Curtis R. 'Curt' Bartholomew
QCWA # 32861
I first got interested in ham radio when I was a high school student in Athens, Greece. I had checked out "The Radio Amateur's Handbook" by A. Frederick Collins from my high school library and became intrigued with what seemed like magic radio transmissions. My Dad noticed that I had been interested in electronics and when he mentioned that to the communications officer at the American Embassy there, the latter offered to be my Elmer. He let me borrow his Bud Codemaster CPO, taught me the basics, and about 2 months later, I was the proud owner of a Novice ham radio license!
My Dad got a (boat anchor) Hallicrafters Super Skyrider SX-25 with 14 tubes from an embassy employee who was also a ham. It did not come with a speaker, but I was so excited about getting it that I fired it up to watch the vacuum tubes glow. As I was turning the frequency dial, I suddenly heard a faint station on the HF band. I was immediately spooked. I turned off the receiver, removed its cover, and looked earnestly for a hidden speaker, but could not find one. I called my sister to my room to listen to the radio that had no speaker. It puzzled me for several days. Finally, one day, as I was looking inside the receiver from the top, I touched the power transformer and noticed that the sound stopped. It turns out that the power transformer was loose enough to make sound through vibrations with the chassis!
My first rig was a 40/80 meter crystal-controlled CW transmitter I built from the 1950 ARRL handbook using a 6L6G tube, with about 10 watts output. I substituted a 6L6 for the 6V6 and increased the supply voltage, since the 6V6 only put out about 5 watts. I used a long wire antenna about 135 feet long strung outside my second-floor room out to a tree in the field next to our house. I got up to about 10-12 WPM.
I formed a ham radio club at the high school and was made its first president. I was able to get a gift of a Heathkit SB-300 receiver and a SB-400 transmitter from the US Air Force base in Athens for our high school ham shack. Unfortunately, I was quite naive, and the door lock that I thought was substantial was broken one day and all the ham gear was stolen, including the prized Bud Codemaster CPO. We only had the gear for about 3 months before it was stolen.
Other calls held: WN6WSL, N3CTS, AL7FR, DA1BC, and AF4RE. Performed MARS phone patches in Thailand from 1973-75 and in Germany from 1983-87 as AEM1BCB. Finally got over my 18 WPM plateau in early 2000 when I passed the 20 WPM code test. Have served as a VE since 1984 and since 2001 have managed the ham exam sessions in Stafford, where I have lived since 1991 (when the population was 40K, now 140K!).
My interest in EmComm increased when I became a federal police officer and supported many FEMA disaster relief operations in the late 90s, and then again after 9/11/01 when I worked national security continuity programs at FEMA HQ.
In 2000, I had to take 5 days of leave to serve as the planning 'facilitator' and police liaison (5 police jurisdictions) for the Marine Corps Marathon. Whew! We had 97 hams participate, but we could only get 3 to work packet radio.
In 2001, I authored a program I dubbed the Emergency Communications Accreditation Program (ECAP) that is geared towards specific EmComm training for Amateur Radio operators, and which had received a lot of federal political support from Citizen Corps, FEMA, and DHS. Inside the program was a recommendation to start another program I dubbed CERTComm, which would have established neighborhood-level communications groups headed by a ham who would relay info to the local EOC.
I have completed over 50 FEMA courses and ten ARRL courses, including all three ARECC courses. One of the best courses I have ever taken was a 3-day CERT course taught at FEMA HQ; highly recommended.
I was hesitant to participate in ARES & RACES before because of the childish feuds occurring in Virginia. It seemed that few participants wanted to get along. I believe it is best for the country that hams get over their differences and be dual-hatted as both ARES and RACES operators. One of my ongoing goals is to get Amateur Radio embedded in at least one annual large federal exercise, like Eagle Horizon. I was successful in 2010, using local hams and FEMA HQ, when I included it in the FCC's annual exercise.
I am a strong believer in hands-on, performance-based education. The internet courses are great, but the tests can't certify critical skills needed by served agencies, such as one's ability to setup a digital station and send and receive a formatted message.
My wife Dee, K3KAT, who works at FEMA HQ, served as AEC, Stafford for ten years. Dee enjoys her two Ragdoll cats and her Cardigan Welsh Corgi dog; her dog passed away in October 2016. We have 2 sons, Matt, 19 and Ian 21. Ian became KI4SLQ in December 2006; Matt, KI4VLR passed the Technician test in April 2007 just a week before his 10th birthday. They both have their own Cardigan Welsh Corgis, too! I had a Rhodesian Ridgeback who passed away last year at the age of thirteen.
Ian is a Specialist Four in the US Army Intelligence Branch. Matt is studying at Junior College.
We have a closet full of Heathkit gear that I am looking forward to refurbishing, re-capping, etc. In 2006, our family moved 15 miles south to Southern Stafford and we now have no CC&Rs to worry about! Antenna time! I immediately put up a double extended Zepp for 160 meters - about 700 feet long! It's still there, anchored in the middle by a 75-foot tall old oak tree.
Background: Retired Army intelligence officer; decorated combat veteran in 3 combat theaters; self-defense instructor, 3rd degree black belt, Tae Kwon Do. Son of diplomat: visited or lived in 49 countries. After retiring, I served as a Radio Shack store manager, Department of State watch commander, federal police officer, the FEMA national security continuity program manager, a senior intelligence officer and continuity branch supervisor as I assisted with the difficult birth of a new intelligence organization. Since January 2009, I have served as the FCC's emergency and continuity manager, where I also work with amateur radio emergency communications issues.
Served as EC/RO, Stafford County for ten years; DEC, Region IV; VE Team Liaison; and NCS for weekly Stafford Amateur Radio Association net. Authored two EmComm brochures: communications tips and guidelines for EmComm assignments. Working on a 101 Tips for EmComm booklet - to be used as tips in EmComm nets. I had to quit the EC/RO position in 2014 when my office job became overwhelming.
I enjoy attending the Saturday 0700-0900 ham breakfasts at the Paradise restaurant on State Route 17 just off I-95 Exit 133. I also enjoy the monthly 'joint clubs breakfast' at the Golden Corral restaurant in Massaponax off the I-95 Exit 126, and attending hamfests in the area, especially the Frostfest in February.
I have enjoyed Ham Radio since 1969 and it has taught me a lot. I try to help with amateur radio issues at FCC HQ when I can.
FB & 73,
November 1, 2016