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Katashi Nose, KH6IJ

Katashi Nose, KH6IJ, was a giant in amateur radio around the world. His contesting skills were legendary, and his skills at teaching with entertaining and informative lectures made him a favorite among the University of Hawaii Physics Department professors.

We begin the Hawaii Amateur Radio Hall of Fame with an intriguing journey through time, and the personal recollections by those who had the privilege to know him.


Katashi Nose's operating skill and knowledge is legendary with amateur radio operators. For many hams, he was often the first Hawaii or Oceania contact and was known and respected throughout the world as a DXer and chapmpion contester. He had a unique mix of ability, patience and good sportsmanship.

He was also an outstanding teacher of physics and science, and had a storied life filled with accomplishments and writings.

The running joke was if you had a question about contesting, you should ask Katashi....Katashi Nose. As an example of his knowledge, skill and craftiness, he would "bait" the East Coast stations by calling CQ several times without making a contact so that a big pile-up of West Coast stations would attract the East Coast stations. He'd then work the East Coast THROUGH the pile-up!

The Master of Morse Code

Nose could copy morse code well over 75 words per minute. He once used a typewriter in a speed competition to keep up with his audio skills because he could copy CW faster in his head.

During contests and other competition, the number of stations contacting him was phenominal. In order to make a CW contact, he'd tell the sending station to send FASTER (QRQ), not slower, so that he could hear the calling station through the heavy pile-up. You can read his words yourself in this 73 Magazine, Feb 1968 article. New

He was described as a "machine gun operator" on CW, hammering away at the contacts with the speed and hard hitting precision of a machine gun. He often copied two or three CW contacts simultaneously. Then, he would answer them by issuing two or three contact reports one after another before listening again for the next stations to call. If you were sending his callsign to him as a preamble to sending your callsign for the contact, you were wasting your time as he'd use the time to work other stations before responding to you.

At Dayton Hamvention 2007, Rich Rosen, K2RR related to me that he once asked during a casual QSO with Katashi what was his limit on the number of callsigns he could remember at one time. Katashi told him that in the pile-ups, he could pick out and remember up to FIVE callsigns before he sent replies to all five stations one after another.

At the other end of the scale, he was also famous for patiently working and tutoring entry-level Novice class licensees on 15 and 10 meters.

The Early Years

Katashi Nose was born in Palama near present day Liliha Street and Vineyard Boulevard. Katashi attended McKinley High School. During his junior year, he was seated next to a girl named Matsuyo in one of his classes. He later became interested with amateur radio from a school friend in 1931, learning the morse code overnight and was first licensed in 1932 as K6CGK. He later married Matsuyo, so he said that Mrs. Nose was his first love in life and amateur radio was the second.

Nose developed the art of listening to morse code in his head, mainly to save scratch paper. Nose earned money by copying high-speed press news on contract. This meant he was paid for copying press news for a company named Press Wireless which was sent in morse code and he had to copy a certain volume of news items per day. He developed a scheme of copying more text in a given amount of time by transcribing the CW on a dictaphone (while listening to another broadcast). Later, he played back the recording at a higher speed to copy the news. He contended that high-speed code calls for quick reflexes. He gives tips on how to build up code speed in his article "High-Speed Code", QST November 1965, Pages 53-54.

Katashi was the first station outside the continent to win ARRL's Worked All States (WAS) award in 1936 which was quite an accomplishment for its day (WAS no. 153). He was the first Hawaii station to earn Worked All Zones (WAZ, no. 62, 1948) and ARRL's DX Century Club (DXCC no. 255, 1948). In 1952, he received his Amateur Extra Class license, the fifth U.S. ham to do so. He eventually got his famous callsign, KH6IJ.

