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.
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