My favorite band is six meters. I operated six meters back in the mid-1970's from Huntsville, AL using my dad's station which was a Lafayette HA-460 transceiver then later a Utica 650 transceiver with some sort of large 6 or 7 element beam up about 40 feet. I can't remember what kind of antenna it was.
We operated AM only, no sideband or cw. My dad even ran the HA-460 mobile for a while with a squalo antenna mounted to the back bumper of the station wagon where it rode 2 or 3 feet up above the car.
There was a lot of local six meter activity in Huntsville back in those days. A net was held twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and there would be 30 or 40 check ins from all over North Alabama. My dad and I would have ragchew sessions on Sunday afternoons with several local guys. Operating six was a lot of fun back then, even though it was all low power AM.
I got back on six meters in October 2013, after being off the band for about 35 years. I'm not sure what took me so long to get back on the band but I put a 2 element beam on the tower and it's up about 45 feet. I use a Ten Tec OMNI VII and an Elecraft KPA 500 amplifier when needed.
I've been keeping some records since I got back on six meters and I've put them in the table below. Confirmed means confirmed with a paper QSL card. I get more confirmations through paper QSL cards than I do through the ARRL Logbook of the World.
Some of the contacts listed in the table are from 2003 or so when I used my Tennadyne T6 on six meters and managed to snag some stations. I don't think the T6 is really meant to work on six meters but the internal tuner on the radio did allow the antenna to be used. My confirmed Hawaii contact occurred during that time so I guess it worked well enough.
I just received my SMIRK number which is something I should have done 40 years ago. My number is 6974.
Grid Squares Worked/
Ten Tec OMNI VII transceiver
N4PY Control Panel
Station photo July 2015
My station transceiver is a Ten Tec OMNI VII which I operate using the N4PY control software.
The combination of the N4PY software, the Omni VII, and the Model 302 remote tuning encoder works really well. Every button on the remote encoder except the 'E' button can be set through the software to perform a different function.
If you choose which functions you want to perform through the buttons you can almost operate the radio without having to take your hand off of the encoder.
My computer has four 9-pin serial ports. The radio, the KPA500 amplifier, and the serial relay board are plugged into three of the ports. The N4PY software talks to all three devices so that the amplifier automatically changes bands when the radio changes bands. The proper antenna for each band is automatically selected through the serial relay board which is wired into the Ameritron RCS-8V antenna switch.
The N4PY software also talks to the HDSDR software that controls the Softrock Ensemble II software defined receiver. The SDR provides a second receiver and panadapter up through 30mhz for the Omni VII. When the radio is tuned the SDR follows and when a signal is mouse-clicked in the SDR panadapter display the Omni VII is tuned to that frequency.
And finally, the logging software reads the frequency and mode from the Omni VII when I make a new log entry so that I
don't have to remember to do it.
The station equipment is:
- Ten Tec OMNI VII transceiver (main)
- Yaesu FT-817ND transceiver (portable/QRP)
- Rohn 25G tower, about 40 feet tall
- Tennadyne T6 log periodic antenna for 20 through 10 meters
- Diamond A502HB 2 element beam for six meters
- Dipole antennas for 30 and 40 meters
- Elecraft KPA500 amplifier
- LDG AT-1000ProII antenna tuner
- Softrock Ensemble II software defined receiver
- Realistic PRO-2006 400 channel scanner (25mhz to 520mhz, and 760 to 1300mhz, no gaps)
- about a mile of wire and cables to connect everything together
A few days ago I put up my Diamond X-50 vhf/uhf ground plane antenna and connected it to the Pro-2006 scanner. The antenna is only about 15 feet above the ground and now I can hear all of the local repeaters that I can't hear with just my HT on its antenna.
I can also hear the various VHF and UHF business band frequencies that I listen to. I think all of the public safety agencies in the area are using digital trunk systems but there's still a lot of stuff to listen to on the old analog scanner.
Even though the antenna is made for the aircraft band I can hear transmissions from airplanes. But I can't hear the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The airport is about 20 miles from my home as the crow flies and I don't know if I could hear the aiport even with a proper antenna up 25 or 30 feet. There are probably a lot of hills between the airport and my location.
The scanner has an Optoscan OS456 board in it for computer control. The only software I have is called Probe and it is DOS-based software. I haven't tried it under Windows 8.1 so I don't know if it will work.
The software will decode touch tones and CTCSS tones. It will activate a tape recorder only when a signal is heard so that the recorder isn't running all the time. It will log the dates and times of transmissions.
Memory management is done through the software rather than the radio. You just enter all the frequencies you want to hear into the software and it scans these frequencies rather than the ones stored in the radio. I don't think it will read from or write to the memories in the radio.
The Optoscan board is a really nice piece of equipment and the Probe software worked well the last time I used it 10 or 15 years ago. I probably should try to use it again to see if it still works.
Early Ham Years
I got my Novice license in 1971 and call sign WN4UPI. I kept my Novice license for the entire 2-year term then upgraded to Technician class, then General class. My dad was always trading stuff so I had several different radios as a Novice but my favorites were the Heathkit DX-60 transmitter and the RME-6900 receiver.
I made something over 600 contacts as a Novice, which was an average of about 5 or 6 QSO's per week. I'm sure sometimes I operated more each week and sometimes less.
IBM 370 Model 138, around 1980 at General Computer Services in Huntsville, AL
Professionally I have worked in the computer software industry since 1975, almost exclusively in the IBM mainframe world. I started on an IBM 360 Model 50, then a 370 Model 138, 3031, 3033, and so on up to the current generation of mainframes. I've worked as a computer operator, CICS systems programmer, production support manager, applications programmer, and various other things.
I've worked for a bank, an insurance company, and a couple of contract companies but for most of my career I have worked for software companies.
Currently I do software development and support for SAS (formerly SAS Institute). When I started at SAS in 1996 I provided technical support for the SYSTEM 2000 Database Management Software but now I do development and support for SAS Fraud Management.
I don't do it any more but I used to write software for my own use. I wrote a packet radio terminal program (remember packet radio?) for the Atari 800 and I wrote a control program for my Ten Tec RX-320 receiver that ran on Palm OS PDAs. My favorite programming language is REXX which started out as a scripting language for VM/CMS. Now it runs under z/OS as well as DOS, Windows, Linux, and I think even on Apple computers.
The extent of my software coding for personal use these days limited to writing small SAS programs to produce various reports from the Logic 9 software log database. I also write utility software on the mainframe for my own use using ISPF, REXX, COBOL, and SAS and sometimes a little assembler language code where needed.