Alan proudly showing his Rochester DX Association shirt.
Alan Masson GM3PSP gave his Presidential Address "60 Years of Amateur Radio"at the first meeting of the new club year on 11th September 2019. Starting as an SWL at school in the late-1950s and building a crystal set, he became licensed in 1962 as GM3PSP, building most of his (valve) equipment. He was active in the LRS, including Field Days and portable expeditions, becoming Secretary in 1967-68. He left Edinburgh in 1969 to work for Kodak in Harrow, Hemel Hempstead, Rochester NY, & Hollywood CA. In 2005 he retired back to Rochester for a few years before finally returning to Edinburgh in 2009. He was active on the air and in the local clubs in all those locations and obtained his US Extra Class licence K6PSP in Los Angeles in 2003.
Needless to say, working for Kodak, he took a lot of photographs (and still does - see this website!) and showed a selection of them.
My radio interest started in the late-1950s, at school. I will talk about all these locations up to 2009.
A school-friend brought this book into school one day and let me borrow it. I then bought a copy myself and built the first circuit in it, in a tobacco tin. It worked perfectly. I entered the set in the constructors competition in the school radio club and won a prize! (Incidentally my friend lost interest in radio almost immediately)!
Amazingly, my prize was a working R-1155 receiver, which I used for a number of years after I got my licence.
I was lucky that my school had a very active Radio Club, run by two licensed teachers.
John Hughes GM3LCP had been in the Royal Signals during WWII and taught physics.
He ran a radio theory class every week and eventually got over 40 boys through the Radio Amateurs' Exam.
Tom Simpson GM3BCD, who taught Technical Subjects, had also been in the Royal Signals and constructed most of the equipment used in the club station, using his callsign. On the left in this shot is Mike Senior GM3PAK.
Yes, a radio shack in a greenhouse, OK in summer but requiring a fan-heater in the winter! A number of my radio friends would often join me there on Saturday afternoons.
The R-1155 was joined by an RCA AR88LF receiver and a 50W AM transmitter using a Geloso VFO and 6146 PA. I was active on 80m and 20m including RTTY with all the (noisy) hardware required in those days. I then built a converter and crystal-controlled transmitter for 2m and put up a 7-element yagi antenna.
Like many of my radio friends, I must have spent most of my pocket-money on radio components at Brown's Wireless in George IV Bridge. Also the scrap-yards in Leith (and Hawick) who sold ex-government equipment.
I joined the Lothians Radio Society about 1959 and attended the meetings at the YMCA in South St Andrew Street. INitially I don't think I was good enough to operate in National Field Day which was 10W CW in those days, but people like Ian GM3LGU and Bill GM3KIG were proficient operators.
I did start a trend in portable operation on 2m with expeditions to the summit of West Kip in the Pentland Hills and to Green Lowther. We used an Eddystone EC10 receiver plus converter and a home-brew AM transmitter.
After graduating in chemistry from university (my maths wasn't good enough for electrical engineering!) I went to work in the Kodak Research Laboratories in Harrow in NW London and living in the village of Bushey near Watford.
No greenhouse shack this time, but a good-sized wooden hut.
After trying one or two local radio clubs I joined the Edgware club which was very friendly and active.
A couple of examples of the sort of talks we had.
We enters NFD every year from a hill-top near Edgware and later also VHF-NFD from a better site near Hatfield.
On one occasion, on a stormy day like the one in the RHS photo, there was a lightning strike to ground only 1/4 mile away and I was thrown across the tent by the induced voltage on the case of the receiver. Scary, but fortunately nobody was injured and the equipment was undamaged.
LRSAmember Vic GM3OWU joined us for NFD on one occasion when he down in the London area for a training course. My first dog, Donald, came to several Field Days and was popular with the guys.
After moving to the USA in 1989 I made several trips back timed to coincide with NFD. On one of those trips I met new Edgware club member Terry G3WUX for the first time. He later moved to Scotland and now operates with the LRS in VHF NFD on 4m and 6m most years. A white-stick operator, he is an outstanding contest operator.
The Edgware club eventually got into VHF NFD. The President at that time, who had better remain nameless (!) decided that wooden tripods were the best way to support our antennas!
Several Top-Band D/F Hunts were held every summer.
We put on a JOTA - Jamboree On The Air station in the local Scout hut for several years
The 40th anniversary of the Edgware club was held in 1978 while I was the club President. A very nice formal dinner was held in the Station Hotel, Edgware, with several VIP guests.
