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KJ4VOV USA flag USA

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QSL: QSL VIA EQSL, LOTW, OR DIRECT - WILL REPLY TO ALL

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In case you're wondering or confused, that pretty lady up there with the old geezer (me) would be my XYL, Cherie.

I was born and raised in NYC where, when I wasn't working in the family construction business, or one of the many other jobs I had when I got bored with construction, I worked as an EMT (ACLS) and drove ambulances for 14 years. I served six years as the Dispatcher Training Officer and the Public Relations Officer for the Williamsburg Volunteer Ambulance Corps in Brooklyn, NY. Thanks to them I'm a qualified Emergency Vehicle Operator and qualified as an instructor. I also served in the United States Navy as a Gunner's Mate from 1974 to 1980 where I qualified as a diver and EOD technician. I have a B.Sc. degree in Computer & Information Sciences, and an Asc. Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. I was also the Telecommunications Editor for Ahoy! magazine (Commodore computer magazine) in the mid 80's and served as their online and radio & television personality. I'm also the founder and chairman of the board of directors of the SPWaW Depot Association, Inc., a non-profit WWII wargaming group and WWII historical preservation and educational organization.

Over the past decade or so I've lived and worked in NYC; Allentown, PA; Baltimore, MD; Silver Spring, MD; and Washington, DC. My wife and I currently reside in Fredericksburg, VA, with our four cats, Weazie, Ms. Velcro, Miss Betty Rumble, and Mr. Belvedere, in a comfortable house on a corner 1/2 acre lot, where I plan to one day add a nice 100'+ tower for the base QTH.

(Update 06/26/15): Those of you who know me also know that my XYL works for the US Government at DHS HQ in Washington, D.C.  Well, that's about to change.  No, she'll still be working for the government, and even the same agency (USCIS), but at a different location.  We're moving to Anchorage, Alaska!  The move will take place sometime in the next few months, and by the end of the summer, I expect we'll have everything moved and set up at the new house, which we haven't even bought yet.  This also means that Harvey, my truck, gets to take a rather epic road trip from here in Northern Virginia, across most of North America, to Anchorage.  If you like to operate mobile and happen to see us on the road or see us pop up on APRS, feel free to say hello.  I'll be monitoring 146.520 during the trip, and the APRS is always on when I'm driving.  If I'm due for a break maybe we can even stop for a coffee and handshake.

(Update 08/17/15): Well, it looks like I won't be trading in my KJ4VOV call for an Alaska call anytime soon, we're not moving.  My orthopedic surgeon advised against me making the long drive and instead I'll be getting some surgery on my left knee, then 6 months to a year of physical therapy, then full knee replacement.  Then we do the other knee.  This is to repair old injuries to both knees that have plagued me for over a decade now.  (Working construction is hard on the knees)

I'm a current member of ARRL, the Anchorage Amateur Radio Club (AARC), the W9WDX Worldwidedx.com Amateur Radio Club, IHRAS (member #36), the Patriot Guard Riders, Zombie Squad International, and I'm a certified SKYWARN advanced spotter and ARRL VE.

I will be happy to exchange QSL's via direct mail, no return postage needed.


My Mobile Ham Shack

This is Harvey, my 1999 GMC C3500 diesel utility truck and mobile ham shack. Harvey is my personal vehicle and "daily driver", and I cover all of the costs, including equipment, fuel, insurance, etc. out of my own funds. He was purchased in 2007 on eBay after he'd been retired from duty with the city of West Palm Beach, Florida as a regular utility truck. I was still working in the construction industry at the time, and he proved to be an excellent work truck. When I retired a year later, after an injury, I became a SKYWARN spotter and got into amateur radio. From the start of that I knew Harvey would make an excellent "mobile ham shack", and when I joined the county emcomm team Harvey quickly proved himself to be a valuable asset to the team.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Harvey is named after the title character in an old Jimmy Stewart movie. The character, "Harvey", was a large, hard drinking pooka, appearing as a white rabbit that only Jimmy could see. Since I'm part Irish, and the truck does get quite "thirsty" (about 12mpg), is big and white, and the rabbits on our property seem to like lounging in the shade underneath him, the name Harvey seemed appropriate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_%28film%29

(There's an APRS live map of my current location at the bottom of this page)

