HOMEBREW HEXBEAM PAGE
by W1GQL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is W1GQL?

     My name is David Billheimer. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 12, 1940. I graduated from Strongsville (Ohio) High School in 1958 and Oberlin College in 1962. My wife is Alice. We met at Oberlin and were married in 1961. We have two girls, both of whom are hams, inactive but hams just the same! We have 4 grandchildren. Alice works part-time as a church organist and choir director. For 18 years, from 1973 to 1993 She ran her own consignment used clothing store in Tenants Harbor, Maine, where we lived.

     I became a Ham in June of 1955. My first call was Wn8BWE. I got my general in April 1956. I am now an Extra Class and have been for a number of years. My call was changed to W1GQL when I moved to Maine in 1972.

     My college major was the Russian Language and I was a high school Russian teacher for many years. I also taught grade school for 3 years. After leaving teaching I worked as part of the management team at a large seafood processing plant in Rockland Maine. We made fish portions for places like Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box. I was responsible for scheduling the plant. When the plant closed due to the depletion of the Atlantic Cod I began working as a computer programmer. I worked for Nautica Clothes for 10 years before retiring in 2000.

     After retirement my wife and I spent four years traveling around the country with our Airstream Trailer. We are now settled in a small garage apartment in Waldoboro Maine. We spend a lot of our time on our extensive collection of books for teenagers, primarily those written from 1930 to 1970. There is a link on this page to the webpage we have devoted to our books. It is at www.maltshopbooks.com

     Besides building homebrew antennas I get great pleasure out of working CW. I have not been on SSB in years and years. I have especially enjoyed CW since I retired because I have been able to get on more often and my code speed has gone up. I can now copy around 30 wpm with not much trouble at all. What I really like to do with my CW, however is to operate CW in the Russian language. Years ago I taught myself the cyrillic morse code and can use it. Not as fast as the International Morse code but at a usable speed of maybe 15-20 wpm. I have had many contacts with Russian stations and really surprised them coming back to them in fluent Russian. It turns out that Russian hams nowadays don't use the cyrillic morse code often and are no longer even required to learn it to get their licenses. Newer Russian hams don't even understand their own language well in CW. But if you can hitch up with an older ham that does, it is great. I had a QSO a few years ago with a ham licensed right after WW2. He told me that our QSO in Russian was the very first one he had ever had with someone outside Russian using cyrillic morse code. That gives you and idea of how unusual it is. Russian hams use the International morse code when communicating with each other even.

     Switching from International CW to cyrillic CW can blow your mind. To send a Russian V you use our W. If you send a V it is actually their letter with the sound "zh". A C becomes their letter for the "TS" sound. Their letter for the "SH" sound is four dashes. Their letter for the "CH" sound is three dashes and a dot. Send our H and you get a Russian X. Send an X and you get a Russian softsign and so on. Gets confusing until you have done it for a while. I have a lot of fun with it. I wish the propagation were better now. I don't get as many solid Russian QSOs as I did when the sunspot numbers were higher.

     I am proud to say that I was one of the first American hams to get on PSK31. It was in February 1999. I had heard about it during a European CW QSO. There was only one available software program with nothing like a waterfall aid to tuning. You had to carefully tune in very small steps hoping to find the one person on PSK31. All my early contacts were with EA or G stations. I felt like a pioneer. All this was before PSK31 had even been mentioned in QST.

     I also felt like a pioneer when I bought was probably the first Radio Shack computer sold in our area. It was a Model I with only 1K of memory. I taught myself to program in machine language using the Model I. I graduated to a Model III with 16K of memory and spent thousands of hours programing it in Assembler. I eventually wrote my own programming language for it. I had sold the 1930 Model A Ford I had built to buy the first computer. People thought I was nuts after all the work I had put into the Ford, but it paid off when I eventually went on the earn my living as a programmer. Most of the programming I did at that job was in Dbase II, FoxBase, FoxBase+ and various versions of FoxPro.

     I still do a little programming, but just for the fun of it. I have been trying to learn Spanish and wrote an extensive program that would tell me how to pronounce Spanish words. The program takes into account all the possible factors such as letter position in the word, position relative to sounds preceding and following, accents, you name it. Involved, but fun.

     My current ham gear consists primarily of an Icom IC-706. I had used my 1963/64 Heathkit SB-300/SB-400 twins for years but could not fit them into the Airstream trailer when we hit the road. The IC-706 has been a great rig. I hope it lasts as long as my Heathkit rigs did.

     You can contact me by writing me at 110 Deer Run Lane Waldoboro, ME 04572. My phone number is (207)832-0498. My email address is W1GQL(at)midcoast.com (replace the (at) with "@"!} Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions about the Hexbeam or this page.

 


I got some of the ideas for the format of this page from Dry-Rain. Check them out!