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           K5RCD

10-10 # 74373  -   FISTS # 13523  -    FELD HELL CLUB # FH-044  -  ARRL VOLUNTEER EXAMINER.

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Background


I am Randall C. (Randy) Davis. I was born in north central Ohio in 1946, and lived there until I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965, where I attained the rank of Sergeant. I proudly served a year of combat in Vietnam, in the First Infantry Division (the BIG RED ONE). After Viet Nam, I was assigned to an experimental weapons and tactics unit at Ft. Ord California until my Honorable Discharge in 1968.

After reentering civilian life, I went to work as an Insurance Claim Representative in San Francisco CA. I earned my Commercial Pilot License using the GI Bill while working there. I married my lovely wife Marjorie, a Bay Area native, in 1973, and we moved to Los Angeles. There I attended Northrop University, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Following graduation, having no desire to be an airplane designer or rocket scientist, I obtained my Aircraft Mechanic's (A&P) License, and moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to work for a small cargo airline, operating ancient DC-3s and De Havilland DH-104s. After a year or so doing that, it became evident that I was too old to ever be hired as a pilot by a major airline, and that the high cost of living in California would likely prevent me from attaining a personal goal of prospering and eventually being able to retire while I was young enough to enjoy it.  That prompted us to take a risk, and we pulled up stakes and moved to the Dallas / Ft. Worth area in Texas. My Mother and sister had moved there previously, and while we had no specific job prospects, we knew the Texas economy was booming. I ended up back in the Insurance Claim business there, and was fortunate enough to work my way up to a comfortable rung on the corporate ladder rather quickly.

After much hard work, many personal sacrifices by Marjorie and myself, and some sound (lucky?) financial investments, we began to prosper. We were greatly aided by keeping open minds and maintaining the flexibility to be able to answer the door when opportunity knocked. My retirement came a few years earlier than expected though, due to the disabling injury of a fractured spine. By making lemonade out of life's lemons however, we are enjoying our retirement. We are thankful to The Lord for our good fortune. We are also grateful to the many individuals who have touched our lives and aided us along the way.

After retirement we moved to Rockport on the Texas coast, and after six years of living in a waterfront home, we decided to move inland, away from the corrosive saltwater environment, small lot, and threat of hurricanes. We moved to a beautiful custom home located on five lovely wooded acres in Shannon Ridge subdivision, near Floresville, about 25 miles southeast of San Antonio.

We acquired 2 registered Miniature Horses which are wonderful pets. One a black, yearling colt named Creeper, the other a 4 year old mare named Red Red Wine. She is a Sorrel (red) with red mane and tail. Red was pregnant when we purchased her, and in September of 2006 she gave birth to her foal, a tiny Sorrel colt with blond mane and tail. We named him Ralph. At birth he stood only 21 inches high at the shoulders. Now 6 years old, Creeper is completely grown and full of mischief, and is teaching his young pal Ralph how to misbehave. We had both colts gelded (neutered), as they were becoming overly aggressive as they matured. We have become quite attached to them, and the three each have unique personalities, and enjoy playing with our dogs and chasing deer around the pasture. These horses stand about 3 feet at the shoulders when fully grown. Although they are too small to ride, they can be trained to pull a cart, and they will probably be driving us around soon.

We have abundant wildlife in our area including deer, turkeys, wild hogs, bobcats, coyotes and many different species of birds. There are so many hummingbirds in the warmer months that we can barely keep our hummingbird feeders filled. They nest in the trees around the house. Unfortunately, we also have our share of undesirable critters such as venomous snakes ( rattlers, copperheads, and coral snakes) as well as lots of scorpions and black widow, and brown recluse spiders. That's just part of country living in south Texas though, so we are very careful where we put our hands and feet. (And where we sit ) !


