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Latest Radio News!

Fall 2015: New Hy-Gain EXP-14 Antenna!
After months of planning, assembling, and a full tower rebuild- the antenna went up without a problem.  Friends came by to help and to learn about ham radio. The SWR sweeps are very low across all three HF bands, plus 6M*.  The 16' mast was chosen to permit additional antennas to be added in the future.  Special thanks to (center photo): Jeff, Rick N3SCP, and Mark for their help and friendship.  *Note: 6M is a Cloverleaf pattern, 2nd harmonic of the 10M para sleeve.
 
(l to r: Hy-Gain EXP-14 antenna at 51', attaching antenna to mast, homemade raising fixture.)

Summer 2015: Tower Work
The 25 years of weathering needed to be reversed by removing all of the surface rust, re-stringing the TriEx WT-51 crank-up tower with 1/4" aircraft cables, new winches, new Grade-5 hardware, rebuilt Ham-II rotor and Thrust Bearing, new 2" Schedule-40 aluminum mast, #4 solid copper exothermic bonded ground ring, new control cable, and coax.  I designed everything to be a 1-man operation without climbing the tower.  I experiment too much to climb.  This goal has been achieved.  I need another 25-30 years of low-maintenance operation.  Next on the to-do list are the antennas- there will be several.

(l to r: 25 years of weathering, tower and base restored, new cables and winches, exothermic grounding)
 
2014:  ARRL visit to W1AW (W100AW Special Event Station, 100 Year Anniversary)
On my final drive home from MIT, I passed the ARRL Headquarters.  I stopped in for a visit, renewed my membership, received a personal tour of ARRL Headquarters, and operated the W1AW transmitter.  It was a warm visit by Gary and the HQ staff.  I saw the 1961 OSCAR-1 Satellite on display (3 were built: one was launched, one is here at ARRL HQ, and one at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly VA).  This is a must-do activity for every ham.
 
(l to r: NW2M at ARRL operating the W100AW Special Event Station, Memorial 1938 W1AW HQ Building, W1AW Towers.)
 
Fall 2013: NASA/JPL JUNO Spacecraft Fly-By
While on campus I joined the MIT Radio Club, and on October 9 2013, I had the unique opportunity to operate from the MIT Radio Station W1MX.  It was the time when NASA's Juno Spacecraft performed a "fly-by" the earth to gain speed on its journey to Jupiter. Hams transmitted "HI JUNO" in Morse Code.  To create a wide-band signal, the "X" in the club's callsign suffix required me to operate on 28.414MHz (see 2:16 video clip) on the W1MX Orion II transceiver.  So from A to Z, hams around the world were spread out across the 10M band to create a synchronized wide-band signal from a series of narrow band signals.  A single "dit" lasts 30 seconds with a 30 second pause.  To send "HI JUNO" takes 35 minutes!  The goal was to test the on-board wide-band spacecraft receiver.  It was a huge success!  I appear in the beginning (00:26 video clip) of the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's video.  The audio recovered from the spacecraft is also heard in the video.
NW2M at the MIT - W1MX club station in Cambridge MA.


My Radio Journey

1970-1985:  11M HF Radio Discovery
My first exposure to Amateur Radio was in high school. Electronics 101 my freshman year (1970) taught the Novice class license. Cherry Hill High School East (NJ) had a large Heathkit station with a 75' rotatable tower with monoband yagis from 40 meters thru 2 meters. Needless to say, I missed the 5 WPM code by one character and never returned for 15 years. I did complete all 4 years of electronics before high school graduation, but knew nothing about Amateur Radio.  Soon thereafter, Solar Cycle 21 provided me many years of 11M excitement.  I had a 75' crank-up tower and built a 6-element vertically polarized monobander on a 36' boom from discarded and storm-damaged Moonraker antennas.
 
1984: Amateur Radio Re-Discovery
My interests in ham radio were renewed when I began working with telecommunication engineers as part of my profession.  They were hams.  Being the "software guy", I wrote my own code tutor program on an Apple IIe computer using BASIC and studied for hours.  Morse Code was not my best subject.  I passed the 5 and 13 WPM code tests along with the Novice, Technician, and General theory exams in one sitting.  A year later I passed the 20 WPM and the Advanced and Extra theory exams. 
 
1985: My First Radio
My very first radio was an old $20 Ray-Jefferson 725 Marine VHF radio from a hamfest.  It had 1W low & 25W high and was close enough to the 2M band to be easily modified.  A pair of 2M crystals, a few tweaks, and I was on 146.520 FM simplex!  My first QSO!  Next was the local repeater.  This setup lasted 6 months as the $40 cost per crystal pair was financially unsustainable.  I also found a Yaesu FT-101F that was for sale.  So with HF and VHF, I was all set.  Nothing else to ever buy- LOL.
UPDATE:  I just purchased this very radio on eBay.  It will be back on 2M very soon!

