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The main photo was taken during a one day activation of the Big Thicket National Preserve in October, 2016.   I'm on the right and Bill, KE5XV is on the left.   Larry, K5EAR was also there... operating and taking pictures.   We met at Bill's house in Houston at about 7:30 am, loaded Bill's stuff into my minivan and headed out.  Made a breakfast stop in Baytown, and got to the Big Thicket visitor's center about 11:00.  Checked in, took a couple of pictures, drove 10 minutes to our operating site, and by noon we were unloading and setting up.  We only had to wheel the equipment about 100 feet from the 'loading/unloading only' parking spot... but all agreed that 'next time' we will leave about half of the 'just in case' stuff at home.  We had two stations in the shade of a large oak tree (with an EZ-up in case of rain).  One station was 100 watts into a 20 meter dipole at 35 feet hanging from our oak shade tree.  The other station was 100 watts on 40 meters into a tuner connected to a 350 foot wire which was supported in the middle by a branch about 80 feet up in a pine tree.  The weather was great, cool in the late morning when we were setting up, not too hot in the afternoon, and cool again as we were taking down and packing up.  We were pleasantly surprised by the low level of 'mosquito QRM'!  We worked about 250 stations on 20 meters in 6 hours of operation, and 100 stations on 40 meters in 4 hours of operation.  We shut down about 7:00 pm and by 9:00 pm we were loaded and on the road back to Houston.  I dropped Bill and his equipment off at 11:00 pm and was home by 11:30.  Special thanks to Bill for the time he spent getting our special use permit approved.  I took the entire two months between our initial recon trip and our activation day - and then when we showed up they didn't even want to look at it.  Go figure!   In any case, we had a great time and we are looking forward to 'the next time.' 


I got started in radio in 1952 when my father built a one-tube battery-powered radio with headphones for me from a construction article in Popular Electronics.Sometime around 1955 Ken, W5ABY, gave us an old general coverage receiver with a speaker and I started listening to the English language shortwave broadcast stations around the world. I learned Morse Code as a Boy Scout on the way to getting my Eagle badge. Then in 1960 our TV repair man (yes, back then you could -fix- TVs and he even made house calls!) was a ham (Roy,W5FON) and said he would administer my Novice code and written exam whenever I was ready. I saved my money, bought a Heathkit AR-3 (and a cabinet for it!), put the kit together and started studying. I passed the test in late 1960, and for Christmas got 'matching funds' for a DX-40 which was quickly ordered and assembled. When the KN5GZR 'ticket' arrived, I was on the air with the AR-3, DX-40, a 40 meter dipole, and TWO crystals, one for 7175 kilocycles and one for 7050 (21150) kilocycles. A Heathkit QF-1 Q-multiplier was soon added to the station.

With the help of lots of Saturday afternoon study sessions with two other novices in my neighborhood (Ed, KN5GRI and Mike, KN5KBK), and a set of Ameco 45 RPM code practice records, by the end of the summer I was ready for the General test. So in August of 1961, my mother drove me (I still had just a 'learner's permit' driver's license) to the FCC office in the old Customs building by the turning basin on the Houston Ship Channel to 'give it a try'. You can be assured that this 15 year old kid was in awe of the 'FCC Examiner', but the fates were with me and I passed the Morse code sending and receiving tests that were the hard part for me and then breezed through the written test. So now I could order some new Brownie - W3CJI QSL cards with K5GZR on them. I had 38 states confirmed as a Novice.

The AR-3 was soon replaced with a Hallicrafters SX-110, and the DX-40 got a little help from a Johnson Viking Courier 500 watt linear amplifier, and a Heathkit VF-1 took the place of the two crystals. In the summer of 1965 I traded it all in on a Swan 350 - SSB had taken over the phone bands.

In 1967 when the lack of sunspots made it hard to make any HF contacts using a wire thrown into a tree from my college dorm room, I got bitten by the 2 meter FM bug. My first FM rig was a Bendix MRT-5 which was purchased, without a control head, from the Katy Railroad 'junk pile'. The good news was that it had a built-in 110 volt AC supply, so the hardest part of getting it on the air was replacing the original control head connector with an 11-pin octal-tube-sized connector so I could attach the home brew control head. Then I moved up to GE Progress Line mobile rigs, and for several years I had two of them in my Volkswagen squareback - I could either talk on the radio or run the air conditioning but not both! I also had a 60 watt GE Prog Line base station with three 4-channel decks. There were a half-dozen repeaters in Houston in 1969 and I could talk and listen on any of their input and output frequencies.

