About Roland K. Smith

The Beginning

I was originally licensed as a Novice Class operator back in 1957 as KN7OJL. A year later I passed the General Class test (along with the associated 13 wpm CW test) and received an upgraded K7OJL license. I built a Heathkit receiver and an Eico transmitter for CW and later added the AM modulator to the Eico rig.

Eico 720 CW Transmitter
Eico 720 CW Transmitter

I saved up my money and purchased a nice 100 watt SSB transceiver, a Johnson Viking Pacemaker. After I graduated from Soda Springs High School in Soda Springs, Idaho, I joined the US Air Force, got married, and quickly joined in the Vietnam War. I let my license lapse and sold the transceiver to help pay for books at Purdue University.

A later model of the Johnson Viking Pacemaker CW/SSB/AM transceiver
A later model of the Johnson Viking Pacemaker CW/SSB/AM transceiver

In 2009 I was in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Chandler, Arizona and saw a “Ham Radio for Dummies” book. Intrigued, I bought the book along with the ARRL Technician Class License Manual. I was hooked once again and was licensed as KF7FXZ. I applied for my old call sign which was granted.

Recent History

I was living in Pocatello, Idaho and searched in Craigs List for ham radio gear for sale. I found a Yaesu FT-2800 for sale in a neighboring town for $150 and found that he also had a Yaesu FT-3 handitalki for sale as well. I bought the whole package for $250, ordered a J-pole antenna, a magmount, and got on the air with the local ARES group. That lead quickly to a General Class ticket and in 2015 an Amateur Extra Class license.

I purchased a used Yaesu FT-450 transceiver and a manual antenna tuner. That wasn’t very successful until I finally put up a G5RV Jr. antenna across the roof of our house (in violation of the HOA, but no one really saw it and complained). A local ham was selling his Yaesu FT-897D transceiver, which I acquired along with a Yaesu FT-8900 mobile rig. I gave the FT-450 to my oldest son, James K9JLS who is kind of following in his dad’s footsteps.

Along with that came several other radios over time, mostly Chinese radios.

Current Station

I retired from the Idaho National Laboratory in September, 2014. My wife and I then volunteered to serve a 23-month service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were assigned to the Hawaii Honolulu Mission and specifically to the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center. We arrived in Laie, Hawaii on March 19, 2015.

Current Ham Radio Station
Current Ham Radio Station

I brought a couple of radios with me and have added a couple more since then. My current setup is:

Yaesu FT-897D transceiver with an autotuner feeding a 40 meter sloping dipole about 25′ in the air.

A Yaesu FT-8900 mobile rig which is being used as a base station feeding a J-pole about 18′ in the air.

An Anytone 3318UV 2meter / 70cm HT

A Baofeng UV-5R 2meter / 70cm HT

A TYT MD380 DMR 70cm HT

And an Allstar node (42284 node number) which is a Raspberry Pi 2 connected to a Motorola 2meter transceiver feeding a 2meter ground plane antenna on 146.450 mhz.

An Xiegu X1M-Pro QRP HF transceiver feeding a Buddipole system.

I’m currently building out W1REX’s qrpme.com Tuna ][ system for QRP CW operation. This is my first attempt at kit building since the Eico transmitter back in 1958.

Who Am I?

I’m a 71-year-old man having a great time with my wife of 52 years in Hawaii. My non-Ham-Radio blog is at www.rnsmith.com. We’ll complete our missionary assignment in February, 2017 and will return stateside somewhere. We sold our house before we left as we needed to downsize. Where we’ll go next is still under considerable discussion. It’ll be someplace where I can put up some very effective antennas!