Interview with Jim-NØVQ
Recorded November 6th 2019
I have Jim, NØVQ, here. We always like to connect with our customer base here. And for the youngsters out here, just to motivate you, we'd like to give you our stories. So, I have Jim here, NØVQ. So, how'd you first get started in ham radio?
Oh my gosh, this goes back to even the '50s, when I was a shortwave listener. And then I got into the Navy, and that put everything kind of on hold. And I got out in '69, and I went ahead and got my Novice, and it didn't take long and I got, I'm an Extra now, but, it all just kinda flowed pretty quickly, but you know. But I would tell anybody getting into the hobby that's a good way to start is just to listen. You need a, well now with the computers you can get on air and hear and see about anything. But back in the day, when I got it I had an old Hallicrafter receiver, and you know, those had been around forever. And I used to listen to the different ones. Even before that the old time radios, nice cabinets on 'em, I had a couple of those even. And I enjoyed listening to those. Back then you could get the police department and things like that on there.
Way, way back but I don't know if you can anymore, but anyway, so I got my General. You know I got up to 18 words a minute on the code. The code was kind of a hang up unless you could just dedicate yourself to it. And I was in college and I didn't really have the time for it, but I got up to 18 words a minute. You needed 20.
For the Extra you needed 20?
Yeah, yes. And so I messed around with after. And then they came out, several years ago where there wasn't a requirement for the code. So if anybody was wanting to get into ham radio, then you couldn't ask for a better time. I mean there's no requirement on that code at all. And that was kind of a hang up. You just have to give it some time, you know, and mess with it. At any rate, this DMR and all of this is a new facet for me. I probably wouldn't have gotten into it, but my son, he's got his ticket now. In fact, this is gonna be hard to believe. He went down to take his test, and he took the first test and he passed it, and they said would you like to take it. So he took 'em all and passed 'em all in the same day.
So had he first purposely studied all the way through to the Extra or he just studied for the one or?
You know, I think he may have. I think he may have studied. He kept it kind of a secret from me. I didn't even know he was interested in it, you know. So he got his Extra and he's pretty bright. He likes computers and what have you. And that's a big asset to, if you're gettin' involved if you've got a, if you like the computers and things that kinda, anymore that ties you right in with to radio particularly. You know I do like this DRM and D-STAR, because it's so clear. The old time radios like the HF, there's so much noise involved that you get to be where you kind of have selective hearing. And you just don't pay attention to all of the noise. It's building your brain. But I enjoy listenin' more than I get along actually, so many of the guys. There's so many things with Amateur Radio that you can get involved with, which I like. And what's nice about any of 'em they got knob you can just go to another frequency.
And everything is, you know, so.
It's not like the old Hallicrafters where you had to get in just right.
I own a few of those
Hallicrafters and I have the old 1928 RCA Victor in my living room.
Yeah, so you know what I'm talkin' about, sure.
Which are cool restoration projects if you could still find 'em.
Yeah, there's some people that really spend the time on that too. I've been fortunate enough to talk to a couple of 'em, and they're really pretty good at it so you know. I would tell anybody that's wanting to get involved, this is a good way, this DMR, and DSTAR and that is nice because you don't have to strain to understand or anything. It's just like FM radio really. It is FM but it's really clear, compared to old days.
So were you a Radioman in the Navy then?
