about NW7US and the hfradio.org website


Welcome to the
official website for
Amateur Radio Station, NW7US.

NW7US' Amateur Radio and Short Wave Listening (SWL)
Radio Resource Center

Last Updated on May 17, 2010 by Tomas Hood,
also known as
Amateur Radio Operator, NW7US.

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Howdy! I am pleased that you have chosen to visit my website. This website is dedicated to information and resources regarding:
radio communications. Some of the information is also aplicable to very high frequencies (VHF) and above, as well as the longwave radio spectrum. It is also about me. This site is an extension of that which I have learned, gathered, and wish to share with you. It is a personal hobby and effort that I present during my spare time.

High Frequency refers roughly to those radio frequencies between 1800 Kilohertz, and 30 Megahertz. Sometimes, this range of frequencies is referred to as Shortwave. A Shortwave Radio, then, would be a radio receiver capable of tuning frequencies in the HF range. Medium Wave is just below HF, but above longwave (LW), or 520 KHz (roughly).

I do try to cover other information not directly related to the phenomena, activities, modes, etc. of HF radio. My personal passion in the Radio Hobby is that which involves Shortwave!

The Website's Focus

Overall, then, this website is my personal collection of information, links, and other resources related to Amateur (HAM) Radio, HF Communications, and related areas of interest. You are most welcome to explore the site and to participate in the guest book. It is an evolving website, the goal of which is to educate and support you in your journey through the hobby of Ham Radio and / or shortwave listening. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and solicited.

What (or, Who) is NW7US?

Tomas David Hood guitar NW7US is the Amateur Radio call-sign issued by the Federal Communications Commission to my Ham Radio Station, conferring the right to operate this equipment under certain privileges. This call-sign is assigned to me as both an identification of my Amateur Radio station, as well as a reference to those privileges I have been granted after having passed both a series of written examinations which cover rules, procedures, technical theory, and related knowledge, and a series of morse code (cw) proficiency tests.

I'm Tomas Hood. I am an Amateur Radio Operator. I also own a computer service shop and store, called, 'Sapphire Website and Computers Services', in Stevensville, Montana. I have been in the computer industry since 1983. One of my computer 'hats' is 'programmer'. I can program in Perl, PHP, XML, WAP/WML, HTML, C/C++, VBA, SQL, and so forth. I design web sites and applications.

I am also a Singer / Songwriter / Guitarist. I am a member of the Songwriters Guild of America, and am associated as an artist with BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.).

For further information about my musical activities:
Let me know what you think of my song(s) by leaving me a message, ok?

Tomas Hood - NW7US - QSL CardRegarding my Amateur Radio hobby: I'm currently an Amateur Radio Extra Class operator. I've been an Extra Class operator since the 1990's.

The current license structure for Amateur Radio has the entry level of the Technician class, and then the various levels, starting with General and ending with the highest level, Amateur Extra. Each requires a different level of demonstrated technical knowledge. Morse Code is no longer a requirement.

Each provides additional privileges and responsibilities. The Technician license allows United States residents to communicate on Amateur allocations from 6 meters and higher (VHF/UHF/SHF, etc.) with voice and digital modes. On 10 meters, a Technician may operate voice on a sub-band, and digital modes on other parts of 10 meters. On some bands below 10 meters, a 'Tech' operator may only do CW. With higher class licenses, a person may also communicate on HF with morse code, or, voice and data. General and Amateur Extra gain more spectrum privileges on HF.

Check out where I live: Stevensville, Montana.

View Larger Map
Bitterroot, Montana (Stevensville) Map - Tomas Hood's Location

I also enjoy a good Louis L'Amour book (like the Sackett Series, or the Walking Drum, or the Hopalong Cassidy Novels).

You can see some photographs of my Radio Shack, and other things on my Shack and Photo Album page. I will add more photographs over time. I will also start adding other links that take you to content I feel is good, educational, entertaining, and in general stuff that I like. This will help you get to know me more.

I also write for four radio magazines. I write the monthly propagation columns for both Popular Communications as well as for CQ Magazine. Quarterly, I write for CQ VHF. Once and a while I write a propagation article for Monitoring Times (for instance, see April 2007).

I am starting to contribute to the WikiPedia project, in the Amateur Radio section. I'll share more about that, soon.

