Hy-Gain TH-7DX (20, 15, 10 meters) and Cushcraft A505 (6 meters) atop Hy-Gain HG-54HD tower
I was born in San Francisco, CA, in 1945. A family move put me in Eureka in the early 50s, where I was raised until joining the service. I had the privilege of attending a rural 2-room school house for a few years after first getting to Eureka. In jr. high, I was introduced to electronics when my 9th grade science teacher said we were going to build crystal sets in class. This opened up a brand new world for me. We had several AM stations around town, so there was plenty of signal to be had at our house. Enough RF was pulled out of my "longwire" wrapped around the 5-wide garage, that my little crystal set would drive a small speaker at a low volume. There's a story related to that, but I won't go into it now. Ask about it when you talk to me on the air if you want to hear it.
I assume that my science teacher, Mr. Krause, must have mentioned ham radio at some point, because I soon found myself looking for some ex-neighbor kids, who, I was told, had "this ham radio setup". They were a year or two ahead of me in school and had moved across town. At their house, their mother led me up some narrow stairs to the attic, where I found the boys fiddling with what was probably some military surplus and homebrew stuff. Through them, I met Gene, K6YIS, who lived a few blocks away. Gene had weekly skeds on 20 meters with his Dad in Long Beach, and he invited me over for one of them. I got a ride into town and sat down in the cramped shack where Gene was talking with his Dad, Curt, K6SBI. I marveled at the "big" Johnson Viking Ranger and chrome D-104 lollipop, along with a Hallicrafters SX-99 receiver. After a couple of weeks of this, he talked me into getting on the mic and talking to Curt myself. This became a regular thing, and I was hooked, even though mic-fright was a big problem in the beginning. Thank you Gene and Curt Knight, K6YIS and K6SBI. You launched me into my life long hobby of amateur radio, which eventually steered my entire career.
November 12, 2012 - Update to the above story about how I got started in ham radio. This afternoon, during my daily migration from 10 meters down to the lower bands as the propagation changed, I landed on 18.114MHz for a few minutes and listened to a Colorado station talking with someone in Oregon. When he turned it over to the Oregonian, my jaw dropped as I heard the callsign K6YIS. I started paying more attention and decided I would try to talk to him long enough to let him know that I knew the original K6YIS. I don't have a 17M antenna, so I used the one that I had the most receive signal on, my 75M dipole. I hit the tuner and waited for the next over. They didn't seem to hear me the first time, so I waited for the next opening to try again. During that wait, I heard the Colorado station call him Gene. WHAT? I couldn't believe it! I had no idea Gene was still around. When I was finally let into the QSO, I played a little game with Gene, giving him big hints about who I was and letting him try to figure it out. It only took a couple of rounds. For 45+ minutes after that, we shared old stories and caught each other up on things as much as we could before the band changed enough that it became questionable to continue. What an experience! I have no doubt that Gene and I will get together many times in the future. We are already talking about having an "eyeball" next year when my wife and I go out to that part of the country again.
See Gene's QSL at the bottom of this QRZ page.This is one of those rare times when I'm glad someone had a callsign from a different area than where he was located.
Now back to where I left off in my radio history. . .
I worked on getting my ham ticket in late 1959 and early 1960. I struggled through the 5 WPM novice test in early 1960. My proctor said I barely passed the code, but it was close enough*. It worked out though, as I fell in love with CW after being on the air several months with my new novice call, WV6MDL. A few months later, I took the Conditional test from one of the local CW ops, passing it with flying colors at 35 WPM. With that change, WV6MDL became WA6MDL, and I've been a CW operator ever since. I took the Advanced class test at the FCC office in San Francisco several years later. Yep, we had to draw diagrams, as well as sending and receiving code. I later moved back to Montana for a short time and received WA7UPI for a call. I was, and still am, a firm believer that one should carry the call of the area they live and operate in. I later replaced UPI with WB0KKM in Colorado, and when I took my Extra in front of the FCC examiner in Rapid City in 1978, replaced that with AG0N.
*I had a similar experience with check-ride-itis when I got my pilot's license many years later (another story to be told over the air if you ask).
