N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant N2KPJ

Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant
Clayton, NY

QCWA # 38224
Chapter 29

SKCC # 16569S
N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant
First Call: N2KPJ issued in 1989

My interest in radio began as a teenager back in the 1970's. My father gave my mother a new AM/FM kitchen radio to replace her old Zenith AM Bakelite model she had had since the 1950s. I convinced them to let me keep the old one in my bedroom where I started to try and see how far away I could receive stations. The clear channel AM stations were easy, but I soon discovered that if I waited until late at night I could pick up different stations that were covered up by the stronger or closer stations. Many of the stations at that time were not on 24/7 and went off the air at 11 or 12:00 each night. The furthest station I every picked up was Trans World Radio in the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of South America. With that station the bug had bitten and I convinced my parents to let me buy a shortwave receiver.

I really had my eye on a Lafayette receiver that I had seen in a catalog that we had gotten in the mail, but it was way out of my price range. I ended up getting a Montgomery Wards Airline multi band radio. I found that by stringing a wire out my bedroom window to a nearby elm tree, and attaching it with an alligator clip to the radio's whip antenna, I could really improve the reception. I spent hours listening to shortwave broadcast stations from around the world and sending and receiving QSL cards from any I could hear.

Off to college in 1978. I got away from SWLing and into all the stuff college kids did back in the late 70s and early 80s. I graduated from Albany College of Pharmacy in 1983 and began my career as a pharmacist. One of the clerks at the store I was working in, which I eventually purchased, happened to casually mention one day that her husband was a ham radio operator. Well, I was off and running again! I got the info from Jim, N2KCE, obtained study manuals and CW cassette tapes, and started to study. I took my test at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY about 1 1/2 hours from my home in 1989, and Ted N4TW was the VEC. In 1990 I upgraded to General followed by Advanced in 1991. It always seemed that the DX stations I wanted were just outside of my allowed privileges so I kept upgrading. My big stumbling block was getting the 20 wpm for the extra class upgrade. I kept practicing on the air and with my cassette tapes and studying the manual, and in 1994 decided I was ready to write. The closest VE session I could find that fit into my work schedule was at a hamfest swap meet in Ithaca, NY about 3 1/2 hours away. To be ready when I got there I planned to take my cassette player in the car with me and listen to code all the way to the session to warm up, so I wouldn't be going in cold' Great plan, but one problem! About ½ hour into my trip the batteries died in the player and I didn't have time to stop for new ones. It all worked out and I upgraded to Extra.

Now I was really off and running chasing DX where ever I wanted, mostly on SSB, because the 20 wpm CW test made me never want to touch CW again. I still did CW if I had no choice, and it was the only mode the DX was using. I ended up with over 300 DXCC contacts as well as WAS, but never send in my cards to be verified. I was afraid I might not get them back and besides I didn't need a piece of paper to know I had done it.

My original station was a Kenwood TS-440 SAT (still works) into a trapped dipole. That was then supplemented shortly after with a KLM tribander beam and a Heathkit SB-1000.

I waited until I was 29 to get my license and I wish I had done it when I was a kid. My son Daniel, N2DRG got his license when he was 15, about 5 years ago, and now other things occupy his time. Work and college preparing for his MCATS; he has aspirations of going to medical school. Hopefully he will come back to it as he gets older, so all my equipment won't get sold for pennies at a garage sale. Hi Hi.

My main station today is a Kenwood TS-950sdx, Elecraft KAT500 tuner, and an Elecraft KPA500 amp on HF into one of the following. A full wave horizontal loop cut for 80m, an inverted-L cut for 160m, and an OCF dipole. I lost my KLM beam to a severe ice storm years ago and never replaced it. I had acquired a nice used 40ft aluminum tower and a new Mosley tribander with the WARC add on kit still in the box. This past spring while I was in quarantine, along with my son N2DRG and my XYL Cindy of 32 years, I got it in the air. I can't wait for the K3Y event in January! Local FM equipment is a Kenwood TM-D710G into a homebrew dual band beam with an Armstrong rotor, a Kenwood TM-741A with the 6m/2/440 modules into a Diamond V-2000. I also use a second TM-D710G into a Comet GP-6 for Winlink use. I'm right on the Canadian border, and can hit Winlink nodes in Kingston, ON. I always thought that if something major happened in this area of New York State, and we lost all forms of communications in this area, I could still send out emails via Canada if needed.

I started out doing mostly SSB with a little CW now and then when necessary. But now with the solar cycle in the dumpster I have found a renewed love for CW over the past several years. I joined the SKCC (Straight Key Century Club) #16569S and have enjoyed that chase very much, especially the K3Y event every January. I haven't used paddles in years, even though they still sit on top of my rig, and I really enjoy my straight keys. I mainly use an LNR Precision Patriot, but also use a couple of old J-38s and sometimes my original NYE. I homebrewed a side swiper from a hacksaw blade which works pretty slick, but I keep going back to the straight key. I also have a nice Drake 4-line station (TR-4C, RV-4C, MN-2000, and MS-4) but don't use it very much anymore. Lazy I guess, plus they aren't really a great CW rig. It's too easy to turn on the Kenwood!

Back in the early 90s I organized through our local club and taught several ham licensing classes. This was right after the new codeless Technician Plus license started. We held those classes at our local EOC and had great success getting many new hams licensed.

Today I'm involved with both local and state ARES/RACES which led to NBEMS with Fldigi on both HF and local FM. This winter we intend to get some 2m/70cm equipment installed at the Clayton Vol Fire Department for ARES/RACES use, that the fire district purchased for us, which I have been a member for 38 years. I am also a member and Board member in our local club, the Thousand Islands Repeater Club. Operating special events and Field Days with them and also helping out at our local swap meet each year. I also am a VE with both ARRL and W5YI and help whenever there are testing sessions in the area.

The main reason I joined QCWA was pride in being an amateur radio operator for over 30 years and I wanted a way of showing that pride. I look forward to getting involved in some of the QCWA events, even though my closest chapter (29) is 90 plus miles away. I can't thank my wife enough (she's a ham radio widow) for putting up with all of the time I spend playing radio. Well that's pretty much my story. I'm still working as a pharmacist at a local correctional facility (sold my store to a regional chain) and look forward to retiring so I can have more time to play radio, attend Chapter 29 get together, and take care of my small herd of Black Angus cattle.

Tom, N2KPJ QCWA #38224

from: qrz.com
Jefferson Co RACES/ARES
Thousand Island Repeater Club
Kenwood TS-950SDX/KAT500 Tuner/KPA500 Amp
Kenwood TS-440sat/Drake MN-2700 Tuner/SB-1000 Amp
Drake TR-4C/MN-2000 Tuner/RV-4C Remote VFO
OCF Dipole
80m Full Wave Horizontal Loop
160m Inverted L
Mosley Ta-33mw

N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant
Thousand Island International Bridge

N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant
The model is 1474A and I bought it at our local Montgomery Wards catalog store in Clayton NY.
You went into the store and placed your order and then waited for what seemed eternity for a
call that your item was in. Then you had to wait for the weekly trip into town to pick it up.
You don't just drive all the way into town for 1 item, wastes gas and time. Tom

N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant

N2KPJ - Thomas R. 'Tom' Grant

March 30, 2020