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Basement Shack

Please note that I am no longer responding to cards via the bureau. After 47+ years, I just can't justify the time or expense. Please consider using LoTW. I no longer have envelopes at the bureau but appreciate all the hard work and time that is donated by the folks there. Please note also that cards I receive with SASEs go out the next day. Our local post offices DO NOT accept IRCs, so a U.S. stamp (for a QSL staying in the U.S.) or a green stamp (for a QSL going outside the U.S.) is sufficient.

There are a number of other pictures and information at www.k4so.com.

My father, N3ADT

My father, Charles F. KillmonThis picture is of my father and elmer, N3ADT, Fred Killmon. He was stationed on both Saipan and Tinian in late 1944 and early 1945, serving as a radio operator on B-29s in WWII.

There are additional pictures via this link:


If you recognize any of the other crew members, please contact me.

The shot below shows me standing in front of FIFI, one of the only two B-29 Superfortresses still flying. She visited the Manassas airport in the summer of 2013. Her radio room was dedicated in late 2012, when it was restored to complete working condition by hams from Rockwell Collins and other volunteers.

I BEGAN IN THE RADIO HOBBY AS A SWL, obtaining a "callsign", WPE3ICO issued by Popular Electronics magazine, I found the original certificate many years later, which had been stashed away in an envelope, still in perfect shape. My father, N3ADT, brought home a BC-348Q which was being discarded where he worked, the same model that he had used as a 20-year-old in WWII.  I strung a non-resonant antenna from my bedroom window on the second floor to a tree out in the back yard. It was probably only about 50 feet long and maybe 15 feet off the ground. With no real idea where the bands were, I just clunked the bandswitch and cranked the spinner knob on the receiver until I found stations. I was hooked. I listened to international shortwave broadcasts during my early teen years as a SWL DXer. The hardest thing was often listening for the exact frequency of the broadcast to obtain a QSL. I had no digital readout and the entire 49, 31 or 25 meter band was squeezed into about 1 inch of tuning dial. It was a long while before I obtained a World Radio and TV Handbook to look for broadcasts. Instead, I favored tuning the bands at about 20 minutes past or 10 minutes before the hour, listening for new interval signals, then hoping the newly found station would broadcast in English. The receiver had pilot lights with filaments and the smell of tubes and components that carried hundreds of volts. People from faraway lands were clearly heard from a speaker connected to a wrinkle-finish, black box in my bedroom. It was magic.

My friend just up the street, Mark, later WN3OYA also chased SWL DX with me and a few years later he found a ham to explain the requirements for a license to us. That ham, our Elmer, was WA3KZX. Joe was an auto frame repair guy by day and he taught us the basics and gave us our novice tests. Mark got his license first, but I became nominally proficient with CW prior to being licensed, so I did a little operating from his station (I think the statute of limitations has run out on that infraction, at least I hope so.) A few months lster in September of 1970, I passed my novice test also and was licensed as WN3PHG in Wilmington, DE (my novice station, consisting of a Hammarlund HQ-129-X and Heathkit DX-40 is shown below, left). In the 1974 Field Day, operating as WA3LXK/4 in Nokesville, VA, my  QTH from 1987-2011, I met other contesters that went on to enjoy real success in the sport, including K1AR (then WA2LQZ), N2IC (then WA2ICU), W2PA (then WB2AEH) and my friend and former neighbor, KT3Y (then WB4SGV). The ham who found the site for us was Will, WB4MRI, who is now Bill, KC7YWC, a pediatrician on the Navajo Indian Reservation. (That's me using my Drake B-Line in our FD operating tent, below right.)

