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I passed the amateur license exam and, at the same time, the First Class Radio Telephone license exam in the fall of 1945. Early in 1946, I received the call, W3KMV.

My first operating was at W2SZ, the Club Station at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. We put a pre-War National 600 transmitter on 10 meters just as Solar Cycle 18 was rising and had a ball working Gs and DL4s (US troops stationed in Germany) as well as many Ws and South American stations.

Later, I built a 6V6 crystal oscillator rig on a piece of wood and operated on 80 meter CW from my dorm room. Still later, I built an 829 rig for 6 meters, but was never able to work anything from my dorm with a dipole hanging out the window – not surprising. But, I successfully used that rig after graduation, first from my parents’ apartment in Silver Spring, MD and in 1950 and 51 in St. Paul, MN. I had taken a job with Minneapolis Honeywell and later with KUOM, the University of Minnesota’s 5 kW AM radio station. From the Twin Cities, during the summer 1951 Es season, I worked 22 states with the 829 rig using a dipole strung across the ceiling of a rented third floor room.

Retuning to the DC area in late 1951, I took a job with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where I worked on a number of US Navy weapons systems projects including such missiles as Talos, Standard Missile and Tomahawk. I retired from JHU/APL in 1988.

I continued my interest in 6 meters and the higher bands during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but also branched out into HF, working all bands from 160 to 10 meters. In 1962, I became a member of the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC), one of the Nation’s premiere contest clubs. From well known and accomplished PVRC members, I learned a lot about contest operating. In 1970 I obtained operating privileges in the Netherlands Antilles, with the call, PJ9AF and journeyed to Curacao to operate the CQ Worldwide Phone Contest. With a lot of help from my companion operator, Al Roussau, W1FJJ, we managed to win in the Multi-Single category for the World with over 48K points.

Due to a little more than some peer pressure from my PVRC friends, I passed the Extra Class exam in 1974 and received my present call two years later. W3XO was the call of Washington’s first FM broadcast station, and as a long-time enthusiast of FM radio, I wanted that call. In 1961, that enthusiasm had led me, with my friend Bob Carpenter, W3OTC, to apply for and receive a construction permit for an FM broadcast station in Bethesda, MD. Our station, WHFS hit the air in November 1961. The Washington area had its first Stereo FM station.

Though I enjoyed HF operating, especially DX and contests, my first love was still VHF and the higher bands as well as space. Early in 1969, I attended the first meeting of what became AMSAT and later served as VP of Operations as well as on the organization’s Board of Directors. In late 1991, I became AMSAT’s President and served in that capacity for seven years. Following that, I was Board Chairman for another five years, stepping down from active participation in 2003.

As a result of my AMSAT Board affiliation I met Bill Dunkerly, WA2INB who was then Managing Editor of QST. Bill knew that I had been writing a column for Forecast FM, a Washington/Baltimore magazine, and meeting monthly deadlines; as well as my interest in the VHF and higher bands. Needing someone to take over QST’s VHF column, he asked me if I would be interested.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. My first World above 50 MHz column appeared in April, 1975 and the last in November 1992.

Before leaving Maryland I operated on all of the bands from 160 to 432 MHz. - racking up 37 states on 2 meters and all 50 states on 6 meters. I was able to work aurora even up through 432 MHz.

My wife and I moved to our present Texas Hill Country QTH outside Kerrville in late 1988. At this location, just above 30 degree north latitude, I have heard aurora only twice and made only a few 2 meter “buzz” mode contacts, and none on the higher bands.

However there are compensations. On 6 meters, I have worked some 125 entities from here in Texas as well as 29 states on 2 meters. In addition to an almost total lack of aurora, I find the 144 MHz band is very different in EM00 than in Maryland, FM19. Though aurora is not viable here, I have been able to work both coasts, with many contacts across the Gulf to Florida via tropo and a number with California stations via Es. The density of VHF stations is much less here than in the northeast, but, because of the flat terrain, under normal conditions,, one can easily work reasonably well equipped stations 250 to 300 miles away on 2 meters as well as on 222 and 432. My first contact ever on 1296 was with a station in Louisiana, at over 450 miles. I have worked Florida on all bands from 50 MHz through 3456 MHz, and hold one end of the North American record for both 2304 and 3456.

In addition to being a Life member of ARRL and AMSAT, my radio-related organizations include the Hill Country Amateur Radio Club, the Radio Club of America, QCWA, Sidewinders on Two (SWOT) and the Six Meter International Radio Klub (SMIRK). I currently serve as Treasurer of SMIRK and as a member of its Board of Directors.

I am currently rebuilding my station around a Flex 5000A with installed V/U module and Down East Microwave transverters for 222 and 1296 MHz.

I still like contesting, but confine that activity, as I do all of my activities, to 50 MHz and above.

If you would like to read more of what I am doing in addition to Amateur Radio, including what I have written over the years on radio and other subjects, go to my website at http//www.walmastynan.com.

150436 Last modified: 2011-05-20 17:44:28, 5972 bytes

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