No, you know, I've got quite a different background there. I went in and I had asked to go, well I had a year of college. So I took their test and they said, "Well you did fine you can have anything you want." So I said, "Well I wanna be a Electronic Technician "on nuclear submarines." So I went out to bootcamp in San Diego, and I was an Honorman in my Company. And they come up to classification and they said, "Well those schools are full now." And I thought well what kind of deal is this. I thought I had all of this in writing, you know. So I told my Company Commander, and he's busy with trying to get everybody through the school. He said "Well just go pick out something." And the Navy had so many different little ETU, I didn't know any of 'em other than ET, EM for Electricians Mate. And so I had to just really quick pick out something just to get me out of there. And so I picked out EM. I went to the EM school. Electricians Mate. It wasn't really what I had in mind at all. I would've liked to been a Radioman if I. But your minds kinda confused and you're really have to really run to keep up with everybody on that. But anyway I went out to, I told this man, he said "Well you did fine in school." I kind of vasculated between one and two, in the school. And he said "Well, you know what would you like to do." and I said "Well sir, "I really feel like the Navy lied to me." (laughing) He didn't wanna hear that. But he was a good man. And I said "I think what I'll do is "just to go out to the fleet "as an EM." and not necessarily give 'em six years, you know, the contract was a six year contract with nuclear submarines. So he said "Well son." He says "You know everything is gonna go nuclear." And then he said "You're just in a good position here "if you wanna make a good career out of somethin'." And I said "Well I think right now I'm just gonna go out "to the fleet and put in my time "and give this some more thought." So I went out to the East Coast, I was on the West Coast, and went to a repair ship. And when I checked aboard they said "You know we don't really any EMs right now, "but we do need an I Seaman." And so I said "Hey, whatever fellas need, "I'm happy to help you." So I checked in and was an I Seaman, and I thought to myself, "Boy I think I'm wastin' a lot of time here." and the collateral duty I had aboard that ship was showing movies to the officer country, and also down below. And so I got to kind of know, you don't know them that well, most of the officers, because everybody had a movie they wanted you to get. (laughing) And so, anyway. I went there and I told the personnel men, I said "Listen the only way you can get off this ship "was gettin' ready to go to the Med." and I just really felt like I was kind of wasting my time, you know. So I said, if you happen to get a school of some type that's the only way you could get off. "Why didn't you let me know?" Well two weeks went by and he called me and he says "You know this Vietnam thing is startin'? "And they're needin' people in the aviation field. "Would you have any interest in that?" and I said "Well I might." so I ended up, I went down to Pens, you gotta go to board the officers and they ask you different questions. I went down to Pensacola, and went through preflight and what have you. One of the programs they had in there was Electronic Warfare Officer. And what you get to do is, I went to a squadron in Japan, and it was reconnaissance squadron, and we flew the periphery of Russia, China, North Korea, and Vietnam.
I checked in there in something like that, '63. I became Electronic Warfare Officer, and we had two main planes that we flew. The EA-3 which the Navy primarily used that for a tanker on the ships. But this was a reconnaissant version, and we had just banks of receivers in there. And it was a seven man crew. Actually three, the plane captain, the pilot, and the navigator up front. And then there was four of us in the back. And we worked the different receivers, and watched for signals of interest, and primarily in Vietnam and all, we were particularly interested in the aircraft fire patrol. If somebody was lockin' on to ya. But we gave SAM and Big warnings out for the pilots there. And we would fly, they'd go out on an Alpha Strike, everybody goes in. And we would watch. And you could see the missile come up on your PPI scope. You could see when they turned their gear.
But it wasn't active yet. They hadn't fired a missile, but they just turned it on. So we had code words we could give to the aircraft out there. Be alert they had you know like bluebells. Bluebells red or bluebells yellow. And that would tell the aircraft going in on a strike. Bluebells might be for the missiles today. That there's a SAM missile it's active now, I mean it's turned on. Bluebells yellow would tell them it's turned on, but they haven't fired it. And just as soon as they fired their missile, we would see a series of pulses going through the missile. And that told you that the missile was airborne.
And so I've had several different pilots come up to me and said "Were you the operator on board the Deepsea?" that was our call, "The Deepsea aircraft today?" and I said "Yes I was." And then he said "Let me shake your hand." He said "You gave out that warning." And he said "That crazy" They jinks real hard, and that way the missile can't track 'em, they can't follow 'em. And so he said "I jinksed that aircraft." And he said "That missile went right up beside me." So he was all. That made me feel good that I saved him. But there was so much activity over there toward the end. I got out in 69. And toward the end you could give a warning on those Alpha Strikes, there was so many aircraft going, that the whole area was lit up red. I mean you could give a warning for any foreign in that area, and there was somethin' going on.
So your signals of interest that you were hearing were actually telemetry for these missiles?
