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Thanks to the Elmers of the Northern Chautauqua Amateur Radio Club (K2PCQ and later W2SB), I was first licensed as WN2VVZ at age 13. Actually, we had an Elmer, W2CDX, in the club, but it was the inital tutelage and encouragement of Frank, K2SZF, that got me through the Monday night code and theory classes, preparing me for the novice licensing exam. The club was very fortunate to be located in the house attached to the still working lighthouse in my home town, Dunkirk, NY.  Every Monday night was radio club night from about 7 - 9 PM and the old timers welcomed the young kids and never talked down to us.

Other hams to thank during the early years are Pete, K2RIP; Del, K2LZV; Stan, K2JQT; Art, WB2SNH; John, W2FUL.  Without their encouragement and help, ham radio might have just been a short curiousity.

My first rig was a breadboarded 6L6 transmitter and a Knightkit Star Roamer receiver to a long wire that was maybe six feet off the ground.  The shack was located in the garage attic which could get rather warm in the summer, even though I was operating from the snow belt of western New York State.  My max DX with that setup was maybe 10-15 miles but it was a start. I do recall more than one RF burn from the knife switch that was used to switch the antenna between the transmitter and receiver.  The worm-warmer was soon replaced by a 40 meter dipole up about 20 feet which of course helped a lot and the 6L6 was retired in favor of the 1966 ARRL Handbook transmitter with a 1625 final.  As I recall, my best DX with this setup was Nebraska, quite a thrill at the time because this was half way across the country!  The shack moved from the garage attic to the basement of the house and Santa was generous that first year of hamming and left a Heathkit Twoer under the tree.

The last few months of my Novice year were spent mainly chatting with the locals, both young and old, on two meters and my code speed was nowhere near the 13 WPM needed for the General, so I moved up to Technician to stay licensed (the Novice was a one year license back then) and continued to do most of my hamming on 2 meters for a number of months until I made enough money working on the farm to make a down payment on a Heathkit SB-301 receiver.  My dad loaned me the rest, then forgave the loan at Christmas-time, a pattern that was later repeated for the SB-401 after I upgraded from Technician to Advanced a few years later.  Before I finished high school, the station filled out with the SB-220 linear, SB-610 monitor scope, SB-630 station console and a Classic 33 tri-bander that I resurrected from W2FUL's scrap pile after a storm blew down his tower.  Helping fund this hobby was the good fortune of becoming friends with Skip (WN2AWX/WA2AWX, now K2SR) whose parents owned a farm with 80 acres of Concord grapes; I was able to help fund this hobby by picking and loading during the harvest and stretching wire during the spring. 

I have no doubt that ham radio helped me get accepted into engineering school and spawn a career that started at NCR in Ithaca, NY followed by a move a few years later to Texas Instruments (TI) in Dallas where I worked until bridging to early retirement to work with my wife in her real estate business and teach part time at a local university.  Part time became full time and I'm now the director for an executive education MBA program with an emphasis in project management.

Over the years at TI, I was part of the team that built and maintained the K5OJI (now K5DM) repeater and most of my hamming was talking to the locals on 2 meter FM, participating in RACES training and SKYWARN nets, and working on projects related to the repeater or building computers.  I always had a HF station on the air and W2FUL's Classic 33 stood proudly on about 40 feet of Rohn 45 at the two houses I've owned here in Texas.  I can't say that I made many entries in the log, but I always had a station that could be on the air when I wanted it to.

A few years back I turned on the SB-301 and one of the bypass capacitors from the power line to ground exploded with a nice pop and lots of smoke and my wife decided I needed to upgrade to something smaller rather than repair it (actually I think her words were something like "get that @#$% thing out of the house").  So now the main rig is a Icom 756 Pro running barefoot to either a 270' OCF, 80 mtr quarter sloper, 40 meter inverted vee, or the venerable Classic 33 on about 40' of Rohn 45 standing on the other side of the den wall where the shack is located.  Also on the tower is a 5 element beam on six meters at the top and small side-mounted beams for 2 meters and 70 cm.  The S-100 computer is long gone; I'm now running a homegrown i7 system running Win 8.1 and having a ball chasing DX and digital WAS with WSJT-X, JT Alert and HR Deluxe. 

Occasionally I operate /2 from my parent's house in WNY with an Icom 7000 and either a 40-20 fan dipole up about 20 feet or a Hustler 4BTV vertical with the base and radials about seven feet above ground level.

If you're reading this, chances are we worked, so thanks again for the FB QSO and I look forward to seeing you on down the log.

73,
Jim

1099996 Last modified: 2014-07-13 15:39:14, 5376 bytes

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