Ham Radio Interests

I am a relatively new ham, having obtained my Technician license in April 2005. I upgraded to General in June of the same year, and to Extra in June 2006. I applied for my current (Vanity) call sign (using my initials), as my original call of KE5EKN, was too much of a tongue twister. My current interests include CW and PHONE DX and rag chewing, and various digital modes including PSK, Olivia, Contestia, JT65, JT9, digital and analog Slow Scan TV, and RTTY, on all bands. I also enjoy using the Hellschreiber mode and joined the Feld Hell Club (It's FREE). I hope to make lots of contacts using that interesting old technology. I also enjoy answering CQ calls during contests, but am not concerned with scoring points. I just do it for fun.


Some Other Interests

In addition to my ham radio addiction, other interests include hunting, skeet and trapshooting, reloading, fishing, and serving as Author and Webmaster of the website of our local Homeowner's Association, www.shannonridge.org.  I am also a member of the Board of Directors and Webmaster of the Texas Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance  www.joinrfatexas.org . Needless to say, all of this keeps me quite busy and helps me enjoy a rather active retirement (and keeps me out of the tiddie bars). 

We also enjoy traveling in our travel trailer, and spend some of our leisure time enjoying fishing, bird watching, and talking on my ICOM 706 MK 2 G with an Ameritron SDA-100 Screwdriver Antenna.
 

How I Became Interested in Ham Radio.

My interest in amateur radio started when I was just a little shaver. I was about 6 years old or so when I started playing with our family's AM / Shortwave / Phonograph, a Spartan, made by Magnavox. It was a big console model with a big speaker, and we used it to listen to the radio programs of the day such as Amos n Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly,  Dragnet, and of course The Lone Ranger among others. This was before we had a television set, and I spent many happy hours in front of that big radio. One day I was playing around with the dials, and discovered the strangest thing. Real people were actually talking back and forth on the air. I mean - they were just chatting and holding casual conversations. That really caught my fancy, so I asked my dad about it. He explained that these were "ham" radio operators, who were licensed and allowed to talk on the air. I was instantly captivated by this idea, and at that point decided that some day I would become a "ham". I became an avid Shortwave Listener, and received a "SWL Call Sign" (WPE8DEY) from Popular Electronics Magazine. I even had "SWL QSL Cards" printed and sent them out to hams and Foreign Broadcast Stations. Surprisingly, I received replies from the majority I mailed out. I had several shoeboxes full of cards received which sadly were destroyed in a flood at my parent's home while I was in the Army.


Getting My License

Due to many other interests and hobbies, and the challenge of clawing my way through the corporate world, it was a long time before I finally made the effort to start studying for my license. I bought several books and study guides, and after studying for the Technician Exam, I decided I might as well try for the General Written Exam while I was at it. I took and passed the Technician (Element 2) scoring 100%, so went ahead the same day and took the General Exam (Element 3), missing only 2 questions. I wasn't thrilled with the limitations of the Technician License, so I immediately began studying for the Code Test (Element 1).  I purchased the CODE QUICK program on CD, and it wasn't long before I mastered the meager 5 words per minute requirement, and passed the test on the first go around. Finally I was a real "ham" and allowed to utilize the HF bands, and on my way to really enjoying a fascinating pastime.  I was pretty pleased with myself for passing the license exams, but at the same time realized that I had really learned very little about how to actually set up and operate a station. I knew I was in for some "on the job training". I joined the Radio Operators of South Texas (R.O.O.S.T.) Club, a friendly and knowledgeable bunch located in San Antonio, and the members have been most helpful to me. I started listening, asking questions, and reading and learning as fast as I could. I understand that any ham Ticket is really just a license to learn, and am learning more every day. I began earnestly studying for upgrade to Extra (Element 4) in January 2006, and gained a great deal of knowledge in the process. I passed the Extra exam in June 2006 with a score of 100%, of which I am proud. The preparation for the Extra exam required a great deal of study on my part, and was a much needed intellectual stimulation for my aging brain cells. I feel that I have finally arrived at a point where I have the foundation to really begin learning the details of this esoteric hobby. I am looking forward to learning much more as I go along, relieved of the pressure of having to prepare for a written exam.  I am a Volunteer Examiner with the ARRL VEC Program. It is my privilege to help administer FCC exams to prospective new hams and upgrades to those already licensed. This gives me a special sense of satisfaction and is my way of giving something back to the amateur radio community. My wife Marjorie recently earned her Technician License with the call K5APE.


