Episode 280 - Fred Kemmerer - AB1OC - Transcript
Eric, 4Z1UG: (00:00)
QSO Today, episode 280 Fred Kemmerer AB1OC . This episode of QSO Today is sponsored by Icom America, makers of the finest HF, VHF and UHF transceivers and accessories for the radio amateur. It should be noted that Icom is a proud sponsor of youngsters on the air or YOTA events this month in December. Check the YOTA link in this week's show notes pages. This episode is also sponsored by QRP labs, makers of the popular QCX kit transceiver, and a whole host of other kit receivers and parts for the home brewer. My thanks to both Icom America and QRP labs for sponsoring the QSO Today podcast. Welcome to the QSO Today podcast. I'm Eric Guth 4Z1UG, your host.
My guest today is Fred Kemmerer AB10C, who had a love for radio and electronics as a boy growing up, leading to a career as an electronics engineer at AT&T. It was not until much later in Fred's life that he officially joined our ranks, along with his wife Anita, AB1QB. The Kemmerer’s have turned their passion for radio into building up their number of active amateurs in the Nashua Area Radio Society, making it the Dayton Hamvention’s Radio Club of the Year in 2019. Fred speaks with me a week after appearing on Ham Nation Episode 430. I urge you to listen to that interview as well. I'll put a link to it in the show notes page. I'm asking different questions and hope that this episode of QSO Today will compliment Fred and Anita’s Ham Nation appearance. AB1OC this is Eric 4Z1UG, are you there Fred?
Fred AB10C: (01:38)
Yes. Hello Eric 4z1ug, this is AB1OC, it's good to hear you.
Fred, thanks so much for joining me on the QSO Today podcast. Can we start at the beginning of your ham radio story? When and how did it start for you?
Fred AB10C: (01:51)
Well, I had an uncle, his name was Leonard on my father's side, that had a huge influence on my life. He was an electronics tinker and shortwave listener and somewhere when I was about seven or eight years old, he helped me build a crystal radio set and a guy got on the air with that, listened to a number of local AM stations. He also later on helped me to build a single tube regenerative receiver. I think I was about 10 years old when we worked on that project together. That actually, even though it didn't quite lead to an amateur radio license, my uncle Leonard didn't have one. That actually created a very early interest in electronics, which in turn led me to my life's work, and also later involvement with amateur radio operators in boy Scouts and other activities as I was growing up.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (02:44)
So here you are a boy with a crystal radio set and a single tube regenerative receiver. Did you tinker around with electronics in grade school, Junior high school and high school?
Fred AB10C: (02:54)
Yes. I was always doing some sort of wiring project. That really perplexed my parents, my father was a mechanic and electrical work was not his strong suit, so he constantly found me running wires and drilling holes in the house to run Morse code systems and all kinds of stuff that I was doing. I was growing up, I worked with a couple bands in high school and provided lighting for them, built lighting systems. So I was always doing some sort of electrical project. Later on when I worked with my father, every time that there was a mechanical repair job that involved electrical work, that one always got handed over to me. So even though my dad didn't understand the wiring thing all that much, he certainly appreciated the fact that I did and, encouraged me along the way to pursue my interest in electrical and electronic work.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (03:49)
So you weren't yet a ham radio operator in high school by this time?
Fred AB10C: (03:53)
That's correct. It did lead me on to seek training in college and electronics. I hold degrees, a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. So that early stuff led me into my school studies and into my career. I actually got very busy with work. I spent a good portion of my career with AT&T Bell laboratories working on a variety of things including RF cellular systems. I had a major hand in a good bit of the cellular equipment, the early design of it that is deployed in the United States and somewhere around 2010, I managed to pick up an ARL handbook, which was always one of my favorite reading sources when I was growing up and discovered that I no longer needed to learn Morse code to get a license. And that's really all it took to launch my amateur radio career finally later in life.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (04:46)
So can we go back a little bit? You got a Bachelor's and a Master's degree of electronics engineering. What colleges did you go to?
Fred AB10C: (04:53)
Yeah, I got my undergraduate from Penn State University and I earned my Master's degree from Purdue University as part of a program that AT&T Bell Laboratories had at that time.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (05:03)
And you were involved in the very early versions of cellular and probably the later ones too. But can you talk a little bit about that? I think that people who are walking around with cellular telephones, somehow think that they started with Apple or something like that. But instead I kind of remember the evolution of cellular telephones. Can you talk a little bit about the cellular telephone business in those days?
Fred AB10C: (05:24)
Sure. The very early days involved some trials in Chicago, where some of the very earliest cellular experiments and deployments were done. I came on the scene at sort of the second phase of that when we were trying to build cellular systems that would ultimately lead to digital operation and too much broader deployments. I worked on, second generation cellular system that interestingly enough, used an expandable linear amplifier, something that had not really been done before. That was kind of one of the unique features and also that particular platform set the stage for a TDMA and CDMA, both digital formats that were two and three G respectively, systems that were pretty widely deployed. The three G CDMA system, of course is widely deployed by Verizon and if anyone is still using a 3G phone, they're probably using software and other things that my team and I have worked on over the years.
Fred AB10C: (06:26)
So pretty interesting stuff. I can remember when we first deployed that system, it was in Garden City, Long Island about 10 days before Christmas we went live. And my role in doing that was to sit and watch the consoles including on Christmas day that year to make sure the system stayed up and that everybody,, that were then a Bell Atlantic mobile then later Verizon customer had a good experience over the holidays with their new cellular gear.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (06:52)
So where we're at now in terms of the cellular history, we're kind of beyond the trunk now, mobile radios, right. That were common with, I think was an amps deployment.
Fred AB10C: (07:03)
Yes, that's correct. What we've obviously evolved to is that cellular systems are really IP data access systems and all of the voice actually is pretty much deserted ties that the cell phone carried in packet format.
Fred AB10C: (07:18)
The preponderance of traffic on all mobile systems folks, you know, looking at videos, browsing the web, doing IP, transport oriented applications and so on. So like just about everything else in our lives, we've moved cellular to an IP data network format and voice is an IP application on top of that platform.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (07:42)
And it's kind of amazing, isn't it? I think the only thing that's left over from old cellular is SMS.
Fred AB10C: (07:48)
Yeah. And even that is an IP application that's basically an overlay on almost all the underpinning transport on the access side, and the backbone of cellular systems now is dominated by IP structures. It's just a much more efficient way to carry traffic. And because it's a common format that everything uses, it makes the underpinning, costs and efficiency and so on of cellular and in fact, all communications technology much, much better.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (08:17)
With the deployment of 5G, although it appears to me that everybody has a different definition of what 5G cellular is. And we may be preaching to the choir here, but does the normal citizen; do you think you have to worry about 5G deployment and radiation from 5G cells?