Nose began writing a column "With Hawaii's Radio Amateurs" in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper, which ran from June 10, 1937 to December 31, 1992. It was the longest running column for the newspaper, featuring amateur radio news of Hawaii, the US and abroad. Dave Donnely noted in his December 22, 2002 three dot column of Nose's writing in 2002. New

Chemistry fascinated Katashi. It offered the opportunity to combine ingredients into new formulations, with sometimes explosive results. On the practical side, seeing that the bulk of Hawaii's economy then was based on sugar cane production and the harvesting of sugar, Nose made a practical career choice in applied chemistry by studying sugar production at the University of Hawaii, graduating in June 1937.

Kauai High School

He landed a job in 1940 as a science teacher at Kauai High School. Many students over the years learned chemistry, physics and electronics. Among them included Eric Shinseki, who would become an U.S. Army four-star general, Commander of US forces in Europe and the 34th Joint Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush.

During his time on Kauai, he supplemented his teacher's pay by repairing phonographs, radios and electronics. He served as the chief broadcast engineer for Kauai's only broadcast radio station KTOH-AM 1490 kHz which started in May 9, 1940. New He'd fill in at times broadcasting with live interviews.

Bill Orenstein, KH6QX ex-KH6IAF, noted that Katashi was a protegee of Dr. Hidetsugu Yagi of the Yagi-Uda antenna fame. New On weekends, Katashi would use the large fields at Kauai High School to try out, field test and perfect his latest antenna projects. His design was so successful that it was published in the ARRL Antenna Handbook for years. His favorite was the Gamma match, which was a modification and variation of the Delta match that he used for vertical antennas on the AM broadcast tower.

His love of radio caused a problem immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The FBI detained him for being a Japanese-American in possession of transmitting radio equipment. He was released ten days later after notable people, including Joseph Farrington, the territorial delegate to Congress and publisher of the Star-Bulletin, vouched for him. Both his parents were employed by the Farringtons.

Just outside of Lihue, the high school was situated on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. Katashi turned part of the schoolroom into a ham shack. The school grounds became home to an antenna farm that stretched over several acres featuring rhombics and 40 meter beams. Over the years, the station grew to a top-of-the-line Collins receiver, a 1 kilowatt transmitter, a rhombic antenna, an eight element ten meter beam, a five element fifteen meter beam and a fixed forty meter beam. In contrast, the KTOH AM broadcast station had a 450 watt transmitter.

In the spirit of being a true ham, Katashi made the most of what was available. He combined familiar objects into novel yet simple ways of explanation, educating young and old on how things work. And he used the same resourceful approach on projects to extend common and everyday items to transform them beyond their original purpose into new and practical objects.

For example, building an antenna farm provided a challenge. Commercial metal towers were beyond his budget and thin-wall aluminum tubing was hard to come by. Using materials that were available, he built a 75-foot tower from wood. Sam Bohol, KH6BTV, remembers the beam antenna built using a wooden stepladder as the boom and steel pipe for the elements. The antenna weighed over 200 pounds. Dan Ferguson, KH6BS, noted that Nose recycled the steel pipe from the Lihue sugar plantation irrigation system. New

Don Ikeda, one of his students and a former ham KH6BIW, related how Nose taught many students the finer art of electronics and amateur radio by building radios from scratch. Starting with an aluminum baking pan, Nose stepped him through homebrewing his own CW transmitter. Don turned the pan over and began punching holes to mount tube sockets salvaged from discarded radios. The outer glass and filaments were removed from worn-out tubes and the tube base used as a form for winding and mounting the coils. He even made them grind their own crystals! It was a great way of equipping the newly licensed Novices and Generals.

Nose mentored his students with personal habits that offered insights to his constantly thinking and innovative mind. "Always carry a memo pad," he told Al Asakura, ex-KH6DAS, now NH6S. "You'll never know when you'll get an idea and write it down."

In addition to being inventive, Nose was also a rascal. He took a cigar box, filled it with dirt, and placed it on the equipment cabinet directly behind the operator's position in the ham shack. He then strung a line from the box and tied it to the tuning mechanism of the radio. Student Mel Yoshida, KH6TB, got the honors when he tuned the rig, tipped the box and received a dirt shower.