Well, that's what we saw. That's what we saw on our scope. It was like X band or K band in that frequency range, you know. I tell you what, most of the operators there were Russian. And they were good. There weren't any slouches. They knew and we'd go up there at 2 o'clock in the morning, and they would know what we were doing, because we flew similar patterns all the time. And we were up there by ourself initially. And they would try to slip down an interceptor to get us. And so you have one of your other individuals watching those frequencies for the interceptor. And there's several things that happen, you know, and it tells you. You know what's happening. They're gonna try to intercept you. And I told the pilot, you know, we're being intercepted right now, and he would change headings and go. The little MiG aircrafts didn't have much endurance, so they couldn't follow too long before they were getting low state on their gas. So they would have to turn and go back to their airport, where they came out of. And it was quite often we could wait a while, and then head back up north. And they may or may not come out to intercept you. But we were pretty fortunate. We lost 40 men in that group.
And not just for that. The North Koreans shot down one of our aircraft. If you being intercepted by a North Korean aircraft on those flights. If you can see contrails or any indication that you were being intercepted, the rule was that you had to abort your mission, and not fly it any more today because they were trying to get you, you know. But that's the way it goes. But then I came back out of the Navy, and gotten back to school. And wanted to get involved in Amateur Radio. And so I did. I got my General ticket pretty quickly, but I progressed up the steps. A lot of people are smart enough, like my son, he just did it all at one time, but I didn't. It took me a couple years to get my Extra.
Because I wasn't focused on it you know (laughs) But I don't know if that answers. But it's a great hobby. Anybody wantin' to really have a decent hobby that's a good one. And you'll meet a lot of good people, you know. Doctors, lawyers, everybody in that category is an amateur somewhere along the way.
Well, I found a lot of like-minded individuals in a hobby here so far. I'm about to go for my General Class license, so.
You know I'd say that W5YI has some. You know, it's just a matter of memorizing. They've got it broken down any more so you can go through the different ones, and if you just study a little bit, probably you'll pass it. And if you have any background in it at all. And you'll never be sorry. It's a good winter time activity.
You know, sittin' there in the fireplace.
Had my Tech since '95, so, yep, General Class is just the next step of progression. Plus I kinda wanna get into some of HF stuff here at BridgeCom as well.
Is BridgeCom gonna get involve in HF or?
Hopefully. Hopefully sometime in the future here. We have a few little side projects that I'm working on that I can't really mention here but.
No, no, that's fine.
Now you said you actually preferred HF to some of the VHF operations--
Yeah, I really do because you know I'm 75 now, and a lot of the operators are older. And particularly the older ones are involved in the HF. If that makes sense because, you know, somebody in their family, or they've had interest in it, prior to all the digital modes, but I'm impressed with the digital modes and I like it, to listen to it. Actually I like the HF too because they get involved in talkin' more than some of these digital modes. These are kinda short little, you know. They don't talk too long and then it's over with. But some of the nets on the HF, you know, they might last an hour, maybe two hours, and so you might wanna tune off and go somewhere else for a while. But they're interesting. There's a lot of smart operators there, and if you wanna learn somethin' that's the way to do it is to just get involved and listen to 'em. And they're always pretty courteous. There's a few operators that aren't, but for the most part they're a pretty courteous group. And that's one of the reason I like it, you know.
So you got your initial license, you were telling me, in 1970?
Yes, in 1970. I got out of the Navy in '69 and goin' back to school, and then I kinda for it and got my. I got involved in 1970, and different times I updated.
Ah, well I know what they'll wanna hear. You had a rather interesting story about your call-sign. This is what they're gonna wanna hear. (laughs)
I'm sorry. It's NØVQ, and my short-term memory has been leaving me. The N stands, and I have that on my hat, NOVQ. N is Navy, 0 is the Missouri call area, and VQ is my Navy squadron, VQ1. I have run into several people that have been in that squadron, and they ask me about that, so.
Yeah! So it was interesting.
Another day. You now the biggest thing is, and most areas have ham clubs, and I would recommend if you're interested in that, go to a club meeting a time or two.
And listen to the guys. There's different nets. I enjoy the, on Sunday at one o'clock, they have for the older people that have the older radios, they have the ones where they meet at one o'clock. They come onboard with their different old radios. And I'm gonna tell you what. You can tell about all of the new stuff. They've got all peaked up and it sounds pretty darn good. They don't have to be ashamed of some of those older radios. They sound good.
