My Ham Radio Bio

How I got started in ham radio, a career, and then some!

NOTE: this is a work in progress; as I recall stuff and review old logbooks, I'll modify it.
Latest update: 7 Jan 2010


the 60's

In early 1960, my Dad and my uncle Bob began to encourage me to "play" with electronics. I was probably 8 years old at the time, about to turn 9 in late April 1960. Uncle Bob gave me a copy of an old radio handbook and my Dad bought one of those early 10-in-1 kits from Lafayette Radio - believe it or not, I recently came across this kit in an old box that turned up when my folks moved. This was a vacuum tube based kit, and you had to mount terminal strips on a piece of masonite perf board then SOLDER the parts for the circuit you wanted to build onto the terminal strips!! One of the configurations was for a low-power AM transmitter. We built that and Dad would drive around the neighborhood listening on the car radio while I talked and see how far it would transmit, or my Mom would drive me around while I listened to him. I'm sure we tried more than the recommended 15 foot piece of wire, but I can't remember if we ever got it to work as far as my grandparents' place a few blocks (maybe half a mile) away. But it was fun, and this was soon followed by a Knight Kit Ocean Hopper regen receiver.

The Ocean Hopper, with plug-in coils, was interesting, but hard to use. Nevertheless, I still have a log book of some of the shortwave and ham stations that I was able to hear, beginning with a first entry of 17 May 1960. The log book was a $1 offering from National Radio Co. entitled "Official Log - National Association of Armchair Adventurers" and has a couple of articles on ham radio and shortwave listening, plus a reference list of shortwave broadcast stations with frequencies and times, followed by a bunch of log pages with entries.

One thing I remember from this early period of shortwave listening was a minor disagreement with my 3rd grade teacher at the time. I had been cruising the shortwaves for several months, and of course, listened to many of the big stations of the time, like the BBC, Radio Moscow, HCJB, the VOA, and others. HCJB, "The Voice of the Andes", would announce itself, and its location in Quito, Ecuador. So I knew how an announcer working for HCJB in Quito pronounced the name of his city! When my 3rd grade teacher insisted that it was pronounced another way, I begged to differ! I had heard the correct pronunciation via shortwave radio! My teacher was not swayed, and continued to use the incorrect pronunciation. (At 9 years old, I was awakened to the fallibility of adults and teachers!)

By February 1961, there is a note that I was using a Knight Kit R-55 superhet that my Dad and I built after Christmas of 1960. The log started to show more activity, especially ham radio listening, as the R-55 was a much easier receiver to use! (Interestingly, the log runs until mid-January 1964, when, as you'll see below, my Novice license was issued. But there are a handful of entries in 1968 when I must have done a little shortwave listening, and finally 2 entries by my son, using the Ocean Hopper, in November 1978 - he would have been 8 years old).

In parallel during these early 60's years, my Dad and I got interested in early CB radio, back when folks actually had to apply for a license, and use a call sign issued by the FCC. The first radio was a Lafayette crystal controlled CB rig for the car (wow, tubes and a vibrator power supply), and then later a Knight Kit base station CB radio for home. Now we could talk all around town (Pawtucket, RI) pretty well. And sometimes there was this skip thing, hmmm?? Anyway, I logged a lot of stations now while shortwave listening, and I started learning Morse code. But I played with the CB a lot also. My Dad and I met a bunch of other CBers in the area and I talked to folks in the evenings when I could.

I recall another item which increased my interest in radio and ham radio in particular around this period. Somewhere, I obtained a small, 24 page reprint from Boy's Life Magazine. In the reprint was an article with pictures of a young ham (now K2LCN, I believe) who had built a mobile station into the basket on the handlebars of his bicycle, with (I think) an antenna mounted on the rear of the bicycle. This idea really intrigued me (I've yet to actually do this myself over 45 years later), and made me more convinced I should get my ham radio ticket. Incidently, the reprint also contained an article on building a Conelrad radio, basically a crystal set with a 2 stage transistor amplifier built onto a wooden board, complete with a tuning capacitor so you could find and mark the locations on the dial for the 2 Conelrad emergency AM broadcast frequencies. My Dad and I actually obtained the parts for this and built it. (Recently, I found a pdf copy of this Boy's Life reprint.)