Fred AB10C: (08:35)
Well, you know, one of the common misconceptions about 5G is to what it exactly is. There are actually a couple of different components to 5G. One of which is of course using millimeter wave of frequencies that are North of let's say five to 10 gigahertz, higher frequencies than that. And that is a very big part of that technology. Now as probably all the hams that are listening know , reliable propagation at frequencies that high is pretty much a line of sight kind of deal. And so what we're going to be seeing with 5G deployments are a lot of what we call small cells or micro cells, things that almost look like outdoor Wi-Fi devices on the sides of buildings, inside buildings and so on as a way to create short range but very high capacity in terms of propagations at those frequencies. There are also a number of satellite operators that are trying to build two tier satellite systems, a mix of lower earth orbit stuff that will probably operate, let's say below the 20 gigahertz or so.
Fred AB10C: (09:45)
And then those systems will have higher earth orbit geostationary backbones that are some of them well above 50 gigahertz. That will provide kind of the data networking that pins the Leos together. So those are going to be the two main 5G formats from an RF point of view. But there's also a lot of work going on. The computing and data infrastructure and control plane that goes along with 5G, things that will allow cellular operators to share infrastructure and frequency spectrum across multiple operators in multiple services. And there's also a lot of work that's designed to push computing capability to the very edge of the cellular network, right to the cell site to try to help the data processing side of cellular to scale much better as well. And that second element applies to all cellular systems including the PCs and lower band systems that exist today. So 5G's actually quite a broad set of technologies that will all kind of work together to create really a pretty major enhancement in the next generation cellular networks
Eric, 4Z1UG: (10:51)
As an expert in this area do you see a threat to amateur radio frequency bands above one gigahertz, for example, by 5G operators?
Fred AB10C: (10:59)
Yes, unfortunately I think there's a very big risk there. We've all noticed the recent activity going on around the three gigahertz or a band area. Yes, that spectrum unfortunately has become quite a lot more valuable, partly due to the work that amateur radio operators have done to pioneer its use. Partly due to just the almost insatiable demand for bandwidth and capacity for all of the data that traffic that's being carried over cellular networks. Fortunately for a while I was on the FCCS technical advisory committee, this so-called pack, which is a group of technical experts that advise the FCC on a lot of technical things related to communications and wireless policy. And I had the pleasure to get to know and see the ARRL legal folks who are very staunch advocates in that group for our rights to our cellular spectrum for interference protection and enforcement and a whole bunch of other stuff. In some sense, the ARRL here in the United States continues to try to keep their fingers in that dyke to try to protect our spectrum rights and also to protect us from interference and other problems that face amateur radio operators
Eric, 4Z1UG: (12:18)
Being on the FCC technical advisory committee, did you see any other threats to amateur radio and amateur radio operators from other outside forces?
Fred AB10C: (12:27)
Yeah. One of the biggest things that that's being debated in those bodies is who's responsible for interference mitigation. Okay. And so there's one camp that always says that, Hey, if you're, you know, kind of the classical one that we've enjoyed as amateur radio operators which says that, Hey, if somebody's providing interference in a licensed spectrum format, it's the responsibility of the interferer to deal with that and the course for our analog style and CW kinds of modulation formats, we count on that. In order to keep our bands clear enough to use. As you move into the digital realm, there's a lot of belief that a combination of modulation and receiver designs can mitigate interference problems. And in fact, we can, one of the things we know about CDMA cellular, which is basically a spread spectrum technology is that very clever digital coding schemes can allow the receiver to pull signals out of interference. And that's great for the cellular folks who are using that type of technology. And maybe someday amateur radio will adopt some of that as well. But at least in the current realm the notion that the receiving side and the modulation will deal with interference not enforcement and the folks that are creating the interference is a huge threat and also a huge debate going on in the FCC and the TAC right now.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (13:55)
From earlier conversations in earlier QSO Today interviews, it appears to me that we're having a lot of problem with part 15 devices that may have been originally registered as part 15 compliant, but in fact are no longer part 15 compliant and create a whole lot of interference. How does the FCC view those kinds of things, like led power supplies and bulbs and things like that?
Fred AB10C: (14:18)
Yeah, obviously the FCC does take the current rules very, very seriously. The problem is that due to budget cuts, the enforcement infrastructure inside the FCC has been drastically scaled back. And so the FCC tends to only respond to the most egregious situations. Now, by the way, an amateur radio person, either licensed or not. That’s providing serious interference, may be interfering with police or other emergency service really goes right to the top of the FCC enforcement lists there in the United States. And we've seen some of those folks deal with very significant fines and penalties, but on some of this other interference stuff, you know, there's a limited resources to apply to that and only the highest priority stuff, typically the stuff that affects the broadest amount of end users gets the priority in those domains.
Fred AB10C: (15:17)
So, you know, the, the ARL is trying to do some work with the FCC in sort of the new official observer program to try to let the observers who might see some of this kind of stuff going on, to provide more solid grounds to help FCC enforcement. But we have a very, very long way to go in in getting, you know, part 15 and other interfering devices in general to the state where I suspect most amateur radio operators would like them to be.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (15:44)
So it'd be fair to say that the billions of dollars that the United States government takes in on spectrum auctions from cellular operators and others does not hit the FCC bottom line?
Fred AB10C: (15:56)
Yeah. I don't want to really comment too much on how the government does, spends all the money it takes in. Obviously that's a very complex situation, but it goes into the general budget.
Fred AB10C: (16:07)
Yeah, pretty much, you know, I don't know, I'm no expert on government budgeting in this area. There are probably others who could comment better on that. But you know, the one thing I would say is that if you think about it this way, the use of wireless technology has increased many, many, many fold in the last 15 or so years. Mostly due to the similar stuff we've been talking about. And so when you look at the scope of all this stuff that the FCC has to deal with enforcement, the problem has gotten much larger. The government's ability to spend money on, on what I'll call sort of non-entitlements, has become smaller and smaller fractions. So you put those two things together and maybe our listeners can see how, we get to where we are at now.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (16:51)
Right? Even like taking funding away from FCC field offices, I think there used to be FCC field offices in every major city and even some minor ones and now they're almost nonexistent.
Fred AB10C: (17:03)
Yeah. Certainly a lot less than there were many years back. And, you know, what we're going to end up using I think is technology and hopefully, with the work that the Arielle here is doing to enhance the observer program, maybe some of the new generation of folks doing that work will be able to contribute at least to some of the groundwork around enforcement and to help mitigate some of those shortcomings.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (17:27)
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Eric, 4Z1UG: (20:29)
And now back to our program. So you picked up an amateur radio license manual in 2010 what happened there?