University of Hawaii

In 1957, Russia and Sputnik spurred the US to build up its physics education program. Shell Oil offered one hundred scholarships for teachers. Nose won a scholarship to obtain a masters at Stanford. Dan Ferguson, KH6BS, recalls Nose as an instructor at the radio/electronics institute Electrotech located on Dillingham Blvd next to the Caterpillar showroom near Waikamilo St. Dan recalls Nose teaching there during a summer prior to 1959. New

In 1959, Nose won a National Science Foundation Fellowship Awards Summer Fellowship for Secondary School teachers. To improve his teaching, Katashi moved to Massachusetts to study and obtain his masters in education from Harvard University. There, he became a member of the Harvard Wireless Club and graduated from Harvard in 1960. The University of Hawaii offered him a position to teach Physics 100 starting in 1962. He taught three hundred students each semester, keeping twelve teaching assistants occupied. Nose received the University of Hawaii Excellence in Teaching Award in 1971.

Bill Ridgway Jr, AH6TW, recalls accompanying Nose as he taught for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Summer Institute for High School Physics Teachers in the late 1960's. He taught twice in Japan and once in Fiji. While in Japan, Nose operated from the military hotels using the call KA2IJ.

Nose remained active as a writer for ARRL, often submitting articles and offering tips in Hints and Kinks section.

PEACESAT Project

In the early 1970's, Nose became involved with the PEACESAT project. PEACESAT was a project to reuse a surplus geosynchronous ATS-1 satellite for educational and public service purposes.

The ATS-1 (Applied Technology Satellite) was a 352 kilogram satellite launched on December 7, 1966 and parked over the equator near South America. Manufactured by Hughes Space and Communications Company, it had a design life of three years and examined geosynchronous applications and techniques, including spin stabilization.

It included a VHF communications package that received on 149.22 Mhz, and retransmitted on 135.6 Mhz. The primary objective was to evaluate communications between ground stations and aircraft, but also ran other experiments including relaying meteorological data from remote terminals. It was a 100 Khz bandwidth double-conversion repeater, and transmitted 5 watts per antenna element into an eight element phased antenna array made of VHF dipoles for a total VHF RF output of 40 watts. The antenna array exhibited 9-dB gain.

In 1969 at the end of the scheduled use of the satellite, NASA issued a Request For Proposal for the use of ATS-1 for narrowband communication and application experiments. UH Communications professor Dr. John Bystrom recognized the potential and provided a proposal to NASA to conduct technical and cultural experiments known as PEACESAT. The goal was to use the satellite to relay voice and data communications among the many far-flung islands in the South Pacific.

As a member of the team that created PEACESAT, Professor Nose's role was to create low cost ground stations, reusing off-the-shelf and surplus items. He used surplus police and taxi radios, downbanding the radios to transmit into the satellite passband. He used chicken mesh wire and a wooden frame as a part of the reflector for the antenna system.

Nose said his greatest thrill was when he first tested his transmission to the ATS-1 satellite located 23,000 miles above the Pacific. He uttered into the mike the word "One". A third of a second later, he heard his voice in the radio after being relayed through the satellite's onboard repeater and making the 53,000 mile round trip.

PEACESAT used the ATS-1 satellite from April 1971 until August 1985, when it ran out of hydrazine fuel used to maintain the satellite's position.

Over the years, Nose made contacts with one of the team members that designed the ATS-1 phase array antenna system, and integrated and tested the antenna with the electronics. Bob Nielsen, N7XY recalls making 40 word per minute CW contacts with Nose during CW contests.

Nose suffered a stroke around March 1979 and retired from the University. In 1971, Nose was awarded the Regents' Medal for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Hawaii. In May 1983, Nose was honored as Radio Amateur of the Year at Dayton Hamvention. The Buddhist temple Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i honored him in 1985 by designating Nose one of the Living Treasures of Hawai'i. In 1986, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International DX Convention in Visalia, California. In April 1987, he was inducted as member number two into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was awarded the Presidential Award of the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA). In 2002, he was inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame.