It's fun to listen to those, and kinda remember years gone by.
Well, I'm sort of a hobbyist in all this. I sorta collect older stuff here as well. So out of all of your older gear, what's the most unique thing you got in your shack that you'd like to tell us about.
Well, I have several pieces of older radios. I was always enjoyed listenin' when I was gettin' involved. I could pick out a Drake piece of gear just by the tone quality of it. And it was always fun to see if it was a Drake. And I got pretty good at just hearing the Drake sound. You've heard of Drake haven't you?
Oh yes, absolutely.
Yeah, that's a good piece of gear. And Swan is a big name of some of the older equipment. And I had a friend back in my home town. It was actually the janitor/custodian for the college, and he was into ham radio. He's gone now but it was fun to go over. He was a heavy smoker. It's the only thing I didn't like about going over to his house. Or he's had in his ham shack right by his tower out in the back. And smoked like crazy, but a great man. You'll run into people and hear 'em on the radio, and it's fun to hear 'em and know who they are. Brings back old memories you know. I'm trying to think of what people would be interested in to hear. The best thing is to get involved with a club or something of that nature. And that'll introduce you to an area that's gonna be of interest to you, you know. Everybody's got different interests for the most part.
And then some of the older radios, the name stands out like Collins.
Even today Collins brings pretty high dollar.
Very iconic brand.
And if you listen to 'em on the, if you have a receiver. It's important to get yourself a receiver, so you can hear the different radios, and draw some conclusions on your own. But Collins always stands out as a good piece of equipment. Not much more to add I guess. The biggest thing is get involved and meet some people. Go to the ham clubs, ham meetings. And you'll develop your own tastes, you know, what you like.
I can't really. There's some of the hams I would like to see in a little different light sometimes, but for the most part they're good people. And a lot of 'em, probably most of 'em are involved in some kind of community service of some type. And where you see these floods and all of this, I can guarantee you there's some ham radios people involved in certainly passing communications. So that's good. That makes you feel good, you know.
Certainly, well the press hasn't exactly been good as far as that's concerned. I mean there's a lot of soothsayer websites saying "Oh ham radio's out of it's time, "and there's not that many people doing it." No, they're full of it. In fact one of my friends up in Chicago was a volunteer for the health services up there during the Chicago Marathon this year, as of recent. So yes, I mean, a lot of emergency operations, a lot of community service operations. And as you can see--
And there are different nets that concentrate on what you're talkin' about. And that's what's nice on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you can tune it across the band and pick up these community service groups and hear what they're doing. So I would say that's important if you're interested in it to listen to the different. As you tune across and you'll see this net sounds kinda interesting, and write down what time they're on. And you can go to your computer and find most of these, and see what times that they were scheduled for their net. I have never been sorry that I've given up time along the way, you know.
So you know, it's been interesting to me. And I think most people, if they get involved in it, they would probably be interested.
And I haven't found any hams particularly that won't help you if you ask 'em to. They'll be happy to.
Well there are plenty of mentors out there, and that's one of the great things about ham radio.
The biggest thing, look around and find some hams in your area. You get involved. Just go to help with their meetings. And I would suggest you get a receiver, so you can tune across the bands, and listen to what's goin' on. And that's the biggest way to get involved with it.
I still remember my old DX200 Communications Receiver that my parents bought for me back when I was in elementary school.
What was it called again?
Yeah, there's a lot of Realistics sold.
Old Radio Shack one, but it really got me a feel for what some of the HF bands, you know, were like. Then an uncle of mine was very much into the VHF showed me some of his gear, and shortly there after, when I was a sophomore in high school I got into ham radio back in 1995, so, the summer of.
Well, and if you're gonna get involved in the military, if you do have some interest in it while you're young, I'm sure that that'd propel you ahead into some area in the military.
There's nothing too much wrong with that, you know.
Well, always good to keep people motivated. Give them a hobby and there's a lot to look forward to.
I did buy a rotating dipole, Cushcraft rotating dipole from a fellow ham. He's a doctor, but he moved back to the Philippines. He was out of St. Joe.
