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AMATEUR RADIO STATION AD6W

 

ex WN6YMO 1967-68, ex WB6YMO 1968-77, AD6W 1978

 

Trustee for W6HKV, Strand Memorial Amateur Radio Club Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I'm operating station W6RO in the radio room aboard the ship HMS Queen Mary, permanently berthed in Long Beach California. I like to talk to Amateur operators aboard museum ships all over the world, and it is a special treat to operate from an old ship's radio room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I'm squeezing into the tiny radio room aboard the World War II submarine USS Pampanito, at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco. The other gentlemen are Amateurs that serve as docents on the boat. I visit museum ships and naval museums wherever I go. Last year I was able to fulfill a long held dream of visiting the historic workshops on the Potomac River at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington DC. These workshops produced many maritime innovations including the big guns for US Navy battleships.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a 1968 photo of the Strand Memorial Club Station W6HKV at Kingsburg High School. That's me, 16-year-old WB6YMO in front tuning the kilowatt, operating with buddies Robert WB6PPT (middle) and Rick WB6WKR (back). I was president of the Club that year. We had a great time operating this station with a Galaxy V Transceiver, Gonset GSB-100 Transmitter, Hammarlund HQ-180AC Receiver, and homebrew KW. 20 years later the school junked this equipment. I rescued it from a dumpster and have it in my shack today. It has sentimental value because it belonged to my first mentor, Harold Strand W6HKV. The first time I saw this gear it was polished and glowing in his shack one cold October night in 1965 when he invited me to his home. Harold designed and built the kilowatt in his basement a few blocks from the school. His widow generously donated his equipment after his death in 1967. Harold began giving me my Novice tests but died suddenly, and I was devastated. Charlie Heilman WB6GJG and Bob Henry WB6DAZ helped me pick up the pieces, finish the Novice test procedure, and receive my first license. In 1975 my wife and I bought Harold's old Victorian house from his widow. It was amazing operating from his shack where he had entertained many Amateurs between 1935 and 1967. It was in the parlor, and he called it "the conversary."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Today I live in a newer house with a small yard and a modest 1-tower antenna farm, but it covers all 14 bands 1.8 - 432 Mc, with 13 bands rotatable. The system is a self-supporting 54-foot Triex tower with a 6 meter beam on top, stacked 144, 222, and 432 beams in the middle, and 7-band HF beam on the bottom. The shunt feeders going up the sides of the tower feed the whole structure as a vertical antenna on 80 and 160 meters. The HF beam is a 7-band Mosley PRO-67C-3 Yagi. Using this modest setup I've confirmed more than 900 IOTA island groups, 339 current DXCC entities, 350 all-time DXCC entities, and more than 2,500 DXCC Challenge band-countries.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The 80 and 160 meter shunt feeds allow the structure to radiate as a vertical antenna for lowband DX. This is a picture of the separate feeds at the 8-foot level. The large vacuum-variable capacitors are pulls from transmitters at the Delano Voice of America site 70 miles south of my QTH. Elevated radials attach to the tower at the same level. Because all the metal antennas on top act as a large capacity hat, the tower plus antennas appears electrically long on both bands. Simple series capacitors tune each band to resonance with resulting resistive impedances. I measured those impedances and used the series-section matching technique of two coaxial cables of different impedances connected in series to make a simple feed system for each band that appears 50 ohms resistive at the transmitter. The capacitors are adjusted slightly to move resonance for CW or phone operation. This simple technique has been good for 129 countries on 160 meters and 175 countries on 80 meters from my tiny backyard.
 
 
 
 
 
 
I'm a member of the A1 Operators Club, American Radio Relay League, Central California DX Club, the San Joaquin Net 3918 Kc, and I'm Vice-President/Trustee of the Strand Memorial Amateur Radio Club W6HKV. My operating awards are based only on contacts made from my home QTH in Kingsburg California USA. I'm active on all bands 1.8 - 432 Mc. CW is my favorite mode. I chase grids, states and countries on VHF/UHF, band-countries in the DXCC Challenge, island groups in the RSGB IOTA Islands on the Air Programme, Antarctic research stations, lighthouse stations, and museum ship stations. I also like to operate my old Novice rig and other vacuum tube gear in special operating events like the Novice Rig Roundup and Classic Radio Exchange.