WN3PHG (me) 1970 First station - WN3PHG - 1970Operating from Nokesville, VA in 1974 during Field Day.WA3PHG 1974 FD

I caught the contesting bug early with 64 Qs in the Novice Roundup in 1971. I was active as WA3PHG/4 from my first college dorm room at Chowan College in 1972-1974 using inverted vees in tall trees behind the dorm, with feedlines running out of our window. I ran a Drake B-Line and Eldico SSB-1000 from my desk there. The amp used a pair of 4CX250Bs and was bought from the father of another student at Chowan. I even signed up for the same room for both years, put the feedlines on the roof of the dorm over the summer, and retrieved them when I returned the second year. My thanks to my roomate, and later best man, Matt, for putting up with my station in our room.

I operated from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) club station from 1974-1977, using a TA-33 (first HF yagi I had used), a Henry 2K-3 console amp and a Collins S/Line. That was my introduction to DXing, an aspect of the hobby that pushed technical, geographic, and cultural boundaries. After graduation, I set up my Drake B-Line in our first apartment, much like I had in college, but on the ground floor rather than the third. This made a more obvious installation, but I got away with it for a year, being in a corner apartment that backed to the woods. Thanks to KT3Y, (then /A41), I added a Heathkit Warrior to the shack and even ran RTTY. The Eldico amp I had at Chowan had been sold to buy a set of tires for my 1967 Triumph Spitfire. Newly married, the Drake station (as setup in our apartment, shown below) was my wife's first real introduction to ham radio. The color picture below my original Drake Line is my current one in our Amissville home. Forty years later, she still indulges my involvement.

1. Drake B-Line on the desk in my college dorm room, 1973- An Eldico SSB-1000F was added later for 1KW. I earned my WAS (Worked All Stereos) there. (1972)

My shack in our first apartment, 1977-78

2. Drake B-Line in our apartment's second bedroom, with Heathkit Warrior on loan from WB4SGV/A41 (1977) 







NINE YEARS IN OUR FIRST HOUSE gave me a chance for many "firsts" my first tower (40 feet of Rohn 25), first (and second) tribanders (a TA33 and later a TH6DXX), first 2-meter yagis (a pair of Cushcraft 11-element yagis, stacked horizontally for FM), a wire beam for 40M and a 160M dipole (half of which was in my neighbor's yard). I got my first amplifier using a pair of 3-500Zs (Kenwood TL-922A) and my first taste of serious SS contests as well as the first of my serious DX-chasing.

While spending over 24 years at my last QTH in Nokesville, VA, I used the time there for more amps, rigs, and a 100-foot tower with several very effective antennas, including a number of monoband yagis in addition to a KLM KT-34XA. I was active on VHF from 1999 until around 2008, with capability on the bottom 4 bands, but tired of working the same guys over and over in contests and not finding much activitiy in the interims. I have always enjoyed 6 meters though, because it's like 10M, but more so. It really is the magic band.  I have confirmed DXCC and WAS on 6M, finishing DXCC after the move to Amissville. I also chase band countries, especially on 40, 80, and 160M, but have increased my efforts on the WARC bands as well. Due to shifts in my time priorities with my wife of 39 years, Diane, and our church, I don't seriously contest very often or get up in the middle of the night to chase DX. It's not a sacrifice though. I had years of over-involvement, and it can still be a struggle not to allow the radio and related activities to consume too much time and energy. I continue trying to find ways to combine my hobby and work experience and use them in The Lord's service. If you have ideas in that regard, please share them with me!

At my current QTH in Amissville, VA, a scant 30 miles almost due west from my previous QTH, my 6M antenna was hung from an overhanging oak tree branch, and remained there long enough to finish up DXCC for that band. Next, I built a 2-element, two-band (10M and 17M) Moxon and added it to my antenna farm.  It was hung from that same spot and was turned by a ground-mounted rotator. That was reverted to a single-band, 17M design, which was refined by W4GO, who modeled it and found the right frequency design for Moxgen, which turned out to be 18.500, using the wire and spreaders which I used. It is now a perfect match on the entire band, with no balun or RF choke of any sort. The Moxon has now moved on to W8KRZ's QTH. The next antenna and still available for use is a 4 element Cushcraft 10M monobander which is about the heaviest thing I have used with this technique. A new block and tackle has made hoisting antennas much easier in that location.