Sometime in the winter of 1962/1963 (I would turn 12 in April 1963), one of our CB friends, Ed, suggested he and I study for the ham radio Novice license - for some reason my Dad always encouraged my radio efforts, but never did want to get a ham license himself. So Dad bought some ARRL manuals for me, the 10-in-1 kit became a code practice oscillator (tubes, remember!) and I studied and practiced code. Sometimes Ed and I would work together - I'd get a ride from my Dad or I'd ride my balloon tire bike across town to Ed's place. Ed knew a ham nearby, Walt, W1EKI (SK), and we visited his modest station. What impressed me most about Walt was his ability to have a conversation with me in his shack while simultaneously working someone on CW at 30 or 40 WPM with a bug! By the fall of 1963 (I was in the 7th grade now), we were both ready to take the test, and on the evening of November 22, 1963, I took my Novice test. Remember that date? JFK had just been shot that afternoon! Now, since this was the good old days, the completed test went into the mail back to the FCC for grading! I was pretty sure I'd passed, but it was about 2 months later that I got my license in the mail and knew for sure! WN1BFI - I'm a ham!! Ed got his license too - WN1BFH.

Well, looking at my SWL log, I now recall that the next day after taking my Novice exam, 23 Nov 1963, (a Saturday so no school or work) we took a ride to Boston (Tufts Radio, I think) and my Dad bought a REAL receiver for me - a brand new Hammarlund HQ-180A. WOW! Selectivity! And a dial you could set to a frequency within a kilocycle or so. I did a lot of listening, and was hoping to get one of those little AMECO AC-1 crystal-controlled, plug-in coil transmitters, or if I got real lucky, maybe a Viking Adventurer like W1EKI's once I got my license. I set up an operating area in my bedroom, and got organized as much as possible. But by Christmas 1963, anticipating that I'd passed my Novice exam, Dad said we could get a good transmitter with "room for growth". He bought me a Viking Valiant 2 - a 270 watt, VFO controlled, AM-CW rig - a kit which I built over Christmas vacation and early January 1964. It had provision on the front panel to plug in a crystal instead of using the VFO, which I needed since I was only a Novice. And as for the 75 watt Novice power limit, since the Valiant used three 6146 transmitting tubes in parallel, I just left 2 tubes out, and tuned up til the meters told me I was at 75 watts INPUT. Dipoles fed with twinlead would load directly off the Valiant's output network. I had a couple of J-38 keys my Dad had gotten somewhere. For headphones, I was still using the soft WW2-vintage pilot's helmet with the built-in headphones that my Dad had kept from his days flying P-40's and P-51's late in the war; the headphones looked a little goofy, but worked great! Anyway, I was in business!

My logs show my first contact with WN1BFH on 24 January 1964. I did a lot of operating in 1964, using a handful of crystals for 80, 40, and 15 meters. (Also a lot of CQ'ing without result - we had to log everything back then). My antenna was a multiple dipole for 80 and 40 meters fed with heavy 75 ohm transmitting twinlead. The Valiant's output network would tune this fine on 15 meters as well. SWR?? Who knows! The Valiant loaded up fine; a small fluorescent bulb held along the twinlead glowed when the key was down. I was making contacts, so all was well! Since Novices could use 2 meter phone, Ed scrounged up a Gonset Communicator for himself, and some sort of homebrew 2 meter AM rig for me for a few bucks, and I even tried a bit of 2 meter phone! But remember that this was the era of the 1 year, once per lifetime Novice license. I also began studying to upgrade to General Class by the end of 1964 (my Novice license would "evaporate" in January 1965). Code did not seem to be a problem, as I was getting much faster with all the operating time. I had an ARRL license manual full of questions and answers for the General Class test, plus a 1963 ARRL handbook, and my study partner, Ed. In the late summer of 1964, Dad and I drove up to Boston to the FCC office in the Custom House building, and I passed my General class theory and 13 WPM code tests. Then as usual in those days, the wait for the new license began (no instant upgrades in those days). As I recall, this time only took 5 or 6 weeks, and, on 21 September 1964, I was a General, but SURPRISE!!! A new call...never did figure out why, but I was issued WA1CUS as my General Class call (Ed, on the other hand, became WA1BFH when he upgraded around the same time. Go figure!)

