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ON THE AIR 50 YEARS (since Aug 1961)

Also see: www.glagowski.org/Radio

My first interest in radio was during the late 1950's when I lived on a farm in Miamisburg, south of Dayton, Ohio. My dad helped me put up a wire antenna in the trees and build a crystal set. One of his colleagues at work, W8CEA now a silent key, had a hamshack and I was fascinated.

Early in 1960, we moved to Valdosta, GA. A fellow grammar school student, Billy Wallace / K4TVE (whom I consider to be my Elmer), had a novice license and an EICO 720 + Hallicrafters SX-99. He helped me learn the code. When he got his general, his uncle bought him a Johnson Ranger (wow, what a rig!). I also hung out with another classmate, Ed Mathis, K4NVI who had quite the setup: an SX-100, and Eico 720 with plate modulator.  When he passed general, he got an HT-37 (SSB), and Johnson Viking 500 AM rig (HIS dad owned the largest hotel in Valdosta !)

In August 1961, I was first licensed as WA4DDO. I skipped the novice license (one year, non-renewable) because I did not have money for a transmitter. Just listening on the SX-99 receiver that I bought with grass mowning money, I got my code speed up to 15+ wpm, more than adequate for the conditional class license. The local ham who gave me the test (can't remember his callsign) had a TA-33 Tri-Band Yagi antenna, Collins S-Line, and brandy new 30L-1 that just arrived by UPS that day. I admired them for years (now I have my own!)

We moved to Florham Park, NJ (WA2WSB) around Thanksgiving 1961 and my dad helped me buy a Heathkit DX-60 and matching HG-10 VFO for Christmas and I was on the air with my own station for the first time. Under the mentoring of Ed, W2CVW, I became an NCS on the New Jersey Net (NJN) CW traffic handling where we passed 70 messages per hour at 30 WPM during the Vietnam War era, messages from Great Lakes Naval Training Center!

Early Summer 1963, we moved to Trumbull, CT (WA1ALZ). After the 2 year minimum wait time, some friends and I went down to NYC to take the extra class exam in the summer of 1963. The examiner was a guy named Finkleman. He had small rimless half reader glasses for his farsightedness. The guys & I walked in and asked if we could take the Extra exam. He said "sit down and receive the code!" (5 minute copy, no multiple guess questions). We all put on those crummy headphones and began to copy. After I was done I asked asked "did I miss any". He said "sitdown wise guy and send!". After about 3 letters he said "OK that's enough! Take the written exam!". The Extra written exam in those days involved drawing circuit diagrams and explaining the purpose of components in the circuits: an ESSAY exam not a muliple guess like today. After he graded the exams, he called us all in and said "You guys all passed, congratulations". I asked if I missed any. He said with a smile on his face" Go on, get outta here, you'll get your licenses in about 6 weeks!".

I soon got a Central Electronics 20A and Lakeshore VFO by doing high level negotiations down on Canal Street and the rest of Radio Row where the World Trade Center was later constructed, and I built my own homebrew pair of 6146's with pair of 807's modulator and complete SSB receiver based on an early 60's GE Ham News article, a RTTY demodulator for an old model 14 tape printer, then a homebrew pair of 813's (unshielded, lots of TVI! I hung out with the SSB homebrewers on 3999). I even had a Collins 75A-4 and Johnson Ranger II for awhile, but my folks made me sell them for college money (would have been a better investment than some stocks have been lately).

I was then off the air for a while when I went to school at UConn (BSEE), Stanford Univ. (MSEE), and lived in Lisle, IL (an apartment city, no antennas allowed) west of Chicago where I worked for Bell Labs, Electronic Switching Division, on the No. 1 ESS, world's first electronic switch. UConn had a radio club, W1LXV, and Stanford had one too, W6YX, but I simply didn't have time for Ham Radio during college. I DID however make a yearly trip down to the Englewood Amateur Radio Club participation in ARRL Field Day, run by Dave Popkin W2CC (formerly WA2CCF). Since he worked at FCC NY at the time, he made sure I was issued my EXTRA on my birthday of 1963.

I got back on the air in 1973 when I returned to school at UConn for a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science, and lived in the nearby countryside (Ashford, CT). I got a used Eldico 100 (SSB), a couple of Collins R-390A receivers and a Johnson Valiant from an estate sale (Herb Gordon of Harvard, MA). Around 1974, I had lots of fun converting one R-390A unit into a transmitter, the Collins/Glagowski T-390A! I still have these units today, but they are not yet back on the air!

In 1977, there was a window of opportunity to get a 2 letter call for free before the vanity system because the US Supreme Court ruled that ALL license fees were illegal and struck them down (the fee WAS $29). John Sullivan, W1HHR, ARRL NE Div Director brought the FCC Forms 610 to the Natchaug (NARA) club meeting on Jan 2 and encouraged those of us who were eligible for the 2 letter re-issue calls to apply right away. So I applied for and received W1TR in late spring of 1977.

