Category Archives: Member Spotlights

Our Member Spotlights contains articles about the Amateur Radio interests and background of Nashua Area Radio Society Members.

Member Spotlight – Fredric R. (Rick) Boswell, K8EZB

I recently (May 2017) returned to amateur radio after an absence of 50+ years. My interest in amateur radio started around age 8 or 9, as a result of encouragement by my father who had been a ham earlier in his life but had not been active for many years. He brought home a military surplus receiver covering the ham bands and gave it to me to “play” with. Over the next few years, he obtained a set of WWII Army 78 rpm code practice records and helped me build a crude code practice set using a junk box transformer, a door buzzer, and a straight key fashioned from a metal strip cut from a coffee can. Finally got around to taking the Novice license exam in 1957, was issued call sign KN8EZB, and upgraded to General a year later. We were living in the Cleveland, OH suburbs at that time and I took the city bus to the FCC offices in downtown Cleveland to take the General code and written tests. I was the only kid in a room full of adults, all of whom seemed at least 50 years old to me. The code test (13 wpm) was administered and graded first. The proctors came back into the room and announced a list of names; they then stated those named had failed the code test and should leave the room. About two-thirds of those present left. My name, unbelievable to me, was not on that list, so I stuck around and passed the General written exam.

My first QSO as a Novice took place using a homebrew 6AQ5 xtal oscillator built on a piece of Masonite, and a WWII German military receiver my father had borrowed from a colleague at work. My only xtal was in the 80 m Novice band; antenna was a 15 m dipole (because that’s what I had!) Worked a station in Michigan – DX as far as I was concerned, and QRP (by necessity) long before it became trendy! Moved on to a Heathkit DX-35, Johnson VFO, and a National HRO receiver which was ancient even at that time. Final station before life intervened was a Johnson Ranger and Collins 75A-1.

While in high school, I became interested in an aviation career, but soon found my uncorrected vision wouldn’t cut it with the military or airlines. For this and other reasons, I chose a career in technology (with this choice strongly influenced by my amateur radio experience), went on to complete a Ph.D. in computer engineering at Case Western Reserve University, and began flying as an avocation while in graduate school. While working on the Ph.D., I was invited by my thesis advisor to join a new company he was starting.  Up to that point, I had assumed I would follow my graduate school colleagues to Bell Labs (seemed like everyone in my department was going to Bell Labs) to pursue a career in industrial R&D. However, a taste of the entrepreneurial life changed my direction in a major way. Finishing my degree, I had an offer in one hand to join a computer architecture group at Bell Labs, and an offer in the other hand to join a small Cleveland company doing some innovative product development work in point-of-transaction systems as VP Engineering. I chose the entrepreneurial route and never looked back. Along the way, I took time off to do an MBA at Harvard. This led to a progression of senior-level jobs in marketing and general management in technology companies, including President/CEO of the E.F. Johnson Company of Waseca, MN, in the eighties.

EFJ left the amateur radio and CB equipment markets well before I arrived.  We were focused mainly on land mobile radio and cellular during my tenure there. In addition to developing and marketing the LTR family of land mobile products, we did cell site radios for AT&T AMPS (first cellular service in the U.S.) and air and ground radios for the Airfone in-flight phone service under contract to Airfone, as well as continuing the legacy components business (connectors, tube sockets, variable capacitors, etc) which was the basis on which EFJ was started in 1923. Edgar Johnson (founder) was still living but long retired when I was at EFJ and we had some interesting conversations. It was evident he had the optimism characteristic of many entrepreneurs; although in his nineties, he elected to purchase a new Mercedes!

The most recent 20 years of my career have been as a founding partner (now partner emeritus) in a venture capital firm investing mainly in startup companies in Silicon Valley and New England. I worked from an office on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, CA (the heart of Silicon Valley) for much of the nineties, and then moved to the metro Boston area to open an East Coast office for the firm. Over my time with the firm, we invested directly in more than 200 companies, and indirectly in more than 1000 companies through our affiliation with other venture capital firms as a limited partner.

I have continued my involvement in aviation throughout the last 50 years, and hold an FAA Commercial Pilot certificate with airplane, helicopter, glider, and instrument ratings, as well as a Douglas DC-3/C-47 type rating, and currently fly an Enstrom 480B helicopter based at Nashua. Other interests outside of amateur radio include motorsports, history, music, and shooting sports.

About 20 years ago, I began thinking about returning to amateur radio. I purchased a couple of HF transceivers and listened some but didn’t get sufficiently motivated to do anything significant until a few months ago, when I re-instated my General privileges and recovered my original call sign via the vanity call sign system. With the aid of expert tutoring by Fred, AB1OC, Anita, AB1QB, and several other NARS members, I passed the Amateur Extra exam in December 2017. Now working to get my CW speed back to 20 wpm; the biggest challenge seems to be learning to use a dual paddle key with an iambic keyer, as all my prior CW work was with a straight key. My main interests in amateur radio are SDR technology and vintage HF SSB equipment (primarily Collins A-line and S-line, and E.F. Johnson). I am in the process of building stations around vintage gear and have been fortunate to find some superbly restored examples. I have built a substantial amount of amateur radio and other homebrew and kit electronics over the years but will focus mostly on the restoration of vintage radio and test equipment going forward. I have just completed the restoration of an early seventies Eico 667 transconductance type tube tester which I will use to maintain my vintage radio gear. (Real men and women prefer tubes!) Just now getting back on the air with an IC-7300 (the SDR segment of my interests); due to temporary antenna limitations, my operating, so far, has been confined to local contacts and checking into NARS nets. More to come!

