My Involvement with W8ZHO
I became a member of MAARC right after getting my license in 1991. I moved
out of town for several years, but returned as an active member in 2006.
I managed the club's website,
w8zho.org, participated in club events, and took positions on its Board of
Directors until January 2011.
I took on several roles in the `90s as well, one of them being the club's
newsletter editor. You can see some of some old Flashovers by
clicking on the picture to the left.
I found these old copies in a file cabinet in my garage. It's great to see
pictures and read about the old days.
Ham radio has become an important part of my life, that it's hard to believe
that it all began so recently, after meeting my first Hams in May, 1991.
The shot to the left is from the clubhouse tower on Scenic Drive in 1994. I didn't
do any of the work on that tower or the antennas. I just wanted to run up there
and check out the view. It's a 100' tower. I wondered if I could see the blockhouse
from up there, but I couldn't. It's too far away.
This next picture is from the top of the tower, looking down at the clubhouse. That's
pretty far away too.
The next serveral pictures are from the W8ZHO Field Day event in 1992. This was
my first Field Day.
I wanted to do CW and found that nobody was doing 80 meters. I like that band. It
opens late and stays open all night. That gives me time to screw around and talk
with everyone before settling in. And the band craps out after sunrise, so I get
to clean up early.
To get a big signal, I considered a Zepp antenna, supported via sky hook (balloon).
This was phun and worked very well. I included a quarter wave length of latter-line
to keep the high voltage node of the standing wave away from my key, (uncomfortable
at best). I have to admit, though that we got harmonics in the camp. These days
I just use a G5RV.
The Zepp is an old fashioned design and seldom seen anymore. It gets it's name from
the zeppelins which used to trail them aloft.
The kid to the right, in the picture above, is: Steve N8QOM. The other people are
family N8MMH's kids and brother and are not hams. This balloon, (shown about half
full, in the picture above) was "overkill".. too big for the job.
The picture at the left shows it at its full 8' diameter. The wind took it away
(and may still have it).
A few minutes after taking this photo, I watched my balloon sail away, having overpowered
the two grown men trying to restrain it. It was just too much balloon for
the job. But what the heck, right? Now we know!
I wasn't defeated. I had two spares, both were 5 footers. The 5 foot substitute
worked fine - but only after the wind died down near dusk. So, I guess this antenna
idea is better suited for the low bands.
This is one of my spares. It's up about 160 feet. The FCC allows 200' without special
permission. The FAA preempts this regulation near airways. I tried for a special
permit once and was denied - I wanted to use a Zepp for 160 meters. Although the
station location east of Muskegon disallowed the taller antenna, the application
procedure was an experience worth the while.. a procedure which required me to procure
a topological map indicating the ground elevation, accurate to the foot above sea
level. I also learned how to provide a lightweight blinking light up there, using
the radio energy to power the fluorescent bulb.
Here you see the 450 ohm ladder-line feeder, used to provide the standing wave and
resulting impedance match at the transmitter. The 5/8 wave radiator is connected
to one leg of the feed line. The dacron cord also seen is to take stress off the
copper. This photo does not do justice to the spectacle of that distant balloon.
Here are some of my friends, and a narrow shot of other activity in 1992. You are
looking at the satellite and the packet stations. KB8IXX, in the wheel chair, is
big into remote control.
This is one of my favorite pictures.
When I was Vice-President of MARC I arranged to move our Field Day location to the
Blockhouse State Park. Besides the obvious benefits, the Blockhouse is only a few
miles south of our clubhouse on Scenic Drive.
That is Jason N8YKC, owner of Sound-Buggy, on the tower. He is arranging the VHF/UHF
"shack". Barely visible (depending on your video card) at left is the 6 meter cubical-quad
antenna and an 80 meter trap vertical, (not to be confused with the hanging power
cord). A micro-wave horn points out a gun-loop across Lake Michigan, (that would
have been a distance record). Also inside is the satellite station and antennas.
My 160 meter double Zepp antenna extends through the trees down both sides of Blockhouse
Hill. All other bands are covered with radio shacks positioned on both sides of
the hill. We had a great time here and earned more points than ever before.
That same year, I asked the City to recognize the amateur radio community for the
important services its provided for so many decades. This they agreed to do. Here
I am, donned in club T-shirt, accepting the honor on behalf of all Muskegon hams,
(many are in the crowd with identical blue shirts).
This is a close-up of the plaque we were given. It now hangs with other memorabilia
in our clubhouse (W8AHO - north of River Rd on Scenic Drive).
Besides giving us the plaque, Muskegon proclaimed the last week in June "Amateur
Radio Week" and announces as much every year in the Muskegon Chronicle. This news
blurb coincides nicely with Field Day which (everyone knows) is also the last weekend
You can sense our satisfaction
by Larry's expression. BTW, with a call like W8LZ
(Larry Zwalocki) you know he's been active for a while (necessarily more
than 25 years and an extra-class when these calls were issued in 1978).
Our hobby gives kids a chance to do something besides watch TV. Here is a small
group of Boy Scouts who wanted to know about amateur radio. We set up a station
at the Fruitport Elementary School and let them talk to people around the country.
They also telephoned home through the VHF radio repeater links.
That's Tom WZ8S with me.
Here's Bill Gietzen, with me on stage at Fruitport Middle School in 1992. Pete KB8TNE
and Dan (I forget his call) are on the wings demonstrating HF and VHF to individuals
as we speak. PM this day,we presented to three groups: the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders
Here is a friend of mine from W8ZHO with some Boy Scouts. We are on deck of the
USS Silversides, a WWII submarine that saw a lot of action in the Pacific. We set
up radios every year and operate a "special event" station from inside the sub.
The Boyscouts get a bang out of it.
This is a shot from inside the submarine, down in the hull. We're operating two
HF stations, covering the 80 and 40 meter bands. This details of this event was
published in QST magazine.
That's Brad, Leon KB8LOH, and Mark, as control operators. I need to look up their
call signs, because it's just been too long.
I was also honored in 1993 at the club's annual banquet.
This award is from the ARES & RACES emergency communications organization. Some
of my friends here are (left to right) retired policeman Pete WB8TNE, attorney Jeff
NV8B, Sound Buggy owner Jason N8YKC, City electrical inspector Don WB8I, fire-fighter
Mark KB8UNF, and paramedic Leon KB8LOH.
The MARC honored me in 1996 with the prestigious Chuck
Schecter "Ham of the Year" award. Most receivers of this honor have been active
in the club for decades. I had only been a ham since May 1991, and had never been
a club president.
I am proud to be associated with MAARC, so having this award means very much to