So, WA1CUS, new General Class ham. Flip that switch to VFO control, put back the other two 6146's, and try some HF AM as well as CW. Great! So I spent more time on the air, though still mostly CW since that was my favorite mode. DX was still not that easy, but a lot better than being restricted to the Novice bands. I modified antennas for more bands, but always used some variation on dipoles. And I built a Heathkit 6 meter receive converter and a 2E26-based crystal controlled 6 meter transmitter, from the Handbook or VHF manual of the period. It used power supplies and the AM modulator from the Valiant. The Valiant had this handy interconnect plug which could be used for their SSB adapter, so I just took advantage of that! For more power, I could remove a 6146 from the final of the Valiant and plug it in in place of the 2E26 (pin-compatible with 6146). And, of course, a 6 meter dipole served as my antenna.

Around this time, I also scrounged the parts for a simple 432 mHz AM transceiver that was featured in the ARRL handbook during the 60's. It used a single 6CW4 "Nuvistor" tube as a regen receiver / modulated oscillator, plus a couple of transistors for audio, a multipole switch on the front to toggle everything from receive to transmit, a telephone handset, and 6v battery for filament and transistor supply, plus a 45v "B" battery for the 6CW4 plate supply. It all seemed to work; I wandered about Pawtucket, RI, a bit optimistically calling CQ to no avail. The only contacts I ever made with it were during a visit to ARRL headquarters in Newington, CT. There I met the designer (Walt Lange, W1YDS, I think), who worked in the technical department in the late 60's, and we talked around the ARRL property - he used the original unit pictured in the ARRL handbook! So that was my brief excursion into the UHF spectrum at the time!

After junior high, my activity started to drop off. By the time I finished high school in 1969, I hadn't been active much for a couple of years. By the fall of 1969, newly married and starting college, my license lapsed (5 year licenses back then, and you were supposed to be able to show some activity to renew - I figured it was dishonest to claim I'd been active and renew anyway).


the 70's

In the early 70's various things happened, like dropping out of college, new son, high draft number, job, and responsibilities. As it happened, the factory where I worked was owned by a family friend who was a ham (Tom - W1QYY, SK not long ago), and one of my co-workers was also a ham (Neil - K1GNW, lost track of Neil during the 80's, but recently found him "hiding" behind N1DGF :-) ). Life sort of settled down, we bought a house in Seekonk, MA, and eventually I got "re-enthused" about ham radio. By this time the grace period on my old license had just expired, so I had to start again. I can't find a log for late 1971 through early 72, but I recently found 2 QSL cards for QSO's on 19 and 24 December 1971 as WN1PNX so I must have taken a Novice test to get restarted, probably sometime in November 1971. I have an envelope full of old licenses and an interim permit during this period, in addition to my logbooks. After a trip to the FCC Boston office, I was issued a General Class license on 31 March 1972, with the new call WA1PNX. I still had the Valiant and the Hammarlund, but decided to sell that stuff to buy a Heathkit HW-101 SSB/CW HF rig. I actually ordered the HW-101, but by the time it arrived I'd had second thoughts, so Heathkit kindly agreed to take back the unopened carton plus a little more money, and shipped me an SB-102 transceiver instead. What a great rig! I used it for quite a few years, and believe me, SSB was much better than AM for DX work. A 35 foot 2x4 mast on the back of the house held a series of decent dipoles. I had one of those 60's vintage Heathkit electronic keyers with the built-in paddle (Model HD-10) for CW, still my favorite mode.

During this period, my wife and I both eventually went back to college, she to graduate from Brown University in 1976, and me to get a couple of years of credit at Brown and drop out a second time :-( But I did get active with the Brown U. club station, K1AD, operating exclusively from K1AD for a while. I also got into some CW contesting from K1AD at the time. I was working now for a bicycle shop in East Providence, RI and riding a lot and bicycle racing some (for you bikies out there, I actually barely made it into USCF Category 3 at one point). As it happened, East Providence Cycle was owned by a ham (Rob - K1PAM) who was also involved with the East Providence YMCA. Somehow he twisted my arm into agreeing to teach a Novice licensing course at the Y (winter/spring of 1977). After I agreed, I had a bit of a panic attack, and not wanting to look like an idiot, I studied up, travelled to FCC's Boston Custom House office, and passed my Advanced Class, issued 11 February 1977. Soon after, I made another trip to Boston for my Extra Class on 23 March 1977 (I have the actual interim permit issued at the test session); the license was then issued 19 April 1977. I also took the 1st Class Radiotelephone exam about this time. (Oh, and the class at the Y went pretty well, resulting in a number of new hams).

