My name is Brian and I was born in Illinois in 1968. In 1976 my family and I moved to Fairfield, Connecticut. In late 2010 I moved to Hays, NC where I now reside.
I am a computer person by trade, a "techie" so to speak and I have always been fascinated by radio. I worked for a while in the early 1990's at a commercial radio station, but it just didn't pay that well. So, back to computers I went. Now, with my amateur radio license, I hope that my fascination with radio will be rekindled.
I started in Amateur Radio in the later part of 2008.
I took a technician class at the Beardsley Zoo, located in Bridgeport, CT. There were about 10 people in the class, and the instructors went through everything that could be on the test. A really great class.
I took my test on November 6th, 2008 and I passed! Then I was handed the General test, and I passed that too!! After that, I was handed still another test, the Amateur Extra. Wow. That was tough, but again, I managed to pass!!!
I was issued the Amateur Extra License AB1JU the next Wednesday, November 12, 2008. What a great morning that was! I checked the FCC database nice and early, but apparently I get up earlier than the FCC, as it wasn't there yet. I checked again after getting to work, and there it was... AB1JU! I couldn't wait to get out of work so I could start talking. I had a loaner 2 Meter handheld that I had been using for listening, and now I could use it to talk!
My equipment now consists of a Kenwood TH-F6A HT radio, a great little tri-bander. Upon recommendations from others, I also got the SMC-34 microphone / speaker, which has the volume control and the three function buttons. I also got the programming cable so I could download the free software from Kenwood. Nice touch, Kenwood! While waiting for the new radio to arrive, I pre-programmed it in the software. When it finally arrived, I plugged in the cable, and BAM! I was ready to go. I also installed a Comet Tri-Band mobile antenna on a Diamond motorized mount - no dinging the antenna in drive-thru's or parking garages for me!
Later, I added an ICOM 7000, a Yaesu 7800 and a Kenwood D710A to my arsenal.
In the fall of 2010, I got an older Kenwood 2-meter radio and put up for testing my own Echolink simplex link. After testing in CT was completed, I hooked it up for a friend in North Carolina. Surprisingly, there wasn't Echolink on any of the area repeaters.
In December of 2010, I made the move to North Carolina. I found a nice house to rent that had a ham-friendly landlord, I then proceeded to put up a 30 foot mast with a J-Pole dual band antenna on it for the local repeaters in the back yard on one end of the house. I also had purchased a GRE 600 digital trunking scanner, so I bought a discone antenna and put it on a 20 foot mast at the opposite end of the house. Then, in 2011, I purchased a Motorola Maratrac VHF radio to use as a base station in the house. Around Thanksgiving of 2013, I received as a gift a set of Isotron antennas (80 meters, 40 meters, and 20 meters) and added them right below the J-Pole at approximately 19 feet above ground level. In early 2014 I purchased two CS-700 DMR handhelds to add digital capabilities to my abilities. A friend of mine helped me build a homemade G5RV antenna for some HF capabilities and eventually I will install it across the back of the house. With the plans for this new antenna, I took down and retired the Isotron antennas. In September of 2020 I purchased the house from my landlord so hopefully I will be upgrading all the antennas soon.
The current setup is now a Kenwood TK-7180 VHF radio (with a remote head mounted at my desk) for the local repeaters and a Vertex Standard DMR mobile unit also at my desk; they are connected to a duplexer that connects to the Arrow J-Pole antenna on my 30 foot mast. Then I have two Kenwood tri-band TH-F6A handhelds, two Motorola GP380 VHF handhelds for events and hamfests, two CS-700 UHF DMR digital handhelds, a Motorola XPR7550e UHF DMR digital handheld and for my Chevy Cruze, there are a Motorola 5550 UHF DMR mobile with a Motorola Astra Spectra for VHF. Due to space limitations in the Cruze, both those radios have Handheld Control Heads. (all controls / displays are on the microphones. The actual radio units I have mounted in the trunk.) The Chevy Suburban is not operational at this time, but I still have a Kenwood dual-band D710A radio plus an additional UHF antenna to hook up to the DMR handheld, plus an all band cellular amplifier installed. Also at the house, in addition to the Kenwood Vertex Standard mentioned previously, there are also three handheld Motorola radios that I can use to receive the ICALL / ITACS frequencies for use with my affiliation in my local A.R.E.S. (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) groups. I also have a Motorola CP200XLS VHF handheld that, due to the frequency range it has, is programmed as a receive-only scanning radio for all of my local area emergency services. (It only goes down to 146 mHz, so can't be used for some of the amateur radio repeaters I would need to have programmed in it to make it a viable radio to use.)
I currently prefer to use the RT Systems software for most of my radio programming needs, however Chirp does come in handy here and there. I also have a Motorola subscription for all of the latest Motorola software, plus I have purchased some of the commercial Kenwood software required for those radios. I also keep on hand a slow, dedicated computer for programming older Motorola radios.
The home radio equipment is backed up for power with an APC UPS which also runs the radio computer in case of a power outage. For extended outages, there is a Yamaha 2400iS generator to provide extra power for not only the radio and computer equipment, but also other items in the house as required.
I can usually be found on our local repeater, W4FAR (both the VHF analog repeater and the UHF DMR repeater local talkgroup) and occasionally I'll make an appearance on the USA Grits N Gravy Echolink conference. I can also run APRS in the Chevy Suburban (once it is repaired) as AB1JU-12.
I am currently a member of the Foothills Amateur Radio Club, and both the Wilkes County ARES group and the Surry County ARES group. I was named the training officer for Surry County ARES and have brought some much needed training to the members, including the FEMA Incident Command System (ICS), APRS and NBEMS operations. On November 9, 2012 I was appointed as Emergency Coordinator for the Wilkes County ARES group, as the prior EC was stepping down. I hope to be able to keep the Wilkes County ARES group moving forward with training, exercises and assisting with local events. You can find more information on the Wilkes County ARES group on the Foothills Amateur Radio Club website.