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First licensed as a Technician Class (WA8RPS) in Ohio in eighth grade. I was interested in electronics as long as I can remember. My first rig was a Heathkit “Sixer”. I loved scrounging parts from old TV's and by attending hamfests to build stuff, and I put together many homebrew VHF and UHF rigs through high school and college. My main interests were experimenting and building more than operating, although 6 meter skip was fun during sunspot peaks. I had a friend that worked as chief engineer at a local AM/FM broadcast station and hung out there when ever I could to learn more about “big radio”. I also had some other great Elmers along the way. During those teenage years I obtained a commercial phone ticket at the Detroit FCC office. I remember my dad had to run me up there. Not quite driving yet.

My first real job was in the seventh grade. I worked after school in a TV repair shop fixing vacuum tube gear. I walked into this guy's shop when I was about 10 years old looking for a capacitor or something for some project. Instead of throwing me out like most busy business owners would, he became a mentor. He had been a ham before WWII and had a great collection of transmitting tubes, war surplus tank circuits, vacuum caps and other exotic parts that he would dig out of old boxes to show me and explain in detail, when time permitted. I would visit the shop on the way home from school. Eventually he hired me to help fix TV's and radios. He had many other interests and side businesses, including buying, selling, and trading cameras, lenses and other optical devices. So I learned about optics and photography too. There were always interesting people visiting the shop. He had some very eclectic friends. One younger guys that often visited worked for Motorola and drove a mobile LMR service van full of great RF test gear. You can bet I spent some time in that truck. Occasionally, a slightly soft 6146, deemed inadequate for public safety service would find it's way into one of my rigs thanks to him.

One of the more entrepreneurial guys that visited the shop was looking for a “cheap” circuit designer to help him with a couple of products he was contemplating. That was my next job while in high school. I designed the electronics for a couple of consumer products like a very early photo-electric smoke detector and time delay switches. Pretty simple stuff. He had a small production facility and was able to make and sell these products. He was a smart guy and knew a lot about things other than electronics. I learned about plastic molding, etching circuit boards and metal fabrication in the process.

The summer after high school I went to work for a company that made 8 track tape players for cars. They had a big contract with Sears and had a full production line. The job offered was as an electronic technician to repair the defective main stereo amplifier PCBs used in the product. The first day I was lead to the middle of the factory. There were hundreds of wooden trays of PCB's arranged more or less in a circle stacked about six feet high. Each held about 25 bad boards. In the middle, barely visible, was a small work bench with a scope, audio generator, a HP 427A voltmeter, some soldering gear, parts drawers and a bed of nails test fixture. The amp was a mostly DC coupled complementary design with 12 silicon transistors in the preamp and driver stages and germanium output transistors. Every combination of wrong, mis-inserted, and defective components along with solder bridges and bad or no solder was happening with these boards. The production workers that stuffed the boards for wave soldering would get involved in conversation and anything would go into any hole. Baptism by fire. I really learned to troubleshoot solid state circuits that summer.

Next I was employed at Owens Illinois in Toledo, Ohio as an Instrumentation tech during college and then an Electrical / Instrumentation engineer after graduation. I worked with early minicomputers like the PDP-8 and PDP-11 and then microcomputers and used them to do measurement and control in a R&D environment. It was fun and we got a few patents issued too. It was a great company to work for with very generous educational benefits. It was also located very near the U of T college of engineering. As long as I got my work done, I was able to slip out for an hour to attend a class that was not offered at night.

At some point I became interested in medicine and biomedical engineering and went back to school to pick up the pre-med biology and organic chemistry courses missed in EE and obtained an additional degree in Biomedical Engineering along the way.

I then applied to medical school. I graduated in 1983 and after a year of internship entered a residency program in Anesthesiology, a technology rich area of medicine. I also completed a research fellowship and a fellowship in Pain Management. I am currently a practicing doc.

I was a 5 word/min Tech and always sucked at CW. When the rules changed to the 5 wpm code requirement, I immediately upgraded to General and then Extra. I greatly admire ops that can do 25 wpm CW; it's just not me! My commercial phone expired while I was in med school and not paying attention. It was expired by 1 year and 12 days and the grace period was 1 year. The FCC said “too bad” and would not make an exception and renew it. Several years later I got the GROL commercial license just to have it, if needed.

I have continued my interests in all things digital and have build and experimented with numerous computers over the years ranging from a 8008 machine built in 1975 to PC's of every generation, and more recently RasPi's, Arduino's and other embedded micros. I especially enjoy interfacing and controlling devices with computers. And that includes radios. My goal has been to keep current in both my areas of medicine and also engineering / computer science. Not an easy task!

I currently operate two backyard UHF repeaters. One on the AllStar link and the other a DMR machine on the Brandmeister network. The AllStar system uses two of my software favorites; Linux and Asterisk, the open source phone switch. Other interests include mesh networks, digital ATV and microwave RF systems.

I have some HF gear, but it's relegated to field day and “radios in the park” type events. I have little interest in contests, awards and chasing DX.

I am a member of the Cactus Intertie radio club that operates an impressive private system of linked repeaters in the Western US. It consists of an incredible group of technically competent and hard working people that are a pleasure to be associated with.

73 to all, and thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my little story.

Dave, K7DMK

 

 

7843679 Last modified: 2017-01-20 05:39:54, 8377 bytes

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