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I was first licensed at age 13 (Novice-class), thanks to a wonderful mentor, W7CQL (SK) in Wyoming. Then a Conditional (General) at 14, and Advanced at 20, working mostly DX on CW. 

Hard to believe, but I passed the 20wpm code test for the Extra, then got de-railed by a YL, so I never went back to take the written!!  (This was back in ancient times when the code-test and written exams were given separately).

I was then off the air for almost 4 decades, finally returning to this magical hobby with the urging of a great ham friend here in Arizona.

My first rig was a Howard 436 general-coverage receiver (used, $5) and a Heath DX-40 transmitter (used, $30). A year later, I was able to move up to a Heath Mohawk receiver (the ultimate boat-anchor).  The rig I really dreamed about was a Johnson Viking Ranger xmtr and a Hammarlund HQ-170 rcvr.  Wasn't gonna happen on a paper-route salary!!

At 15, I built a full-legal limit linear amplifier around a pair of 5-125B tubes, but was unable to use it during prime-time TV (parents!!).  That was the most fun I can remember of my home-brew adventures. Also built a ham-console, consisting of a phone-patch, electronic-keyer, Code Practice Oscillator (all tube-based), and an SWR-bridge. Both pieces were built in Heathkit SB-100 cabinets. (I still have the console, and it still works).  Sure regret selling that linear, though.

It's now a full-time job coming up to speed on all the new technology.  My, how things have changed!!  Having lots of fun playing with (and learning about) wire antennas on the HF bands, trying hard to keep things "stealthy".  I'll probably never again be one of those "20-over S9" fellows with a big beam.

The best learning experience I've had in ham radio was discovering the little-known but superb paper written by M. Walter Maxwell, "Another Look At Reflections"  (available on-line).  This is a magnificent piece of work!!   The first 10 pages alone are revelatory.  I had a lot of wrong ideas about transmission lines and antenna-matching, and Mr. Maxwell really brought me up to speed.  He clears up many common mis-conceptions that are prevalent in ham circles. This gem should be mandatory reading for anyone that sends RF out to an antenna.

Since I really enjoy camping, one area of ham radio that's been getting my attention is field work. Check out the self-contained HF-VHF-UHF radio-go-box that I recently built. Just add HF antenna and solar panel (if desired).  Mega-fun!!   A quick-and-easy HF (stationary) field antenna that has worked really well for me is a quarter-wavelength MFJ-1979 telescoping-whip, mounted on the truck roof with a tri-mag mount (required!!), plus a hard-ground to the truck roof.  It's 17' tall, adjustable for all the bands, 20m and above.  I can be on the air in 10 minutes after arrival at a destination. 

Ex-callsigns are WN7BAR (1964), WA0MWB (1965), WA7SLH (1970), KG700R (2014), KV7AC (2014).  Back in "the day", you were required to change callsigns if you moved to a different call-area!!

My working career was 42 years (2 companies) in RF Engineering, primarily military ECM and radar, and also space communications. 

Thanks for looking and hope to see you on the bands.

73 from beautiful Arizona !!

 

The JayBird Special:  A Really Easy VHF/UHF Field / Portable / Base Antenna !!

Here's a really easy way to make a top-performing field / portable antenna that works great on 2 meters and above. (And, you could certainly use it as a permanent base-antenna, great for low-visibility HOA applications!)

Just take some sheet aluminum and cut a 12.5" square piece (I like 1/8" thick for rigidity).  Punch a 5/8" hole in the center. Then install an SO-239 bulkhead feed-through connector (either 2" or 3" long) in the hole, and you're done.  Mount your favorite PL259-mount whip on the connector, and you'll be surprised at the low VSWR.  The plate provides a perfect ground-plane match, even on 2 meters. 

6.25" is a quarter-wavelength on 440, so the plate acts like an infinite-number of radials on that band. What is surprising is how well it works on 144 and 220 mHz!!

There are dozens of ways to mount this setup, from pipe-flanges to "L" brackets. The picture shows one mounted on a camera tripod.  Just be sure it's securely fastened, as (just like radials) an "airborne" aluminum-plate can do serious bodily-injury!  

For many folks, this approach is easier than messing around with radials, and very likely offers better performance.  My favorite dual-band whip for this setup is the superb MFJ-1412 (pictured). 

8198512 Last modified: 2017-07-04 11:58:59, 5095 bytes

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