So with a new Extra Class license in hand, I enjoyed complete freedom of the bands (as Merrill Budlong, W1MB, a bike and ham friend of mine from RI used to say "I got my Extra so I wouldn't have to remember all those HF sub-bands!!"). But, as we were between houses at this time, I was operating from an apartment :-(     I managed some sort of indoor antenna, using an MFJ tuner to match to the SB-102. And, remember my friend Tom, W1QYY, owner of the factory I'd worked in during the early 70's? He had a sideline repairing radios for a couple of local police departments and now that I had the 1st Class Radiotelephone, he took me under his wing and I started making a bit of money servicing radios.

Field Day 1977 was actually my first Field Day experience - I'd never been a member of any radio club up to this point. Rob, K1PAM, put together a Field Day for the East Providence YMCA Novice class graduates and friends. He was also involved with the Boy Scouts, so they set up big Army-style tents in a field off Rt. 44 in Seekonk, MA and also volunteered to cook for the event (I do remember translucent fried eggs and bacon for breakfast early Sunday morning - mm-hmmm, grease!)! It rained most of the weekend, but we stayed dry, and had a great time, in particular working a great 6M opening to the Gulf coast for a while. Also during 1977, I took advantage of the program at the time which allowed Extra Class hams to request a 1x2 call, but not having a particular call in mind, just told them to send me anything, and W1OH was issued on 16 August 1977.

Other activities around this time included some VHF and satellite operation. A Microwave Modules 2 meter transverter attached to the SB-102 put me on 2 meter SSB and CW. I participated in some VHF/UHF contests with my other friend from the factory days, K1GNW. My brother-in-law, now KA1BT, but WB1GEK at the time, had an Icom VHF SSB/CW rig (I think it was an IC-245, a little 10W, all-mode brick from the mid-70's) and using that and the SB-102, I made some Mode-A 144 up, 28 down satellite contacts on Oscar 8. Summer of 1978, K1GNW and I operated Field Day from Touissett, RI (on Mt. Hope Bay) from my wife's family dock house by the water. We went for 23 hours, unfortunately on commercial power after the first 2 hours after BOTH generators failed! But we had a great time using the SB102 and wire antennas by the salt water, making 392 contacts (217 CW and 175 SSB).

By the end of 1978, I was working full time for a radiotelephone and paging company in Providence, RI. Around this time, we bought a house in West Barrington, RI. And I got involved with a local amateur radio club, the East Bay Amateur Wireless Association (EBAWA), and enjoyed club activities including Field Day for several years with guys like N1RI, N1XW (SK), N1DM and others. One year we operated from the old Nike missile radar site on the Haffenreffer Estate in Bristol, RI. Another time we were set up on the grounds of a monastery in Bristol not far from the Mt. Hope Bridge. But, working in commercial radio took its toll on my enthusiasm for ham radio (working all day with radios meant ham radio didn't seem like such a break...) and my home activity slowly decreased, though it never went away totally. On the other hand, my work was steadily building my electronics knowledge, as well as the beginnings of some computer knowledge that would pay off later on. And my log from this period does show bursts of activity. In 1979, for example, I operated a bit in several contests, with contacts in the ARRL DX Phone, June VHF, Field Day, and IARU Radiosport contests.


