Reminiscences

Yesterday evening, I was home alone, sitting in the living room, and outside it was nasty … almost dark, a chilly drizzle, foggy … nasty! As so often happens in circumstances like that, my mind drifted back to earlier times … reminiscing about friends no longer with us.

For some reason, my mind dredged up Max DeHenseler, HB9RS. Max passed away in 2014 after a 50-year “career” in ham radio. He was 80 when he left us.

Max, HB9RS

First licensed at twelve, he went on to make a name for himself in ham radio circles. Look him up on QRZ.com as HB9RS for a full description of his activities and honors. He operated all over the world, thanks to his job at the United Nations as their Chief Cartographer. He was instrumental in establishing 4U1UN, the United Nations HQ station.

I first ran into Max on the air when he was ET3RS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was living in the Seychelles Islands, operating as VQ9D. Almost every day, Max could be found on the air, and we sort of made it a habit to listen out for each other and chat about the things that hams chat about 🙂 . It was usually a pleasant interlude from the huge pileups we both used to generate. Being fairly close (geographically), we could override the QRM. Max left ET3-land eventually, and returned to UN HQ at New York.

Max’s QSL Card at ET3RS

One year, George, VQ9GP and I flew back to the US on vacation at the same time and Max graciously invited us to stop by UN HQ in New York City for a reunion and tour. George and I showed up and we had a great time and a great tour.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw Max … our paths just never crossed again. That happens a lot in our hobby. We’re so far-flung and distant from each other, we develop friendships without ever meeting physically.

Max was such a gentleman and great ham, I consider myself privileged to not only have been his friend, but to actually have met him. I wasn’t disappointed when that happened. He was the same great guy on the air or in person.

73 de Dick N4BC

Legacies

I received a wonderful email this past weekend from the great nephew of the previous holder of my callsign. He had read my Bio on QRZ and wrote to let me know a bit of the history of his great uncle Leach Lonzo Lea Jr, now a Silent Key. I had done some cursory research on the internet, but that only yielded superficial facts … his name, his former address … stuff like that.

” My uncle was Leach Lonzo Lea Jr. He obtained his license after serving in WWII, he told me he had to travel to Atlanta GA and sit in front of FCC examiners to take his test. Uncle Jr. used his GI Bill and went to the University of Tennessee and received his degree in Electronics. He then spent a career with the Tennessee Valley Authority as a  two way radio technician. One of his hobbies, in the 1950’s, was radio control airplanes. He built the radio equipment as he liked to build everything. Remember I mentioned the Heathkit equipment? Anyway, I wanted to share a little about the life of the man that had your call sign prior to you. “ This is an excerpt from the email from his great nephew, Derek Lea N3WKM.

Derek points out in his email that it was his great uncle that really kindled his lifelong interest in radio and electronics. I think we all have an “Uncle Jr.” somewhere in our past. This is not a hobby where most of us just woke up one day and decided to be a ham. Somewhere … somebody or something planted the spark that piqued your curiosity. This hobby of ham radio is all about mentoring … or Elmering, if you prefer. It’s about passing on knowledge and helping each other, and that’s what keeps it great!

Thanks to Derek, I now have a much better sense of the history of my callsign. I’ll continue to try to honor that legacy by staying active and trying to be a “good” ham.

73 & Happy Holidays de Dick N4BC

Tidewater 31515 DMR Group

Once again, we met last night for our weekly net. It was a good-sized group, and we had quite a bit of discussion on several topics. We talked about choosing a hotspot frequency … what to avoid, such as national, regional, or local active simplex frequencies, weak signal frequencies, repeater input/output frequencies, satellite uplink/downlink frequencies … and probably some I’ve forgotten. The moral of the story is “don’t use a frequency that somebody else is using.”

We also discussed setting up an groups.io discussion group to keep everybody informed about what’s going on locally. We got a bit of a history lesson on how the 31515 TG came about … who set it up, why it was set up, etc. It was suggested that some of the net members visit local clubs and explain about the weekly nets to increase participation. We already have a few new people checking in most weeks, but the more the merrier!

Finally, we had a check in from Guam! It was an active duty Navy member with ties to this area checking in from KH2-land with his handheld and hotspot. Perfect copy … what a great mode for these propagation doldrums we’re experiencing. He gave us a few details of the recent Typhoon that hit Guam.

We meet Thursday nights at 9 PM Local (Eastern) time on TG 31515. Join us!

73 de Dick N4BC

Thirteen Colonies

Well, I wasn’t even chasing the special event stations and ended up working seven of the colonies in one evening … NC, MA, PA, NY, SC, NH, and NJ. So … no clean sweep for me, but it was sort of fun watching them accumulate. Most of them were FT8, but some were CW and some were SSB. I see that for five dollars and a bit of paperwork I can get a nice certificate for participating. Maybe I will (and maybe I won’t). I do want all to thank the guys that organized this event, though. Well done! I think I actually did at least hear all of the former colonies.

I did binge watch a bunch of ham radio related YouTube videos over the weekend. It’s amazing … anything you want to find out about has probably had a video made about it. Lots of interesting and informative videos. Whether you’re looking for technical info, reviews, opinions, or operating hints, somebody has taken the time to make a video about it. I found and subscribed to several new channels that interested me. If you’re not into YouTube, it’s a great resource!

I went to a retirement party for my son’s father-in-law Saturday evening, and we were outside in the back yard gathered around the firepit. It was decidedly chilly! This is July! It felt like spring or autumn. Crazy weather!

73 de Dick N4BC

Mixed Blessings …

I flipped on the radio when I got home from work yesterday afternoon, and had to check and see if the antenna  was connected (as a matter of fact, it wasn’t … I had disconnected it the night before during some violent thunderstorms). So, I reconnected it … didn’t make a lot of difference … reception still sucked! Switch to OFF!

Later in the evening, I returned to the rig and was pleasantly surprised to hear something besides QRN. Eighty through 12 meters were showing SOME signs of life … especially on FT8. I worked about a half dozen contacts on most of those bands (primarily eighty meters). There was quite a bit of CW activity on 40, and I would have liked to sample that, but alas, I was needed elsewhere.

Charlie, WB4PVT, posted a video on the local email group about how “TUBS” are made. Every week, he posts a video of interest to hams. A couple of weeks before, he had posted one on how vacuum tubes are made, but had made a typo in the title … TUBS instead of TUBES. I kidded him about it the next time I saw him. He got me back by posting one last week about how tubs … BATHTUBS … are made. Got me!

Field day is fast approaching. Hopefully I’ll have time to participate with the club. Actually, we have several clubs combining for the event, as we do every year. The club I’m a member of just cant’t muster enough bodies to put together a team, so we make it a group effort and have a great time!

It was a good evening, after all.

73 de Dick N4BC
(from the bottom of the cycle … which ain’t so bad anyway!)