Jim was first licensed as KN8HHT in August 1957 in West Virginia. His one(!) contact as a Novice (this was in the days of the one-year, non-renewable, rock-bound Novice) was lost due to QFU4, QRN, QSB, QLR (Lousy Receiver), QTA (Terrible Antenna (#32 magnet wire)), QTM (Tall Mountains), QOC (One Crystal (3711kc (kHz hadn't been invented yet))), and QFN (fear and nervousness) (mostly the latter). Undaunted (?) , and with regained courage (?) , he got his Technician ticket (K8HHT) about three years later and had rather minor activity on the 6 meter AM band; he still hadn't discovered the joys of HF. He then let that license lapse (this was in the days when minimum operating time was required to renew one's license).
The bug finally really bit in 1968 when Jim got his Advanced ticket (W8JZQ) and he began spending much time on 40m and 20m CW . . . despite his new call. He got tired of signing /3 and /4, turned in his 8-land call, and was licensed as K4JAP in 1971.
He held the call 8P6FF while operating from the beautiful island of Barbados in 1973. He finally got around to earning his Extra ticket in 1983 while experiencing Votal immersionw in Amateur Radio as a control operator of HZlAB in Saudi Arabia. (Jim reports that despite the fact that 8P6-land and HZ-land both have sand, they are somewhat different from each other.)
After 18 months in Saudi Arabia, Jim went to Houston (he says that Saudi was much nicer than Texas) and operated with "stealthw antennas from his townhouse. One of these antennas was the 200-foot-long corrugated galvanized steel roof of a car port. Another was an end-fed 50-foot piece of rusty steel wire. With the latter antenna he earned the ARRL award for QSLing one-by-two calls from each of the 50 states in the Extra-class subband of 80 meters.
Jim originally became involved in Amateur Radio because of his interest in its technical aspects. After he began operating HF CW, that became his focus. When he went to Saudi Arabia, the only way to be involved in Ham Radio was to join the Dhahran Amateur Radio Club, which had the only non-royal-family Ham station, HZlAB. He reports that the personal contacts and close relationships he made there, and now the friendships with members of QCWA, are what is meaningful about Amateur Radio to him today.
This personal aspect of Ham Radio causes Jim to look forward to the Sunday morning QCWA net to hear what the regulars have been doing, and swapping anecdotes with them. This thought prompts him to share two stories here.
For many years Jim looked forward longingly to the 25th anniversary of his first license so he could join QCWA. But when the time did come he was busy with preparations for an overseas assignment and simply put it off. One day (9 March 1985, 18132, according to his log) after returning to the US he was doing some hamming when he heard a familiar callsign on 20 meters; a call he knew but had never worked; a call that belonged to someone for whom he had great respect. She apparently was working some closed contest, and Jim tentatively gave K4LMB a call.
Ethel explained to Jim that she was not working a "contestn but rather the QCWA QSO Party, and she took time from this to chat with him. He said that he had meant to join QCWA, but . . . . Ethel suggested that there was no time like the present, sent Jim an application, and that did it. Thanks, Ethel!
Jim gets a chuckle out of remembering when his good friend Bob, then W4TN1, needed operating time to renew his license. Jim loaned Bob a QRP transmitter, they arranged a schedule, and were operating CW one Saturday morning. Bob's pre-schooler, Chris, heard the Morse Code, came into Bob's room, and asked, "Daddy, what are you doing?"
"I'm talking to Mr, Wilcox on the radio--we're talking by sending these beeps--Morse Code--to each other," was the reply. After listening a short while Chris asked, "What's he saying?" Bob began repeating the words to Chris as they were received--at the QRQ speed of about 12wpm. After only a short time of that tediously slow recitation, Chris asked, Why don't you just call him on the telephone?"
Jim has capability for all Amateur bands from 160m through 70cm. Currently, most of his HF Amateur Radio operating is on 80m and 40m CW where he keeps schedules with his brother, John, KS4B. They have kept in touch via Ham Radio since 1974: DC to San Diego; DC to Memphis; Dhahran to Leonardtown, Maryland; Houston to Leonardtown; and now DC to South Carolina.
Another family member who is a Ham is Jim's XYL, Judi, N4NMH. Judi expressed an interest in Amateur Radio soon after they got together in Houston in 1984. Judi quickly got her Novice license and immediately began studying for the General ticket. After a few weeks of tutoring by Jim, she finally told him to stop "helpingw her, studied on her own for a few days, and easily passed the test. Judi now has an Advanced license and expects to have her Extra within month or two.
Another of Jim's Itfamily membersv1 sometimes heard on the Sunday morning net is Singer, Judi's and Jim's cat. Jim says that Singer comes into the shack each time Jim is net control to see that the net is run properly.
Jim also operates some packet on Ham Radio and maintains a packet BBS for USAF MARS purposes. Much of his RF activity is for MARS. He joined Air Force MARS in 1986 when he returned to the DC area and has had several regular activities in MARS. These include two HF area-wide nets, a transcontinental net, and the MARS Base Support Team for Andrews AFB. He provides liaison services to Army and Navy/Marine Corps MARS nets. He also has performed some official technical duties and has served as one of the few continental-US phone patch operators for both the Central/South America area and the Atlantic area. He earned the FCC First Class Commercial Radiotelephone License with Ship Radar Endorsement in 1977 and presently holds a lifetime FCC General Radiotelephone Operator License. He earned the FCC Second Class Radiotelegraph Certificate in 1995. That is the license he is proudest of. Jim earned a degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics at West Virginia University and then worked in electronics for about 15 years. He worked with upper- atmospheric meteorologic probes, control systems for traffic signals, ultra-low-noise instrumentation preamplifiers, process monitoring for nuclear power plants, oceanographic equipment, sonar simulators, and monitoring equipment (flight recorders) for railroad trains.
He spent an increasing proportion of his time presenting technical trainings and seminars, both in electronics and computer systems, during the last two or three years of this electronics work. Also during this time he earned a degree in Applied Mathematics (with an emphasis in computer systems) from The American University. He then worked with a computerized project management system called ARTEMIS for about 10 years. He was manager of the international technical training group for ARTEMIS, and later worked for several users of the ARTEMIS system. He provided program management services for such major projects as the construction of oil refineries and airports in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government's FTS-2000 world-wide telecommunications system, and NASA's Space Station Freedom. Jim earned a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 1993. He currently works as a mental health and substance abuse therapist for Prince William County, VA, and is beginning some consulting work in mental health. Some volunteer services he has provided to the community include being a crisis-intervention hotline listener, and a counselor for spouse-abusing men. He designed and presented training programs for volunteers of these groups. Such volunteer activities were gateways to his newest career.
Jim has had two other vocations that have served him as hobbies: photography and music. These helped put him through college. He played trumpet part time for a number of years in the DC area: He was the principal trumpet of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, had his own jazz quintet, played with several dinner theaters, played first trumpet with several 18-to-22-piece jazz bands, and played with some baroque brass ensembles (his favorite style). There were several airline pilots in one of the "big bands.I1 Friendships with these men sparked an interest in flying and Jim earned his private pilot's license in 1975. A hobby that takes much more of Jim's time than Amateur Radio is bicycling. He rides more than 2000 miles each year. He says that he has two bicycling goals: one is to get his work schedule in order so he will be able to ride at least 5000 miles each year. The other is to ride coast to coast. Each year he combines his two favorite hobbies by providing communications support via Amateur Radio while riding his bicycle in the American Lung Association's 150- mile DC-to-Richmond fund-raising ride. May 1995