Fred AB10C: (20:36)
Well, I've always enjoyed reading the, the ARL handbook. When I was a young person, I used to read them to the point where they would fall apart and I don't know where I was, someplace in a bookstore or something where I saw and picked it up and realized, this is a book I would really love to spend some time around again. My career, and a lot of travel and other work had kind of taken me away from involvement in amateur radio quite a bit. And electronics in general. I was more of a computer programmer and also later in my career had some pretty significant management responsibilities. But anyway, looking at the handbook, I realized that I didn't need code. Probably from my experience as an engineer had a lot of what I needed to know to get a license.
Fred AB10C: (21:23)
And so, I told Anita at the time and this was back in 2010 that I was going to go ahead and study. I decided very early on to go get tech and general at the same time because I knew I wanted to do HF work, boned up. In November of 2010, I took tech in general. Got to know the VE's at the session pretty well , shared a little bit of my background. They said, you know, why don't you go ahead and try and take extra. And much to my happy surprise, I managed to pass tech, general and extra all at the same time without actually even preparing for the extra exam.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (21:59)
And what was your first license? Is it the one you have now?
Fred AB10C: (22:02)
Yup, I got my AB1OC call sign as part of my initial license and , you know, changing your call sign is almost as big of a deal, as trying to change your name after you do this for a while.
Fred AB10C: (22:13)
So that one kinda grew on me and I think that's going to be my call sign for good. Again, I kind of did this all as a self-study thing, really didn't have an Elmer early on and kind of like, I think many hams do unfortunately today. I sort of had to learn amateur radio on my own and pick it up from books and, you know, the internet and any place else I could find to actually get active and get on the air.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (22:38)
And how did that work out for you?
Fred AB10C: (22:39)
Well, it worked out pretty well. I can remember well at the time that I got my license I was working as a chief technology officer for an IP voice company down in Dallas, Texas. And I was still living in New Hampshire and I'm commuting back and forth every week.
Fred AB10C: (22:55)
So every Monday morning I get on an airplane, fly to Dallas, do my work or spend, go somewhere else in the world to work with our customers. And then every Friday I'd fly back. So I remember it well, a friend of mine at down at where I worked in Dallas, had, gotten a license for someone in the family. They had an HT, never used it, and he gave it to me. Somehow I managed to figure out how to get it to program for one of the repeaters in Dallas, Texas. And I remember it well on one Saturday morning when I had to spend the weekend down at work in Dallas. My license went active and I can remember getting on the repeater down there and making my very first contact with that borrowed HT. And my brand new license and you know, like most hams, I can remember being quite nervous.
Fred AB10C: (23:41)
The hams that were talking to me that day were very helpful and encouraging to get active and get licensed. And boy, when I came back home I said, man, I gotta get myself on HF. My wife Anita, who is also licensed, she's AB1QB got me a radio for that holiday season. I found myself in January of the following year with two feet of snow on the ground, barely getting above freezing with a brand new radio and no antenna. So I had read somewhere that you could load up a rain spouting with the proper tuner. So I went out and got a Palstar wide range tuner, and a ground tuner because my shack actually was on the second floor of my house. So my ground connection was half my antenna, managed to load my rain spouting up on 20 meters and started making contacts using digital modes, mostly PSK.
Fred AB10C: (24:37)
And I think I worked something like 20 countries in three months off the rain spouting till it got warm enough to put up a decent antenna.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (24:44)
Yeah. Let's go back to your wife Anita for example, her call sign is also an extra class call sign. Right?
Yeah. And there's sort of an interesting story of how she went to extra. I think she realized pretty early on in my amateur radio career that if I was going to spend a lot of time on this, and she's also an electrical engineer, so she's kind of interested in the same sort of stuff that I am. So she decided that maybe she better get an amateur radio license and join in on the fun or she might not see that much of me for a while. So she did that, got her tech in general as I did, and did not go for the extra right away.
Fred AB10C: (25:22)
And somewhere after those early days we had gotten a buddy pole and I had gotten an Icom 700 radio and I put together a pretty simple portable setup that we could take to parks and things like that and set up and operate. I think I used it at the first field day that year. And the company that I was working for in Texas had a great year and the CEO gentleman there, that I worked for was a very generous man and he arranged for all of the sales folks that had contributed so much and all of the executives in the company to get a free trip to Bora Bora Island in the South Pacific the following February. So when Anita found out about this of course, she was excited. Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places I think there is. And she had the perfect Camry actually.
Fred AB10C: (26:10)
She said, let's take a radio there and operate from Bora Bora portable. So I thought that was a great idea. I'd already been playing with portable gear and taking my 7000. And my buddy pole on business trips, checking it carry on through airports all over the United States. So when I went to meet with customers, operating from hotel rooms and parks and that kind of stuff. So Anita studied the licensing and realized that she had to have an extra class license to have full privileges in Bora Bora. So she hurried up and got her extra upgrade. She figured out how to do a French Polynesian license request in French translated the whole license form, sent it to French Polynesia and got us the call signs FO/AB1OC and FO/AB1QB , so we could operate from Bora Bora.
Fred AB10C: (27:05)
So any rate we get down there and we check into our hotel and found that we were in a sort of a hut, kind of a room that was a hundred meters out over salt water and about 10 feet above salt water. So it was a perfect place to set up an amateur radio station. We checked in the place, had a nice deck on the back. We built up a vertical dipole that was a switchable from 2017, 15, 12 and 10. And I had taken enough Buddi-pole parts to build a two element 10 meter beam that we stuck in on a post in the back corner of the deck in this place, set up our station and got ready to operate. Now when we went there, I had maybe a half a dozen sideband QSO'S and Anita had never done a sideband QSO
Fred AB10C: (27:53)
And our intent was to keep doing the digital thing that we had done. And once we got this all set up we made about 10 QSO'S and every time I would transmit, because the room was not grounded at all, all the computer we got enough RF on, it would reset the computer. So we were pretty disappointed. did have email access down there somehow. So I sent an email back to my friend Scott, NE1RD who was one of my early mentors and said, you know, Scott, I really don't think this is going to work out. I know you guys up here in the Northeast, we're looking to get Bora Bora, but I don't think I can do it. And Scott sends me an email back and said, why didn't you get on sideband and call CQ? You're bound to talk to somebody.
