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WA2NWN USA flag USA

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Do you need a sideband or digital mode contact for New Jersey, Passaic County, or Grid Square FN20?

 

A Brief History of WA2NWN

I live in Northern New Jersey, about 15 miles west of New York City, and have always taken an interest in radio communications. As a kid, I would always tinker with Walkie-Talkies, CB radios, and my father's shortwave receiver. My father never allowed me to mount any antennas on his house so reception was substandard and transmitting was the Eighth Wonder of the World. I have always interested in taking things apart either to fix them or just to see what was inside. As a kid, my Mother always said "If it's not broken, don't fix it." I never adhered to that motto. I can always be found tinkering with cars, computers, or mechanical devices. Anyway, back to the topic of how I took interest in Amateur Radio.

After working through high school at a bicycle repair shop, I finally landed my first fulltime job as a dispatcher for my local police and fire department. I always remembered as a kid listening to the scanner to all the emergencies occurring in my city. I often wondered what the people behind the microphone looked like. One person had a deep voice, sounded like a total jerk on the radio. However, once I started working there I learned this guy wouldn't hurt a fly. I think my favorite day at dispatch was Sunday; we used to perform radio checks of all the fire department radios. The test started by announcing "This is station KEE968- Clifton, New Jersey Fire Department. Stand-by for your Sunday Morning Radio Test." That call sign will forever be imprinted on my brain. Working there was a truly a pleasure and believe this may have tweaked my interest in Amateur Radio. My current occupation is a career firefighter. In my profession, we depend on the radios everyday as a lifeline from inside a building fire.

After working in dispatch, I saw that CB radio was semi-childish. Most of the time people stepped on your signal intentionally, called each other names, and cursed at each other as if it was going out of style. I wanted to be more professional, so I studied for the Technician Class Amateur Radio Exam. I passed the test first try and was issued my initial call sign of KC2YXH. I really did not like the way the call sign sounded. A "K station" reminded of a west coast TV station. Then I remembered my mother telling me that my deceased grandfather was a ham. My grandfather was a ham operator from 1960s until he passed away in 1985. He relayed information for friends and who had family members serving overseas in the US armed forces. I really did not get to know him because he passed away when I was three. I thought his call sign had a good ring to it; So I applied for and was granted my grandfather's call sign of WA2NWN. After all these years, I never knew when my grandfather was officially licensed. It wasn't until July 2014 when I made a QSO on 40 meters with Bob, K8NY, that I narrowed it down to a specific year. Coincidentally, Bob's original call sign was WA2KBU which was issued in 1960. Bob also had a call book from 1962 and verified that my grandfather, Paul Dykman, was licensed out of Passaic, NJ. I would like to thank Bob for filling-in this missing piece of information related to the history of my call sign.

Getting back to my story, after receiving my vanity call sign I did not transmit for close to four years. I had all of the equipment but it sounded like most of the repeaters in the area were all people who knew each other. How dare I try to get in on a conversation? One day that all changed. I was selling a pair of mud flaps on Craigslist. A guy contacted me, said he was local, and wanted to meet up to purchase the item. We agreed on meeting at a local Dunkin Donuts. Turns out, me and this guy had the same truck, same color. I introduced myself to Darrel (AB2BE), and I remember first sight he seemed very weird and obnoxious. If you know him...you know exactly what I mean. He was also with Barry (K2MF); the money and item exchange was very quick. As I was about to pull out of the lot, Darrel stopped me and asked what the antenna was on the back of my truck. I told him it was for ham radio. He then told me that he and Barry were also hams. They all hung out on a local repeater WO2X. They invited me to come on the air. I can usually be found on that repeater daily. There are many fascinating personalities on that repeater, stop by and say hello if you are in the area. The trio all kept ragging on me to study for my General Class Exam. As of April of 2015, I have earned my Extra Class status and continue to enjoy this hobby.

 

 


EQUIPMENT- Radios, Tuners, & Antennas

   

"There is no such thing as perfect in the world of antennas. You just do the best you can." - K2MF, Barry Siegfried

   

 

For HF I have a  Yaesu FT-950 and I utilize the built-in tuner. The microphone I use with it is the Yaesu MD-100A8X and for the digital modes I utilize the Signal Link USB for my transmissions. My antennas include: The QSO King, which is an end-fed wire antenna, made for use on 6m through 160m while at my home. It is 120 feet long and pretty much the best wire antenna ever! It has great reviews on eHam. I have recommended it to AJ2I and N2RDA, both whom also have success with it. Why don't you just ask them? I made contact with a station in Antarctica, 5x9 I might add, during the summer of 2014. The antenna is also made by Maple Leaf Studios (NU0R). No amplifiers over here either. Just plain old 100 watts of power. For VHF/UHF I have a Yaesu FT-7900R and I absolutely love the backlit keys on this radio. They are very useful for driving at night in a dark car. In the picture above you can see my Diamond X-300a which I use for 2m & 440 from the base location. It is about 35 feet from the ground at the tip. Also hanging from that arm is the balun box for the QSO King.

