WØLED - Clayton E. 'Clay' Bartholow WØLED

Clayton E. 'Clay' Bartholow
Crystal, MN

QCWA # 36005
Chapter 8

I was first licensed in 1968 as Novice WNØWEP. I was 17 at the time. I had a tiny space out in the garage for my shack. I had used this space to experiment with electricity and radio since I was about 9 or 10. This little "hole in the wall" was my refuge from some of the of the other stuff going on in the rest of the house. I had my first shortwave radio here -- an old tabletop Philco that I scrounged from a friend's garage. A few years later I had a Hallicrafters SX-111 for a receiver and a Knight T-60 transmitter that I bought with money I'd earned here and there. The T-60 was practically free because it didn't work and the builder had given up on it. Fortunately it came with the assembly manual. I started at Page 1 and followed step by step until I found the wiring error. Not exactly systematic "divide-and-conquer" technique but it was my first taste of troubleshooting and I liked it!

I tried college in 1969 but lost interest after a couple quarters and started working on a survey crew. I did that for the next 12 years. I allowed my license to lapse in about 1971 (a dumb move in retrospect) but I had found a new love -- aviation. I earned both my Private and Commercial ratings and was working on my Instrument and CFI ratings when another love intervened: Kathy. We were married in 1980 and still are 34 years later. I have never flown since (except commercially as a passenger).

My interest in electronics and radio lay dormant through most of the 70's having given way to other things: flying, motorcycles, cars, and women (in no particular order.) In about 1979 my boss acquired an early business computer -- a Wang 2200 as I recall. I recall little at all about the OS but it could be programmed in BASIC. I had learned a little BASIC in high school where I was exposed to a teleprinter connected to a time-shared mainframe located at the University of Minnesota by phone line (acoustic coupler, punched tape reader, the whole nine yards.) We wrote programs to solve a variety of math problems for our Advanced Math class. So, when I started playing with this new computer I wrote several programs that solved surveying problems. It was great fun! It turned out the printer that came with the computer didn't work and the boss asked me if I would look at it. I saw the motor wasn't running and, with a voltmeter I had used on cars, motorcycles, etc., I found voltage going to the motor and figured something was wrong with the motor. I did some research in the Yellow Pages (no internet back then) and found a place called ABC Electronics in Minneapolis that sold surplus electrical and electronic parts. I found a replacement motor there, installed it, and the printer worked great! The "magic" of electronics began to return and added to that was the fun of programming computers.

I remained inactive (in ham radio) throughout the 70's but with these recent experiences I reviewed my electronics and Morse code, took a class sponsored by the Minneapolis Radio Club, and in 1981 I earned Novice call KAØLEN. I upgraded to Advanced as KDØBY in 1983.

I left surveying for a career in electronics late in 1981. I loved surveying and was very good at it but I was being moved out of the field and into the office to manage field crews. I was losing my keen interest in surveying as a lifetime career path right at the time that there was a re-awakening in my life-long interest in radio and electronics. Kathy and I talked it over for a while (although I had made my mind up much earlier -- she continues to tell me, "I didn't even know you were thinking about that...", whenever I pop something new on her.) In January, 1982, I started down the road to becoming an electronics technician. I started figuring out what I knew and how to leverage it, what I didn't know and had to learn, and building on past experiences at Northwestern Electronics Institute in Minneapolis. I graduated two years later and was immediately hired as an electronics tech by a Fortune 500 company. I worked there for the next seven years when I left to start teaching electronics at NEI College of Technology, my alma mater with a new 'brand'.

In 2000, I upgraded to Extra. A little while later I changed my call to WØLED (light emitting diode, right?) to have a little fun.

I recently retired (August, 2013) after teaching electronics, programming (Pascal, Visual Basic, LabVIEW, etc.), and related subjects for 23+ years at NEI College of Technology (formerly Northwestern Electronics Institute) in Columbia Heights, MN and Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis.

I operate mostly digital modes (PSK31, etc.), SSB phone, and (rarely) CW on 20, 30, 40, and 75 meters, packet (145.01 MHz) and APRS on two meters, and FM phone on two meters and 440 MHz.

My current HF setup includes an Icom IC-746 and an Icom IC-706MkII(g) feeding dipoles for 30, 40, and 75 meters and a Hustler 4BTV vertical for 10 through 30 meters. My old 75-meter dipole fell down a few years ago and the lawnmower ate one end of it (bad for the antenna and the lawnmower). I re-engineered the mechanicals of the support structure and moved the feed point of the antenna to the other side of the garage. This allowed me to raise the feed point about 12 feet and made it easier to secure the ends. For VHF and UHF, a variety of mobile and handheld transceivers and TNCs keep me on the air.

I am a Member of:

WØLED - Clayton E. 'Clay' Bartholow
My shack is currently a mess (although lately I have been making a largely unsuccessful effort to change that) so I won't put up any pictures until I get that straightened out (well, maybe just the one). Despite the mess it works!
See you on the air -- de WØLED

WØLED - Clayton E. 'Clay' Bartholow

January 18, 2015