 The trapped antenna hanging from ain the tree, a Cushcraft A3WS. This WARC duobander was NOS and built to the published specs, provided a near perfect match on the first go around. Thanks to N4VA for making this antenna available to me, giving me directivity and gain on both 12 and 17M, after my previous Spiderbeam. With this tree-suspended method, there is no vertical force from the antannas  and so little torque is required with this technique that a TV rotator would suffice. The tower was completed after a long process, in the fall of 2015 and it supports a Cushcraft A3S with 30M rotary dipole kit as well as VHF antennas for 6M, 2M and 70cm, as shown at the top of this page.

Cushcraft A3WS suspended in tree, replacing homebrew Moxon for 17MMy last few major construction projects included monoband amps for 6M and 160M with pix on my website (www.k4so.com). The 160M amp was sold before we moved, but the 6M amp is still here. About 9 years ago, I was bitten by the vintage radio bug, and added a Drake B-Line (built in the early 1970s) and a Collins S-1/Line, which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2008. I was able to use it to work stations at various Collins Radio locations during the commemoration of 50 years of the S/Line. That S/Line has been replaced by an S-3/Line from the early- to mid-60s. An Elecraft K3 (new in 2009) is my primary modern rig, driving an Alpha 89. It's an amazing piece of gear, which has improved with firmware and hardware updates, especially numerous in the early days after its introduction. It is responsible for the majority of the nearly 31,125 QSOs I've made since April of 2009. NaP3, a dual-receiver SDR program, driven by an LP-Pan and EMU0204 sound card, have added a wide-screen panadapter to the K3. I can't imagine operating without it.

The photo at the top of this page is the shack as of July, 2013 in our unfinished basement. It was fun to build and use the antenna system and station at our last home, which consisted of a 100-foot tower and a host of monoband and multi-band antennas, and I extend my thanks to many who helped me. Without their assistance, as paid professionals, or the generous assistance by great friends, I would never have had the extensive antenna system I enjoyed there.

If you're checking this site because we had a QSO, thanks for the contact. Enjoy this hobby—it's been a great one for me.

73, Mark 

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QRZ Logbook Summary for - K4SO
Latest Contacts for K4SO at QRZ.com
dedateband mode grid Country op
DO3GE 2017-10-24 15m FT8 JO31MO74 Germany Thomas Schultz
W5TEY 2016-12-12 17m SSB EM10fl United States THOMAS E YTURRI
IZ8ZKE 2016-11-18 15m SSB JN70tx Italy Eus Casamassima
YU4DX 2016-05-04 30m CW KN03ar Serbia Branko MAX MANU ZION Ilic
PT9AL 2016-04-14 10m SSB GG27os Brazil ANDRE L. POLONIO
SV1DZI 2016-02-23 15m SSB KM17TW Greece Constantine Vafiades
ES3RD 2016-02-23 15m SSB KO19re Estonia TIIT TED SAAR
SV1DZI 2016-01-23 15m RTTY KM17TW Greece Constantine Vafiades
TA1CQ 2016-01-02 15m SSB KN41HA62 Turkey DENIZ KAHVECIOGLU
KD2JOE 2015-12-12 10m SSB FM29ot United States Joseph J Lambarski
XE3AXU 2015-07-31 17m SSB EK34uv Mexico MOISES ARRIOLA CHRISTY
W9YOY 2014-06-23 6m SSB EN51xr United States Charles R Caswell
F4BEW 2014-05-11 40m SSB JN24bd France Georges Dellutri
Z33Z 2014-05-05 20m CW KN11hk Macedonia PANTELEJ-PANCE ABRASEV

Book Totals: 723 qso's   709 confirmed Get a free logbook at QRZ.COM

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