I passed my First Class Radiotelephone test shortly after graduating from high school at the insistance of my Dad - he wanted to make sure I could support myself. In May of 1965, I joined the USAF and went to basic training and then electronics school in Biloxi (pronounced Biluxi). After that, I spent the next two and a half years in Montana at a radar site and fell in love with the area. When they gave us six month early discharge to make room for returning Viet Nam vets in late 1968, I wanted to stay in the area. The area economy wouldn't allow it though. Moves back to Eureka, Great Falls, Cheyenne, Sterling Colorado, and Kimball Nebraska kept me working in broadcast and 2-way radio until 1978. That year, I was offered a position with the Nebraska Educational Television Network. It is one of the few State-owned public television networks in the country. We later expanded into Public Radio, satellite, and web delivery. After 34 years with NET, I retired in August of 2012.
While in Montana, I also got my pilot's license. What a beautiful place to learn to fly. I ended up with a Commercial, Mutli-Engine rating, but never did get my instrument. I loved to fly, and mostly drove the Mooney Executive, but I do have some 150 and 172 time, as well as the 310 twin I used to get my multi-engine with. I flew to both coasts from central Montana, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Currently, my activities center around getting the antennas back into shape, upgrading the old gear to more modern stuff, operating CW, VHF/UHF, and informally chasing a little DX. I love ten and six meters. I was inactive on HF for the last several years, so I'm having to work hard to get back into operating and picking my code speed back up where it should be.
One of my activities during my non-HF years has been building and maintaining simplex IRLP nodes. I have one at my house, there is one in Scottsbluff, and there is one in Mitchell, owned and built by WD0BQM. I built one for Chadron and Alliance NE, and one for Hot Springs SD, owned by W0FUI and the Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club. The Alliance node is down due to the host now being SK. We are looking for a new home for it. I also had a VHF repeater on the air from 1972 until I retired in 2012.
My son, Gary Jr., is N0JMK (USAF retired), but is inactive at this time. My XYL (since 1974) is Joyce, WB0YRO. She used to get on the keyboard a few times a week on 20M AMTOR when I talked with a good friend, Alan, T30AT. That was in the late 70s. Otherwise, she only gets on the VHF "intercom" to keep tabs on me, or when she is mobile.
Currently, the shack is being upgraded. I pulled my trusty TS-850 out of service and replaced it with a TS-590 and took the TS-440 off the shelf and replaced it with an IC-7000 so I could work VHF/UHF CW/SSB. It will also serve as backup for the 590, should one be needed, and can easily go mobile in emergencies. I love the 590. I put a Heil GM4 mic on it and it sounds great. I recently bought an Elecraft KPA500 to replace my old Johnson Thunderbolt. HF antennas are a 75M dipole, 40M dipole, Hy-Gain TH-7DX, and a Hy-Gain Hy-Tower. I'll be working on antennas for 30/17 next spring. Above the TH-7DX is a Cushcraft A505 for six meters at 60 feet. For 146/440 FM, and the IRLP node, I have a couple of Diamond sticks that put out a heck of a signal. My VHF signal goes just about everywhere the local repeater does, because I'm on the same ridge as the repeater, just a few miles southeast of it. I have a Cushcraft 13 element yagi going up next spring for 2M SSB, along with a Cushcraft 719B for 70cm. A self supporting 40' tower holds the dipoles and one of the Diamonds right now, and will be replaced with Rohn 25 next spring. The other diamond is on an abandoned power pole. The TH-7DX and A505 are on a Hy-Gain HG54-HD at 56 and 60 feet. The Hy-Gain Hy-Tower is 300 feet to the west of the shack, out in a field with ~35 radials under it. I hope to raise a 160M full wave loop on some power poles near the Hy-Tower, but that project has been slow to progress. Now that I'm retired, maybe it will happen.
My 10-digit grid square is DN81fv37ab.
I QSL to all cards received with SASE, as long as I have you in the log. Make sure I have your call accurately! If your call is not in the log, no QSL! If no SASE, I'm sorry.
N0JMK, WB0YRO, and AG0N at W6RO aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach harbor (August 2012)
Original 1967 Certificate when I worked them coming around the Cape for the last time
I operated from W6RO in August 2012
QSL for 17M contact in December 2012
Gene, K6YIS, my mentor in 1959 (see text above)
Click below to go to my WX Station data (anemometer broken)
McDuffie Web page (needs updating)
One stop source of info for the Kenwood TS-590:
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