What hit me after the QSO, then reviewing it again for the show notes, is that those amateur radio operators who operate in the microwave bands have to work together, locally, to design, build, and calibrate their gear, and to make successful contacts with each other. It is the social side of working these bands with like-minded and highly technical ham Elmers and their newbies that is the attraction. Unlike a regular ham club that brings together hams operating all bands and modes, a 'flat club" according to Bob Allphin, K4UEE, the microwave societies are highly focused local organizations.
It may have been the social element that drew me into VHF and UHF repeaters and remote base stations as a kid and even to this day. I was attracted to technical side of these systems and hung out with the builders of repeater control systems, converters of commercial band base stations and mobile radios, and antenna riggers on remote repeater sites. I loved my TTL and CMOS designed control systems for my first repeater, the re-tasked telephone key system boards for decoding DTMF “touch tones”, the converted GE and Motorola mobile radios, the Motorola base stations, cabinets, and the antenna sites. The miles of dirt roads, to the repeater sites, behind locked forest service gates was my playground, often in the company of my friend and Elmer to this day, Mike Klein, WA6VLD. Mike and I worked together, over 30 years ago, for Spence Porter, WA6TPR, at Communications Specialists, makers of tone encoder/decoder boards. He was a patient teacher and is still a good friend.
In the end, you will read and hear from me that amateur radio is best enjoyed in the company of other hams. Our mastery of this art expands exponentially through engaging with others on the ham radio stage. I wish for all of you a great 2016 and if you are not engaged with a ham group, that you will find your ham radio circle. The Internet and social media make this easier for those outside of big pockets of hams in larger cities. If you are a Facebook user, please join us in the QSO Today Facebook group. As a large number of our QSO Today guests are on the Facebook group, I look forward to the interesting discussions that could develop out of questions.
73, Eric 4Z1UG