Katashi Nose passed away on April 7, 1994. His passing moved Bob McGwier N4HY to write:


    Oft I sit in wonder,
    listening to 160 static and thunder,
    asking again for my eyes to stay alive again
    wondering why I do the world wide.
    Just as I begin to believe I will fold
    a singular fist comes out of a hole.
    Static and QRM yield a familiar sound.
    Eyes pop open and joy is found.
    There's the old man out in the middle of the sea.
    And again I will be given Hawaii.
    It just will never be as fun
    Without the omnipresent Nose san.
    My mind knows his was a life that was full
    but my heart aches for his fist in the lull.
    I listen, but only silence follows the silent key.

The family created a memorial scholarship fund with the EARC (Emergency Amateur Radio Club), which is awarded to two science/engineering fair projects at the Hawaii Science and Engineering Fair which is held annually around April involving the science and art of radio in remembrance of Katashi Nose.

Personal Rememberances by AH6RH

Katashi Nose was a regular at the Honolulu Amateur Radio Club monthly meetings in 1970s, which were held in the evenings in the ground floor meeting room of the Kaimuki Library. I recall him giving a wide-ranging talk on various fascinating aspects of amateur radio, using an overhead projector to show slides of the wooden tower and homebrew beam, and talking of shifts in polarization experienced in satellite communications due to Faraday rotation.

I'd hear Nose in the afternoons on 146.52 MHz. Those were the days of crystal VHF radios (before synthesized radios) and only a handful of repeaters, so a lot of time was spent on 52. He'd hike up the backside of Diamond Head which was near his home for exercise. He'd be on his Genave walkie making contacts as he'd hike up 200 ft to the top.

Entering the University in 1974, I often passed by his office on the ground floor of the Physical Science Building on my way to classes and work in Keller Hall. His office PSB 104 was near the walkway at the bottom of the stairs, near to the row of vending machines. Nose had modified the doorway of his office, installing an extra door frame and glass section. By "opening" his door inward about six inches, you could see through the glass to see if he was in or out of his office, yet the door could remain locked using the inner door frame.

There were a number of newly licensed hams entering the University which he tried to get organized into an amateur radio club (the University of Hawaii Amateur Radio Club). Being truly new to amateur radio, the university and getting organized into a functioning body, we experienced modest activities.

Mentoring at Field Day

For Field Day 1976 (or was it 1977), he offered to put together a site at Waimanalo Beach Park for us students. Teaming up with Sonny Gaspar, KH6CHL, they brought out a whole load of materials and equipment, including a full size Army tent, generators, and a complete HF station. As one person put it, the Army tent was huge enough to hold a church service. I'm sure they cashed in a lot of personal favors to host that superb Field Day for us.

Nose drove up that Saturday morning in his white Valiant, with a 20 ft crank-up tower strapped to the top of the car. After unloading it and guying down the base, he used a wooden step ladder to place a tri-bander on the top. A few moments later, the hand crank went into action and up went the antenna. Later that morning, the setup needed adjustment. Nose climbed the tower to do the job.

We were so green, Nose had to teach us the exchange for Field Day. "K H 6 I J. QRZ. Give your report One Alpha and your section, Pacific." "What's an ARRL section?" I asked. "You can find a copy at the front of the QST magazine. Look here." (I often think of Nose when I see the beginning section of QST.) With each contact, we learned by osmosis the abbreviations for each section. SJ, SJV, SD.

He said not to be like some operators and waste time saying "Good luck in the contest" to buy time while setting up for the next contact. Go right ahead and work the next contact. I still wound up with a very long pause between contacts sorting things out. Yes, we all had to start somewhere at some time. I couldn't have had a better sensei to get me started in HF or contesting. (For other tips and perspectives, see "I'm Not in The contest, But...", QST March 1968 pages 56-57.)

They say the callsign KH6IJ is worth a kilowatt on the air, and that was true. A lot of hams asked if Nose was around, or said to pass along their regards. And, being on HF voice for the first time, I really wasn't absorbing the true significance of their inquiries. He was truly well known and well liked.