Fredric R. (Rick) Boswell, K8EZB

Member Spotlight: David Merchant, K1DLM

Hello, everyone!  My name is David Merchant, and my callsign is K1DLM. I am proud to be part of the Nashua Area Radio Society.  I’ve lived in Windham, NH for 10-years with my XYL and have three children.  I was born just outside of Philadelphia, where I lived until age 7.  I moved around quite a bit growing up, and have lived in every state in New England, except for Vermont.

David Merchant, K1DLM, busy building an Elecraft K3 kit.

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had an intense interest in electronics, technology and how things work. I guess you could say it’s in my blood.  When I was very young, I used to experiment with scavenging parts from old TVs and radios.  As I advanced through school, I also started to get exposed to computers, initially in the 1970’s with a teletype attached to the town of West Hartford, Connecticut’s mainframe.  As PC’s came into the equation, I continued to soak up as much information as I could, becoming very familiar with Apple II computers and ultimately the Mac and Windows.

It wasn’t until High School that I had my first electronics class, which cemented my plan to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering (EE). I went on to earn an EE degree from the University of Hartford, SI Ward School of Technology in 1990.

  1. How did you get involved in amateur radio? 

I’ve been interested in Amateur Radio since a young age, but I had so many questions, and I didn’t have an Elmer.   I remember attending at a Scout Jamboree, and someone had set up an HF station using a Heathkit Radio.  He had a tribander at the top of an extension ladder and was making contacts all over the World.  I must have spent an hour listening to the QSO’s, but never got on the air.  I dabbled around with CB radio, scanners, and an old Halicrafters shortwave set from my Grandfather.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I finally obtained my General license at age 35 in July 2003.  I earned my Extra ticket about a year later, back when there was still a five wpm code requirement.

  1. What’s your background and what other hobbies do you have? 
David Merchant and Brent Norris (Graphics Designer) at Spirit Technologies, Summer 1995.

You might think that I would have pursued a career in engineering, but I never did.  While I was in College, I became an entrepreneur, starting two tech companies in the computer storage market.  This exposed me to many different aspects of business, where I determined that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day.  The job I enjoyed most was sales – traveling and being out in front of customers.  I enjoyed meeting new people, and every day brought a new challenge.  This became my career path, where I ultimately assumed various sales leadership roles in the telecommunications business.  I’ve worked at Siemens, Nortel, Juniper Networks, Fortinet, and currently for a telecom startup focused on cellular infrastructure.

I have a range of other hobbies including weather, boating/sailing, cooking, videography, home automation, and DJ’ing an occasional party.  I also enjoy traveling to new destinations, which is a lucky thing as my job demands a great deal of it.

  1. What are your goals in amateur radio? 
This is my primary operating position. It’s an SO2R setup.

Amateur radio is the primary way I stay connected to my technical roots.  Of all the aspects of the hobby, I enjoy station building and helping others.  I currently host a 2-meter D-Star repeater (KC1EGN) at my QTH and maintain an HF and Satellite station.  I enjoy the fusion of radio, computers, networking, and software-defined radios in particular.

In the future, my XYL and I plan to move up to the lakes region of New Hampshire.  I’ve already started dreaming about building a contest station up there for retirement, and have been gradually collecting some foundational components (hardline, rotors, antenna switching matrix, etc.).

  1. What do you like about being a member of Nashua Area Radio Society? 

I’ve enjoyed the new friends that I’ve made through the club.  The members come from a diverse set of backgrounds and life experiences.  As a result, there is always something new to learn.

I also volunteered to be the Field Day Chairman for 2017 and quickly gained an appreciation for how much effort is required on behalf of many individuals to pull off this event.  Field Day is the premier event for the Nashua Area Radio Society.  I would encourage everyone to take an active role, even if you’re a beginner.  As they say, many hands make light work, and you’re guaranteed to learn something in the process.

Dave, K1DLM

Member Spotlight – Jamey, AC1DC (Formerly KC1ENX)

I am very new to Amateur Radio and came into the hobby almost by accident. A few years ago I had been looking into better communication while out hiking after myself and Abby (AB1BY) were separated from the rest of our hiking party coming down Mount Washington.  We ended up coming down in the dark – with headlamps – and were okay, but we were frustrated that we could not let the rest of our party know we were oka but just slow.

I started searching the web trying to learn more about FRS/GMRS, CB radio and anything else that might work. During my search the Nashua Area Radio Club website came up and they had a licensing class coming up… the rest is history!