A Short History of My Shortwave / HAM Interests and Activities

When I was about nine years old, I got a hold of my parent's Sony Multiband Portable radio. I cannot remember which model. But it had four bands, FM, AM, LW, SW. I soon discovered that the SW selection held very strange and somewhat exotic sounds and stations. As you might have guessed from above, SW stands for Shortwave (LW is for Longwave those frequencies below 530 KHz, AM is for the Amplitude Modulation mode, which is what is used in the domestic broadcast band (between 530 KHz and 1750 Khz or so), and FM (frequency modulation), the popular band of radio spectrum that everyone seems to enjoy, with music, talk, and other formats).

Shortwave describes the size of the radio wave used to transmit the signal that the radio can tune and listen in on. NW7US - Tomas, back a few years

As I began to discover not only odd, interesting noises and pops, whistles, and alien-like sounds, but also a great variety of radio stations from all parts of the world, I became deeply interested in the technical aspects of what made this little radio achieve such great magic. It seemed very magical that the BBC (England), RSA (Radio South Africa), CBC (Radio Canada International), Radio Australia, and so many more exotic stations, could be heard by me in the middle of Montana's Rocky Mountains. Hearing these signals lured me into listening and learning more about Shortwave Listening to the point that I was hooked for life.

Tomas David Hood guitar I tried to get books about radio, electronics, and related information. Hard to come by for a nine-year-old. But I did get some support from my parents and friends, school, and library. I studied that until I knew it forward and backward. Tube theory, transistors (which were still a newer concept to the general consumer market, in the early 1970's), resistors, capacitors, and all the other doo-hickies and thing-a-ma-bobs that made all this magic of radio come into being.

In the mid-seventies (around 1976 and 1977), I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, I learned directly about Ham Radio. I started to pro-actively learn my morse code. But, due to my dad's orders to relocate to a new duty station (he was in the US Army), I did not have a chance to complete my study and obtain my Amateur Radio license. But I did continue studying radio theory and my hobby of Shortwave Listening. I even got a hold of the First Class Commercial Class study materials for the First Class Radiotelephone Commercial radiotelephone license.

US Army

Tropo Antenna - US Army - Tomas Hood Tropo Antenna - US Army - Tomas Hood After a number of years and after graduating from High School, I also entered the US Army. I became a 31M, known as the Multichannel Communications Equipment Operator. But I had a chance to do more than just that MOS. I also worked with Satellite, Troposcatter, Microwave, and HF radio modes and equipment (as well as computers).

After being trained as a 31M at Fort Gordon, Georgia, I was stationed in Germany. These pictures are of troposcatter dishes, out in the field. We spent a lot of time out there. Months at a time! And I ended up making rhombics, inverted dipoles, and other great hf wire antenna configurations.

I received two Army Achievement Medals for my efforts at helping my unit accomplish its mission. I was instrumental in engineering a communications network that they had been attempting to secure for many years. In addition, I created an SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) manual including the use of Antenna and HF equipment to aid in engineering the communications network.

Connecticut (1989-1991)

After spending a few years in Germany, I moved to Connecticut. I was hired by The Travelers as a programmer / analyst, and found out that my team leader was an Amateur Radio operator. It was a natural progression for me to end up (finally!) licensed as a Novice-class Amateur! The same year, I upgraded to the Coded Technician (at that time, there was no such thing as a Technician Plus and No-Code Technician. There was just a Technician, which required 5 wpm code, and the Technician written element. My call was KA1VGL. I loved getting on and doing CW as well as 10 meter voice! The Solar cycle was at a peak (this was 1989). I talked to the whole world on 10 meters (28 MHz). I think I worked 67 countries. I was really excited.

Montana (1991-1992)

After a bit of time in Connecticut, I moved to Montana. I drove up to Canada, and then over to the Great Lakes, then made my way back into the States and over to Montana. I had a 10 meter rig (Radio Shack's HTX-100), and talked again, all over the world from the car!

The trip included days when the Aurora was active, and I could see them while being near the Great Lakes. Stations were active on 10 meters all night long, at times, during this trip! It was a very excellent experience. (And the Canadian Hams extended a lot of hospitality.)