the 80's

My log shows only a handful of contacts during 1980 and '81, but I don't think there was any logging requirement by this time, so it's a little hard to tell how active I was. In any case, almost four years on 24 hour a day call for the radiotelephone/paging company finally wore me down and by the fall of 1982, I was ready for a change. My wife was already working a couple of days a week at the "New Alchemy Institute" on Cape Cod, commuting from RI. Now believe me, this next part is all connected! In September, 1982, I decided to go to the ARRL New England Division Convention in Boxborough with a bunch of stuff to sell in the flea market. In those days, you could drive in on Saturday morning, park right outside the door of the convention hall, and "tailgate" your stuff pretty easily. Anyway, on the way up I-495, during the usual waving and honking of CW greetings at other cars of hams, I passed one particular car (an old gold Toyota sedan, I think) and exchanged waves with a couple of guys shortly before the Boxborough exit. Nothing special, except that a few weeks later, as I walked up to the door of a little oceanographic instrument company in Cataumet, MA on Cape Cod, who should open the door and greet me for my job interview but that same fellow who had been driving that car to the convention!! Tim, N1BTQ (now N1TI), would be my boss for the next several years, as I was offered the job and started work just after Thanksgiving, 1982. By January, the family had moved to Cataumet, MA, a rental house which we subsequently bought. And we've been living on Cape Cod mostly ever since (more on that later).

Tim and I hit it off from the start. We talked a lot of radio. I joined the Falmouth Amateur Radio Association in Falmouth, MA, and began attending club meetings. We both built early TAPR TNC-1 boards (I've still got mine in a box somewhere) to try out this new thing called "packet radio". A home-built quagi and an old rock-bound Kenwood 2M FM rig formed the basis of my packet station, along with an ancient Hazeltine terminal. We did a packet demo at a FARA meeting at one point, making a few contacts on the 145.01 mHz 2 meter packet frequency, including one linked through a couple of distant nodes to none other than my old friend Tom, W1QYY, in Dublin, NH, where he'd moved after retiring from the family business relatively young!

Also around this time (1983), my son Ben got his Novice license (KA1MCK) and we both operated a bit of CW. N1BTQ and I set up for Field Day 1983 on the back porch of the oceanographic instument company where we worked in Cataumet, MA and ran in Class 1B for a total of 329 contacts on SSB and CW; not a bad effort for the two of us. But then another gap with only a couple of contacts in the log (of course, by this time, with logging no longer required, who knows what I was actually doing - just a bit of VHF and packet operation, I think). My son Ben and I both attended the Boxborough division convention in 1984 and tailgated at the fleamarket again. (It was a very good flea market that year, as I sold my SB-102, Microwave Modules transverter, a Kenwood 2M HT, and a bunch of other stuff and came home with a brand new Kenwood TS-430 HF rig)! Ben made a few contacts, mostly with a friend of his from RI, I think, but as my interest was waning somewhat, he never really got into it, discovering computers (an Apple 2 at first), hockey, and bicycles. Ben's license would eventually lapse :-( I enjoyed the TS-430 immensely; it seemed a lot more capable than the SB-102 and, wow, digital readout!

After this, the log is blank except for a few dozen contacts in the ARRL DX Phone contest of 1990. My 2 meter qaugi and HF dipoles were destroyed when a bunch of trees came down in the yard during Hurricane Bob in August, 1991. But by then my activity had decreased to the point that I had no station setup. I eventually sold the TS-430 to a friend at work - I had changed jobs and was now at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) working as an embedded systems engineer. Most of the other radio stuff I had was packed away. Time passed......


the 90's

And more time passed.....most of the 90's, in fact. Most of my spare time was going into bicycling in the early 90's, culminating in a great bicycle tour in the Rockies in 1994. But then even cycling lost out to family and work. I kept going to most of the ARRL Division conventions in Boxborough, running into old friends occasionally, but for a while, I even let my membership in ARRL lapse. However, I did make sure to renew my license when that came up, unlike the late 60's!

We moved to southern NH for a while, beginning in 1997, though I continued to work for WHOI remotely. I ran into Tom, W1QYY, again about the time we moved to NH (our home there is not too far from his). That meeting and, I guess, nostalgia for my "radio roots" jogged me a bit, and I started picking up an occasional QST, CQ, or 73. I soon renewed my ARRL membership and gradually brought myself a bit more up-to-date on the state of ham radio near the turn of the millenium.


the Present (the 00's)

The whole QRP movement was really going by the late 90's. Since the equipment was inexpensive and I like to build stuff, I decided I wanted a Norcal Sierra QRP CW rig. Santa obliged for Christmas 2000 and, with the addition of a Norcal BLT tuner, I was in business. I dug out my old J-38 straight key, and also found my Bencher paddle. A Tick keyer kit mounted in a small aluminum box came next. I started making a few contacts with a dipole strung low over the snow (Winter 2000/2001 was VERY snowy in NH - 8 foot mounds plowed up around the driveway, and snow on the ground until May in some spots!)

