Name: Howard Lang
Call: KB6NN
QTH: Eureka, California
Grid: CN70ws

Amateur Radio Website

Photo of old packet radio rig.

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The Packet Setup in the photo above is the rig I had running in the so-called golden age of packet in the 1980's and 90's before the internet took off. I recently took it out of storage and got it working again. What surprised me was how slow data traveled in those days. Also a surprise was how reliable it is, and how much fun.

To the right of the monitor is the packet rig. The mag mount antenna is on the power supply. Beneath the power supply, the Kantronics DVR 2-2 dedicated packet VHF transceiver (crystal controlled, low current draw, great for solar installations). Beneath that, the TNC, a Kantronics KPC-2. The computer is a home-built IBM-PC XT clone, with a megabyte of memory, a 20Mb hard drive, and a 5.25 floppy disk drive. Yep.  And how magically fast it seemed in those days!

These days, packet and other digital modes can be done without a Terminal Node Controller (TNC). Instead, software does the work and the computer's sound card creates the tones.

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When the hobby first bit:

My first knowledge of Ham Radio came when I told my father I wanted to listen to short wave. I had been enjoying a hobby of working with audio gear for a number of years, and had bought a Radio Amateur's Handbook. One of my father's friends was a ham, so my dad persuaded him to show me his gear and recommend a receiver. My first receiver was a Hallicrafters SX-111. I listened for hours and dreamed of becoming a ham. But life, as it sometimes does, got in the way.  

Joined the ARRL before I was licensed:

Some years later, I had joined the ARRL, and had accumulated a number of books, including Hints and Kinks. I built a simple direct conversion receiver so I could listen while I was away at college. I copied the W1AW code practice broadcasts, and did qualifying runs.

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Home Sweet Home:

When I settled in Humboldt County in 1977, I listened to the 80 meter band and heard a loud local CW signal. I tracked the guy down, and he invited me to my first meeting of the Humboldt Amateur Radio Club, that met at the time at the OES headquarters in the basement of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka.

Elmers abound:

At the ham club, I met several friendly Elmers, who helped me get my novice license, KA6AAZ, in May of 1978. Again through the club, I took courses, jumped up to Advanced, and got my current call sign, KB6NN, in May of 1979. I eventually made Extra, in July of 1991, in an informal competition with a school classmate of mine who lived in Southern California, and with whom I had been conducting a regular schedule.

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My favorite things:

Besides the time I spent as a novice working CW, my most enjoyable moments have been the various Field Day operations I have participated in, including a receive-only adventure in the Great Smokey Mountains in the summer of 1977, as a short wave listener, before I was licensed. The little homebrew direct conversion receiver was running on battery power at the campsite. The band was active that day during the downpour. Unforgettable.

Ham hiatus:

Life got in the way of ham radio, and I put my ham gear away somewhere in the 1990's. I made a few attempts to get on the air again, but was off the air for more than a decade in total. I resumed operation in the summer of 2007. What got me back in?  Field Day.  Of course!

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All that noise on the bands:

Back in the groove again, I was surprised at how much noise was on the bands all the time.  As a novice, I had been used to after dark operating HF, since there was less noise. Now, it's the opposite. A "broad band white noise", from consumer electronics: computers, televisions, etc., now runs S-7 to S-9 or more, reaching a peak starting about 5 or 6 PM local time, and continuing into the night.  It's almost all the day and night on weekends. So the most quiet time in radio at my QTH is weekdays while people are at work.

Power outage takes away noise:

One time a few years back, an earthquake took out all the power in our area.  Before cleaning up, the first thing I did when I got home was turn on the HF rig.  Quiet like the old days!  I started going out away from home with a battery operated radio and found that the farther away from town I got, the less noise.  More adventure, because there was now an even better reason to go portable or mobile.  It's good to be back in ham radio, the 1000 hobbies hobby.

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See you on the bands.


Howard Lang, KB6NN

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Eureka, California
Grid: CN70ws

Eureka is located in the middle of Humboldt County, California. Humboldt County is in Northern California, on the coast, about 80 miles south of the Oregon border.

Howard's Amateur Radio Memberships:

Humboldt Amateur Radio Club 

Far West Repeater Association

Ten-Ten International (#25696)

American Radio Relay League 

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