 

 

ALL-TIME DXCC - 350 CONFIRMED

DXCC MIXED #32,484 - HONOR ROLL - 339 CONFIRMED

DXCC CW #6,205 - HONOR ROLL - 336 CONFIRMED

DXCC PHONE #20,574 - HONOR ROLL - 333 CONFIRMED

5-BAND DXCC #4,466 - ENDORSED 30, 17, 12 METERS

160-METER DXCC #2,275 - 129 CONFIRMED

DXCC CHALLENGE - 2534 CONFIRMED

WORKED ALL ZONES #7,797

IOTA ISLAND GROUPS - 923 WORKED, 908 CONFIRMED

5-BAND WORKED ALL STATES #2,552

VUCC #1,330

ANTARCTIC RESEARCH STATIONS - 33 CONFIRMED

AMATEUR RADIO LIGHTHOUSE SOCIETY LIGHTHOUSES - 107 CONFIRMED

 

- My Story -

Early years - Short Wave Listener - I've been fascinated by electricity and Radio since I was a little boy. I remember carrying small rolls of wire to school in my pockets and thinking about current flow - how could anything flow through solid wire? That question dominated my thoughts for some time. In 1961 I was 10 years of age, and I was salvaging parts from old radios and televisions I found in a local dump. I had no idea how to build working circuits, but the parts fascinated me, and I planned on keeping them until I learned how to use them. In 1963 my parents gave me a Knight-Kit Star Roamer Receiver kit for Christmas, the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received. My Uncle Denny WA6ONP built and tested the receiver, and I soon began logging Amateur stations heard on 160 meter AM. Almost everyone on the air was still using AM in 1963. I was fascinated by what I heard, and decided I would do anything to become a Ham. My brother and I constructed a landline telegraph between the main and guest houses on our farm and began learning the Morse Code from the chart in the Boy Scout Handbook.

Novice Amateur - I passed my Novice tests in 1967 and became WN6YMO at the age of 15. The catalyst that finally caused me to get my license was my friend Rick WN6WKR who had just gotten hisMy mentors were Rick, Bob Henry WB6DAZ, Charlie Heilman WB6GJG, and Harold Strand W6HKV. Charlie WB6GJG was a retired neighbor that became a second father to me. My first rig was a 1950 Johnson Viking 1 transmitter, 1965 Knightkit R100A receiver, WW2 Navy surplus key, and a 40-meter dipole. In 1967 there were many young Amateurs like me on the Novice bands operating CW, limited to 75 watts and crystal-control. Each of us found an Amateur in our community (or three in my case) willing to give us the Novice code and theory tests, because that was how you became an Amateur back then. It's a shame the Amateur Radio Service is not like that for beginners today, because I learned a lot from my mentors that was not in any study guide. Their Radio experiences extended back to 1921 with crystal-set receivers and spark transmitters, and all of them were World War II veterans. Harold was an accountant and the mayor of our small town, Charlie was a radio/TV repairman, and Bob was a telegrapher on the Santa Fe Railroad. One of the things they taught me is that Real Amateur Operators are a fraternity of people that treat each other with respect. Having a license doesn't make one a member of the Amateur fraternity, something you can plainly hear on the bands today.

General Amateur - In 1968 I became General WB6YMO after I passed the 13wpm code sending and receiving tests and the written test in front of an FCC engineer at the federal building in Fresno. I upgraded my station with a Vibroplex Lightning bug, Heathkit HW-101 Transceiver kit, homebrew amp with four 811A tubes, and a homebrew 4-element 15m Yagi on a 40-foot tower. I used that setup to work lots of rare DX. Band conditions on 15 meters in the spring of 1968 were the best I've ever heard - the band often stayed open into the Indian Ocean past midnight, and strong signals sometimes arrived over both short and long paths at the same time, giving them a distinctive sound. Being a young buck in high school, I often stayed up all night working DX. In high school I also enjoyed 6 semesters of vocational electronics education and operated the school's club station, W6HKV.