Fred AB10C: (28:36)
And that led to one of the most amazing and quite frankly challenging experiences that Anita and I ever had. So the next morning I get up, it's around 11 o'clock. 10 meters, was just starting to open up and I point the 10 meter antenna up at the United States and start calling CQ on 10 meters sideband. And I'm making a few contacts. At about the fourth or fifth one, somebody spotted me on the DX cluster. Now this was in January or February of 2012 when 10 meters wasn't supposed to be active, but a combination of the saltwater and tech propagation actually put us pretty solidly into all of the lit up parts of the United States. And about 30 seconds later I found myself in the middle of the biggest sideband pileup I have ever heard. I'm there trying to work stations and get them in the log.
Fred AB10C: (29:30)
I knew there was such a thing as split. I never did it. And I'm reading the Icom 7000 manual. I'm trying to make QSOs to try to figure this split thing out. But at any rate, by the end I had about 300 contacts on sideband, and I was absolutely hooked. After a little coaxing, I needed to get on at night when we couldn't obviously hear the United States and only work Australia, New Zealand and most interestingly Japan and Anita actually after she got over her mike fright managed to work all the call districts in Japan from Bora Bora Island. And , it was actually pretty amazing because she had no sideband experience. She wasn't used to capturing calls. And of course there were pile ups or a lot of hams in those places. And the Japanese operators were so polite and understanding, they would just say their call sign over and over and over until Anita got it.
Fred AB10C: (30:25)
And then she would give them a 5, 9 plus 10 or 20 DB signal report cause they were really loud and they never lost patience with us. They kept on operating. So at any rate, by the end of five days down there, we had made 1,550 contacts. I have worked all States from French Polynesia. It's one of the operating works that I'm most proud of. We both worked all the call districts in Japan. I think Anita worked like 50 cities in Japan on that operation. I was so hooked on amateur radio that I'm in the airport in Tahiti and French Polynesia. I'm on echo link and I'm still making QSO"s I just couldn't stop. I was completely hooked as a side band operator after that deal.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (31:10)
Oh that's amazing. Would you agree that, because I've heard this many times and I've had many guests to say this that the bands are so quiet and it's because people aren't calling CQ?
Fred AB10C: (31:20)
Yeah, definitely. You know, we have these wonderful little internet apps. You've probably seen this gadget on a QRZ and a bunch of other place that tells us supposedly what bands are open. I'm looking at it right now and it says that 30 and 20 are fair and everything from 17 and higher is not open. Now I can just about guarantee that if I get on 17 meters right now and turn my antennas toward Europe, I'm going to start making DX contacts. So you're absolutely right. The apps tend to steer us away from bands that are often open. I do find, for example, that 10 meters from the Northeast is open a little bit to Latin America every single day. That's mixed to be skipped and tap propagation. And so getting on these bands, calling CQ or just listening to find some of the stations that are doing that will often produce some pretty amazing contacts. I remember this summer as part of 13 colleges. This past summer I turned my antennas to Europe on 12 meters after working a bunch of Europeans on higher bands and made 83 contacts on the X context to Europe on 12 meters last July. So absolutely there are lots and lots of opportunities on higher bands that are using a mix of East GIF and tap and sometimes I have propagation that will produce some pretty interesting context.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (32:46)
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Fred AB10C: (33:40)
Sure. After we got back from Bora Bora, Anita and I were pretty both hooked on amateur radio. We said, let's build ourselves a real station. Let's get out of the office upstairs. We had a pretty sizable basement in our home and let's clean out a room, we'll remodel it and we'll build an amateur radio station. So I'm still commuting back and forth to Dallas. Every Friday night I'd get home from the airport. I'd come downstairs and work on the room framing and flooring and ceilings and walls and all the standard stuff you do when remodeling a room. But since I had the ham station in mind, I could do stuff like put in cabling systems to move my co-ax cables around , a nice U shaped desk that provided nice operating positions for Anita and I, proper heating and cooling and lighting, acoustics and all the rest.
Fred AB10C: (34:31)
May or June of that year, we had the room pretty well finished and we set it up and, started making contacts from it. The station is pretty much about to become a multi one contest station. We can have two transmitters on the air. Both operating positions, both Anita's and mine, although we kind of trade around and use whatever radios that are appropriate for what we're doing. Both SOTR all the radios in here are legal limit. When that project was done, we said, you know, we're coming up on the solar cycle. If we're ever a peak, if we're ever going to put a tower up, now is really the time to do it because we're going to get the best possible use out of our higher frequency equipment, from say 20 meters, enough if we build it now when we're coming into the, the peak of the solar cycle.
Fred AB10C: (35:28)
So I started looking around and I discovered my probably second biggest mentor, Matt Strelow, KC1XX who some of you may know is a world-class contester here in New Hampshire. He lives, n Mason, which is maybe 20 miles West of where I am. And I contacted Matt and said, you know, Matt, I really want to build a ham station. Now this is the new ham talking. Remember that this is an 80th percentile station on all the ham bands from 160 meters through 70 centimeters. And he looked at me kind of funny and said, and you're going to do how many towers? Now Matt has 14 towers in this contest station just for reference. And I said, Matt, I think with stepper Yagi’s and a little creative stuff here, we can do this all with a single tower. And I think he was pretty skeptical at first, we kind of worked on the project and we actually came up with a system that on a single tower would cover 160 through 70 centimeters. It’s a hundred foot of Rohn 55G guyed. The core antenna setup is a pair of SteppIR DB36 is these are very big adjustable Yagi’s that cover 40 meters down through six. There are two of them on my tower, one at 102 feet, and another one on a rotating ring at about 65 feet. So they can be used separately. And in fact, I' sometimes break them up and she'll operate one of them on one band at a hundred Watts while I'm operating the other one on a different band.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (36:55)
So in other words, what you're saying is you and Anita have the ability to turn the Yagi’s in separate directions on the same single tower?
Fred AB10C: (37:04)
That's correct. We have a good enough filtering in here and so on that as long as we don't have 40 to 15 is obviously a problem because of their harmonic relationship. But we've even done it on those bands at a hundred Watts with some amount of cross station difference, mother bands have worked quite well.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (37:21)
Does that mean that on the booms of these antennas you have some kind of compass sensor or something like that, so that if the tower turns, I'm assuming that the tower is turning to turn the 65 foot antenna, but you have a rotator at the top turning the other antenna?
Fred AB10C: (37:37)
Kind of like that. The lower antenna is actually on a rotating ring. The tower is fixed and then that antenna turns around the outside of the antenna and then the Christmas tree has the stepper and also has big beams. A 36 foot, two meter Yagi, 18 foot I think it is or something, a 77 meter Yagi which get us on those two bands. Matt helped me build a really nice loop antenna, vertically polarized that the lower Yagi rotates inside of, and that's my 80 meter transmitter antenna. And then we put it inverted out and a radio field up, one of the Phillies strand guide wires which are insulated and that's almost a full size inverted Alpha 160. So the combination of some creative vertical polarized wire antennas and a bunch of Yagi’s and the stepper concept, which if any of you have used steppers know that they're very sharply tuned Yagi’s they're almost like mono banders on whatever frequency they're set to run on, created enough isolation that we could do all this stuff on a single tower
Eric, 4Z1UG: (38:37)
and you've got a fair amount of automation then to put the filters in and out, depending upon which bands you're operating?