In late April 2001, I operated in QRPTTF, a QRP field contest sponsored by NORCAL, by hiking up the side of North Pack Monadnock from our house in Lyndeborough, NH. What a blast! I also discovered the QRP-L mailing list around this time, and the Adventure Radio Society. As summer 2001 approached, we planned to move, however, so I didn't spend any time on permanent antennas or a bigger station installation.

In August 2001, we returned from NH to Cape Cod full time. Unfortunately this coincided with a family tragedy in mid-August when my daughter lost her first child (and our first grandchild) - stillborn with only 2 weeks to go in her pregnancy. We were all devastated, and will doubtless feel the effects forever. (Good news, though! On 21 December 2002 (Winter Solstice) Elanor was born! She's now 5+ years old, and sister Lucy just turned 1 year old at the end of March 2008; they're a ton of fun!! Being Grandpa is fantastic!)

After settling in to temporary digs in Falmouth, MA, I re-joined the Falmouth club and started going to meetings. WA1GPO, Jim, works one floor away from me, and we started talking ham radio occasionally. I had fun at the New England Division Convention in September 2002. My son-in-law, Alan, N1TKZ, passed his Extra Class exam element at the convention (but with lots of family responsibilities, he has little time to operate! Alan did get a rig and antenna set up in the fall of 2005 so that he could make occasional weekend contacts with his grandfather, W1BIH). Family circumstances limit my time a lot also, but I squeeze in ham radio where I can.

I've been having fun on QRP since getting active again, operating intermittently on weekends and a few "mini-contests" like the ARS Spartan Sprints. For QRPTTF 2002 I only operated a short time, but QSOs included a contact with KM1CC, the Marconi Memorial Radio Club station at the Cape Cod National Seashore; I first worked KM1CC in 1978 when it was "the last special event callsign" issued by FCC for the Marconi 75th Anniversary. (And, yes, I did work KM1CC again on the afternoon of Saturday, 18 Jan 2003, during the 100th Anniversary event, after visiting the special event station at the National Seashore and seeing Marconi's daughter, Elettra Marconi, and a zillion news crews and families at the Seashore Visitor Center on Saturday morning). I've also built a Small Wonder Labs PSK-20 transceiver and a PSK-80 "Warbler" transceiver. The PSK-20 works great; being "antenna challenged" because we're living in a condominium and using an indoor 40M dipole in the attic, I haven't made any contacts with the PSK-80 yet. Hopefully I'll work out something eventually.

Field Day 2003! Falmouth ARA (K1RK) had a great 2A setup with GOTA, VHF/UHF, and even satellite (thanks to member Shawn, N1HOQ) at the Barnstable County fairgrounds. I spent a bunch of time at the VHF/UHF station on Saturday (slow going all weekend for this station as there were never any openings on 6 meters) as well as helping with setup Saturday morning and takedown on Sunday afternoon. I had a great weekend with a great group. See FD 2003 for some pictures that I took at the FARA FD effort.

Also in early 2003, I started using a new multimode rig. The Yaesu FT-897 embodies, in a single rig, HF and VHF/UHF coverage, portability, and QRP or the standard 100W all-around power output. And I have the internal battery packs for it. Until we have permanent quarters, I suspect I'll be doing a lot of portable or mobile operating. And the Collins CW filter is a nice addition too, since I enjoy CW operation. I'm sure I'll have more to tell about this rig as I get operational on VHF/UHF (hopefully a rover setup for contests) as well as mobile on HF.