When not operating from my home QTH...I can be found "wilderness portable" with my good friend AJ (AJ2I) and Will (WA2VAN) with an occasional SOTA or mountaintop activation. For DXpeditions, beach & hiking outings, and Summits On The Air I use the G5RV Maple Leaf Mini which does 10m through 80 meters. This antenna is also made by Maple Leaf Studios (NU0R). I purchased these antennas on eBay and so far, I am very happy with their performance. I recently acquired the EARCHI End-Fed Antenna which covers 6m through 40m, it also does receive a good rating on eHam. You can see these various antennas mentioned in my photos below. Occasionally we will activate the Sedge Islands in NJ for IOTA; It is IOTA # NA-111 and is located within Island Beach State Park.                                                            

I am very proud of constructing this antenna. It is built from a tape measure, coax, and some PVC pipes. Cost me about $10 in total. If held vertical it works on FM, held horizontal works on sideband. I have had tremendous results with it, hitting repeaters almost 100 miles away on low power. It is super light and the radials can be folded on themselves and tucked into a back pack. Plans for this antenna can be found here.

 

As much as I love the portability of the antenna I constructed above, I have actually purchased a commercial grade version which produces fantastic results. A picture can be seen below in my montage of photos. It is the Arrow 146/437 handheld beam.

 

 

 

 

 

For mobile operations, I have a 2m/70cm Yaesu FT-7900R paired with a Diamond NR73B. I really like the 7900 because it mounts perfectly where my tape deck used to be in the Suburban. It is dual band, but lacks dual receive. The best feature is that all keys are backlit and can be found very easily in a dark car. As of January 2017, I purchased a new vehicle and do not want to drill holes in it yet, so I currently drive around HT'ing it for now.

                                              

As of January 2015- I removed the FT-7900R and placed in it the shack for base use.  I replaced it in the vehicle with a Yaesu FT-857D for mobile HF/VHF/UHF operations. This radio is mounted into the dash like it came with the vehicle and paired with Shark Mini HF Sticks for each band. AJ2I had recommended them; they are a great balance between performance and size if you park in a garage. Each antenna is about 36 to 39 inches. AJ2I also recommended the MFJ-1979 which is an extendable HF antenna. I marked the antenna at certain lengths so that it can be used on 6 to 20 meters at full extension. The MFJ-1979 which gives me about 10db of gain; So 100 watt output from the Yaesu FT-857D equals 1000 watts out of the antenna! Works better than my home setup. You can see it mounted on the truck (extended for 15m) in a picture below at Garrett Mountain.

This is a photo of the Yaesu FT-857D display with the line problem. I turned the contrast up so it can be clearly visible of what I am about to talk about.

As of August 2015, the Yaesu FT-857D was giving me problems with the display. It started to get vertical lines in the display which eventually made it unreadable. Some days it would work fine and others really bad. After mailing it in to Yaesu and dealing with a rude repair tech named Tim, (condescending bastard) I am finally getting it back with a new display. Yaesu admitted that the OEM displays gave a problem when exposed to heat and direct sunlight. This is due to a glue that holds the display wires to the LCD. Despite it being a manufacturing defect, it is not covered by warranty and expect to pay about $250 for the job. The display is $180, plus half hour labor of $35 and returning shipping of about$30. It is not worth doing yourself because you need a special heat exchanging gun to melt the glue that attaches the wires from the display to the LCD. Yaesu states the problem should not come back with the new display as they are now using a different manufacturer. As of January 2017, I purchased a new vehicle and do not want to drill holes in it yet, so I currently drive around HT'ing it for now.

Read about the problem here:

http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/yaesu-857d-lcd-repair-options.450140/

http://sv8ym.blogspot.com/2010/10/does-your-ft-857-display-look-like.html

 

For portable operation, I utilize the following HT's: Yaesu FT-60R, Motorola HT1000, and a Motorola HT1250. I no longer have the TYT UVF1. I mainly use the HT1250 daily due for the ruggedness factor. The FT-60 is my main portable for hiking since it covers 2m/440. The HT1000 is programmed with frequencies for work in case I need it as a backup radio. During Hurricane Sandy I was working around the clock and there was not enough radios to go around for all the extra personnel. I wound up bringing my own HT1000.