I enjoy contesting, but these days I save my Field Day time to mentor others and ensuring that the stations are running in peak condition. I find it to be a good Field Day if I operate late at night while the other operators are fast asleep to rediscover and relive the experience. I love to hear the thrill in the other station's voice when we give the "PAC" section ("Thanks for the new one!") to them. Each year, I still get a bang hearing the sections roll in as part of the exchange and gratefully remember it was Nose that taught me that. I get as much thrill giving out contacts as much as I get when I receive them, and I understand Nose's joy in the teaching and giving out the contacts, It's the same thrill and joy our Volunteer Examiner testing team gets when we are able to award hams that pass their FCC exams with new or upgraded licenses.

Physics 151 Lab Workshop

I took Physics 151 as part of my undergraduate education. Part of the class involved time in the laboratory doing hands-on experiments and education. One of the labs involved building a one tube AM broadcast radio receiver, and listening to the audio through headphones.

I looked over the notes and the materials. The receiver was an aluminum baking pan, upside down, with a tube socket mounted through a hole punched through it, and a handful of components wired point-to-point under the protective cover of the baking pan. We were to get a low voltage vacuum tube from a box of supplies, gently insert it into the socket, wire in the battery, headphone and random wire antenna and begin listening to signals by tuning the 365 picofarad variable air capacitor. The lab notes outlined how the single tube acts as both the radio detector and audio amplifier to convert amplitude modulated broadcast signals into the audio heard in the headphones. I marvelled at the simplicity and efficiency of the unit. Then I spotted the name of the creator at the end of the lab notes -- Katashi Nose.

Antenna Workshop

I recall one Saturday morning Nose offered a an amateur radio workshop in the Physical Science Building auditorium where he taught. He demonstrated how a beam antenna worked, first starting out with a two meter dipole antenna, then adding additional elements to see the effect on antenna gain.

First, he constructed a simple receiver in the form of a crystal diode detector hooked up to a field strength meter. He was ingenious. To be able to show the movement of the field strength meter to everyone, he mounted a large meter movement into a clear plastic case, and then placed it on an overhead projector for all to see.

He showed us that placing a metal rod PERPENDICULAR near the antenna did not have a substantial effect on the received field strength, as much as it interacted when it was PARALLEL to the dipole. Changing the LOCATION of the rod and the dipole had an effect on the field strength meter. Changing the DISTANCE between the rod and dipole had an effect.

I remember some of his observations and humorous conclusions. Power lines can block the propagation pattern of HF beam antennas in the near field. Therefore to avoid the effect, Nose suggested that we tell the power company (a) to install vertically oriented power lines, or (b) cut the power lines into sections that are the same wavelength as the antenna.

He showed that just because an antenna had low SWR, that it didn't mean it would radiate a good signal. You don't want an antenna that loads well with a good SWR match; you want an antenna that radiates. He placed a pair of metal toilet bowl floats at the ends of a dipole. The antenna loaded well, but the field strength meter didn't move. He replaced the floats with a pair of springs from a bed mattress. Same result, the field strength meter didn't budge. The antenna loads well, but doesn't radiate.

He put the dipole on the boom of the home-built beam, then started adding a reflector element. We watched the effect on the field strength meter as he varied the spacing between the reflector and the driven element. Then, he added a director element and again we watched the effect as he adjusted the spacing among these three elements of the beam antenna. There was definitely more signal received by that beam antenna compared to the dipole. I can just imagine him doing the same thing on a weekend afternoon at the school on Lihue, Kauai, raising and lowering a twenty meter antenna beam antenna to make adjustments and walking around the field taking measurements and evaluating the antenna performance. I can see that size does not matter. It's all RF.

He even demonstrated that size was no factor to radio principles. He created a microwave dipole antenna by pushing two pins into an eraser at the end of a pencil and wiring it up. You could see the results on the field strength meter as he moved the pencil around. It really worked! (Yes, his experiment also got me into microwave. 1296 Mhz is my favorite band for experimenting with simplex communications using beam antennas and developing advanced techniques for emergency communications over long distances using compact antennas.)

