Chris Codella, LaGrangeville, New York
I've been involved in Amateur Radio ("Ham Radio") since January 1969, and was a shortwave listener before that. Licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, my call sign is W2PA. An amateur radio license permits one to operate radio transmitting equipment and communicate with other amateurs worldwide. For a lot more information about ham radio, browse the website at ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, see their forums, or go to Wikipedia by following some of the links above. Reddit also has a lively section about amateur radio. The materials on this web site are mostly intended for readers already familiar with amateur radio.
Interested in the history of Ham Radio? If so, you might enjoy my blog on that subject. Click below:
Station and Operation
My station is a mixture of modern, multiprocessor-controlled equipment, including software-defined radio, and a collection of older equipment, including even vacuum tube and hybrid ham gear from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The primary transceivers are an Apache Labs ANAN-8000DLE software-defined radio (SDR) transceiver, based on the open source, OpenHPSDR designs, and a 1991-vintage Yaesu FT-1000D, both connected to a computer for logging, DX spotting and radio control - and, in the case of SDR, much of the guts of the actual radio itself. An Elecraft KPA1500 amplifier along with is backup, an Alpha 89 are at right.
One shelf above is a set of Drake B-line separates, R-4B, T-4XB, MS-4 (with AC-4 inside), all manufactured around 1969; and a Dentron MT-3000A tuner. Nested up there with the books is my original novice station, a Heathkit DX-60B Transmitter with matching HG-10B VFO, and a Heathkit GR-64 general coverage receiver. The transmitter is not my original but the GR-64 (left, top of photo) is the one I built when I was 12 years old. Below it is the Heathkit HW-100 transceiver I build at age 15 - my first SSB rig. Just under the FT-1000D is an NCS-3240 Multi-Switcher for controlling everything, making it easy to switch microphones, speaker, headphones and keys between the various rigs. On the desk below the monitor are two electronic keyer paddles, a Begali Graciella and a Bencher BY-1.
The most recent classic equipment addition to my station is a Collins S/Line, built around 1969, that I restored in the spring of 2008 - pictured below. See the articles section for information about this restoration project.
Restored Collins S/Line:
516F-2 power supply
312B-4 speaker and console
My antennas are all wires supported by trees - dipoles of various configurations that cover all HF bands between 80 and 10 meters, and an inverted-L for 160 meters with 15 quarter-wave radials. A 135' dipole is used on multiple bands, fed by parallel "window" line via an MFJ-998RT remote tuner, then coax back to the station.
On the air, besides regular QSOs with friends on 40 and 80 meters, I'm mostly active in DXing, dabble in contests, and can be found somewhere on all bands between 6m and 160m - about half CW (and other digital modes), half SSB.
There was always something about radio—something compelling for me about communication at a distance with no wires. After being a shortwave listener as a kid in the mid-1960s, I was first licensed as a Novice in January, 1969, receiving my first call sign, WN3LXK, and later, WA3LXK, after upgrading to General class at the FCC office in Washington, DC. Three of us trained and tested for our tickets at the same time from the same Elmer (ham radio term for mentor), W3DUK (SK), and then received sequential call sign suffixes LXK, LXL, and LXM. I operated from Potomac, MD as WA3LXK until January 1971 when I moved to Holmdel, NJ and became WB2AEH. During this period I was mostly involved in DXing, contesting, and was very active in traffic handling on the New Jersey section nets (NJN and NJPN), the NTS second region net (2RN), the Eastern Area Net (EAN) and other miscellaneous nets. During this most active period I received PSHR, BPL, net certificates, A1-OP, DXCC, WAC, and WAS. In the early 1970s I was also a member of Navy MARS, and was assigned the call sign N0TLC (the MARS call signs are much longer now).
In 1973 as a high school student I finally passed the Amateur Extra Class exam on the second try. K1AR and I had been defeated together the previous year on a joint bus trip into the city; a sad occasion—flunked by the famous Mr. Finkleman. Between 1973 and 1981 I operated mostly from college and graduate school as WA2NPP (Rutgers, where I was club president), W8UM (Michigan), and W2CXM (Cornell), while I studied Electrical Engineering. During a brief window in 1977 when the FCC allowed Extra class holders to request a call sign, I sent in my list of preferences and received W2PA.
I have many life-long friends whom I met over the air back when we were all teenagers. You could always find a group of us on 40 and 80 meters during that period. (Anybody remember the East Coast Teenage Traffic Net?) Ask them and many will tell you that one of the major events in the northeast at that time was the 1974 ARRL National Convention at the Waldorf in New York, when several of us met each other in person for the first time. Ham radio was, for us, similar to what the Internet was for my kids growing up in the 1990s.
Except for VHF/UHF mobile, I was mostly inactive starting around 1982 (school, marriage, kids, job, the usual distractions) and then got back on the air around 1989. Since then my on-the-air activity has roughly followed the sunspot cycle, but gradually increased. Other hams in my family include my brother, W2GP, and sister, K2AMC, my father, N2NPV, and brother-in-law, N3WNI.
In late 2016 I dove head-first into software defined radio (SDR), finally getting into the 21st century, with an Apache Labs ANAN-8000DLE based on the OpenHPSDR designs. Since early 2017 I've become one of the contributing software developers and am having a blast doing it. My contributions: database update and I/O, MIDI controller support additions, QSK, and miscellaneous fixes. I've also blogged about some of these experiences on my other site here.
Today I'm quite active on the air and can be found somewhere among the HF bands from 10 through 160 meters, propagation permitting—about half CW (and other digital modes), half SSB. Radio still holds that certain fascination for me.
It's always great to hear from old friends—ham radio or not—via email. And if you have questions about any of the material on the site, please also contact me via email to w2pa at arrl.net (substitute the appropriate 'at' symbol).
I'm a Ph.D. electrical engineer (who can also solder and write code!). I work on quantum computing at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, NY, where we sometimes operate club station W2TJW. More about my professional activities can be found on LinkedIn, and Google Scholar.
Friends' Web Sites
Hello one and all.
Is it you I used to know?
Can't you hear me call,
on this old ham radio?
"King of the World", Steely Dan
A recent view* of the star that governs HF propagation in this neighborhood:
*If all you see here are the words "CCD BAKEOUT", it means the imaging device is recalibrating. If you see nothing, it means the site is down. Come back in a day or so and you should see a nice view of the sun.
(It's not really blue)
Formerly WA3LXK (1969), WB2AEH (1971) - W2PA since 1977
Site updated 11 August 2021