After settling down in Forsyth, Montana, I setup my radio shack with a long wire for most bands, and a vertical for 10 meters. I notified the FCC that I had a new address and location, and that I needed a new call sign to reflect my location. My first call, KA1VGL, was issued for the 1 call area. Montana is in the 7 call area. Call areas are geographical areas in the United States, numbered from 0 to 9. The FCC issued me my new call as N7PMS. Since I was in Montana, I became known as "November Seven, Pesky Montana Skunk." Better than other names... PMS.. etc.
Whale jumping in San Juan area of Puget Sound, Washington

Washington (1992-2007)

After about a year in Montana, I decided that I should head out to the state of Washington. More job opportunities. This was at the end of the Gulf War, so the economy was a bit slow. My brother who was stationed in Washington (US Army) told me that I ought to come to Washington as I might have a chance to work at Microsoft, or something along these lines.

So, I relocated to Olympia, the capitol city of Washington state. While in Olympia, on April 23, 1998, I upgraded to Advanced. I also passed my 20 wpm code element for the Amateur Extra. In June of 1998, I passed the written for Amateur Extra. I was very happy to finally make it so that I had access to the entire Ham spectrum! It is great to be able to have use of the radio frequencies assigned to the Ham Radio hobby. On June 2, 1998, the FCC granted me a new Vanity Call. I am now NW7US, reflecting that I am in the Pacific North West of the Seven Call Area, in the United States.

Right after the upgrade to Extra, I took a job with a start-up in Seattle, called, Greatergood.com (formerly YourSchoolShop.com) (They are now extinct). I was the primary Web Master and Programmer / Analyst. (You may see my resume here). I spent a year in downtown Seattle, working HF with my Outbacker and a TS-830S / IC-706MKIIG.

The Outbacker on the porch While I lived in Seattle (1998, 1999), the antenna farm was mostly an Outbacker Marine (two section), without the WARC bands, or one of the five resonated Hustler mobile antennas. They are comparable in performance on 20 meters and higher. But on 80 and 40 Meters, the Hustlers seem to perform just a bit better. However, I tended to use the Outbacker in the apartment setting more often due to its easier operation with my limited ground radial situation. On the car, I tended to favor the Hustlers.

Occasionally, I used (you'll love this) my patio railing, and the trim around my apartment. I was on the fifth floor apartment (top floor) with a great view of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. I have talked to Russian stations, over the North Pole, and many other stations around the world. It is amazing what one can do! Of course, I had to use the MFJ-1026 to cancel out the high noise I had there.

Views from the Seattle Patio where the Outbacker was:

One view from the balcony

The other view from the balcony

My Current Station - Stevensville, Montana

NW7US radio shack 2 After spending years in Washington (and doing quite a bit in Amateur Radio and US Army MARS), I finally had a chance to move back to Montana. I will update this part of my About page as time allows.

My antenna is a single dipole antenna with dipole wires for 80, 40, 30, and 20 meters, which also allows me on higher bands like 15 meters. With a tuner, I can work all bands above 80 meters. I do plan on raising a 160-meter antenna sometime in the spring.

My main HF radio is an Icom IC-7000. It allows me a lot of flexibility, in that I can use it portable, mobile, or in my home. Using a laptop with an interface between the computer and radio allows me easy portability and operation on digital modes such as PSK-31 or Olivia. I am very active on Olivia and PSK-31 modes. I am interested in QRP operation, and CW operation, in addition to the digital modes.

Main Radio Shack 2008 - NW7US

Code Key Also, I am using two World War II Navy Straight Key. One is CMI-26003A, meaning, C for Contracted Out, MI for Molded Insulator (the company that was contracted to make the key), 26 for Straight Telegraph Key, and 003A for the model number and revision. The other one is a CJB26003A - made by J.H. Bunnell. Here is a website that shows you how to decode these keys: The Telegraph Office: U. S. Navy Telegraph and Wireless Keys.

I also use a side-to-side paddle. It is a modified Vibroplex key, from about 1920. I use it while mobile, too. See my pictures of this key and installation.

My wife, and the fourth of our four children, now live here in Stevensville, Montana. The other three of our children are now adults and are living out their lives in various places.

Nathon, my youngest son from my previous marriage, but now my second youngest son, passed his Technician License when he was 12 years old. His call is KD7NHF. My daughter, Ashley, is now KD7QKT. She passed her license at 14 years of age - just before her birthday that year!

My wife is now licensed as KD7TZR. She passed her test the same day as my oldest son, Atreju, pass his. Atreju is now KD7TZQ.

copyright, 1998-2009, Tomas Hood (NW7US), all rights reserved.