He mentioned the reciprocity principle of antennas -- an antenna system that is good for receiving is also good for transmitting and vice versa. So it makes sense when using a manual antenna tuner to listen and tune for the maximum receiver noise before tuning the transmitter on the air.

I'll never forget his explanation that day that an antenna is really an elongated capacitor. (Really?) He drew a capacitor on the overhead projector, along with the electric field lines between the two plates. He explained while "stretching" the capacitor plates by a series of progressive diagrams into a long, thin wire dipole and an effective antenna -- a very simple discussion. He adjusted the electric field lines in each of the diagrams just to show the dipole antenna was still a capacitor. This got me to realize that a lot of "mystical" properties of radio and electronics are not as mysterious and difficult to imagine as I had previously believed.

Hunting Foxes

He even got me into hunting hidden transmitters, also known as fox hunting. I still have the one sheet write-up from him on how to make a cheap beam antenna. It's a resourceful design, using a broomstick handle, aluminum clotheswire for the elements and a gamma match using teflon wire wrapped around the active element as the "gimmick capacitor". We called it "The Nose Special".

He also showed us how to make a poor-man's signal anttenuator by using two loops of wire that could couple together as a variable, lossy RF transformer. And, to shield the radio in shielded box made from cardboard covered with multiple layers of aluminum foil and paper towels to increase the shielding without adding much thickness or cost. And, there's always the no-cost "body-fade" technique of using your body as a shield.

He showed us what he used. It was a Kay Electric (Pine Brook, N.J.) commercial attenuator that had increments that were switch selectable. He mentioned if we had the bucks, we could get a Hewlett-Packard attenuator.

At one event in Waianae Valley, I thought I was doing pretty good 1/2 hour into the hunt when Nose pulled up in his white Valiant with license plates KA2IJ on the other side of the road to take a measurement using his yagi and drove off in the "wrong" direction back to the starting point. It took me about 50 minutes to find the fox. I didn't realize he found it in 19 minutes, and had pulled over to make comparison measurements (and to confuse me) after winning first place!

At another event, he started a fox hunt on the West side of Punchbowl Crater with about 15 teams. (It's not too far from where I now live.) The fox hunt would co-incide prior to the a hamfest at a church at the base of Diamond Head. He assured us at this fox hunt you couldn't do the usual thing and find the transmitter just by driving around a corner and finding a dozen cars with ham license plates parked near the fox. On cue, his friend George Tam, KH6EM started up the automated fox transmitter. Nose then left for the hamfest at Unity Church near Diamond Head.

It took almost three frustrating hours, but I managed to track down the fox -- at the hamfest swapmeet to the east. Nose used Punchbowl Crater to shield us from the direct line-of-sight signal causing every team to start off chasing reflected signals -- because it was guaranteed that the crater would block any direct signals. After two baffling hours trying to figure out the source of the signal, I gave up and headed towards the swap meet only to find that the signal improved as we got closer. Of course his word was good as gold, as I couldn't just find the transmitter because there were literally dozens of cars with ham license plates all around! (I began to learn about Nose's sly sense of humor.)

At the hamfest, I kept going back and forth among all these hams using my Nose special beam, and couldn't figure out why the signal was coming first from the hamfest, then from the street. I'd go across the street, and the signal was coming from the hamfest. I'd run into the hamfest, but the signal was coming from the street. I'd walk down the street, but it was coming from the hamfest.

All the while, Nose watched me walk all over the area. He suggested that my receiver was being overwhelmed by the close-in signal and I needed to adjust for that by shielding it. He didn't know I was using a police scanner that was tuned almost nine megahertz off-frequency to highly attentuate the incoming signal. It was working pretty good, but the results weren't making any sense. I thought I had him, but it just wasn't good enough.

