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 as a kid -

My first call was WN3BKW, obtained in 1964 at age 16. 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 it 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.

The California Years - 

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 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!

Bye-Bye California, Hello Idaho -

After more than ten years living in Folsom, we’ve finally had enough of the summer’s day after day of over 100 degree weather, the smoke from all the wildfires, the high taxes, government bozos, etc. Started making plans to move to the Boise, Idaho area. Both Anilea and I got new call letters; hers is now K7YLV and I’m K7TXA. As of this writing (2/23/21) we’ve got a moving “Pod” in the driveway and slowly are getting our possessions packed into it. This house will be put on the market in the next few weeks and hopefully by the end of April we’ll be outta here. 

© James Bennett 2012