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Ham Radio: Electronic Social Networking before there was "Electronic Social Networking"

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I have been interested in Ham Radio while still in the single digits.  I had two ham uncles (W7HNM and W7HN both now silent keys) who were old school operators who showed me how to wind coils for their 500 watt AM transmitters

When they moved into SSB they had to show me how to use my old tube Hallicrafters receiver to listen to SSB by turning on the BFO.

I always enjoyed listening to hams but found CW a real challenge.  Uncle Sam said he needed me and I told my USAF recruiter that he could have me for a few years if I could be guaranteed a job as a radio operator.  The deal was struck and off I went to San Antonio and then Biloxi, Mississippi.

I recall training on a R390 receiver and a HW 100 transceiver.


My first assignment was to the HQ SAC HF/SSB station located at Elkhorn, Nebraska. I got my hands on some Collins KWT-6 transceivers and of all things a 205-J 50KW linear amp!

SAC understood long range communications with Curtis LeMay who made SSB the radio standard for SAC aircraft in 1957.  The general was famous for being on the air on amateur bands while flying on board SAC bombers! That console top left, is a Collins Radio analog console I used in the early 70s to control the remote transmitters and recievers.  You used the dial to do everything from selecting antennas and azimuth to adding on that 50KW amp.  The recievers were at the Elkhorn location while our transmitters were located some 30 miles away in Scribner, Nebraska.

 My next assignment was to South East Asia where I worked command and control comms and doubled as the base MARS operator.  I was given several KWM-2A transceivers and associated linear amps to work phone patches back to the land of the big BX.

Towards the end of my time with the USAF I found myself in England working direct comm support with U-2/TR-1 and SR-71 Aircrews.  The sled guys claimed they could outrun my radio signals and I never challenged them. I can tell you first hand that those SAC aircrews were some of the very best people you would ever get to work with.

The squadron commander handed out nicknames and he blessed me with "Pigman". 

I asked why and he said "Because you ride a pig".   Um ... no ... I ride a Harley which is a HOG.  I don't know many people who attempt to tell a O-6 that they were wrong and able to correct them but I found myself in the group who just accepted the nickname assigned.     




After woking a couple of decades as a computer technical support guy I figured it was time to enjoy a few of the things I had to put on hold.  One of those things was getting back into Amateur Radio.

I  passed my first hurdle by getting my Tech license in January 2017 and I passed my General Class examination 6 May 2017,

I started with a BF-F8HP and use it mobile connected to a Tram 11861 High Gain Mag Mount antenna and a upgraded speaker/microphone.

At home I have a Yaesu 7900 for VHF/UHF use.   For HF I have a Yaesu 857D and a ICOM 737.  I have several antennas such as Diamond  X50A Dual Band antenna on a 30 foot mast.

For HF I have a MFJ multiband vertical on a 20 foot mast  (MFJ-2389) and a Hustler 5BVT with minimum amount of ground radials.  I NEED MORE !!!

Before winter and after a new roof on my QTH I plan to build and install a wire fan dipole.

I am surprised that the 8 foot multiband vertical with no counterpoise or ground wires works as well as it does.   I have made contacts with it to Hawaii, Alaska, New York, Europe and Asia.

I am a member of the ARRL, KBARA and the Inland Empire VHF Radio Amateurs Club (IE VHF).

I enjoy Digital Ham Radio after acquiring a Icom ID-31A where I can usually be found on Reflector 29A till 05:00Z.   I switch to Reflector 001C at around 05:15Z till 07:00Z most nights..

With the addition of a SignaLink USB  I have joined the gang using FT8 and found the combination of a SignaLink USB and my trusty Yaesu 857D to be a great matchup for this interesting mode.  For phone work I use a Heil HM-12 mic and foot switch.

I love the integration of internet, computers, etc., into the hobby. Thanks to those who have developed these many formats and keeping HAM radio more alive than ever in spite of the threat of cell phones, internet and like forms of communication. HAM radio is still unique, fun and there is always the anticipation of who is on the other end of a CQ call.


Yaesu 7900 and a Diamond X50

Yaesu 857D and a 8 Band MFJ 2389 Vertical Antenna

The Icom 737 circa 1990s and is still a magic radio.

I am still working on growing my antenna farm.  The antenna on the far left is a simple broadband antenna I use with my Digital Trunking Scanner for emergency communications monitoring.  Next up are a pair of ham sticks (MFJ-2240) mounted horizontally rising up from a MFJ 1919EX antenna tripod that I use portable and for occasions where horizontal polarization is best.  The next antenna is the Hustler 5BTV vertical that works well with all modes and especially FT8.  In the middle is a Diamond X50 dual bander and the antenna on the far right is my MFJ all band vertical mounted on my garage roof.  I still plan on putting up a fan dipole when weather permits.

I have found the performance of the dual ham stick antenna on par with my MFJ vertical and easy to do the initial tuning with a analyzer.  The ham sticks come in two pieces and could easily be stored in a 5 foot go bag.   I got some tubes to put the antenna parts in and even room for the tripod/mast assembly.  

Makes it easy to set up in the field as you just choose which band sticks you wish to install, secure them into the antenna mount and raise the mast.


Here is a YouTube video I found where N4TNA sets one up in the field.

My portable operation setup while camping at the lake

ICOM ID-31A                 BF-F8HP

If you are reading this because I just made a QSO then I have just made a new friend.





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World Continents Award#19175
Granted: 2017-12-10 18:18:02   (K2AMF)

United States Award#3775
Granted: 2017-12-01 03:28:02   (K2AMF)

  • Mixed Digital
Grid Squared Award#17498
Granted: 2017-10-31 16:18:02   (K2AMF)

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  • 40 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
  • 20 Meters Mixed
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United States Counties Award#7706
Granted: 2017-10-30 18:36:02   (K2AMF)

  • 100 Counties Digital
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