1) How did you get involved in Hamradio and how many years are being a ham now?
I began taking Hammond Organ lessons and the teachers son was learning the code for his Amateur Radio test.
After my organ lessons, I would spend time with his son and eventually we both took the test and recieved our
license in Sept. of 1956. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
2) What atracted you the most in being a hamradio operator?
I loved the technical aspect. Designing, building and eventually operating the gear you would build. That period of time was wonderful as we could build transmitters, modulators, antennas with ease.
3) What is your favorite mode and/or band?
I spent the first 17 years experimenting on the VHF bands. In 1958, I built one of the very first 6 meter and eventually, 2 meter SSB transmitters.
Ended up building a pair of 4CX250 B tubes and had a SSB KW on both 6 and 2 meters. 128 element 2 meter beam and pair of 11 element 36' long Telrex at 110' on 6 meters. Collins 51J4 reciever with home brew receiving converters. It was a huge educational happening for me. Learned so much about phasing and just how important audio response is in weak signal work. As it has turned out, that experinece is the basis of my career.
4) What equipment do you use?
I had many piece of gear in addition to what I have told you. My very first transmitter was a Harvey Wells TBS 50D and that wonderful little transmitter is still on the air several times a week. Original tubes! I also have my original SX 99 receiver and that glorious Central Electronics 20A - the first SSB transmitter that I buitl form a kit in 1958 to drive my home brew transverter to get me on 6 and 2 meters. I also still have the Hallicrafters HT 37 SSB transmitter that I purchased new in 1962. I use it several times a week also. Paired with the orginal Drake 2B receiver and all of these still have their origianl tubes.
5) Do you hold DXCC and what is the score?
I do not. I was never very interested in the DX experience. Yes, I have worked 25 - 30 countries on 6 meters, achieved W.A.S. on 6 meters around 1964. I will work some DX stations these days on the bands. Really enjoy working Europe on 75 and 40 meters but I do stay out of the way for those that are seriously reaching out for that all important country.
6) What has been your most memorable story related to hamradio so far?
Working W5KHT, Bob Cooper in 1962 on 2 meters. He in Oklahoma, I in Marissa, southern Illinois..... via moonbounce. That contact also was a live changing event as Coop was the 'father' of home satellit reception TVRO around 1978 and I followed him into that great technology, with the peak of my home satellite business acheiving the US Satellite Dealer of the Year in 1988. Installed thousands of 10' satellite dishes during that part of my life which then turned into a very successful Home Theatre design and installation business.
7) Do you think CW had it's best time since you don't need it anymore to get a license (in many countries)?
I find a lot of the new license holders enter the hobby wihtout knowing the Morse Code but they are discovering how important and how much fun it is so I do not beleive it will go away and certain is becoming more popular.
8) How would you explain our hobby to someone not familiar with hamradio?
Amateur Radio is a hobby where you can learn tremendous technical skills as well as aid in every day communication skills. It helps us to learn and use foreign languages and best of all make friends around the globe.
9) Do you have other hobbys besides Hamradio?
Building, voicing and playing major Wurltizer cinema organs - which taught me how to listen. Mentally understand what you heard. That, coupled with my technical skills of ham radio allowed me to enter the Sound reinforcement industry where I was one of the pioneers bringing new technology to scores of International concert groups such as the Who, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and so many others. It was my knowledge of being able to design and build projects that I learned from my Amateur Radio hobby that led me to become the only manufacturer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio where a major display of some of our early work can be seen.
10) Any final words to the people reading the interviews?
Enjoy and share this wonderful hobby. With all of the great technology that is now before us, we are on the edge of seeing some wonderful things becoming available to us.
Please check the wkipedia site for more inormation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Heil