Speaking of history, let me tell you a little about myself that is non-ham related. I have worked as a tennis professional for the past 25 or so years. I am the current Director of Junior Development at the Longfellow Tennis & Health Club in Wayland, MA. We have one of the largest junior programs in the north east US and I truly love my job! I also work as a National Trainer for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and travel to other clubs around the country to help educate other pros on the teachings of junior tennis.

KC1ENX, KC1FFX, and AB1BYI have two harmonics, Connor, KC1FFX and Abby, AB1BY. Both are licensed amateur radio operators. The three of us have not yet been able to convince my XYL, Gretchen, to get licensed… but, we keep trying!

KC1ENX, KC1FFX, and AB1BY

Outside of tennis and Ham Radio, I enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking (even when not rescuing HABs), canoeing and pretty much any other outdoor activities. I also have a love for motorcycling, but can no longer ride due to an inner ear disease which affects my balance. I have ridden in a few Iron Butt (Minute Man 1000) rides – think of a big, long distance scavenger hunt! One year I rode over 1300 miles in 24 hours. I loved riding and would ride rain or shine for many years. Both kids also enjoyed many adventures on the bike!

 

As far as my interests in Amateur Radio I have many. I could be diagnosed with Ham Radio ADD. There is just too much to learn and enjoy in the hobby! I really enjoy working mobile HF on my Icom 7100 and Tar Heel II antenna. I also enjoy contesting – especially on a good station like at Fred’s AB1OC and Anita’s AB1QB QTH. My favorite activity is portable operations. I have enjoyed Summits on the Air, Parks on the Air and sometimes just getting out with the kids and throwing up an antenna and operating. I am learning new things about this hobby every day.

As a new Ham, I am always curious to learn more about this great hobby and I consider myself very lucky for having found the Nashua Area Radio Society. I’m honestly not sure I would still be on the air if it weren’t for the all of the club’s activities and enthusiastic members.

Jamey, AC1DC

Member Spotlight – B. Scott Andersen, NE1RD

NE1RD on Mt. Wachusett

Bio of B. Scott Andersen, NE1RD

I got my start in ham radio not long ago. In 2002, after years of encouragement from a good friend, I finally looked into the hobby. “You’ll love it,” my friend said. “It’s right up your alley.” I confess I was skeptical, and even a little uncomfortable watching him make a simple call on a 2m radio he had in his car. “Go ahead and talk,” he said. I was well outside my comfort zone.

I’ve tried to remember those feelings as I show new people our world. It can seem strange, and aspects of it still seem strange, even after all these years. “It isn’t just one hobby,” my friend admitted. “It’s 99 different hobbies. You just pick the ones that interest you.”

I have taken his advice, and now I’m involved in some of the ones that most intrigued me. Not long after being licensed, I entered my first contest. It was October of 2002, the sunspots were still active, and I worked over three hundred stations in just a few hours. I was completely hooked on contesting! A lot of the things that made me nervous in the car that day were absent here. There were no long conversations; they just wanted my exchange (5905), and on they went!

The thing that really captured my attention, though, was a DVD of a DXpedition run by the Microlite Penguin team and their trip to South Sandwich Island and Southern Thule. These guys were amazing! Small radios, lightweight gear, well-conceived but modest antennas, and they worked the world. This was something I wanted to do.

So, in the next few years, I spent most of my free time thinking about ham radio, and lightweight DXpeditioning in particular. Contesting just helped me increase my DXCC totals, and hone my skills. The culmination of all that thinking was captured in my blog “The 100 Pound DXpedition.” You can get a PDF of all these brief articles from a link on my website www.bsandersen.com

As part of this DXpeditioning interest, I also spent a great deal of time thinking about antennas, and portable antennas in particular. My book “Buddipole in the Field” was the result of some of this work. You can get the free PDF from the Buddipole User Group on Yahoo!, or from a link on my website. The Buddipole has provided a good platform for many of my experiments, and DXpeditions.

I’ve always been a nerd, interested in electronics, physics, mathematics, and the like. Ham radio has provided me a way to transition from the abstract to the concrete. It is one thing to think about radio theory. It is another to build a working radio. I’ve been building kits since the 1970’s, but ham radio has given me many new opportunities. I’m particularly fond of Elecraft kits having built two K2s, three K1s, and two KX1s. They are all fabulous radios, and building them was deeply satisfying.

I am still working, so ham radio sometimes takes a backseat to my responsibilities, but it is never far from my mind. I’ve also learned just a little patience through all this. Building up a country list for DXCC, and chasing various radio awards must be done over time (usually years) and it has paid off. I now have 8-band DXCC, WAS in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ARRL Challenge, and various CQ WPX awards. They look great on my wall and are a reminder that anything worthwhile requires both hard work and patience.

After all this time, I’m still very much a student of the hobby. I’m shameless about asking questions and always try to take advantage of any opportunity to see and try new things. I can only hope that this passion continues through the coming years. It has been a joy for this first fifteen, certainly!