In July, 2003, I operated for about 5 hours in the IARU HF Contest - good fun even with an indoor dipole! Just doing S & P, and running 20 watts with the FT-897, worked about 20 countries and 70 contacts on 20M SSB and 40M CW. Glad I bought that CW filter!! I'm looking forward to more contest activity in the fall - wonder if there's any way to put an "invisible" antenna outside :-)

By early December, 2003, I'd had lot of fun in a few of the fall contests, in spite of only an attic mounted 40 meter dipole to work with. Managed about 40 countries in a few hours in CQWW SSB, and 60 sections in several hours of section hunting in SS CW. So a less-than-ideal antenna system is certainly NOT hopeless!! Even used the 40 meter attic dipole to work some 6 meter SSB (tropo?) and auroral CW down to central MD and western TN in late October - WOW! Never say never!

   2004

In January 2004, I operated as a rover for a short time in the VHF SS, though just using the dual-band whip on car, and a 20M Hamstick via MFJ tuner on 6M (don't laugh, it actually worked - made some nearly 1000 miles contacts). Over the rather busy winter of 2003/2004, also did a bit of operating in the ARRL DX CW contest, and some miscellaneous DXing and PSK31. FARA FD 2004 was another fun event with the club. The setup again was a 2A with GOTA, VHF/UHF, and Satellite stations. In early July 2004 managed a 6M CW contact with FP/K9OT using the attic dipole!

During late July and early August 2004, we vacationed for 3 weeks on Prince Edward Island. I operated as VY2/W1OH from the rented farmhouse on Point Prim for the last 2 weeks of July. Made a few contacts in the RSGB IOTA contest in particular. A lot of fun; maybe next year I'll try to do a semi-serious contest if something coincides with our summer vacation to PEI.

Fall of 2004 was pretty busy with limited operating opportunities. But I did spend a little time in the Washington State Salmon Run in September, then in October, the California QSO Party (operated from the car on FT897 internal batteries at 20W to a 20M Hamstick, sitting in the driveway of our "real" house in southern NH), Worked All Germany, and QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party. In November, only managed a short time in ARRL SSCW, one of my favorites, then a couple of weeks ago, the ARRL 160M contest in early December. I also made at least a brief appearance in the monthly ARS Spartan Sprints this fall, as well the NAQCC 80M Sprint in December. I really like the short sprints, since that's the easiest sort of event to find time for!

    2005

I've been playing with a borrowed TenTec OMNI-D Series B rig on and off; not bad, but sure makes me appreciate how far technology has come as the FT897 is a real joy to use in comparison. (For example, hand capacitance on the metal of TenTec tuning knob shifts the frequency! It's a design "feature" mentioned in the manual!! Ouch!) Still, it is fun to use a different rig and rough it a bit. Guess it's time to fire up my neglected Sierra QRP CW rig for a change.

In spite of my limited antenna situation (indoor 40M doublet with twinlead feed), I am able to load up and operate on all bands from 160M to 6M. I took advantage of this in December and January to spend a couple of hours each in the ARRL 160M Contest, and the CQ 160M CW Contest. I was able to make contacts as far west as Michigan and south to Florida. Don't give up on low band operation because of limited antennas!! I used N3FJP's software for these contests - very easy to use!

In both January and February I had my best results yet in the monthly ARS Spartan Sprints - see the info at ARS. 40M and 80M conditions were pretty good (and low QRN) for these 2 months. The NAQCC 80M Sprint on January 21 was unfortunately much noisier for me - mostly local noise in the condo complex. I didn't spend too long and only made a couple of contacts - see NAQCC for more info on these QRP CW events (now expanded to 80M & 40M). Still, I usually send in my results. First, it lets the contest sponsors know there is interest in their event. And secondly, you never know what might happen! I recently received a certificate for Top Score - Massachusetts in the QRP ARCI Fall 2004 QSO Party!

I operated about 2 and a half hours in the ARRL DX CW Contest. I had hoped to have more time and make at least 100 contacts, but ended up with about 90 contacts and 15660 points. Again used N3FJP's software for logging.

The annual meeting of the Falmouth Amateur Radio Association was held on the last Saturday of February and I was elected club president for 2005. I'm proud to take on this job for such a fine group!

Field Day 2005 for FARA expanded to Class 4A and it was a real success!