He had me good. I had no clue what to do next. In the meantime, some of the other hams were hinting "you're getting warm..." It was only after I paused to rest next to the hood of a car, looked down and found a small typewritten paper note taped on the car hood near the base of the AM antenna announcing "Congratulations, you have found the fox" did I realized his craftiness.

The fox transmitter was a Regency HR-2 crystal mobile transceiver under the hood of George Tam's (KH6EM) car, a silver Ford Granada, parked on the street immediately in front of the hamfest! Nose completely concealed the unit by wiring the HR2 to the AM radio antenna, used the car's battery for power, and hooked up a continuous loop cassette tape recorder and timer to key the transmitter. He even tuned the car antenna by bending it near the top. It was completely unattended and invisible. (Talk about being outfoxed by the fox.)

I was the last man in, and I knew I learned another hard-fought and unforgettable lesson from the master. Without a single word from the teacher, I learned RF, DF'ing, concealment, reasoning and perseverance. I gained much respect for the crafty, spirited old man and am grateful for the experience.

Over the years, I've been using the general area at Punchbowl for a number of radio-based activities, especially simplex and space contacts. It's the site of a Board of Water Supply reservoir. Most recently, I found that the area surrounding the reservoir has been enclosed with a fence and barbed wire, so it'll be difficult to replicate that memorable start of that DF event.

UH Amateur Radio Club

A number of us students were organized by Katashi and formed the University of Hawaii Amateur Radio Club (UHARC).

Nose found the means of getting us a real ham shack and got us started with a TH6DXX tribander yagi, and a Swan 500 transceiver. The ham shack turned out to be a Sears tool shed atop the roof of the Physical Science building. The shed was old, and roof had started to leak. There were a number of items stored within the shed, but off to one side, there was a wooden table built atop a wooden floor. There sat the Swan 500 and the CDE rotator control for the six element Hy-gain TX6DXX tribander. The tribander was mounted atop a pipe fitting, which was attached to the side of the elevator equipment room and got the antenna up about eighty feet above the surrounding campus grounds.

I was not much into HF or tube equipment in those days, but a couple of the others were. Mike, KH6TM and Cliff, KH6IKL made time to get on the CQ World-wide phone and CW contests in November. It was a real feat operating from that shack, as the intense afternoon sun and the elevator equipment room blocked any form of a breeze making it literally a super hot place to operate.

Years later, a co-worker Stan Ohtani fills me in on more detail. It turned out that the tool shed was storage and operating area for the PEACESAT ground station atop the Physical Science building! For each radio session, students would haul out the antenna and equipment from the shed, set it up on the roof and operate from a table on the roof -- because the shed was just too hot to stay inside and operate. Stan confirmed seeing the downbanded taxi radios, and chicken wire antenna in use that day.

A visit with the Noses

I recall a visit to Nose's home sometime in the 1970's. He had invited me over to listen to an Oscar 13 satellite contact. He showed me around his shack, which was off to the side of the living room. His station included a Kenwood TS-930SAT, and a homebrew tube amp with a handwound transformer. On the other part of the station was a Yaesu FT-726 for his Oscar satellite work.

Photo by AH6RH

As I was soaking in all the equipment, Nose pointed to a picture sitting atop the equipment. It was a picture of him in the 1930's sitting on the running board of a black sedan car with his arms around a fine young lady sitting in his lap. I smiled as I realized that it was him holding onto his honey, Mrs. Nose, in their younger days. You can just see the joy and love beaming from their smiling faces.

Nose was working the AO-13 satellite that morning. He encouraged me to try a QSO on the satellite. Being totally new and unfamiliar to it, I politely declined. Being the sensei that he was, he gently and firmly encouraged me to try it, and set about tuning in the passband for a QSO. There was a W3 in Virginia wrapping up a QSO. Nose gave him a call, and told the gentleman he had a ham nearby for a QSO. After introducing me, he turned over the mike while the other station started the QSO.