[Cameraman] Okay wow.
And I ran into him at a couple of hamfests. And he was gettin' ready to go back home. And I was lookin' for a little smaller antenna but this was nice. And he says "You know I've got this rotating dipole." And that's what's nice to go to some of these meetings and things. You'd be surprised with what things people have.
So is this a multi-band dipole?
Yeah. It can go
Oh wow, I've seen those. Those are so cool!
To 40 meters. But it's kinda small. The wife didn't want a big. I've got a ham shack about 200 feet from the house in a big building. And I got a tri-bander up for it, but it's not great big one. You find the wind determines a lot of things that you're gonna do. Both the antennas I like well. One the tri-bander is made by a company called Mosley, over in the eastern part of the state, make good equipment, make primarily equipment for the military now, but their antennas are all really good. And Cushcraft's an older name. It's not as old as Mosley, but it's good equipment too. The rotating dipole, instead of having the beam, you talk kinda off the sides, it favors the signal off the sides. And it's not quite as big. And if you're married that's always something that kinda comes up. The wife doesn't necessarily want that very close to the house.
See, my wife just kinda doesn't care about that kind of that kind of thing. She says "Ope, you do it. "You put up antenna's, you take 'em down, "and you maintain them." All of that kind of thing.
That's nice that she's got that attitude.
But I can't get her to get a license or anything, so I guess that would just be pushing it maybe a little too far.
But if she goes to some of the hamfests, she'll run into some of the ladies there are. And if she just listens. There's a YL net for women. And it's kinda fun to listen to them. And they have their stories. And I tell you what, we had one that ran a net out of close to Hutchinson, Kansas when I was there. And she ran this net. And I would tell you that every operator in several state radius knew her, Ione was her name. She passed away. But she had such a personality that the guys kind of waited in line to talk to her. She was a good girl, a good lady, and I really liked it.
What we need is mentors in this hobby, and it sounds like she was definitely fit the bill.
I installed a radio in her car once for her. They found her passed away right by her fire bed.
Out there by her house. And a great, great person. Always nice. Always had a smile. But time runs out. If you're gonna do it, you need to do it.
One of my nearest neighbors back when I was growing up, as a teenager, just kinda lived kittycorner to us. He had a big tower. Out of W0LEA. And he had passed away. It was a good 20 some years ago. But I remember I was one of the guys that went over there, and helped the widow kinda clear up some of the ham gear, you know, get it auctioned off, things of that nature. You know, that was interesting. There was a few others.
You know QRZed is a good pla, excuse me but you made me think. People looking for some equipment, they sell ham equipment on QRZ, so if you go to your computer and type in QRZ you'll find this, and they'll have lists of equipment people are trying to sell. And that's not too bad. And QTH is another place on the web that you can find equipment.
It's amazing a lot of the equipment that a lot of these silent hears, you know, they now have sitting around. It's just an inspiration sometimes, I mean, if you're younger person, you happen to go through these estates and stuff, I mean, just to see. I mean it's just a part of history,
I mean that you can see. But if you have folks that are around ya, that are older that are in the hobby that are still around, go and visit. You'll be glad you did. Spend a few hours, have a cup of tea, talk things over. you'll never find better mentors than the people that have been in this hobby. They always like to talk. Exactly, I've never met a single one that has not been just elated to show off this hobby. If you listen to 'em on the, I get up pretty early in the mornings and there's always a group I like to listen to. And I'm amazed at how smart a lot of 'em are. They're really, really knowledgeable. Absolutely. And it's kinda interesting way to start your day. I told them before they have a certain frequency, it's not really a net, but it's the same guys that show up there and visit. And I check in with 'em, I told 'em "You know I checked in here this morning, "because I always "help my IQ out "just a little bit by listening to you guys." I said "I don't have a whole lot to add “except that you're interesting to listen to." Well, I will not take up any more of this gentleman's time here. No thank you so much. And again, this is Sebastian, KBØTTL. And this is Jim, NØ Victor Quebec, so thank you so much. If I run across ya or if you hear me on, holler at me.TRANSCRIPT END.