1986-Present:  The FT-101 Radio Journey
Once I discovered the beauty of the FT-101 series, I started to collect them and dedicated a webpage to this effort:  http://www.qsl.net/nw2m/ft101.html   It was my first HF radio station and I have the entire set on display (6' feet across!) in my shack - even today.  And YES, it all works- and the wiring harness is huge!  No Disney Magic here!  The hardest and last item to find was a new Mobile Mount (MMB-1) still in its original package! In 2014, my collection was complete.

(Shown L-to-R: YD-844 Microphone, QTR-24 Clock, YP-150 Dummy Load/Wattmeter, SP-101 Speaker/Phone-Patch, FT-101F Transceiver with YC-610 Freq Display, FL-2100 Linear Amplifier, FV-101 Remote VFO, YO-100 Station Oscilloscope, FTV-250 2M Transverter, FTV-650 6M Transverter.)

1990: 2M SSB Addiction (Contesting, Satellite, Moon-Bounce)
I became fascinated with 2M weak signal operation.  I soon learned that my 8 Watt SSB transverted signal could reach the RS-10/11 LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites and hear myself on the 10M downlink.  This was Mode-A, the Easy-Mode!  Best-case overhead satellite passes last only 15-minutes and you are busy adjusting antennas and compensating for Doppler Shift.  There were rare times when the satellite was out over the Atlantic Ocean with a 3-minute common window into the UK.  Computer programs allow these rare events to be planned weeks in advance.  Hearing G-calls let me know that I was not alone...  For contesting, 11 vertical elements (photo below) on 2M was not enough.  I wanted a "Boomer".

Boomer Construction: I built a 34' long yagi with 22-elements that I designed and built from computer modeling (YAGIMAX).  You don't realize how long a 34' boom is until you stand it upright next to a 2-story house- much less installing it on a 51' tower!  You cannot see the steel wires and turnbuckles used to keep the boom level and straight.  It lasted thru every storm we had.  I only had 8 Watts of RF power from a 1974 Yaesu FT-221R all mode 2M transceiver.  ARRL VHF Contest QSOs from Boston to Atlanta were the edge of my station's capabilities. 

(Bottom antenna: 34' 2M Boomer at 51', HD-73 Rotor, 9913 Coax.  Top antenna: 11-element 2M Cushcraft 12' boom)
 
1990-Present: MARC Club Service (Life Member)
I served 5-terms as Club President and 10 years as the Repeater Chairman for the Montgomery Amateur Radio Club in Rockville Maryland.  At our peak, we had 335 members and were the largest radio club (and ARRL Special Service Club) in the area.  Yearly dues allowed a world-class 2M repeater system to be built.  The 146.955 system has a constellation of 5-sites requiring: 13 antennas, 9 receivers, and 5 transmitters.  Every receiver and transmitter had to be balanced in amplitude and fidelity.  At 20 times per second, an 8-channel Voter determines which site hears you the best for rebroadcast. To the radio users, it was seamless!  The repeater has a 40 mile working radius, a 200 watt ERP, and covers 5,000 square miles serving: Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC (plus eastern West Virginia!)- including all of the 5-area hospitals and the major airports (Balt-Wash/BWI, Dulles/IAD, Reagan/DCA).  For my years of service, I was awarded MARC's first Life Membership for Service and Technical Achievement.  With a 2M remote node near the Pentagon, this repeater was used during the 9/11 event to coordinate recovery supplies to the workers at the Pentagon.
 


My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Monmouth University (NJ), a Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology from the Johns Hopkins University (MD), and a Master of Science in Management of Technology from MIT - Sloan School of Management (MA).

Best of 73 - Al, NW2M

rev 11/2015

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QRZ Logbook Summary for - NW2M
Latest Contacts for NW2M at QRZ.com
dedateband mode grid Country op
PU4GOD 2015-11-08 10m SSB GH70qd Brazil Joao Carlos Mattos
EF8U 2015-10-24 20m SSB IL27gw Canary Islands EA8URL Radio Club
TG9AHM 2015-10-21 10m SSB EK44ro Guatemala EMMANUEL H. MIERES G. Manny
G0DEF 2015-10-20 15m SSB IO92pj England michael MUTTON
IW2DKV 2015-10-20 15m SSB JN45vm Italy GIANCARLO MINGOZZI
N4LUX 2015-10-12 20m SSB EL89td United States JOHN G LEE
EA7KI 2015-10-12 20m SSB IM76rr Spain DAVID R. GONZALEZ
XE2MVY 2015-04-21 10m SSB DL95wj Mexico Oscar Salazar
J79WTA 2015-04-14 10m SSB FK95gk Dominica Walter Aebi

Book Totals: 9 qso's   5 confirmed Get a free logbook at QRZ.COM

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