Note: I'm currently doing a lot of playing with FSK441 on six meters, having a ball learning the ins and outs of the mode, the rocks, and the band. When I run out of patience, you might find me down on the lower bands on JT65 or JT9. Thanks to all who have welcomed me into the mode. You'll see me often on the PJChat channel. How about some of my western friends getting on meteor scatter. I'm not finding many stations from the west. Drop me a line and I'll help you get on.
Attention QSL seekers! Please include SASE if you expect or want a card in return. Thank you. Also, LOTW thinks I use its services, but I DO NOT. I no longer use computer logging.
Hy-Gain TH-7DX (20, 15, 10 meters) and Cushcraft A505S (6 meters) atop Hy-Gain HG-54HD tower
I was born in San Francisco in 1945. A family move put us in Eureka in the early 50s, where I grew up. I had the privilege of attending a rural 2-room school house for a couple of years when we first got there. 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 the little crystal set pulled plenty of RF from my "longwire" wrapped around the 5-wide garage. It even drove a small speaker at low volume and heard San Francisco stations at night. There's a story related to that, but I won't go into it now.
Amateur radio bio:
My 9th grade science teacher, Mr. Ralph 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" at their house. Their mother pointed me up some narrow stairs to the attic, where I found two of the Fitzpatrick brothers fiddling with what was probably some military surplus and homebrew gear. Through them, I met Gene Knight, K6YIS, one of their neighbors. Gene had weekly skeds on 20 meters with his Dad in Long Beach. He invited me over to sit in one Saturday morning. I sat down in the shack where Gene was talking with his Dad, Curt, K6SBI, and marveled at the "big" Johnson Viking Ranger with Hallicrafters SX-99 receiver and chrome D-104 lollipop mic. After a couple of weeks of this, he handed me the mic and "made me" talk to Curt myself. This became a regular thing, and I was hooked, even though mic-fright was a huge 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.
Update to the radio bio. On November 12, 2012, 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 Oregon, my jaw dropped as I heard the callsign K6YIS. I started paying more attention and tried to break in to tell him that I knew the original K6YIS. Not having a 17 meter antenna, it took a couple of tries. Between tries, I heard the Colorado station call him Gene. WHAT? I couldn't believe it! I had no idea Gene was still on the air. When I finally got into the QSO, I played a short game with Gene, giving him big hints about who I was and letting him try to figure it out. It didn't take long. 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'm hoping Gene and I can get together in the future for an eyeball QSO. 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, and struggled through the 5 WPM novice test in early 1960. My proctor said I barely passed the code, but it was close enough*. My novice ticket (WV6MDL) arrived in the mail in June, and it all worked out. I fell in love with CW after being on the air several months, and 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 in the early 70s. 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. It was required at that time, and I still believe that one should carry the call of the area they live in. I later replaced UPI with WB0KKM in Colorado, and then took my Extra exam in front of the FCC examiner in Rapid City in 1978, replacing KKM with AG0N while I lived in Hyannis, NE.
*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, who wanted to make sure I could support myself. In May of 1965, I joined the USAF and went to basic training and then electronics/radar school in Biloxi (pronounced Billuxi). 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 Vietnam 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 Alon A2, Cessna 150 and 172 time, as well as a little Cherokee time, and for the multi-engine, the Cessna 310. I flew to both coasts from central Montana with the Mooney, and enjoyed every minute of it.
One of my activities during my non-HF years was been building and maintaining simplex IRLP nodes. I have one at my house, there is one in Scottsbluff owned by KB0WYT, and one in Mitchell, owned and built by WD0BQM. I built nodes 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'relooking 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 on 20M AMTOR with a good friend, Alan, T30AT. That was in the mid 80s. Otherwise, she only gets on the VHF "intercom" when on of us is mobile.
Being inactive on HF for several years, I spent a lot of time upgrading my equipment and antennas after retirement. I pulled my trusty TS-850 out of service and replaced it with a TS-590. Then I pulled the TS-440 off the shelf and replaced it with an IC-7000 so I could work VHF/UHF CW/SSB. It's also backup for the 590 and can easily go mobile in emergencies. I use a Heil GM4 mic on the 590. My still working Johnson Thunderbolt amplifier was replaced by an Elecraft KPA500. HF antennas are a 75M dipole, Hy-Gain TH-7DX, and a Hy-Gain Hy-Tower. In the Fall of 2013, I finally got my 160M loop up. It is 55+ feet high and supported by four 65 foot power poles. Above the TH-7DX is a Cushcraft A505S 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. I have nearly the same VHF coverage that the local repeater does because I'm on the same ridge as the repeater. Cushcraft yagis may go up next spring for 2M and 70cm SSB. 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. My TH-7DX and A505S are on a Hy-Gain HG54-HD at 55 and 60 feet (top photo). The Hy-Gain Hy-Tower is 300 feet west of the shack, out in a field with ~35 radials under it and is right next to the 160M loop. The coax feeding the loop and Hy-Tower (switched) needs to be replaced due to abuse from rodents, etc.
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. I do NOT use LOTW either.
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 (X).
I operated from W6RO in August 2012
QSL for 17M contact in December 2012
Click below to go to my WX Station data
McDuffie Web page (needs updating)
One stop source of info for the Kenwood TS-590:
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