Featured Member Profile: Ralph AG7FE

by Ralph AG7FE on 2018-10-06

I was born in southern California in 1955. We moved to the Sacramento area in the mid-60s. As a kid, I built a couple of crystal radios, and tore apart dozens of tube radios and TV sets. Other radios I “repaired” by attaching long lengths of speaker wire onto the antenna to get better reception. I also collected bicycle parts and built usable bicycles from the parts, at one point having six bicycles that I made.

After high school, I went to the local community college, and managed to get a two-year AA degree in just three years (not counting a 7 month gap spent hitchhiking in Europe).

Then I found an old “TTY demodulator” in a 19″ rack at Goodwill. I connected this to my grandfather’s Hallicrafters SW receiver. This got me interested in building a “TV Typewriter” so I could read the messages, which lead to another two years at community college for their electronics program, which led to a 38 year (and counting) career as a software engineer. During this time I had my own business as a software contractor for about 12 years. I also had an Internet cafe (Millennium Cafe) for a while in the late 90s. I never did build the TV Typewriter though.

I met Carol, now my wife, back in 1994. We were married on the beach in Washington, and went clam digging that evening with her family. At one point early in our marriage we were comparing places we used to live and hang out, and realized that we had crossed paths over a dozen times before two mutual friends both suggested that we meet. We have a 17-year-old daughter and live in NE Portland. Our daughter is a senior in high school, nearing the launch pad of college, so we are “Empty Nesters In Training.”

For hobbies, early on I had a string of British sports cars: 3 MGAs, an Austin Healey 100-4, 2 Triumph TR3s, a TR4 with a TR250 engine, an MGB, a Triumph GT6. Then there was the motorcycle phase: Yamaha 750 Special, Suzuki 1150ES, Suzuki GSXR750 (I raced both Suzukis at PIR and SIR), Yamaha FJ1200, Honda ST1100, Norton 850 Commando, 2 Norton 750 Commandos (one of which I raced at PIR/SIR), Ducati 860, BMW R100RS. Then there was the electric car phase, where I bought a converted Geo Prizm and completely rebuilt the electronics three times. When the car needed yet another new battery pack, I sold it and got myself some proper woodworking tools. My wife especially likes this hobby since I can make things we use in the house (although I won’t remodel another kitchen).

I got into ham radio after becoming involved with emergency preparedness (Portland NET) and learning that they needed ham radio operators. This quickly led to a focus on ham radio, and then to MCARES. I have a VHF/UHF go-kit similar to the ARES digital go-kits, and am now working on my HF radio setup.

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