Dad’s 1yr – What was KAB1341? (a followup to a vague Facebook posting)
Back in the 60s and early 70s, microwave communication was a big thing, and it was what my dad was into, communications. This was back before wifi, back before large installs of fiber, etc. If you needed to go a long distance, microwave communication was what you used. Being into the communications world, he decided to move into the UHF 2-way radio world. Radios that they would have had for work, but this would be his very own. So, in the mid 70s, my father erected a tower, and built his own commercial repeater. Shortly after he added a phone patch, this would allow you to make telephone calls using the radio system. His personal, 1 cell cellular network.
This doesn’t sound so impressive till you realize that this was 1975(ish), roughly 8 years before traditional cell service would be released to the public.
A couple years later I recall fun afternoons of flying in our 1968 Cessna 150 (N3983J) with the radio/phone patch at my disposal. I was the coolest kid on the block when I could both call you from the plane, then fly over your house and wave at you looking up from your yard. Good times….
The FCC requires every station on the air, to identify itself at regular intervals (15mins, or so). Even if the repeater is not in use, it needs to continue the station identification day and night. Since this was before the invention of solid-state audio chips, so my father’s solution was to have a timed relay that turned on an 8-track tape playing his station identification. Night and day you’d hear the click clack of relays in the garage as the 8-track tape would proclaim to the world – “This is station KAB1341”
The system has been long since shut down, but sits untouched where it has been since 1975, the 8 track tape still in its place, ready to identify its repeater. Later in life, my father returned to Ham Radio achieving EXTRA CLASS, the highest level of license a Amateur Radio operator can hold. While others changed their call-signs as each level of upgrade, my father choose to stay with his original call-sign of KD4FZK. In typical Ham fashion, he was known as “The Fat Zoo Keeper” calling on the last 3 characters of his call.
My father was very active in shooting, and had many trophys to show for his marksmanship skills., My good friend Alex and I skipped work, and went to the gun rage today. This trip, as well as our trip to Beefy King after, was more of an opportunity for me to be with my father, in spirit. The shotgun used here was his, and was the first time I had ever shot this gun. The 44 automag pistol was mine, but was a match to one he often talked about shooting when he did own one in the 70s.
Established in 1968, Beefy King is located next to the Herndon airport, and a place we loved to stop at after going flying on Saturdays. It will always be a place I go to connect with my father. I’m pretty sure little has changed inside the store since those days long ago 🙂 I often wonder if my gather had ever stopped by one day, and sat in the very seat I’m in to enjoy his lunch.
Dad, its been a year, and I miss you more.