Fred AB10C: (38:44)
That's exactly right. We put in shortly after we built all that stuff. And by the way, that project started in June and November. Thanksgiving I was out in 32 degree weather with a light wiring up the last of the connections on my tower to get the thing on the air before the snow flew that year. But after we got the station up and running, we added a micro ham contesting system that kind of routes Cad and rotor controls and all that amongst the now five radios that are in the station here. And it really works out quite well. It's almost idiot proof. Even with all the amplifiers and the adaptive antennas and stuff, there's enough interlocks in the micro ham gear that if something's not configured properly or tuned properly, it's simply won't let the transmitters key up. So it works great. I think I've got about 78,500 QSO'S in my log from this room and Anita has probably got maybe 15,000 in her log. So we've really gotten a tremendous amount of use out of the station since we built it.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (39:47)
You're a ham radio success story. And my guess is that unless the club that you took the license exam in is absolutely unique and maybe it is, that probably the majority of the people that took the license exam with you, may not even be on the air. Why are you successful? What happened there that made this a success for you?
Fred AB10C: (40:05)
Yeah, a couple of things. First of all a lifelong passion for amateur radio. Even though I couldn't get into it when I was younger, I really wanted to be an amateur radio operator very, very badly early on in my life. So when I finally got the chance, you know, there was a lot of interest and motivation. Anita is interested in the hobby and her support for all of the work on the station was obviously a huge deal. And just the experiences I think that amateur radio gave us with the early portable operations, the Bora Bora stuff, some of the mentors like Matt and Scott and some of the other people that we encountered that helped us so much, all kind of work together to make this really, the number one thing that we want to do with our lives going forward.
Fred AB10C: (40:53)
I will tell you though that, we've since become involved Anita and I both heavily in licensing and new ham development and sadly, we are unfortunately more the exception I'm afraid than the rule. The data that we've been collecting suggests that only maybe 15% of United States folks that get an amateur radio license ever get active on the air. You know, we've done some work with our local amateur radio club here on a variety programs where we're trying to both get more people licensed and also particularly tackle that getting on the air problem, which in some ways is a bigger problem even then getting people to get license.
Now do you think you and Anita have come up with a success formula for turning those numbers around, at least in your area?
You're kind of getting into something that's sort of my second big passion, which is, I had the privilege of spending a lot of time in startup companies in my career. And one of the things that you learn when you work in a startup environment is how to fail fast. So when you're trying to do something new or different or maybe develop a skill like getting people active in amateur radio that is difficult or maybe not well understood, you have to be willing to fail, learn from your failures and keep trying. And in fact, the mantra for the club that I've been involved with for the last four or five years, our radio society is to bring new people into amateur radio. Use amateur radio is a training tool, and focus on, you know, particularly young people and STEM learning through amateur radio. And the way we learn how to do everything we do is by learning to fail fast. A great example is when we first started trying to engage young people in schools, we did go to events at soccer games.
Fred AB10C: (42:46)
We did stuff at local maker fairs. We did amateur radio days. All of that stuff pretty much failed. Maybe we'd get one to three kids show on up or in some cases we ended up mostly with other people that were interested in amateur radio, but nobody, let's say under the age of 18. But every single one of those opportunities we learned something from, we kept trying, we kept improving our programs and I eventually we came up with some things that we've found are very, very interesting to young people. We've had some great successes as a result of that. So the only thing I can say is, every club, every group situation is probably going to be a little different. And the key thing is, as soon as you have a pretty good idea, don't shape it too much, don't over optimize it to the point you can't get away from it.
Fred AB10C: (43:39)
If it doesn't work, go out and try it, learn from it. And if you do that three or four times in a row and you stick with it, you'll eventually develop programs that work really well.
And what is it that's working for you? What do kids in the Nashville area, what do they like?
Well, you know, we've kind of rebuilt all the activities in our club around learning our learning mission first. So for example, we put together probably one of our most successful programs. We put together a high altitude balloon, project. What this is, we work with local teachers and develop a whole curriculum around amateur radio, out high altitude science, the physics of balloons, and the space communications. And we actually teach this over seven, two hour sessions in schools. We've done it in two middle schools and two high schools here in New Hampshire on a couple of different class years. In each one. the students learn about all the physics. They learn about how amateur radio works. Each time we do one of these sections, we take at least 30 minutes and do some sort of amateur radioactivity along with the classroom stuff to make it fun. They go out and they program or engineer the flight of their high altitude balloon. We have a balloon platform that is a weather balloon, a computer, an amateur radio, two meter APRs transmitter, which takes measurements at altitudes up to about 120,000 feet and sends it to the ground via APRs. So the kids basically program their balloon, inflate it, launch it, track it on APRs, get all the data, they analyze what happened against what they expected to happen. They do a presentation in their school, and they use amateur radio basically to learn about space.
Fred AB10C: (45:28)
These balloons carry GoPro cameras so they actually see what it looks like from their balloon. We’ve got video of a balloon burst recently at 113,000 feet. At that altitude there is hardly any atmosphere any more. You see the black of space, you see the curvature of the earth. You see the sun in its natural, brilliant kind of sheen against the black background of space. So it's a tremendous experience for the young folks. And at the end of it, we'll usually have at least three or four kids in the class who are kind of dying to get an amateur radio license. So we also teach youth radio license classes. We do one every summer, specifically for techs that are high school age and younger. It's a four day sort of ham radio summer camp that gives mixes in a lot of fun activities.
Fred AB10C: (46:19)
We go out and build portable stations, we make handheld satellite contacts, we do Fox hunts, get on HF bands and make contacts. And then we learn what we need to teach the kids, what they need to learn to get their tech ticket. And so all those kinds of programs work really, really well with young people. And it all comes down to spending time with the kids, making ham radio fun, delivering amateur radio learning and bite sized chunks, which can be absorbed in a few hours of the time. That's pretty important for young families because it's hard for them to commit days at a time for any kind of activity. And you know, we've, through this whole process we probably touched a couple hundred students. We also have done some eras, crew contacts. We did one with one of our local schools here in New Hampshire, about a year ago and I think there were like five or 600 kids, students, parents and so on that got to witness a group of the students basically talking to an astronaut on the space station and answering questions as well as all of the activities around space science that led up to that in the school.