We were joined by RSGB President Dain Evans G3RPE, a well-known VHF operator, Phil Thorogood K4KD, an Edgware member who had run the Amateur Radio Exhibition in London for many years and George Jessup G6JP who edited the first edition of the RSGB VHF Manual.
In 1989 I was given the opportunity by Kodak to move to their head quarters in Rochester NY, and jumped at it! The following are some of the slides I used in talk I gave to th eLRS after returning 20 years later in 2009.
Just in case you don't know where Rochester is, it is a long way from Manhattan, lying on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.
For a relatively-small city, Rochester has an amazing amount of Ham Radio activity, with many clubs.
- and many other related activities, which I participated in.
At "Kodak Office", the headquarters of the Eastman Kodak Company, where I worked initially, there was located one of the three ham clubs in the company.
There was a well-quipped station a few floors above my office, including a working RTTY installation.
I operated there, including in the annual Kodak "Yellow-Box QSO Party" with participants in worldwide Kodak locations. I had participated myself from the UK before moving to Rochester.
I had a nice home station where I used the reciprocal callsign W2/G3PSP.
I operated HF DX using a relatively-small rhombic antenna and on 2m with an omni-directional antenna on the chimney. One unusual activity was operation through the Russian RS-12 satellite, transmitting on 15m and listening on 10m using a choice of three sloping dipoles on the chimney stack.
"Vanity" license plates are quite cheap including a special category for ham radio callsigns. I was pleasantly surprised when my UK callsign was accepted.
RARA is the dominant club in Rochester, with many activities.
There are quite large attendances at the meetings, held in a local fire-hall. At the beginning of each meeting the chairman goes round the room, asking each participant to identify himself and say a little about what he has been doing on the air recently.
The Annual Auction (or were there two?) is a big affair, and like the LRS junk sales, quite an entertainment. Bob Hobday N2EVG was a near-neighbour of mine (across the fields) and Ed Gable K2MP is probably the best-known and most active ham in many activities the Rochester area.
Hamfests are held in Rochester and other local cities including Buffalo and Syracuse.
Fortunately the summer weather is usually good for these outdoor events, usually held in large parking lots.
- but there is always a large hall where the equipment dealers prefer to show their wares.
Rochester is fortunate to be quite near the Antique Wireless Association, a national organisation, in East Bloomfield NY, about 20 miles south of the city. For many years its museum was located in this former school with a separate storage annexe, but has now moved to a much larger building, a former antiques mall.
The museum contains lots of exciting and historic radio equipment. I volunteered as a "docent" or guide and had the opportunity to describe and demonstrate the exhibits to visitors.
A particular thrill was to operate a real, live spark transmitter, of which there were at least three. We were advised not to send our own callsigns as, even without an antenna, we might have been interfering with local TV receivers!
In 1995 I was given the opportunity to transfer to the Kodak motion picture office in Hollywood. You can guess how long it took to make that decision!
I had about a 50 mile commute each day from my QTH in Newbury Park into Hollywood with about a million others on a 2 x 5-lane highway. You can get used to almost anything, eventually!
Located near the Pacific coast, my Cushcraft R-7000 HF vertical allowed me to work Pacific stations as if they were locals. The adjacent 33ft swimming pool likely acted as a near-perfect ground-plane! This unusual photo was taken at midnight in moonlight with sufficient exposure (on a tripod, of course) to give a fully-exposed film negative with full color reproduction, unlike the human eye whose rod cells only see in black and white a low light levels. You can just see the Plough constellation dipping down to the right.
My local club, in Thousand Oaks (or "T.O") was the Conejo Valley ARC, about the same size as the LRS. They were very keen on Field Day and the point of this photo is the list of individual stations operated, in this year - 15, and in one year - 21, each typically operated throughout the event by one or two operators each.
We operated from a nice rounded hill in the middle of "T.O" with a road to the top and spread out the many stations on the available area.
I mainly operated 20m CW from the comfort of a caravan (or "trailer").
A number of teen-age operators did a great job with their individual stations.
A portable "john" was delivered to the site.
One station, possibly the boys in the previous slide, used a solar panel to power their QRP station.
A popular tourist venue is the RMS Queen Mary, permanently docked at Long Beach, near Los Angeles.
And for ham operators, the possibility to visit the Amateur Radio station W6RO).
