My Ham Bio

The beginnings -

My Amateur Radio hobby started out as many folks do - as a short wave broadcast listener (SWL).  Born and raised in northeast Pennsylvania, I was a teenager listening to AM stations in the NY, NJ, PA area. One day I happened to set my little portable radio down on a big copper bypass coil next to the basement water meter and.... holy shamoly, I started picking up all sorts of foreign language stations. Turns out the large amount of metal in that copper pipe detuned the radio and I was now picking up short wave stations like BBC, VOA, etc. I thought this was pretty cool and it became a hobby - SWL'ing. Time went by and my dad agreed to let me get a real SW receiver - a Hallicrafters S-108. Wow - this was really cool stuff! And then I ran across guys actually taking with each other on the radio. Wow - I wanted to do that, too - I was hooked. Dad knew a fellow who offered to teach me morse code (CW). His name was Harold Heeremans W3DRS, now long deceased. Harold taught me well and it wasn't long before I passed the novice test and got my ticket from the FCC.

On the air at last -

My first call was WN3BKW. Made a couple hundred contacts as a novice. By the time I finally passed that General Class test (tough electronics theory and 13 WPM code test), my novice license expired and I was issued a new call: WA3FGU. I continued with the hobby through my teens - even after I got married, the ham radio hobby kept going for me. I got started in the computer programming industry and that's what I did for my entire career. Pick a programming language, I knew and used it! I moved to the Fort Myers, Florida area in 1971 and was issued another new call: WB4WRK. Operating in FL was interesting, as the path to the African countries was fairly short and mostly over water - I worked a lot of good African DX from there. Well, I got tired of the bugs, snakes, alligators, and high humidity of Florida - moved to northern California in 1987. Again, the FCC handed me a new call: N6PDX. I spent most of the next 20 years living in Martinez - about 30 miles east of San Francisco, and I worked for a large water & wastewater facility in Oakland. Got the call of W6JHB when the FCC relaxed the "vanity call" rules.

And now, the more recent times - 

In 1999 I met and married Anilea (now KF6ZNT). She's from the southern Philippines and has a degree in civil engineering. In 2007, I retired from the water company, and in 2008 our first child was born - Andrew. I hope one day he'll get an interest in the radio, although I won't push him too hard about it. So, after Andrew came along, we needed a bigger home. Moved out of Martinez in 2010 and settled down here in Folsom - about 25 miles east of Sacramento, the state capital. We've got a nice big home (4,000 sq ft), in ground pool with spa, just about everything you would want. And two things a ham never wants: CC&R's and HOA. Not supposed to have ANY ham radio antennas here. However, we've got several 60-foot tall redwood trees and a couple liquid amber trees on our property, so I've been able to get some "stealthy" antennas put up. I have an 88-foot long horizontal doublet at 45 feet, fed with 450 ohm ladder line that works very well on 60 - 6 meters. BTW - I've yet to make a QSO on 60 meters! Across the back of the lot is an inverted L for 80 meters that uses a Folded CounterPoise (FCP) developed by Guy Olinger K2AV. On another side of the lot is an inverted L for 160 meters. In the middle of the back yard is a Hustler / Newtronics 5BTV vertical antenna. I also built and installed a 5/4 wave vertical for 144 mHz. Wires, wires, and more wires. Certainly can't put up a tower here, so the XYL has to grin and bear it with my maze of stealth mode antennas! In 2016 I homebrewed a three element yagi for six meters, and have it sitting on an 18 foot long push-up mast. Jury is still oout on how this performs...

© James Bennett 2012