Fred AB10C: (47:32)
So there are some really good programs that you can do with young people in schools that really capture a lot of interest and excitement around communications and amateur radio.
What number of kids can you say have gotten licenses from your programs?
Oh boy. Well, I'll give you some overall statistics. We've licensed or upgraded, our club has 265 people in the last four years. About half of those are new licensees and the rest are upgrades to general and extra. Out of that group I would say we probably licensed maybe 30 to 40, kids or teachers and when I say kids, students at high school age or younger, and we probably licensed 10 teachers maybe, in that amount of time. What I would say is, is you're going to probably have a tough time. Even if you work at this of licensing hundreds of kids, it's going to take some time to do that.
Fred AB10C: (48:35)
What we found in working at this for a couple of years now is that once you get a base of maybe 10 to 15 young people that are active in your club or your group, you need to let them form an amateur radio group for themselves and drive their own activities. It's also very, very important to put your new hams and particularly the young new hams first in your activities like your field days or anything else your club does. One of the things that we do with our field days is we give all of the young folks and the new hams first shot at all of our best stations at field day. And only when all of the slots that those folks want to take do we let the old hands even sign up to operate.
That is a different kind of approach.
Fred AB10C: (49:25)
Yep. And I'll tell you what, it sets the tone that we're serious about bringing new people into the hobby. Our club is pretty widely known for that. Interestingly enough, the first year we did it, we were number one in seven alpha. The second year we did it, we were number two in seven alpha. Third year we did it we were number one in 10 alpha fourth year we did it number one in 11 alpha. We did it for winter field day last year, were number two in the whole event. So for those who look at field day as a competitive activity, it really hasn't held us back. it did create some new problems. I remember the first year we did this, our club has a pretty long history of doing field day. We put up towers and for example, our last operation, we had four towers up, but the first year we did this there was a young person, her name is Abby Fincham.
Fred AB10C: (50:17)
She got her extra class license at 13 years old, very enthusiastic, a young ham operator. And her first field day was like magic for her. She was there all day Friday setting up and Friday late in the day we got the first tower up. Abby gets on the radio and starts operating with a tower before field day ever starts cause she'd never been behind a Yagi before, operated off and on all day till field day started operated all 24 hours to field. They'd gotten an argument over whether she or an experienced ham had 40 meters sideband at three o'clock in the morning on Saturday, which was one of the new problems. I came into her tent on Sunday morning at about nine o'clock. She's on 80 meters sideband. She kind of growls at me and says, I worked everybody on this band. I need a new one.
Fred AB10C: (51:03)
So one of the things I would share with everyone listening is what you gain when you put young people and new hams first is you gain the fire. You gain that enthusiasm and excitement that all of us experienced when we first started doing amateur radio, through the young people who are experiencing. And I gotta tell you it means more to me to see someone like Abby do something for the first time on amateur radio than it does for me to sit my shack and make a thousand QSO’s. Because every time that I see that, I have that same experience that I had when I first went on the air in Texas or, you know, listen the first time on my crystal radio set so many years ago. It really does take a different mindset, but once a club reorients itself to really focusing on bringing new hams into the hobby, it's very, very easy.
Fred AB10C: (52:02)
I'll just give you a quick statistic. Four years ago, the National Radio society, which Anita and I are part of, had maybe 40 members with maybe 20 of them being active and we were declining very rapidly today after focusing on new ham development, we have 225 members. We grow without even trying one new member a week. we have so many activities. Our biggest challenge now is to find another slot, to schedule a new one in when somebody has a great idea. And , as I've said, we've licensed a lot of folks in schools, we just have all kinds of stuff going right for us. So the hardest part in turning your club or your group around is changing that mindset to truly focus on new ham development. And once you do that, it actually becomes pretty easy to make it happen if you work out a little bit.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (52:53)
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Fred AB10C: (54:21)
Yes. And in fact Anita and I are just one set of a huge group of people who have contributed to making all of this stuff happen. You know, one of the interesting things happened, we had several people went to tech general and extra through our license classes and started teaching license classes with us before they even had a station. So that mindset around learning has become pretty infectious with a very, very large group of people. You know, I have a list here , I just was kind of jotting it down as we were getting ready for our QSO Today of 20 people, 18 of which we've licensed that are all actively contributing to licensing activities, training through our tech night program, which is kind of live Elmering session we do every month , providing activities where we focus on having young people contest and so on, learn how to do this stuff. And you know, we're all really having a ball with this. What I would say is that if you again focus on bringing new people, they don't all have to be young people. There's a lot of folks who are 50 plus and nearing retirement age and looking for something that they will enjoy doing, in their more senior years, that are anxious to get amateur radio licenses. If you license those folks and you set the tone that they're number one on the priority list in terms of the important work that your club is doing, they will join in and help you bring other people into the fold. Once you get, maybe 10 or 15 new folks that you've helped into the hobby, that way the process tends to become self-sustaining and run itself.
Fred AB10C: (56:05)
So that's what we've done. And you know, a great example, Abby, who got her a license at an extra class lesson teaches our extra classes, Kenzie Pooler, KE1NZY and her father Dan PAC1SN who's a teacher at the school. We did the ISS contact, we help Kenzie earn her extra class license at 10 years old. She's not quite competent enough to teach, but she helps her dad every Tuesday in the radio club at her school, teach another group of 12 to 15 young people who are studying for their tech license. And she's there working the slides and helping her dad bring the new hams along. And you know, she's so early in her ham career that she really hasn't done a whole lot else other than that yet. So again, if you make the young folks and the new hams, your number one priority, you'll find that that will catch fire for you and you'll have lots and lots of people that will help you contribute to that mission.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (57:07)
And it sounds to me like you actually have to have some suburb management in order to kind of keep the wheels on this machine?
Fred AB10C: (57:14)
I do personally spend, I'm now, I'm basically semiretired, I do some consulting work based on, you know, all the work I did in cellular and other stuff, but I probably have 80% of my time free to spend on this. And you know, the way I look at it personally, amateur radio changed my life. I grew up in a working class family. Neither my parents even finished high school. And so had it not been for my uncle and that early exposure to electronics and then the interest in amateur radio for Boy Scouts, my life would have been a very, very different event. And so for me, I'm determined to use whatever number of years I have on this earth, to try to bring that same experience and opportunity to other folks that are going through their journey in life and trying to decide what they want to do. it is very, very rewarding and I've seen this over and over again to let amateur radio and, and a life experience like a field day or a space station crew contact or launching a weather balloon really changed the direction in a positive way of a young person or a new ham’s interest in life and for me spending the time and to help other people learn how to do that is all I really want to do. And I know Anita feels much the same way.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (58:34)
I'm going to change the subject slightly because I think that maybe you have an answer to this or have something to contribute to this. There's a need in Israel for 10,000 engineers, electronic engineers. This is what it says. And I was talking to my good friend Yehuda 4X1QT about this, and he says, you know, there's always seems to be this need. It kind of ebbs and flows and yet when young engineers who are leaving college go into the workforce with their four year degree, they can't find any work. What's interesting is those engineers that I've interviewed and I've interviewed now, you're number 280 those engineers that I've interviewed because of their ham radio background and their hands on experience, they never seem to have any problems finding work as engineers. Do you think Fred, that there's some way to create some kind of parallel program for perhaps kids that are in four year schools learning engineering who have no technical experience to gain some of that technical experience so they actually have some skills when they enter the workforce?