One of the responsibilities of my Hollywood job was to visit the annual exhibition of the National Association of Broadcasters or NAB in Las Vegas, Nevada. Many broadcast engineers are hams, of course, and the ARRL hosts a nice reception for them, with an attendance of several hundred. I had the opportunity to meet and be photographed with the President of the ARRL Jim Haynie W5JBP at their booth.
On another occasion, at a conference of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, I was able to pose with the ARRL Vice-President, Dave Sumner K1ZZ.
Some of you may remember John Kelly GM3POK who was an LRS member back in the 60s. He moved to California many years ago and took the callsign KG6XF. I visited him several times at his QTH in Sunnyvale in "Silicon Valley" south of San Francisco where he worked the world with his 3-element HF beam.
On a business trip to Texas I visited my Kodak motion picture colleague Dick Hoff AA5NT ("North Texas"), a very keen DX and contest operator with a multi-position shack used by his fellow club members in contests.
Dick's antenna farm is unbelievable. I think the taller mast is about 200ft tall and covered in HF beams!
This slide tells the story of how I "had" to get a US license K6PSP. and was later able to use it in NY state.
I managed to retire at the age of 60 with very little effect on my pension, and we moved back to Rochester, where we had many friends and interests.
From my QTH out in the country, south of Rochester, I was mainly active on HF using the digital mode PSK-31, gaining DXCC, and on 6m where I have 175 grid-squares confirmed.
No description needed!
For HF, I put up an unterminated rhombic antenna beaming NE/SW. It wasn't really high enough at 30ft to work properly, but it seemed to give a lot of gain compared with my R-7000 vertical, but relatively omni-directional, which is not what you expect from a rhombic. I guess there was just a lot of wire up there to collect the signals!
Another shot of the shack.
On returning to Rochester I naturally re-joined RARA, the big club, but I now also joined the Rochester DX Association - RDXA - and had a great time with them.
RDXA were very keen entrants in ARRL Field Day and gained second place nationally in their chosen category.
Laterally they were able to borrow this huge mast for the HF beams.
Health and Safety in erecting the mast!
One of the team!
The guys for wire antennas were launched into the tall trees by this compressed-air gun.
K2TER assembled this multi-band "Rover" station which could drive to multiple locations with different LOCators, especially where several of them came together at one point.
The Field Day location was in a public park and a demo station was provided to promote ham radio to visitors.
In ARRL Field Day, all and every mode and frequency can be operated, including OSCAR satellites. This can be done quite easily using a hand-held rig and a hand-held crossed yagi beam (so long as you know when the satellite is going to pass). Young operator Max Kelley KC2SPY enjoys his callsign!
RDXA members (and from other clubs) met on Fridays fro a Happy Hour (or longer) at the Scotch'n Sirloin bar.
Some of the regulars.
A very pleasant atmosphere, and the pub even provided free chicken wings, for which there was always a rush!
The Rochester VHF Group takes their side of the hobby very seriously,building beautiful equipment right up into the shortest microwaves.
- and beyond - optical beam communication.
I attended a demo of moonbounce on 2m. We all went out to the parking lot and a 2m yagi was aimed visually at the moon. We heard absolutely nothing but the K1JT software successfully decoded the below-the-noise-level signal successfully from a sked with a station on the west coast with a very large antenna.
The annual Pumpkin Patrol 2-day event successfully deters wrongdoers from dropping pumpkins or more likely rocks onto vehicles below from the bridges over the NY State Thruway which runs e-W just south of Rochester. It is organised by two blind operators including half-hourly check-ins from the stations on all the 16 bridges.
Participating stations are visited by a roving supervisor and usually also the police during the event.
One more shot of the Rochester Hamfest. I sold a lot of my equipment there before returning to the UK in 2009.
I managed to attend the famous Dayton Hamvention twice. A group of Rochester hams is organized by one of our blind operators with minibuses, hotel reservations, Hamvention tickets etc all done for us.
Dayton is the largest hamfest in the USA and occupies several large halls indoors as well as a huge parking lot.
Among the famous names present was Martin F. Ju or Mr MFJ, the equipment manufacturer.
I met RSGB President Colin Thomas G3PSM. We must have been licensed within days of each other in Jan 1962.
These photos hardly do justice to the huge outdoor sale. It takes at least two full days to get round it all. Note the Steppir beam on the tower.
These were just two of the interesting people one bumps into!
We even had a rest-tent for Rochester attendees.
The deal included a nice dinner every evening.
So Cheers and thank you for your attention!