Current Equipment at Home QTH

 I currently own the aforementioned Icom 706 MK IIG and an Icom 756 Pro III Transceiver with a MFJ 4245 MV Switching Power Supply, and an MFJ 989 D Antenna Tuner. This tuner performs quite well for me in combination with my low band HF antenna, a 160 meter Horizontal Loop (520 feet of # 12 stranded, insulated copper wire) strung about 25 feet above the ground. This system delivers a very low SWR on all bands From 160 through 10 meters. I have had many favorable reports using this simple antenna, and so many requests for more information about it that I have made a separate page (see below) describing the construction of this type antenna. I also have 2 and 6 meter dipoles, Arrow Antennas 6 meter ground plane, and a 2meter/70 cm Arrow J Pole, all at about 25 feet. I also have a 5 band Traffie Hex Beam at 40 feet. I am very pleased with its performance. I also have an Ameritron ALS-600 solid state amplifier. It works quite well and has the automatic band switching feature.

For digital mode use, a Gateway Laptop PC, running Windows 7, with a serial to USB adapter and an MFJ 1279 Soundcard Interface serves me quite well.  For digital modes and logging, I use Ham Radio Deluxe and DM 780, with a West Mountain Radio RIGtalk interface device for PC - radio control. So far, I have been pleased with all my Ameritron and MFJ products. They seem to function well, are reasonably priced, and are made right here, in the U.S.A.

Because we live in the country where cable and DSL are not available, our high speed internet service is via satellite, provided by WildBlue. We have been quite satisfied with it so far.

 

Portable Operation
See Photos Here

I  frequently operate portable, from my travel trailer at my fishing camp, near Rockport in Aransas County Texas, on the Gulf Coast, about 20 miles NE of Corpus Christi. Grid = EL17

The setup consists of an Icom 706 MK2 G Transceiver, Ameritron SDA-100 Screwdriver Antenna, MFJ 1279M Soundcard Interface, MFJ-822 SWR / Wattmeter, and MFJ 4125 Mighty Lite Power Supply. This rig works quite well, and with the screwdriver antenna, I can work 80 through 6 meters without the need for an antenna tuner. The screwdriver antenna works pretty well, at least as well as a normal mobile setup. It is on a short pipe welded to the trailer frame which serves as a counterpoise. It would probably work better if I laid down some ground radials. I work some SSB, but mostly digital modes from the trailer, and those modes work well, even at low power, with a less than ideal antenna. The radio has no built in tuner, but does have a tune button and a tuner chip that goes into low power, CW mode when I push the tune button, allowing me to adjust the power screwdriver for best SWR.

The whole thing is mounted in one of those metal, 3 tray in/out/hold baskets available at office supply stores. The radio is screw mounted, everything else is Velcro mounted to the tray. I just unplug antenna and power connectors, and the entire unit can be just picked up and stuck in a compartment. I have a MFJ interface device, as well as a small SWR/watt meter, small speaker, and a 7 point USB hub mounted in that tray. I have the power supply tucked in there too, but could just as easily tap into the RV 12 volt system.

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"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." - A quote from Douglas Adams.

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Horizontal Loop Antenna:

 DIAGRAM  

CONSTRUCTION DIRECTIONS

HOME BREW WINDOW LINE  FEED POINT INSULATOR

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ARRL Volunteer Examiner

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Copyright © 2006 by  
Randy Davis.  All rights reserved.
All information on this website may be copied or reproduced and used for NON - commercial purposes only..

10/13/2013