N7WQ - Thomas D. 'Tom' Miller N7WQ

Thomas D. 'Tom' Miller
Grants Pass, OR

QCWA # 36161
Chapter 108

Ex. WE6N, KB6UD, and KA6CWV. Past MARS call NNN0KID.

Radioman-in-charge (1983 to 1987) U.S. Coast Guard MARS Station, USCG National Electronics Lab, Alexandra VA, call sign K4CG and NNN0NCG.

Current e-mail: comm4tommiller@msn.com and tom@campbellscalemodels.com

I started my radio activities while sitting on my grand-father's (Harry - W6IBX) lap back in 1957 in Temple City California. Circa 1959, when I showed some interest in CW, he made some 3" x 5" flash cards so I could learn the letters, numbers and puctuation at home. My next visit we made a simple code-oscillator from spare parts around his shack. It took about 4 weeks to get up to 10 wpm. I loved listening to his high-speed CW and his weekly contact with John, ZL1BMG in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, my interests moved away from radios and to Little League baseball, Scouting, and other organized activities. Though through my teenage years I did increase my CW copying speed while listening to ARRL CW drills with my Hallicrafters HF receiver. I then got into building Heathkit and Dynaco Stereo projects with my dad. We built both the Pre-Amp and Amp and and even built the speaker boxes for a set of 15" JBL woofers.

Also during this time I followed my dad's interests in photography. He had been a photographer since the late 1940s and won many LA Photography Club compititions through the years. During the mid-1960s he started his commercial photography business, Mill Photo. I learned to develop film and do enlargements in our garage darkroom. After high school I attended local junior colleges focusing on Journalism/Photography and Electrical Engineering. The U.S. was still in Viet Nam at that time, and you guessed it, I got my letter from Uncle Sam telling me to report. I quickly ran down to the various recruiters in Long Beach California. The lines outside the Marine and Army office were very short. The Navy's line was 12 deep and the Air Force's line twice as long. Then there was the Coast Guard line, it ran down the sidewalk and around the corner. So I figured if everyone wanted in the Coast Guard, so did I.

I was fortunate to be selected to attend the Coast Guard Boot Camp in Alameda. Of the 390 on the list that month for the Long Beach recruiter, there was 3 of us choosen. During bootcamp orientation we were asked if anyone in the auditorium could use a typewriter. About 20 raised our hands and we were quickly ushered to a second room where we received a typing test. Of the 20, only about five of us could really type. That same day we were asked if anyone in the group could copy International Morse code, and only two of us raised our hands. Again, we were sent to another room for a CW test. The other guy could copy about 5 and I did better at about 12 wpm, this was with paper and pencil. As my grandfather always said, once you learn CW, you'll never forget it. Well as you guessed it, my fate was sealed, I was going to Coast Guard Radio School after bootcamp.

So when did I get my first license? Well, my first ship after radio school (1976-1979) was the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Rush (callsign NLVS) and on this ship was a Swan transceiver (in the meteological lab), purchased for crew moral and phone patches, unfortunately it didn't work. The Captain came in the radio room one day and asked if anyone of us knew how to fix and operate that moral radio. And there I go again raising my hand. Heck I operated and worked on grandfather's Swan radio all the time back at home. A brief check found the finals were flat and the T/R relay didn't work. I quicky fixed them and I found myself making phone patches for the guys. After my radio watch was over, I operated the Swan just out of the Amateur Band, but listened in band for possible amateur contacts. After the second patrol to Alaska I was told by my Commanding Officer to study and get my Amateur license, so I could move around the different phone bands. And there is where my Amateur Radio career was born. I took the Novice, tech and General in one sitting and got the callsign KA6CWV. After we came back from our third Alaska patrol, I went down to the FCC office in San Francisco and took and passed my Advanced license (KB6UD). A few years later (1983-1987) in the Washington DC area, I got the job as station manager at the Coast Guards Radio Station NMH, which also had the amateur call of K4CG. Wanting more bands to operate, I decided to take the Extra class license at the club in Woodbridge VA (Woodbridge Wireless Assoc.), which I was a member. I understand this was the very first VE exam session given as a test-bed. It was before there was an official ARRL-VEC system ... a number of the guys in the club also worked at FCC's Headquarters in downtown Washington DC, so it was a VE event, but given by FCC personal. I passed my Extra and became WE6N. During this time I also worked weekends at EGE Inc. in Woodbridge VA (now HRO). After 27 years in the Coast Guard, I finally retired as a Communcations Warrant Officer (CWO4). That's me (in the upper right) sitting at my desk (Sep 10, 2001), I was to retire at the end of 2001. Well, 9/11 changed that, I finally retired August 1, 2002.

Now, my wife Mimi and I live in Grants Pass Oregon on 7+ arces, west of town. Being in "7" land I thought it appropriate to get a 7 callsign, so I'm now N7WQ. Since retirement, I went back to college and received my AS and BS in Business Managment and completed a graduate program in Interactive Marketing/e-Commerce at Southern Oregon University. I currently own a small company called Campbell Scale Models Online and design/sell scale models to model mailroad enthusiasts around the world via our website, http://CampbellScaleModels.com. Thanks for looking me up. 73s, Tom (N7WQ)

November 4, 2014