He is equipped with multiple antennas for everything from 160m to 70cm, hard points and feed throughs for mast mounted antennas, dual batteries, high output alternator, 1.5kw (3kw surge) DC/AC inverter, full DOT warning lights, 220 watt halogen front spotlights, 27 watt LED rear flood lights, 10 watt side floodlights, an FT-757GXII and FC-757AT tuner, a IC-706MKIIG and LDG IT-100 tuner, an FTM-350AR, a FT-8500, a TM-733, a TM-741a, and various FRS & GMRS radios, CB radio, trunking scanner, and a very good alarm system. Inside the rear box is both white and red LED lighting, an operator's position with antenna feeds, 12v DC and 120v AC power, racks for the various extra antennas I carry, white boards for jotting operational info, storage for equipment and supplies, including two portable 10'x10' canopies, a 10'x20' portable enclosed shelter, two 6' folding tables, folding chairs, several step and extension ladders in sizes up to 21 feet, 96' of fiberglass mast and three tripod mounts, several hundred feet of coax ranging from RG-8X to LMR-500, 400' of guy rope and enough tools and test equipment to do field repairs and fabrication. There's even an 8' folding hammock and bedding for quick naps in the field, a 30 cup coffee maker, a two week supply of MRE rations, three cases of bottled water, and a small 12v fridge. Rigs normally used in the rear section include a Kenwood TS-940 SAT, Yaesu FT-2900, Yaesu FT-757GXII and FC-757AT tuner, Yaesu FT-8500 (dedicated as a cross band repeater), and a Motorola XTS-2500i digital HT. Equipment for digital modes also includes a 17" Gateway laptop and a RigBlaster Pro installation. Antennas normally carried include vertical antennas for 160 through 70cm, wire antennas for 160m through 10m, and log periodics for both 2m and 70cm. On board power now comes from the truck's normal 140 amp alternator and twin 1,000 CA batteries, or from the roof mounted 106 watt solar panels and a pair of 100 Ah AGM batteries in the rear.  Planned future improvements include a bank of more AGM batteries, a full shore power connection and distribution system, onboard 3kw generator, a second 250 amp alternator, and more roof-mounted solar panels.

Twin solar panels on the roof
I would like to note here the reason why Harvey does not have Amateur Radio tags and instead has tags for a non-profit organization I founded... Virginia won't issue them. That's right, the Commonwealth of Virginia, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that this vehicle does not qualify for Amateur Radio tags. Why you might ask? It's one pound over the weight limit for a passenger vehicle. Yes, a single pound. Harvey weighs 10,000 lbs., as it states on his title, registration and the VIN tag on the door jamb. Virginia limits passenger vehicles to 9,999 lbs. or less, so Harvey had to be registered as a truck. This meant that he can never get Amateur Radio tags in Virginia because those are only issued for passenger vehicles (even though it does not state this anywhere in the VA motor vehicle laws or regulations). This drove me and a nice lady at the DMV nuts for over an hour one day, because their computer system would not allow Amateur tags to be issued to Harvey, but would not explain why. She eventually had to contact DMV headquarters in Richmond to find out why. I'm told now that there are only two ways I could get Amateur tags for this truck. The first is to file for a modification of the title to change the weight to 9,999 lbs., which I won't do because I consider it to be a lie and unethical. The second is to get the Virginia Legislature to pass a bill modifying the regs to specifically allow Amateur tags on trucks, and get the governor to sign it into law. I'm not holding my breath on that happening, and I consider this a perfect case of bureaucratic insanity.

Update 07/26/2017: Well holy heck in a handbasket!  Looks like my petitioning has paid off.  I got a letter in the mail the other day from the DMV, telling me the Virginia Legislature DID change the regulations, making it possible for trucks Harvey's size to be registered as passenger vehicles and not trucks, and thus qualify for Amateur Radio tags!  Of course, this comes just as I'm about to sell Harvey because I'm not physically able to do a lot of the volunteering I used to do.  The XYL and I bought a new Jeep that can pull the trailer and gets better fuel economy, so Harvey is up for sale as soon as I can finish stripping radios and gear out of him.

Harvey was voted the First Place winner in the Truck Category at the Second Annual Virginia Ham Radio Cruise-In, held April 30, 2011. Other awards include a second place finish in the Mobile Multiple Operator category for the 2011 Virginia QSO Party, a first place finish in the same category for 2012, an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Governor of West Virginia for "participation in community disaster preparedness training and volunteer service", and I was named "Ham of the Year" for 2011 by the members of the Rappahannock Valley Amateur Radio Club.

Harvey and I have worked as the NCS for many public service events, including the Colonial Beach (Virginia) Triathlon, the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail 50km Race, the DRHT Half Marathon, the Fredericksburg Heritage Festival 10 Mile Race, the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon (chase vehicle), the Great Rappahannock Whitewater Kayak and Canoe Race, and the Hartwood 10 Mile Run, just to name a few. We also provided communications at two different Red Cross shelters (one in Stafford county, the other in King George county after the Stafford shelter secured operations) during Hurricane Irene, and provided emergency communications support, both during and in the aftermath of the 5.9 earthquake that struck the National Capitol Area on August 23, 2011. We had a functioning Net Control Station on the air, collecting damage reports and providing information to the surrounding area from the USGS, within 90 seconds of the first tremor, thanks to the gear in Harvey.

Update 08/04/2015: Harvey now has a buddy!

Over the July 31st weekend I took Harvey and ran up to Buena, NJ to pick up a new trailer for my upcoming trek to Alaska.  Say hello to Big Red...

Red will be carrying things I didn't want to trust to the movers or things they wouldn't take, like my two generators, but once I get there and get settled in I think I'm going to see about turning him into a counterpart to Harvey and make him a stand alone ham shack.  I'm thinking of adding stabilizer jacks, insulation in the walls floor and roof, better air venting, maybe a fold down bunk, a crank up or push up mast mounted to the vee nose, a couple AGM batteries and a few solar panels.  I bought him in red specifically with this in mind, so he'd be easy to spot and identify in the field.

