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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
(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
1990: 2M SSB Addiction (Contesting, Satellite, Moon-Bounce)
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
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