The Natchaug Amateur Radio Association (NARA) quickly recruited me as a CW OP for their field day operation, to battle the rival ECARS group (K1MUJ). Since I was the first recipient of a 2 letter call in the club, we used W1TR for field day operations thereafter. This is where I met my current XYL Lyn, WB1CCL, but it would be over 25 years before we became married (to EACH OTHER)! Strangely enough, I find myself becoming good friends with the K1MUJ guys because I live near them again now, and the Natchaug club is not so active since George Markland W1XF (former W1MHF) passed away. Most of them don't remember how W1TR would always take them to the cleaners on Field Day, since they weren't licensed, or perhaps even born yet!

In 1978, I moved to the Boston area (Chelmsford, MA) and worked for GTE Labs, Waltham, (yes, more telephones). I became involved in USAF MARS operations, was State MARS Director in the mid-1980s, and generally tried to balance career, family, finishing my Ph.D., and ham radio. AF MARS had a repeater at Hanscom AFB and a great Base Support Team at that time. Ironically, now that I actually WORK on the base, that is all gone now.

While at GTE Labs, I had a visiting professor assignment at Univerity of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez (School of Engineering) where I taught Computer Engineering. They had a "communications lab" with the callsign KP4VA, equiped with a Drake Line (R4B, T4X, L4B, and Robot 400 SSTV). They gave me a key to it during my stay. It was located on the 7th (top) floor of the Engineering Building, which was on a 600 ft hill, overlooking the Carribean. There was a 60 ft tower with a TH-6 beam on top of it. It could put a S9+60 dB signal into NYC! One day I was operating and a NYC station asked me to "turn off the linear, it was overloading his receiver"... so I proceeded to turn ON the L4B and gave him S7+70 instead! Nothing like operating from the tropics (except for static on 75 and 160 meters!). We also had to good fortune to make a field trip to the Arecibo Radio Astronomy Observatory which was quite an adventure. (no, they weren't operating moonbounce when we had our visit, but a 1000 ft dish is an impressive thing to see!)

In 1989 I took a faculty job at Washington State University in Pullman, WA and later at the branch campus in Spokane, WA. It was lots of fun being a W1 in 7 land! My particular interest was 160 meters because I had 4 acres of room and tall trees on a high plateau (2300 ft) overlooking the city of Spokane. It was especially fun when the ARRL made Eastern Washington a separate ARRL section, because it was more rare than NV, ID, ND or DE, and I easily won the ARRL 160 meter CW contest for years until some big guns moved in (even with a Butternut Vertical one year). For a while, I was the trustee for W7YH, the WSU Radio Club Fraternity Station in Pullman, and made some phone patch contacts for a foreign exchange student to his parents back in Argentina.

I also operated an elaborate USAF MARS digital packet BBS on 2 HF channels and VHF to handle traffic coming out of Panama, Korea, Hawaii, and Alaska headed for Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere during the Noriega episode and Desert Shield / Desert Storm.

In 1996 I returned to the New England area (Upton, MA), and was on the air, but not really that active due to my focus on career, but now I have a really nice radio QTH, and a beautiful new XYL who is also a ham (WB1CCL), some new equipment, and antennas to enjoy the hobby in all its dimensions once again. I operate 160m thru 1296MHz (no 220 or 902) and have 2 towers, one for VHF and one for HF. I do some contesting, a lot of USAF MARS operating, some rag chewing, and dabble a little in digital and SSTV modes. I also operate mobile with an IC-7000 and Hi-Q 3/80 on HF and VHF, especially on my long commute to work at Hanscom AFB. I have a 2nd IC-7000 setup in a portable GO-PACK with a NetBook computer and sound card interface for use in Field Day, MARS Exercises, and emergency operation.

The most fun radio contact for me EVER occurred one night when Roger / VK4YB in Brisbane, and some of his buddies from Australia gave me a call on 160 meters (in Spokane) and caused me to almost fall out of my chair! A close second was when I lived in Chelmsford, MA during the mid 1980's and there was a big aurora, I worked Chicago on 2 meter SSB, wow what a contact!

Another interesting phenomenon was an “echo” on both 160 meters and 80 meters of about 1/3 second delay which happened sometime in late 1995. After checking some QST articles and inquiry to the ARRL tech department, the phenomenon matched a situation called a long delay echo (LDE) where a “wormhole” in the earth’s magnetic field developed and my signal went out along magnetic field lines and bounced off the ionosphere in the southern hemisphere and came back. It lasted for about half an hour and disappeared! Weird huh? I also got great excitement from making my first 1296 MHz contacts during the 2007 Summer and Fall ARRL VHF QSO parties to Mt. Greylock (W2SZ), Mt. Wachusett (K1TR), Long Island (N2GHR), Cape Cod (K5MA), New Jersey (WA2LTM), and a few other locals (K1JCL, WZ1Vand more).

Check out the 432 moonbounce rig!
42dBi antenna, 75 dBW power ;-) ;-) ;-)

6386720 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:33:06, 13267 bytes

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