                                                                                                 

More recently, I have purchased two Baofang BF-888s radios UVF models. They are great little HT's that kinda look and sound like a Motorola HT-750 but they are about half the size. The audio is very clear and loud. Sometimes people cannot tell if I switched from my HT1250 to this radio. On Amazon, they are a bargain for $12.55 with free one day shipping. Comes with a desktop charger too!


QSL Cards & Logging

LOTW, eQSL, ClubLog, QRZ, & QSL Card    

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  All contacts are uploaded to LOTW, eQSL, QRZ, and ClubLog at the end of each day! If you send me a QSL card direct, I will gladly return one of my own. You are either sending it because you need it or we had a nice QSO! 

After a long trial period, I have finally found an electronic logging program that I liked very much; I decided to purchase the full version because it did exactly what I want a logging program to do. It is called N3FJP Amateur Control Log which was written and supported by N3FJP . I like the fact that it doesn't try to be everything and it logs contacts very quickly and efficiently. I also like the fact that it links with WSJT-X for digital modes. I am a subscriber to QRZ XML data, which makes it a breeze to log contacts now. It pulls all information from the radio except for the power level and obviously signal reports. Amateur Control Log has a nice, easy layout that allows tracking of awards, search of your log for previous contacts, and one button click to upload log files to LoTW and eQSL. I also use the QRZ logbook and awards system; I think it is a fantastic addition to this website.

After tiring myself out to log both on paper and electronically, I have now completely abandoned paper logging in 2013, unless I am portable. I will still return a paper QSL card to anyone who sends one to me (which I still consider a courtesy and a very important component of the entire amateur radio experience), I also decided to join the electronic QSL confirmation services in 2012 and I currently upload to both LoTW, eQSL, and ClubLog. I do not use the OQRS system with ClubLog.


Awards

I do not consider myself much of a contester or award seeker. However, I do enjoy this hobby and find it pretty interesting that I have had a QSO with at least one person in every state. I am trying to complete WAS mobile which would be another fantastic feat. I have found that the hams on the N8FQ LoTW Sked Chat have been very helpful when working towards arranging QSOs for various modes or awards.

The one award I do have and that I am very proud of is the WAB Award- which is the Worked All Barry Award. Barry is sort of a godfather to many in the ham radio world. I have worked him on 6 Bands from NJ to FL. Hopefully soon I will complete 10 and 80 meters for my 8 band WAB.


Digital Modes

Since May 2014, I have been tinkering with the digital modes of PSK31 and JT65. My good friend and neighbor, K2ERA was very helpful in setting up my station for these digital modes. I use FLDigi for PSK31 and WSJT-X for JT65 with the HamApps Alert add-on. Message me by hitting the F5 key if we are in QSO! As of August 2017, I have been really getting into FT8; It is a much faster QSO then JT65, JT9, & FT8.The coolest part with these digital modes is seeing where your signal actually reaches, even if you are not in a QSO with that person. Some people just leave their radios on as a receive only station. Check out the following link which maps your signal: www.pskreporter.info


Mobile County Hunting

                                                            

I have taken a recent interest in putting out Counties for County Hunting thanks to my friends AJ2I and K2MF. I am really enjoying mobile HF while sightseeing remote areas and beautiful parts of my state.

On July 24, 2015- K2MF, AJ2I, and myself had planned a very memorable road trip; we had put out all 21 Counties in New Jersey on sideband and CW in a timeframe of 12 hours! Barry was the brains behind the whole event and certainly did a great job planning. We started out at 1046 UTC and completed the last county at 2232 covering a 385 mile loop in our state. It actually went very smoothly; we didn't hit any traffic or encounter any problems. I put out a few counties on sideband along with AJ2I and K2MF handled all of the CW. I really enjoyed doing all of the logging in the rear seat. Below is a photo of my workspace in the rear seat and a photo from our last county. It truly was a great time- once in a lifetime opportunity for me.  

 

ABOVE: This is a photo of WA2NWN, K2MF, and AJ2I after completing transmission of each county on sideband and CW in the State of New Jersey.

ABOVE: This a map of the route my GPS downloaded as we drove the route around the State of NJ.


