Things I’ve Done

One of my hobbies is amateur radio. I’ve been interested in radio since I was a kid, but when my friends were getting their ham licenses back in the ’60s, I got a First Class commercial license. While they played with 75 W Heathkit DX-40s, I was running a 50,000 W Continental Electronics 317C at WLAC.

I never got into amateur radio as a personal hobby until my son William took an interest. We took our licensing exams together. Since 1998, I’ve been licensed as W3JJH. William and I have had the opportunity to get involved in community service as ham radio operators. For example, during Hurricane Isabel, we were the radio operators at the Alternate Emergency Operations Center for our county and ran the net control station for the backup communications radio net. Emergency planners sometimes forget the resource they have in volunteer ham operators. Our county did once, and decided they could rely on cell phones for backup. The tornado hit the cell tower.

Field day 2003One of the other things that William and I do together each year is participate in Field Day. During that event, hams from all over the U. S. and Canada set up portable stations in the field and practice handling brief message traffic. It started in the ’30s as an emergency drill. Now, it’s as much a social event. The picture at the left shows me during Field Day 2003 operating a station that sends text-based traffic.

Amateur radio is a multi-faceted hobby. My main interest these days is trying communicate around the world using as little power as possible and designing and building as much of my equipment as possible. The ham buzzwords for that are QRP and homebrew.

UPDATE—Back in the ’60s, you had to be at least 18 to use a CB radio. My First Class commercial license allowed me to legally repair a CB radio before it was legal for me to use one.

Go figure.

5 thoughts on “Things I’ve Done


  1. I got a 3rd Class Radiotelephone license (with the Broadcast endorsement) back in 1972 so I could be a DJ at WIQH in Concord MA when we were a 10W station. The transmitter was in the same (small) room as the board, turntables, and our prized Revox tape deck. I had the Sunday AM classical music slot but we played damn near anything we wanted. Fun times


  2. I got a 3rd Class with broadcast endorsement back in ’76. My best friend and I took the exam in the old Customs House in Philly so we could work the board at a local radio station. We had to take the train into Philly because we weren’t old enough to drive. I wonder how many of your readers have worked in radio or TV, the real kind, that is broadcast over the airways?

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