My much needed vacation this year was once again spent on Prince Edward Island. We stayed for 3 weeks again, and I was able to operate in the NAQCC QRP Sprint in July from a cottage near PEI National Park. Then, using a really great setup the final week on Point Prim, I operated both the ARS Flight of the BumbleBees on July 31, plus the ARS Monday Night Sprint the first Monday of August. My antenna at the rental house for this final week ended up over 50 feet off the ground about 100 yards from salt water! We've already reserved 2 weeks here for summer 2006! For a more extensive report with pictures, see my W1OH PEI 2005 Report.

    2006

This year, the QRP To The Field contest on April 29th ran with the theme "Park It Here", with the object of setting up in a public park and doing a little ham radio PR as well as having some operating fun! I decided to request permission to operate from the Marconi Cape Cod Station site at the Cape Cod National Seashore (MA). What a great place for a CW operator to put a station on the air! See my report QRPTTF 2006 from Marconi Cape Cod Station site. For more info on the QRP To The Field events, see the QRP contest page at www.zianet.com/qrp/.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Adventure Radio Society, all 30 1x1 special event calls ending in 'S' were obtained for the monthly ARS Spartan Sprint in May 2006! Combined with excellent conditions on 40M and 20M, this turned out to be one of the best Spartan Sprints in a while for many of us. If you haven't tried QRP sprinting, check it out at ARS - Adventure Radio Society.

Field Day 2006 for FARA found the club back in Class 2A, and the participants were drenched for most of the weekend in steady rain! Can you say MUD? - we had plenty!

As we do most years, vacation was spent in Canada on Prince Edward Island. We enjoyed two weeks at the same cottage on Point Prim. I was able to put in a little time in this year's RSGB IOTA Contest, followed immediately by about 20 contacts in the 2006 ARS Flight of the Bumblebees.

    2007

Wow, what happened to 2007?!

A couple of radio events included going to Lobstercon 2007 in Maine. Had a fun time in spite of the rainy weekend (I did stay in a hotel down the road), but would like to camp onsite next time! Also operated once more from Point Prim on Prince Edward Island. (see my W1OH PEI 2005 Report for info on the site there)

The biggest thing in radio this year was getting an Elecraft K2 kit for my birthday in April, then waiting until the week before Christmas to actually start building it! We've been trying to sell our condo so we can move closer to work, grown kids, and grandkids in the Falmouth, MA area and into a real house once again! So that meant keeping the condo spic & span - i.e. no nasty looking construction project tables! Action on the real estate market being what it is, Christmas was almost here, and I decided to take over a corner for a few days and finally build my K2. Completed it the day before Christmas and got the K160RX option into it a day or two later. Nice rig and fabulous receiver!!!!!

    2008

In the middle of January, I tweaked the filters on the K2 using Spectrogram, so now the receiver sounds even better! I made a bunch of contacts during ARRL Straight Key Night and then, on Feb 2, I operated in FYBO using the K2 from the car while parked at Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable. Great fun and pretty good signals using Hamsticks for 40, 20, and 15M - most activity was on 20M, but 15M opened up enouch to work KK6MC in New Mexico at one point.

In March, I added a KAT2 ATU with BL2 Balun and KNB2 Noise Blanker to the K2 - wow, is it great having the internal ATU! I managed my first Elecraft CW Net check-in with the K2 in early March. And worked a couple of the NAQCC CW Sprints during March and April.

During the months of March through May, I conducted a small elective class at my wife's school on Friday afternoons. The class, "Crystal Sets to Satellites - an Introduction to Ham Radio", ran for 9 Friday afternoons and included a few 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. One of the highlights of the class occurred in early May when I set up the FT897 and a dipole stuck out the 2nd floor window of the school library so I could do a demo on HF. We had a conversation with Rich, K8HGY, who was mobile on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, towing his drag racer to an event in Richmond, VA! Needless to say, that got the kids excited!

In June, I had a pretty good evening in the NAQCC CW Sprint. Then in late June, I operated with the club (Falmouth Amateur Radio Association) for Field Day 2008 and served as station captain for the VHF station, consisting of my FT897 and a club 55 foot tower and yagis for 6M and 2M. For a change, there was great Sporadic-E during Field Day, with over 260 contacts on 6M, including several into Europe on Sunday morning!

73 and GL!

(more to come ... )


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- last update: 7 Jan 2010

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