The photo at the upper right of this page shows N3JT with KE4PSV (Nina) at our local contest club (Potomac Valley Radio Club) Holiday Dinner in 2012. The upper photo directly above this paragraph features the antenna farm, or most of it, at our QTH in McLean, Virginia, about 1 mile west of Washington, DC. We also have a QTH in Boynton Beach, Florida, that is adorned with an R9 vertical. This is shown in the lower photo above. When in Florida I often use the Virginia station remotely, as explained below.
I was first licensed in 1960 as K3MNJ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but moved to Northern Virginia in 1975 for a job with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I had expected to go into patent law given I had an electrical engineering degree (and an MBA) and had taken a number of patent law courses. But when the FCC interviewed on campus looking for somebody with my background I figured a year or two in Washington, DC wouldn't sidetrack me for long and might be fun.
Interesting assignments with considerable responsibility coupled with continuing promotions led me to remain at the FCC for 22 years. Still, it took me exactly 2 nanoseconds to accept the early-out offer in 2001. I always considered this a deal in exchange for my never coming back to the FCC! Then I worked for 5 years at a large Washington, DC law firm (Steptoe & Johnson LLP) doing telecom work. It is a great firm and I enjoyed the work and environment, but when my mainstay client Motorola decided to exit the satellite business my work slowed and I was not interested in doing international trade work (like steel import cases). Now I am a telecom consultant specializing in a variety of FCC issues. When not working or on the air I find myself knee-deep in projects at home. Project examples include a solar panel power back up system for the house (described below), a roof-water retrieval tank (1600 gallons) system, and a homebrew electric lawnmower that is solar powered (recharged from the solar panel battery system). I don't always sit in the shack chair, however. I swim a mile most mornings at a local high school pool or at our community pool in Florida, and I bicycle about 85 miles a week in both places. More recently I renewed by enthusiasm for table tennis and played it aggresively both in Virginia and Florida until I damaged tendons in my right shoulder. I tried using my left arm but it's too frustrating and nobody wants to play against me!! So I'm off table tennis for now..
The Virginia rig is a K3 (with a P3), Expert 2K-FA, Skyhawk tribander at 24m, a Cushcraft 3-band WARC beam at 26m, a Cushcraft 2 ele 40m beam at 28m, and an 80m ground plane strung into a tulip poplar. There is also a 160m dipole strung through the trees but I tend to avoid operating on that band because there is occasional RFI into the solar-powered backup power system that has proven irreparable even with multiple toroids, capacitors, etc. There is also a UHF/VHF vertical atop the mast on the tower. A relatively new addition in 2013 was an M2 5-element beam on 6m attached to the chimney, about 35 feet off the ground. This reactivation on 6m followed a 48-year hiatus as measured from the time the bumper-mounted 6m halo antenna fell off my dad's car and dragged on the street as we were driving in downtown Philadelphia. My recollection is of people pointing toward the back of the car as we went by. I kept the halo for many years as a memento but it disappeared in the move to our current QTH in 2001.
The Florida station consists of a K3 and Cushcraft R9 vertical with a KPA500 at the ready.
I also use a K3/0-Mini in Florida with Remoterig boxes that support remote control of the Virginia station. This allows me to work myself (FL-VA path) when there is nobody else around! (No, not really!) Having space diversity of antennas allows for instant optimization of propagation as between the two locations, though the VA station more often than not outperforms the FL station, at least for DX purposes. For domestic skip the Florida location is frequently more effective because it "sees" the densely populated parts of the East Coast that are too close to VA for HF skip.
I tend to hang out on the HF CW bands with an occasional effort on SSB just to make sure the microphone is working, with a little RTTY thrown in from time to time. My peak contest success came in 1991 when I won the ARRL DX Contest from HK0/N3JT, though I"ve also operated from VP2E, CP5, HK1. HK5, PZ, 4X and 7X. I'm active in the CW Operators' Club (CWops, member #1) and am a member of the First Class CW Operators Club (FOC, member #1067, since 1968). I'm also a member of ARES, the Potomac Valley Radio Club, and the Boca ARA.
Once I manage to get something new done technically that appears not to have been published before I figure it may be of interest more generally and I try to write an article. They don't all get published! An article I wrote on remote control of rotators appears in January 2014 CQ Magazine and there is another in June 2015 CQ Magazine (co-written by N2YO) on IP address access; I also have an article in July 2010 QST on shack grounding and in May 2011 QST on solar power backup power for the shack and house. The backup power system is a long-term capital improvement to the house electrical system. It has worked flawlessly whenever power is lost due to storms, with transition to backup of only a few milliseconds. On more than one occasion a neighbor would call to ask if I had heard anything about power restoration in the neighborhood given power had been out for some hours. I didn't even know we had lost power! There are two solar panels that keep the backup batteries charged, and a natural-gas powered generator that takes over should the bank of six 250 Ah batteries become mildly discharged. When we have an extended outage, one neighbor plugs his extension cord into my system to power his refrigerator and freezer. They keep an eye on our house when we are in Florida!
CU on the air!
PS Below is a shot taken in August 2016 that shows the "real" VA station, always in limbo between remote and local operation.
7513959 Last modified: 2016-08-18 23:38:51, 7334 bytes
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