In February 2008 I reached a milestone...50 years of continuous ham radio licensing. Just thinking about it makes me feel older than dirt. To celebrate, I (1) upgraded to Extra Class, and (2) recaptured the suffix I was first assigned as a geeky Connecticut teenager a half-century ago. I first obtained my novice license as KN1GCN in February, 1958, at the tender age of 14. After moving to California in 1973 I was assigned W6REF, which served me well for the next 35 years. Nostalgia set in, and when I upgraded my license, I decided to go full circle and claim the call K6GCN.
In September 2014, after decades of living in the San Jose area, my wife and I decided to relocate 110 miles northeast into the Sierra Nevada foothills. Our new home is located 1000 feet above sea level on a ridge in El Dorado Hills, with a sweeping view of the Sacramento valley and beyond. As far as ham radio locations go, the propagation westward across the Pacific is spectacular. Eastward to Europe, Africa, and the eastern US is a different story, however, with rapidly rising terrain making communication in that direction all but impossible. Notice the tall buildings of Sacramento in the center of the picture below. That's about 23 miles distant to the West, and the Pacific Ocean is 105 miles from us on the other side of the Coast Mountain Range.
My primary rig is a Yaesu FT-950 currently feeding one of these two antennas: an end-fed 80-meter dipole for 80, 40 and 30 meters about 20-feet off the ground, or a T.G.M MQ-26 hybrid quad for 20-17-15-12-10 meters, about 32 feet high. The hybrid quad is a low profile 2-element antenna with a boom length of only 4.5 feet and an element length less than 12 feet. It performs beautifully, with the only sacrifice being a somewhat narrow bandwidth...but nothing a good tuner can't handle. I decided to go "mini" to maintain the spirit of our community's CCRs which discourage but don't prohibit outdoor antennas. Also, I checked with my new neighbors to make sure my structure would not interfere with their valley views, and received unanimous approval. All of them appreciated being consulted ahead of time.....reaching out seems to always achieve more cooperation.
When needed, I use the Ameritron linear at 400W and an LDG AT-1000 Pro II Tuner. My operating modes are evenly split between CW and SSB, with a little bit of RTTY thrown in for fun. When we moved I dragged along several of by 50's vintage boat-anchors, and threaten to fire them up on AM in the near future. Yes, that's a 1967-vintage Heathkit HW-16 CW transceiver pumping out 65 watts on 40 meters. It also covers 80 and 15 meters, but I plan to modify the circuit to replace 15 with 20 meters. It's a great rig to use for FISTS and SKCC boat-anchor activities. As far as DX, I'm actually looking forward to the propagation challenges, and plan to investigate the possibilites offered by long-path.
My latest passion is QRP CW. I recently purchased the YouKits HB-1B which can exhale a full 5 watts on 40, 30, 20 and 15 meters. I usually operate outdoors on the patio, and erected a 40-meter end-fed dipole specifically for this rig. That's the HB-1B in the photo below with an American Morse paddle and external speaker. If you can hear my peanut whistle in the evenings on 20, 30 or 40, give me a call! My SKCC number is 7501, and FISTS number is 17318.
When not on the air or experimenting with antennas I can be found traveling with my lovely wife Linda, attending sporting events with my son Aaron, exploring pumpkin patches with granddaughter Sarah, playing old folk and rock tunes (acoustic bass and ukulele) with music buddies, and dining and laughing with good friends. Linda and I love to watch the ever-changing sunsets from the porch of our new home. The community has an abundance of walking and hiking trails to enjoy the attractions of nature. As we walk our dog Cody in the morning, it's not unusual to share the road with a flock of wild turkeys or hungry deer. Retirement has been wonderful!
Thanks for looking me up. I cherish every contact.
72 & 73, Bob
7499827 Last modified: 2016-08-12 03:04:27, 5527 bytes
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