In 1970 the Gulf Coast Repeater Club activated WR5AET on 146.22-146.82 with GE Progress Line receiver and transmitter strips connected to separate antennas on the top of a 12 story apartment building. I built the receiver and transmitter power supplies, and the COR from scratch, using GE transformers and GE circuit diagrams. The IDer was also homebrew, using mechanical time delay relays and a motorized toothed wheel to send the CW ID. It wasn't much competition for the WR5AAA .28-.88 repeater on top of KPRC's 1400 foot tower, but it did work! In 1974 the repeater was moved to the new St. Luke's Hospital tower in the Texas Medical Center, still using the GE Prog Line strips. But eventually the heavy usage overheated the transmitter and we decided to replace the whole thing. In 1976 we put up a GE Mastr Pro receiver, a GLB kit transmitter, and tied it together with a solid state IDer and timer designed by Joe, WB5CCJ (SK). And 35 years later, it is still up there and talking!

I continued to use converted commercial 2-way radios for moble rigs, but upgraded from the GE Prog Lines in the car to a GE Mastr Pro with a GLB Model 400B 'Channelizer'. Then ICOM started making their all-transistor rigs and Phil White, WA5VIX (SK) at Bellaire Electronics had them all on display - Mr. Inoue even came to visit and listen to our suggestions! So over the next few years I bought an IC-22A, an IC-22S, two IC-2ATs, and finally an IC-228 when the Texas band plan went from 30 KHz to 20 KHz channels, making the IC-22S usable only on every 3rd channel and the IC-22A too expensive to re-crystal.

Fast forward to 2005 when Bob, K5GNA, told me I needed to get back on SSB, and loaned me a TS-180. I had so much fun with the TS-180 that I bought a used IC-746PRO at the Belton, Texas hamfest, and have really been enjoying its 160 thru 2 meter capability. Also added a 350 watt amp for 2 meters and an IC-PW1 for the rest of the bands. I have VUCC #1687 on 6 meters with 325 grid endorsement (and 120 more to be submitted for endorsements), 112 grids confirmed on 2 meters, and 14 grids confirmed on 70 cm. In March of 2010, I received WAS #1114 on 160 meters with CW endorsement.

As of early in 2013, my primary activity is 6 and 2 meter meteor scatter.  On 6, I run an IC-PW1 at 800 watts to a 6M5X at 23 feet.  My meteor scatter distance record on 6 is 1250 miles.  In 2015 I added a Beko HLV-1000 and run it at 900 watts into a 2M9 at 28 feet. My meteor scatter distance record on 2 is also 1250 miles.  Both distance records were QSOs with Bill ND0B.

I retired at the end of April, 2016 after 50 years of operating and then programming IBM mainframe computers.  So now I can spend more time doing all of the 'when I get around to it' things.  Which means I don't have any additional time for ham radio, I just have more leeway in my choice of when I do ham radio.  Had a great time in the June, 2016 VHF Contest... worked my first 6 meter European station during the major Sporadic E event.

My focus in 2016 was VUCC on 2 meters.  I finished the year with 115 grids worked and 112 confirmed.  Now I just have to do the paperwork!

2017's focus is to confirm 16 more FFMA grids so I can be officially on the FFMA leader board with 400 grids confirmed on 6 meters.  I'm also hoping to be able to do a 6 and 2 meter grid rover trip to EL18 and EL28 late in the year when it cools down and I can operate without having to carry along a 2 ton A/C unit!

Look for me every morning on Ping Jockey between 6 and 7 AM central time.

I am on the air from several locations:

Most of the time at my home QTH in Houston, Texas - EL29

Occasionally at K5GNA's location in Camilla, Texas - EM20

Other locations:

    June, 2011 ARRL VHF QSO Party - EL28

    September, 2011 ARRL VHF QSO Party - EL19,

    September, 2012 ARRL VHF QSO Party - EL19

    September, 2014 ARRL VHF QSO Party - EL19 - 3rd place in Midwest Division - Multi-operator

73, Rick

8003259 Last modified: 2017-03-31 20:18:58, 9471 bytes

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