitter is built on a piece of two sided copper-clad epoxy board. The bottom layer serves as a ground plane. Connections are soldered on islands (abt ½” squared) made of the same material glued to the surface. The coil has 12 turns of No. 16 copper wire. The diameter is abt 1″ and the length abt 1¼”. It was wound over a wooden dowel and fixed with three pieces of fiber glass rod (from a kite shop). The antenna coupling coil is one turn of insulated stranded wire wound over the center of the plate coil. The choke has 25µH.

For the first test I used the power supply of my regen. With only 70 volts on the plates the power input was quite low (only 350 mW). Stability was good but, it chirped heavily. The chirp was reduced when I tuned the plate circuit more to the high frequency side and not to the lowest dip.

At school I had the opportunity to connect the transmitter to a spectrum analyzer. When the plate circuit was tuned to the lowest dip, it produced a lot of harmonics. The odd harmonics were only 15 to 20 dB down from the fundamental and the even harmonics abt 30 to 40 dB. It was interesting to detune the plate circuit to the high frequency side until oscillation stopped, and then go back slowly to resonance. I stopped at the point where oscillation just started again (not yet at the lowest dip). Now the signal was very clean. You could only see the fundamental. The harmonics were in the noise!

This transmitter was built only for experimentation. Now I have gained enough experience to start a real project, a 40 meter Jones TX. It will use a 6Z7G tube (I like the symmetrical pin-out) and a rock I obtained from Bry, AF4K.

Additional pictures: