Semi-Brief WA5IYX Ham Biography

1950 - likely my first recollections of AM radio programs in central Washington state.

1951 - Feb, saw first TV while visiting relatives in the SF Bay Area.

1952 - In UK as USAF depdendent listened to AFN (Armed Forces Network) on medium wave from W. Germany at night.  (Music on our US phonograph not very good with the 50-Hz mains!)

1953 - watched some of QEII Coronation on TV set at base.  Being June, there might have been some Es QRM from Continental stations!

1954 - Jul, saw a lot more TV in Ayr, Scotland while awaiting return to US via MATS from Prestwick.  Got sick on the DC-6 flight to the Azores enroute stop - plane radioed ahead to have MD waiting on arrival.  More US TV experienced in motel stops during cross-country road trip from NY to CA (and maybe some more Es QRM seen).

1955 - May, after six-months in TV-less Del Rio, TX family gets first TV (a 21" GE b&w) on return to SF Bay Area.  I begin to wonder what might be found on the "blank" channels (tried for, but never got Ch 3 Sacramento - no Ch 2 in Oakland yet back then!)

1957 - at age 10 my intense interest in astronomy spread out into radio with the launching of the Sputniks and later Explorer I (I never heard either).  Oblivious to being in the midst of historic Solar Cycle 19.

1958 Apr, attending an open house event at nearby South West Research Institute I became acquainted with the American Basic Science Club, a local maker of a set of eight scientific kits (electronics, optics, etc).  One of the kits included how to learn the Morse Code and a Q&A booklet for the Novice Class License.
  I went so far as to fill out (but never mail in) a Form 610 obtained from the Houston FCC Office.  I just didn't have enough confidence with my ability to receive the code.  So, the next five years were spent as an SWL - starting out with a Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper, thru a Philmore CR5-AC (1959), and then onto a factory-built SX-110 (1962).

1959 - got WPE5ABW "assigned" from Popular Electronics, replacing that very-generic SWL-K5 that I'd been using on my homebrew QSL cards.  This was also my first instance of catching some Ch 2 Es (Andalusia, AL - rather short-skip and, in August, late in the season).  The stage was thus set for my interest in VHF propagation.

1960 - my first full VHF Es season with the TV (although rather limited by only one set for the family!)

1962 - in a bit of serendipity the June issue of CQ magazine was picked up off a newsstand.  It contained the mid-term report that the Monroes (K7ALE, K7ALF) in Arizona were doing on 6-meter propagation.  I decided to start taking TV Es data in their fashion - though that really didn't get solidified until the next summer.  The same issue also contained an Es primmer by W3ASK!
  This was also when I found out that there was a winter TV Es season and finally realized how to use h.f. short-skip as an indicator of possible impending VHF Es events.

1963 - the most extensive TV Es season yet for me.  That fall my High School Radio Club finally gave me the confidence to go for the Technician License - since that would enable me to gather 6-m Es data there.  Back then the exam was sent via the mail, with mine arriving on Saturday, November 23, 1963 - a very easily-remembered date.  By the following Friday I had a proctor (K5UKN, SK) set up - and the ticket arrived on Christmas Eve.
  The initial rig was a Lafayette HE-45a, with its 6AQ5 not doing much to Heising modulate a 2E26.

1964 - a homebrew dipole antenna was soon supplanted with a loaned halo, with which my first 6-m Es QSO was made May 7 (W7KRV, AZ - SK).  I had a 5-element Cushcraft up in time for the major summer events, but with just crystals for 50.124, 50.238, 50.400, and 50.550 MHz life could be very frustrating.  The HE-45 didn't have a bfo, so cw/ssb signals required that I beat the 2nd harmonic from the local oscillator in the SX-110.  Any cw sending was a case of using the PTT button on the mike!  QSL cards finally printed up in July.  Oct, a VFO was obtained, but its use seem to generate more TVI!

1965 - in February a Utica 650A, with bfo, vfo, and much better audio.  It did provide for a key, but having that activate the B+ to the OA2 in the vfo was a bit dubious.  I managed to work several double-hop Es stations that summer season - one particularly monster event (June 18) required QSYing to above 50.7 MHz to get clear of all the am heterodynes!
  Near the end of that season I was gifted an old WRL Globe LA-1 linear (80-6 m, four EL-38s in grounded grid).  Its original internal 5R4GY power supply had been replaced with an external behemouth using a pair of 866As!

1966 - the rising trend to ssb operation was becoming more obvious that season, as I moved to Austin to attend UT there in pursuit of a BS in Physics.  Get to run a few of my simple FORTRAN creations there on IBM1620 and CDC6600 mainframe, key-punched card era (had learned some of that language in early 1964).

1967 - in April I heard, but couldn't work, my first 6-m F2 signals of Cycle 20 from Argentina.  It was then that I decided that some sort of 30-50 MHz receiver was needed in order to track the MUF.  It would be that fall before a simple Radio Shack ($25) Patrolman was obtained - opening up an entire new world of signals for me to monitor.

1968 - that April my first 6-m F2 QSOs were made (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay) on cw and am.  Seeing the increasing dominance of ssb in DX pursuits, I got a Swan 250 by late August enabling me to partake in TE and backscatter events.

1969 - in changing Austin QTHs in May, the 5-el Cushcraft replaced by 3-el version

1970 - back in San Antonio.  Large magnetic storm of March 8 provided my first experience of seeing F2 on Ch 2.  I started as editor of VHF Utility DX columns in the WTFDA VUD (thru 1980).  After many failed attempts, I finally was able to catch some Es on 88-108 MHz in July with an ancient (1949) rf-ampless Stewart-Warner set that had been fixed back in 1962 (but had only managed to get tropo).  Aug, attend and participate in one-day in-house seminar at Boulder on their Summer 1970 Es Project.  Denver Post ham column mentioning that event.

1971 - a brief tenure at the Office of Telecommunications in Boulder, CO enabled me to do some operating and also attend my first CSVHFS meet in Sioux Falls, and the 3rd Seminar on Midlatitude Sporadic E held at Utah State University in Logan, UT where I presented my 1964-1970 50-MHz Es data.

1972 - March issue of Radio Science carries some of the Logan Conference papers.  A more ham-oriented version of mine also appeared in the August 1972 issue of CQ.

1973 - acquire (and rehab) an old SX-62 for 30-50 and 88-108 MHz monitoring.

1974 - December issue of ham radio magazine carries my article on VHF effects of Solar Cycle 20.

1975 - my first catch of high-VHF TV Es with Channel 7 from Wheeling, WV on June 30.  In Sept get "permanent loan" of an SP-600-JX-10 and see what sharp selectivity and fine tuning are like in the 30-50 MHz band.

1976 - complete 6-m WAS (#143) with KL7IBG QSO in June ARRL VHF contest.  Take quick advantage of the new FCC regulations enabling us Techs to use the Novice hf cw bands in July.  August, attend CSVHFS Conference in Houston.  By October a used Swan 500 is in use for hf (though having to swap a common power supply with the Swan 250 until next Feb.)

1977 - catch Ch 13 Es on Feb 7.  Upgrade to Advanced in May (FCC quarterly visit) and get the First Class Commercial Phone.  By Jun have the 5-el instead of the 3-el Cushcraft up again for the first time since May 1969.

1978 - April, first 6-m F2 events of Cycle 21 to South America.  October 16 hear my first BBC and French TV audios.  10-m liaison net for 6-m begins, eventually ending up at 28.885 MHz by next Jan.

1979 - just in time for the fall of NASA's Skylab, a 3-week July trip to VK to visit relatives, get VK4ZG license, but only one 2-m FM simplex QSO!   A few weeks later make the CSVHFS Conference in Irving, TX.  The very unexpected intensity of Cycle 21 enables 6-m paths to ZL (51 MHz) in the spring and Europe (mostly crossband) that fall.  Aug, my first scanner (Bearcat 210) simplifies MUF tracking.  October, the decades-lasting FM-DX tuner, Realistic TM-1001.  November feeding into a standard US TV set i.f. thru a preamp am able to "see" BBC Ch 1 (45 MHz) video.

1980 - Mar, with a 35-mm SLR I am able to take some better TV-DX images.  Apr, get on 144-MHz at last with a used Swan TV-2C transverter (14-MHz i.f.) and catch my first Es there by late May.  Aug 10, an F1 tornado from Hurricane Allen damages antenna system masts.  Later that week attend the CSVHFS Conference in Colorado Springs.  Finish off 6-m WAC with Africa and Asia that fall.

1981 - (Survive colon cancer surgery in February.)  May, get IC-551D to replace the "aging" Swan 250.  Dec, same with IC-730 for Swan 500.   Make it to the CSVHFS Conference in Sioux Falls in July (as it fitted nicely into the chemotherapy regimen).  First scanner quits and is replaced by a Bearcat 210-XL.  Fall 6-m F2 season better than many had expected with African and European paths.

1982 - Feb, get used Swan Mark 6B linear (pair of 3-500Zs) to assist in pileup busting.   (Quit chemotherapy 6 months shy of nominal.)  April, 2-way QSO with VK2BA at 52 MHz.  Jul 13 experience my first 2-m aurora QSO with WØPW in Colorado.  July, CSVHFS Conference in Baton Rouge.

1983 - July, present some of my 88-108 MHz Es data at the CSVHFS in Kansas City.  Oct, attend the ARRL National Convention (and subsidiary SMIRK 10th Anniversary Gathering) in Houston.  Nov, get an Atari 800 computer (though a year before a disk drive).

1984 - Apr, a resurge in solar flux (and some Es linking) give good 6-m F2 South Pacific paths.

1985 - Aug, attend my first (and so far, only) WTFDA convention in New Orleans the week after the CSVHFS one in Tulsa.