The one and only repeater you will ever need- WO2X

Can usually be found hanging out with Barry (K2MF) on the WO2X Repeater located in Montclair NJ- 443.450 with 141.3 PL. Barry is one of the Elmers on the repeater who can pretty much solve or answer any ham radio related question. Major County Hunter and also very good at making spreadsheets for various purposes.

Can also find the following quirky bunch of hams there daily:


Photographs

ABOVE: This is a photo of AJ2I near the top of the tower operating 2-meter portable contacts for a SOTA expedition. This fire tower is located in West Milford, NJ- The Bearfort Fire Tower.
 
ABOVE: This is a photo of me operating HF on my Yaesu FT-897D at the base of the same fire service watch tower.
 
ABOVE: This is a photo of WA2VAN near the top of the tower and AJ2I operating 2-meter portable. This fire tower is located in Jefferson, NJ- The Milton Fire Tower.
 
ABOVE: This is a photo of WA2NWN, WA2VAN, and AJ2I at the base of the Milton Fire Tower. In my hand is a 2m/440 portable yagi I made from a tape measure and PVC pipe.
 
ABOVE: This is a view of the NYC Skyline, about 50 miles away from the Milton Fire Tower.
 
ABOVE: Since AJ2I, WA2VAN, and myself do so much mountain topping, I decided to purchase an Arrow (Model 146/437) 2m & 70cm Beam. It works great people couldn't believe the distances we were making on only a 1/2 watt of power!
 
ABOVE: WA2VAN, and myself with a photo-op at the base of the tower with the Arrow (Model 146/437) 2m & 70cm Beam. This particular day was very windy and we wound up clamping the antenna to the tower. (See photo below) We were hitting stations over 50 miles away on half a watt of power.
 
ABOVE: The Arrow (Model 146/437) clamped to the fire tower on a windy day!
 
ABOVE: CQ CQ CQ on 2 Meters!
 
ABOVE: WA2NWN in his mountain-topping gear.
 
ABOVE: HF Mobile at Garrett Mountain Reservation in Paterson, NJ- FN20vv- my primary mobile operating location with my pal Brownie visible in the back seat. On the back of my vehicle is the MFJ-1979 which gives me about 10db of gain. So 100 watt output from the Yaesu 857 equals 1000 watts out of the antenna!
 
ABOVE: This photo is a panorama of me operating portable out of the rear of my truck.
 
ABOVE: This is my workspace. I either can operate off a sealed lead acid battery or from a 120-volt inverter mounted in the rear quarter panel. Also take note of the brown metal US Military case; it is used for radio transportation.
 
ABOVE: Operating with AJ2I on Island Beach State Park, NJ (IOTA #NA-111) August 2014. You can see the G5RV Maple Leaf Mini made by NU0R suspended between two 1" inch PVC pipes. The pipes are guyed into the sand with parachute cord.
 
ABOVE: A view of my portable station setup on Island Beach State Park. IOTA NA-111
 
ABOVE: This is my view of the Atlantic Ocean from the command post. A mere 15 feet away. IOTA NA-111
 
ABOVE: This is AJ2I utilizing the tape measure 2m/440 Yagi to key up repeaters on Long Island, NY, about 80 air miles away. IOTA NA-111

 

ABOVE: Barry (K2MF) and the boys at his 50 years in Ham Radio Bash. Pictured (L to R) are WA2DZL, K2MF, AJ2I, WA2NWN, KB2JXM, and N2RDA.
 
ABOVE: Presenting K2MF the plaque for "50 Years in the Business." Pictured are AJ2I, K2MF, and WA2NWN.
 
ABOVE: Sussex County Hamfest 2014. Pictured are W2DEL, WA2NWN, AJ2I, N2RDA, and in front, the nut-job KB2JXM .
 
Any Questions? Just ask Barry!

 


Hi Barry!

 

 

8568466 Last modified: 2018-01-08 17:41:06, 47728 bytes

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Public Logbook data is temporarily not available for this user
DX World Award#6458
Granted: 2017-12-16 18:17:01   (WA2NWN)

United States Counties Award#1638
Granted: 2016-07-19 21:40:02   (WA2NWN)

Endorsements:
  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 250 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
  • 100 Counties Phone
Grid Squared Award#8672
Granted: 2015-08-08 21:57:45   (WA2NWN)

Endorsements:
  • 20 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
  • Mixed Phone
United States Award#1386
Granted: 2015-08-08 21:57:42   (WA2NWN)

Endorsements:
  • Mixed Phone
World Continents Award#9386
Granted: 2015-06-13 02:40:03   (WA2NWN)

Endorsements:
  • 17 Meters Mixed
  • 17 Meters Phone
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