I began college in 1969 and ran around with a large group of Hams. I worked my way through college fixing radios and TV's in a repair shop, and these experiences led to a degree and employment as an electronics technician and later as an engineer with several corporations, two technology startups, and California's third-largest school district. One of the Hams I ran around with was Bob Dahlquist WB6KGF. Bob was night engineer at KFRE 940 AM. His duty at the transmitter site was lonely, and he invited me to knock on the station door and visit him there anytime. The site was in a remote area, and the station ran a 50 KW General Electric BT25A transmitter feeding a 4-tower array in a pasture. The BT25A was a large blue machine in several wide racks that took up most of the building, and Bob kept the beauty polished to a high luster. This transmitter had power supply components as tall as a man in a room behind the racks. The transmitter was cooled by a huge blower that pressurized tunnels in the floor to deliver air into all sections from underneath. This air delivery system made a beautiful low whistling sound, one I can still hear in my head today. I used to sit at the console in front of the transmitter in the middle of the night doing my college homework. It was an incredible study environment for a young Ham, and I'm still awed by the transmitters used in the golden age of broadcasting. Sadly, like the great steam railroad locomotives, the age of the great AM transmitters has passed. I'm glad I was born soon enough to experience both before they became obsolete.

Amateur Extra Amateur - I met my future wife in 1969, we married in 1972, and I began a career with the Sperry Corporation. I worked in the engineering department, and I ran Amateur licensing classes after work for interested employees. Several who became Hams through those classes are still friends I talk to on the air today. About the time our third child was born in 1978 I passed the Amateur Extra 20wpm code and theory tests in front of an FCC engineer at the federal building in Fresno, and became AD6W. My station by that time was the Drake R4A/T4X into an 80/40 dipole or a Wilson 10/15m Yagi on an 80-foot tower. In 1984 I won an election to the our city council, and rewarded myself with a Collins KWM-380 and Henry 2K Classic. My wife and daughter eventually became Hams, but my sons had other interests.

Today my main rig is the Elecraft K3 on HF/6m with transverters on the 144, 220 and 432 Mhz bands. The K3 more than fills my needs, and I have not missed a single DXpedition since it became my main rig. The bullet-proof front end, software upgrades, cascaded roofing filters and digital filtering assets including the amazing Audio Peaking Filter on CW make this rig an amazing value.

I also restore and operate all the antique vacuum-tube gear from my 50-year history in Amateur Radio. The look, smell and feel of old rigs in operation gives a romance to radio that newer equipment lacks. I've also rescued several 1 kilowatt commercial AM broadcast transmitters for conversion to Amateur use, like the Collins 20V-2 in the picture, and a huge General Electric XT1A. The smaller of these two transmitters weighed 1,100 pounds. My sons and I participated in adventures to rescue these transmitters. More recently I've been restoring Novice transmitters from the 1940's, 50's, and 60's and pairing them with my Hammarlund HQ-140-X or Drake 2B to operate in the Novice Rig Roundup operating activities.

 

          

 

When I'm not on the air I'm often in the garage restoring antique cars and building hotrods. My projects include a restored 1917 Ford Model T Depot Hack (the original "woody" station wagon), a customized 1951 Ford F1 Pickup, a 1930 Ford Model A hotrod coupe with a 392 Chrysler Hemi, 4-speed, and Halibrand quickchange, and a 1928 Ford Model A roadster pickup.

 

          

 

I'm also active as a volunteer in my community, working to make it a better place. I'm on the leadership team at the Orchard Bible Fellowship Church, I've served two terms on the Kingsburg City Council, and four terms as president of my Kiwanis club.

 

 

I'm also the founder and President-CEO of Friends of the Historic Kingsburg Depot, a 501c3 non-profit educational foundation that restored the 1875 Kingsburg Southern Pacific Railroad Depot and operates it as a regional education center for 240,000 school-age children living in my area. This picture shows the 1917 Ford Model T Depot Hack I restored, parked in front of the old Depot. The Depot is furnished to the 1920's time period and the kids encounter costumed docents and reenactors recreating a specific day in history at a small town railroad depot. You can find more information about this project at www.kingsburgdepot.org.

Best regards and hope to meet you sometime on the air,

Larry AD6W

8509482 Last modified: 2017-12-13 02:37:46, 27823 bytes

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