Update 04/01/16: Though the Alaska move is off, and I'm slowly recovering from some medical issues, plans for turning Red into another mobile ham shack have continued.  He now sports a 100w solar panel and a pair of 100aH AGM batteries, as well as a 1000w pure sine wave inverter feeding a dedicated power strip. Full 12vdc is also available, with a Powerpole strip being added after the table location is finalized. Red still needs to be able to be used for all the things you'd need a trailer for, such as hauling furniture, gardening supplies, etc., so everything has to be collapsible and easily removable.

Solar charge controller and 1kw pure sine inverter

Dedicated power strip and inverter setup

He also now has a propane heater for the winter months, a portable A/C unit for the summer months, and full LED lighting. Pass throughs have been installed for electric (shore power or portable generator) and coax, as well as lines for the propane supply for the heater.  An external rack will carry the propane tank. Coming soon will also be interior benches and tables that lock to the e-track system, and collapse for storage.  A pair of dual band 2m and 70cm rigs set aside for him have been installed, one for voice and one for data, with either capable of cross-band repeating.  There is also now a dedicated 50w mobile repeater on the 70cm band permanently installed, complete with voice ID.  He'll also probably be carrying a few Pelican cases with HF radios and portables in them, as well as tools for field repairs.  Oh, and he also now has sanitary facilities in the form of one of those portable chemical toilets and a pop up stand alone shelter.

(below: the workbench area)

Workbench area

(below: dedicated 70cm 50w repeater)

Update Sept. 7, 2016: Work on the trailer had to be halted for about a year while I dealt with the worst case of shingles anyone at my clinic had ever seen, and the resulting nerve damage that has left me permanently disabled.  It has recommenced though, and I'm hopeful that I might have it done by the end of the year.

Here are a few shots of Harvey in action with the Rappahannock Valley Amateur Radio Club (RVARC), in support of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail Half Marathon in February of 2011 and again in 2012:

Below: Working 2m SSB contacts during the 2011 Virginia QSO Party from Caroline County

Below: Heading out to do some antenna repair work in a remote area, towing an aerial lift platform.

Below: EmComm East held in Rochester, NY on September 25th, 2011

Below: Waiting for the start of the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon March 20, 2012 (Harvey was the sweep vehicle that followed the last runner)

And, last but not least, a few shots working as the NCS for the Great Rappahannock Whitewater Kayak and Canoe Race in June of 2012


Field Day - 2012

For Field Day - 2012 Harvey and I set up the GOTA station and Welcome Center for our local club, the RVARC, at Curtis Park, in Stafford county Virginia. Almost everything seen in the tent, and including the trailer (with 6kw generator), plus the mast, guys, antennas, and tripods, is equipment either normally carried on the truck, or that can be quickly loaded for emergency operations. (Including the 30 cup coffee maker!) The club call is K4TS and the call for the GOTA station this year was that of my GOTA partner Tim, N4ENG.

 

 

 


 

My Shack Cats

This handsome devil above is Weazie, our Maine Coon cat. He's a real joker and comedian, always doing something silly to make us laugh. He insists that his real name is "His Royal Fuzziness, Prince Weazious the First". We usually just call him "Fuzzybutt"


This beautiful young lady is Ms. Velcro, our rescue kitty. We adopted her from a local shelter when she was very sick and almost died. I gave her round the clock care for two months straight, medications every four hours, etc. and she managed to pull through, though her illness did end up costing her an eye. She was less than 6 lbs. when we adopted her and very, very scared. Today she's 12 lbs. and the most warm and loving cat I've ever met. A real "Daddy's girl", who has to be near me wherever I am in the house. My wife calls her my black and white shadow.  

Update May 10, 2015:  I'm sad to report that Miss Velcro, affectionately known as Baby Girl by her family and friends, passed away at 0515 this morning from liver and kidney failure.  She was 6 years old.  My wife and I were with her, petting her and loving her as she crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

 

This grinning imp above is Mr. Rupert G. Belvedere. We adopted him on Sept 12, 2011 and he's already made himself completely at home. He combines Weazie's playfulness with Ms. Velcro's warm and loving manner. His favorite activity is curling up with the wife in her recliner for a nap and he insists on sleeping with his head resting on the palm of my hand. Yes, I'm a cat pillow...

The young lady you see above is our Miss Betty, adopted Oct. 18, 2013, after rescuing her from wandering around a busy commuter parking lot one morning.  When no one responded to the posters I put up for a 5-mile radius around the lot we decided to add her to the family with the name of Betty Rumble, because she has such a loud purr even though she's very tiny.

Miss Kimmy K. Katt

That sleepy young lady up there is Kimmy, our newest kitten, adopted from the local shelter September 1st, 2016

I've promised all the cats that, once I get a shack set up in the house, and so long as they don't chew cords or key up microphones, they can sleep on top of the nice warm equipment.

My Current Location:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MAP

(For some odd reason the map script from aprs.fi no longer displays properly when embedded)

8249111 Last modified: 2017-08-01 14:43:31, 25691 bytes

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