Yeah, great question. And in fact, unfortunately sometimes our education system has become so oriented toward mathematics and theory that we really don't teach a lot of hands on stuff along with it. You know, somebody told me once when I, when I was young that engineering was about creating something out of nothing from just what's in your mind. And those are pretty amazing skills to have. And the best engineers are very creative people. They can do that. They can see beyond the obvious and make something that's very valuable, solve significant problems for people, and create a lot of fun and enjoyment.
Fred AB10C: (01:00:15)
But to do that you gotta really be a hands on person. I personally think that amateur radio again provides some great paths for that. And I wish every university on the planet, particularly any that teaches engineering, had a good active amateur radio station and encouraged their students to go in and build equipment and use it. You know, I listened to a Bob Heil's, a version of your QSO a ways back and he talked a lot about how important it was to build stuff, you know, to do hands on projects. Right. And I think that that really is perhaps something in amateur radio that we're losing quite a lot. And if we work hard to bring that back. And some of that by the way, is about writing computer programs and you know, a different kind of building maybe than what it was when, when some of us were coming up 20, 30 years ago when it was all maybe a circuitry exercise.
Fred AB10C: (01:01:13)
But I think way the, going back to your question about how we can make engineers more hands on and practical, I think amateur radio can provide some excellent experiences in universities and in high schools and even middle schools for amateur radio clubs to let students do practical projects. And even if it's just about, you know, taking a wire antenna and getting it up and getting it in tune and hooking it up to a radio and making some contacts with it, that thrill of taking that intellect and making something out of basically nothing with just your intellect is the thing that I think really drives most engineers to become good ones. And you know, the other good thing about it is, your engineering skills will create lots of opportunities to do live projects. You know, you'll learn a little bit about project management.
Fred AB10C: (01:02:03)
So maybe you can help develop a program and run it somewhere in your club. You learn a lot about how to deal with unplanned events. So maybe sometime you're in a portable operation or a field day and something happens that you didn't anticipate and you can your engineering skills and knowledge to work your way through it.
You learn how to improvise.
Yep, exactly. All these things are great ways to take that theory stuff that can get kind of boring and turn it into something really, really exciting.
What do you think the greatest challenge facing amateur radio is now?
Very simple. We need to modernize a lot of stuff and we need to do it quickly. The analogy that I like to use is when we were coming up in amateur radio, if all the folks in it said, you know, spark technology is really the only thing that's worth doing and all this new sideband and AM stuff and so on is useless and you shouldn't be wasting your time because it's not real amateur radio.
Fred AB10C: (01:02:59)
Most of us would probably have never gotten involved because that would have seemed kind of low tech and primitive. I'm sad to say that I think many amateurs are doing the same thing to the next generation. Let me just share a story that will help make this clear. There's a young person, his name is Ryan, kind of like, I was, about 12 years old. His call sign, by the way, KC1KJS wants to do amateur radio so much he can practically taste it. And Ryan, we got him in HT early on and got it programmed. I didn't see Ryan for a little bit. And when I saw him again, he indicated that he thought his radio was broken because he kept signing onto the local repeaters and there was nobody to talk to. So I said, well, Ryan, you need to really go out and get your general class license and we'll get you on HF and then there'll be a lots of people to talk to.
Fred AB10C: (01:03:53)
Ryan, of course was all fired up and got his general. But the problem was his parents took a look at that and said, you know, my son wants a really expensive radio and hang wires all over the place. He's already got one license. He can't talk to anybody. Why would we go the next step on this? Right. And it actually took some work to and Ryan actually did most of it to convince his parents to stay with them. So what's the moral of the story? If we had more meaningful HF privileges for the first class technician license, Ryan would've had a very different experience on. So would have his parents. And by the way, if that meant giving Ryan some privileges on 20 meter digital so that he could take all those great computer skills, which he already had and immediately use them to have a great amateur radio experience, it would have not held Ryan back.
Fred AB10C: (01:04:43)
Ryan would've probably been to extra by now. So, you know, there's a notion that things were a certain way for us and that we climb Mount Everest, we learned the code and we studied tunnel diodes and how to buy us a grounded grid amplifier and all that stuff. And you know, anyone that doesn't do that is a real ham. Well, we have to understand is that we're behaving like sparks is the only technology when we do that. And if we embrace some of this new stuff, and encourage young people to get involved in the hobby because those are the kinds of things, digital FTK aid, whatever it is. and make it easy for them to access that as they begin to get licensed, they're not going to slow down. They're actually going to go faster than they would and most importantly, that 15% of people who get licensed to get active is going to probably turn into something more like 50% pretty quickly because there's going to be a lot more meaningful things for that first level ham to do on the air.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:05:43)
Wow. I'm blown away from your response, I think I'm thinking about that as well. I mean, when I got my first license, it was CW was what novices did. I still think that most of the people that I interviewed think that novice experience was one of the most amazing in terms of gradually getting into the hobby. But I think you're right. I think that the entry level license should have some HF privileges because of all of the stuff that goes along with that. Now I think there are HF privileges, but CW still is it.
Fred AB10C: (01:06:12)
It is. And it's the same bands that are not easy for a new person access. You know, when you tell a new tech, Hey, why don't you put an 80 meter dipole up to do CW? You really kind of start them out with two hands behind their back. Now let's, let's look at, let's look at Ryan or Abby or Kenzie. These are kids who are very bright kids. Exceptional students, tremendous computer skills and interests. So when we do that, we kind of say, we really don't make this seem very accessible, but if we were to say, give them digital privileges where their computer skills would matter on a band like 20 meters where they could actually get at a reasonably antenna pretty quickly and simply in what is increasingly less space in their backyard. Imagine the difference that that would make in that young person's interest in the hobby. I'll share one other thing. I think that'll really warm the hearts of your listeners. What do you think Eric, are the two things that high school aged kids and younger gravitate the most to on amateur radio, when they first start out, you have a guess of what those might be?