Photo by AH6RH

When I keyed the mike to talk, I heard rising above the light static my voice with the echo of a slight delay. I was thrilled to hear it sounding just like a classic long distance satellite phone call. My eyes twinkled. It was fascinating to know my voice had traveled thousands of miles through space and back using the equipment that was right in front of me! We had a quick chat with the W3 station. In a few minutes, the contact was over. I was hooked. I vowed to myself to get onto satellites when I had a chance to build a ground station.

Mrs. Nose stopped by for a chat. In the course of the conversation, she noted he was always there at the station. She mentioned other wives and girl friends asked her if she was bugged by the fact that he was on the air so much. Philosophically, she said "At least I know where he is."

Before I departed that morning, he took me outside to show me the antennas. Atop the 52-foot Rohn tower with motorized crank-up was a KLM KT-34 beam topped off with a four-element six meter beam. On the side was an OSCAR setup with a homebrew 432 Mhz circularly polarized helical antenna, using chicken wire mesh as the ground plane reflector.

Photo by AH6RH

The Joy of Space Communications

I recalled the influence of Nose on my pursuit of space communications with astronaut Bill McArthur, KC5ACR. He's the most active ham radio astronaut, and I mentioned Nose while talking with Bill on one of his early morning passes aboard the International Space Station on April 1, 2006. "I got into space communications when Professor Katashi Nose, KH6IJ, showed me his Oscar 13 station. In fact his home is only a few blocks from where I am right now, and that was back in '76 or '77, and I got hooked after that. Go ahead." "Well thanks Ron. That sounds like an awefully great person to introduce you to it. Very inspirational." We made that exchange, just before making a QSO contact from the ISS on 437.55 MHz, which is very, very rare and is one of my most prized QSL - and Nose had a big part in it years ago. At HamVention 2007, I got the thrill of shaking Bill's hand, and had him sign that rare UHF QSL card from the ISS.

On April 10, 2007 at 6:25 pm local time, I unknowingly became the first person in the world to contact space tourist Charles Simonyi, KE7KDP aboard the International Space Station using the same mobile technique I perfected while contacting Bill. I would not have had those two joys if it were not for Nose. And that very location on Punchbowl Crater where Nose outfoxed me on the transmitter hunt more than twenty years earlier is also one of my favorite operating locations for working satellite mobile.

On October 19, 2008 at about 6:30 am, I helped Dr. Richard Ando, WH7HZ and his Boy Scout troop make contact with Richard Garriott, W5KWQ aboard the International Space Station. Not only were they talking with Richard, but they could actually see the ISS in the morning twilight move overhead! The icing on the cake was Trenton Omuro, WH7RB made his first space contact just 12 days after he received his first amateur radio license!

The joy of space communications lives on.

The Joy of Amateur Radio

Nose engineered a lot of radio and amateur radio in its formative days. Not only did he single-handledly build up Hawaii's ham population through years of mentoring and encouragement turning everyday materials or surplus items into ham projects, but his love of teaching, explaining and inspiring people was multiplied in those people and is making contributions to the community each and every day.

One big curiosity crossed my mind. I asked Mrs. Nose what was in amateur radio that captivated Katashi, inspired him, and moved him to build, operate and teach radio. Off-hand, she couldn't say. It was one of those questions I would have to ask Professor Nose. But I never got the chance.

David Ring, Jr N1EA, passed along that when Katashi Nose was on leave from UH and worked in Massachesetts in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Nose loved the joy of the unknown, of communication and thus knowledge beyond sight and sound. This was what propelled his two big interests and curiousities in life - physics and radio.

These days, whenever I do something for others in amateur radio, I see it as carrying on spreading the joy and education that Katashi Nose gave me, and the wonderful support given by an amazing woman, Matsuyo.


Harvard Wireless Club
Harvard Wireless Club
Harvard Wireless Club
PEACESAT Timeline
Honorary Captain of the US WRTC WorldRadioSport Team Championship
CQ Contest Hall of Fame, No. 2
CQ DX Hall of Fame
CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame, 2002

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Created: April 26, 2006 Updated: August 22, 2012
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