1986 - Feb, even though near solar minimum, a strong magstorm makes 6-m F2 paths to Carib. & KH6.

1987 - Feb, 2nd scanner quits and is eventually replaced with a BC-175-XL.  Mar, get a VCR to tape TV DX after impending Ch 2 allocation for Fredericksburg is announced.  July, make the CSVHFS Conference in Arlington, TX.

1988 - Mar, signs of 6-m F2 Cycle 22 paths with first LUs since 1984.

1989 - huge March magnetic storm provides 2-m auroral signals from Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.  Get modem for Atari (300-bd, then quickly 1200-bd).  Fall 6-m F2 season with JA paths far better than Cycle 21 for this part of W5-land.

1990 - October QEX publishes some of my 88-108 MHz Es data.

1991 - an intense Nov magstorm unleashes many 6-m F2 paths.

1992 - March QST publishes my 88-108 MHz Es data for 1980-1990.  Attend and participate in the CSVHFS Conference at nearby Kerrville.  Aug, manage first 2-m meteor scatter (random) QSO.  Upgrade the computer system to a Packard Bell 386-SX-16 (2M RAM, 85-M HD, with Win 3.x.)

1994 - Jul, acquire an RCA 8-mm camcorder

1995 - Mar, finally start using Internet E-mail thru local BBS.  Details of openings via listservers like W6YX beat waiting several weeks for printed results.

1996 - in a continuing-quest for a "good" 108-118 MHz receiver, manage to get a 1950's vintage Narco Omnigator performing.  June, computer upgrade to a used 486-DX-66 enables getting SW Bell as an ISP by early next year.

1997 - Sept, start WWW Home Page on SWB server.  Soon after that a Pentium-166 obtained with Win 95 OS.

1998 - Mar, Cycle 23 now providing 6-m F2 paths again.  The postings of DX news on live internet sites and other real-time scientific data sites enable VHF coordination to a degree not possible during the prior Cycles.

1999 - Feb, 3rd scanner developes problems, a Radio Shack PRO-2048 replaces it.  Sept, upgrade to a Pentium-366 with Win 98 OS.  My first experiences with using RDS for FM DXing.

2000 -  Jul, troubles with Narco Omnigator power supply cause its use to be terminated.  Aug, due to new SW Bell TOS limiting server occupancy, start "auxiliary" Home Page on server permitting the addition of many more images.

2001 - Multiple rig failures.  Feb, IC-551D (likely dc-to-dc converter module) resulting in the ressurrection of the 1968-vintage Swan 250.  Apr, IC-730 smokes a final resistor.  A Kenwood TS-680S long-term loaner restores my hf transmit capability as well as 2-m since the IC-730 had been my 14-MHz i.f. for the TV-2C since June 1992.

2002 - June, get SWBell DSL service; October, finally get a Yaesu FT-847 for HF and VHF - now have 432 MHz.

2003 - May, homebrew a WA5VJB 11-el 432-MHz beam but find slow going on the band   Aug, 8-bay bow-tie UHF antenna system fails (and is not replaced with a CM4228 until Apr 2008)

2004 - Dec, minor stroke slightly derails life briefly right after getting a new E-Machine T3256 XP system

2006 - May, obtain a 1997 Toshiba laptop (16M RAM) - useful but limited (no USB or WiFi)   start with LoTW

2007 - Jul, attend my first CSVHFS Conference (in town) in 15 years

2008 - Mar, get items to decode DTV   Jun, after two years of abortive attempts at upgrading 88-108 MHz system, get a Sony XDR-F1HD tuner

2009 - get Bolin Phase Box to assist FM-DXing   Apr, manage 432-MHz FL QSO; Oct, 8-mm camcorder quits, JVC replacement

2010 - start extensive use of YouTube   Feb, Acer Aspire 5517 laptop (64-bit Win7 OS)

2011 - Mar, add a Sangean HDT-1X tuner (for its fast RDS PI decoding)   Jun SWBell ceases to support Home Pages, most of those contents migrated to site

2012 - Sep, start using an RTL2832U USB device and SDR# as a VHF/UHF spectrum analyzer as well as Seeeduino board mod to XDR-F1HD

2013 - May, get a Radio Shack PRO-163 scanner enabling trunking and CTCSS decoding

2014 - Feb, Acer Aspire 5517 laptop fails, get Gateway NE-522 (Win 8 OS).  Aug, get Radio Shack PRO-2004 scanner so can monitor for low VHF NTSC aud/vid carriers and ATSC (DTV) pilots.

2015 - Apr, get Airspy SDR unit (nearly a month from Hong Kong), but its use for 88-108 MHz Es mitigated by the computer platform and the several 100-kws 9 mi w.n.w. of me.
Oct 21-29, hospitalized for gallbladder surgery (they could not use the modern, simple laparoscopic method since many adhesions had developed from my prior Feb 1981 surgery).   Miss my first CQWWDX Phone Contest since uprgrading to Advanced in 1977.
Page Created: August 19, 2000
Last Modified: Dec 23, 2015