About W2RU

Amateur Radio

I was first licensed as KN2KIR, and within minutes of opening that envelope from the FCC I had fired off an application for full membership in ARRL ⎯ a membership I have maintained to this day, having upgraded to Life Member shortly after it was first offered.

Soon after obtaining my General Class license, I became interested in traffic handling. I quickly joined numerous nets ⎯ both independent ones and nets at different levels within the National Traffic System (NTS). Throughout the ensuing decades I continued in traffic handling, including extended service as Eastern Area Net Manager and two separate periods as Eastern Area Staff Chair of NTS, during the first of which I was instrumental in integrating the daytime phone nets into NTS and beginning dialog with early proponents of digital message handling systems. In 1976 I authored the NTS 4-cycle sequence of daily net operations that could be scaled up or down locally, regionally, or nationally, as needed, depending on traffic volumes and the scope of each specific disaster or emergency scenario.

Here I am, at 100 feet, realigning my beams after a windstorm this past spring.

Through most of my time in ham radio I’ve held Official Relay Station (ORS) and Net Manager (NM) League appointments, and I was also an Official Bulletin Station (OBS) and Official Observer (OO) early on. My expanding interest in the League’s various field activities led me to become Section Manager (called Section Communications Manager back then) of my Western NY Section. In the 70s I ran (unsuccessfully) for Atlantic Division Director, but in the 80s I was first appointed, then elected to the position of Vice Director for that division.

Beginning while I was still in high school I became active through my local Auburn (NY) radio club in both ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Corps (AREC) and the government’s Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) EmComm programs, and participated in many local drills. (Who remembers the old Gonset Communicators?) Still later I became Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC) for Herkimer County (NY) and then WNY Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC).

Because of my comprehensive service to NTS and ARES over a period of many decades, I received the George Hart Distinguished Service Award by action of the ARRL Board of Directors in 2010.

I’ve frequently, if not quite continuously, been a local radio club officer wherever I was living at the time, beginning with the Auburn Amateur Radio Association (AARA, ex-K2BFB)) in my home town, where I was elected Secretary while still a high school student. I also held that position in the MIT Radio Society (W1MX), in Honeywell’s Boston-area 1200 Radio Club, and in other clubs in later years. I am a past-President of the Radio Amateurs of Greater Syracuse (RAGS, W2AE), the Salt City DX Association (SCDXA, W2ZC), and the Syracuse VHF Club (ex-W2MAU), and am currently serving my 2nd term as President of the Franklin County (VA) Amateur Radio Club (W4FCR). I have just relinquished my appointment as Chair of the Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter of the Potomac Valley Radio Club to devote more time to the Roanoke Division campaign.

My first Field Day was with my local Auburn (NY) radio club. We set up in tents and under an open-air picnic pavilion at a local lakeside park. It was there, at age 14, that I “enjoyed” my first and only breakfast of a cold hamburger and a warm bottle of cherry soda pop! Ever since, whenever my schedule has permitted, Field Day has been a favorite of mine ⎯ but not because of that breakfast menu! Somewhere in my photo archives is a black and white snapshot of a 20-something me standing outdoors next to one of our operating positions, holding an 8-element 2-meter Yagi at an angle while trying to home in on the OSCAR satellite passing overhead by listening to audio from the nearby receiver.

As I made more and more friends through rag-chewing and traffic handling, I gradually became interested in contesting ⎯ initially in the long-gone ARRL Communications Department CD Parties, then mountain-topping in the June and September VHF outings with my local club. In college I started to build interest in ARRL Sweepstakes and after becoming friends with Roger Corey, then-W1JYH, while living and working in Eastern Massachusetts I began to enter the ARRL DX Contests.

Even before 5-Band DXCC was announced I was interested in 80-meter DXing. Later, when LORAN restrictions on 160-meter operation in the U.S. and other countries were relaxed, I shifted my attention toward Top Band, where long distance propagation and weak signal reception are even more challenging. And, as time permits, I hope to soon begin building antennas for our two new bands that are even lower in frequency.

Here I am, at the rig. I built that SB-220 around 1978, and it’s been in service as my primary or back-up amplifier ever since.

As a teen, after warming up on a few Heathkit transmitter projects, I built a homebrew AM modulator and two or three electronic keyers. While in college I built my own low-noise receiving converter and low-power RF driver chain for 2-meter DXing. Up until the advent of surface mount devices, I extensively modified most of my commercial HF gear, frequently designing and testing circuit changes to improve receiver intermodulation distortion (IMD) and break-in CW (QSK) capabilities for exciters, transceivers, and linear amplifiers, and I am proud to say that I received the Board’s Cover Plaque Award for my QST article on that last topic.

My very first amateur antenna was a 3-wire 80-meter dipole straight from the ARRL Antenna Book. From that project, I learned that weight can be an important but not always obvious factor in the design of antennas! Fifteen years and a college degree later, I ventured to give my first radio club talk on antennas. Apparently it was successful ⎯ I received an instant job offer (which I later accepted) from an engineering manager who was part of my audience that evening!

A little over a decade ago, I undertook the updating of a McGraw-Hill antenna book originally authored by Joe Carr, ex-K4IPV (SK). I’m told by my editor that the Practical Antenna Handbook 5th edition has done quite well. And now that I’ve retired to rural southwest VA, these days I have plenty of room behind my home for just about any antenna project I wish ⎯ provided I can afford it, of course!