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:07:15)
It's hard to put myself in the brain of a high schooler these days. But I would think that anything that has to do with computers or their smart phones or some way to integrate those into their amateur radio experience.
Fred AB10C: (01:07:27)
That's definitely up there. You just hit number three, which is digital operating. Number one is Fox hunting. I have had countless great expression by the way, this is a great thing to do with, with students cause they don't need a license. You don't transmit when you hunt a Fox. So that's number one. And number two is playing with Morse code. Honest to God, I would not have believed that, but I have seen it over and over and over again. The kids really believe that code is cool. So much so that we work with a ham up in RAs Steve Elliot, K1EL who , builds all the WinKeyer stuff to develop a low cost Morse code practice kit, a touch kit. We've built over a hundred of those in schools and let the kids play with them, learn Morse code. We've done Morse code competitions in some high.
Fred AB10C: (01:08:16)
we even discovered a pair of students who I won't name, who when we did our first Morse code competition won and operated the 12 words a minute head copy after only messing around with the code for a couple months. And we were amazed at this. We couldn't figure out how these two young ladies learned their code so quickly. What we discovered is when they were bored in class, they were already communicating with Morse code by tapping it out on their desks. Now they didn't really know the code coming in, but they thought that it was unique enough to use a digital language like Morse code to communicate that they were willing to actually learn it even though they had no practical use for it yet. So the code is actually a big draw for young people. They learn it really quick. Their hearing is almost perfect. it's probably another whole QSO to talk about how to go about teaching young people the code, the IATA kind of approach it a little different I think that than what we're used to. But we really had a lot of fun doing Morse code activities in high schools and middle schools. The kids love it.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:09:23)
The Nashua area amateur radio society was awarded the Dayton Hamvention club of the year, right, in 2019 this year.
Fred AB10C: (01:09:31)
Yeah, that's correct. Yup. That happened last year. And , you know the ARL also made us kind of a spotlight club at Dayton. They gave us a big presence in their booth and a forum to talk about our work and that kind of has inspired us to start working with other clubs. We are providing some of our training materials, our tech program, which is an Elmer program we do once a month, we videotape it and, it's a lot of hands on live demonstrations on how to do stuff and amateur radio or making that available.
On the club website?
Yep. Well we do it through a licensing arrangement. But yes, it's available through our club website. We've also started extending some low cost memberships to folks, through the internet. So we have members in Hawaii, California, Georgia, Michigan, all over the United States now that are kind of using Elmering platform and, and our training resources.
Fred AB10C: (01:10:30)
We're a 501C3 nonprofit. We did that about two years ago. because we've been raising quite a bit of money for all of these programs and what we generally do with these licensing activities and internet subscriptions is we, we basically provide them at about enough of an expense pretty low to just help us cover our costs and fund some of the stuff we do for free in schools. So, you know the ham community has been very, very generous in supporting our work and we're going to keep going and trying to help as many people as we can.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:11:03)
What excites you now the most about what's happening in amateur radio now?
Fred AB10C: (01:11:06)
Boy, a couple of things. First of all, obviously all the work we're doing with young people has been really exciting. As a result of the ISS contact, I have become an heiress mentor and helping and started helping other schools, to make a space station contest. I just did one with a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania last week. It was almost like, even though I was just a small part of kind of helping the amateur radio team down there and the school down there and do it, it just relived that whole experience for me again. I still do a lot of station building projects. We built them as a result of the work on the ISS. We've built a several satellite stations, some of which are portable, some are fixed here. I'm starting to do a lot of work at 1.2 gigahertz and a 900 megahertz, some of the UHF bands and my big station building project right now is I'm building trying to build the 80th percentile two meter EME, a moon bounce station.
Fred AB10C: (01:12:09)
I did a little bit of moon bounce with the equipment that we had in the original station. I always said, you know, this is my amateur radio bucket list to build a really good EMS station. So we've got a tower up for that purpose. Antennas and other gear are on the way and we will be covering that on our blog station, project up blog, which is an online site that I've been writing for many years now about station building as we go. So, you know, it's, the cool thing about amateur radio is even if you manage to do everything you could do, if you just wait six months, there'll be something new to do that never existed before. And so amateur radio is a hobby that gives for a lifetime.
Fred AB10C: (01:12:56)
The thing I would say is, you know, to any amateur radio operator, if it starts to get old or gets a little boring, do one of two things maybe both, work with young people. Because when you see that young person, or new ham as well, making their first contact. It will be just like you making your first one and then try something new. Try FTA, get on a band you've never been on before. Learn CW if you don't know it. this is a hobby that gives for a lifetime in so many different ways. Take advantage of all that you can because it will never stop giving.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:13:34)
Fred, you've been an amazing guest. I can't tell you how appreciative I am of the efforts that you're making in your area and what you and Anita have done in order to bring new hams in and actually to inspire us to figure out what we could do in our area in order to be as successful as you've been. So with that, I want to thank you so much and wish you 73.
Fred AB10C: (01:13:54)
Thank you Eric. The pleasure's all mine. 73 and I hope some of the folks listening will continue to make amateur radio the greatest hobby in the world. 73.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:14:06)
That concludes this episode of QSO Today. I hope that you enjoyed this QSO with Fred. Please be to check out the show notes that include links and information about the topics that we discussed. Go to www dot QSO Today dot com and put an AB1OC in the search box at the top of the page. My thanks to both Icom America and QRP labs for their support of the QSO Today podcast. Please show your support for these fine sponsors by clicking on their links in the show notes pages or by using QSO Today in the coupon box at the checkout. You may notice that some of the episodes are transcribed into written text. If you'd like to sponsor this or any of the episodes into written text, please contact me. Support the QSO Today podcast by first joining the QSO Today email list by pressing the subscribe buttons on the show notes pages.
Eric, 4Z1UG: (01:14:53)
I will not spam you or share your email address with anyone. Become a listener sponsor monthly or annually by clicking on the sponsor buttons on the show notes page, or use my Amazon link before shopping at Amazon. Amazon gives me a small commission on your purchases while at the same time protecting your privacy. I'm grateful for any way that you show appreciation and support. It makes a big difference as I head towards episode 300. QSO Today is now available in iHeart Radio and a bunch of other online audio services, including the iTunes store. Look on the right side of the show notes pages for a listing of the services. You can use Amazon Echo and say, Alicia, play the QSO Today podcast from Tune-in. Special thanks to Ben Bresky who now edits the audio for this QSO Today podcast from the audio pieces that I give him. Until next time, this is Eric 4Z1UG. 73. The QSO Today podcast is a product of KEG media, Inc. who is solely responsible for its content.