General Leo

General TWiTBack to the Mt. Diablo Amateur Radio Club tonight to take the General exam, which I passed thanks to Gordo West WB6NOA’s great study materials. I can now officially navigate the HF waters with my CSCE in hand and a slant AG after my call sign, just in time to try out the Icom 7800 at this weekend’s open house.
Thanks to Jim Siemens AF6PU, one of the VEs, for a sweet graduation gift: two classic radio manuals, including the 1940 Radio Operating Questions and Answers. I should be ready for my Extra exam by next month!

First Contact

I made my first ham contact last night on the Ham Nation show. Man was I nervous. Fortunately I had three 25+ year to coach me. Matt KE6LPO of the Redwood Empire DXers was driving down the street outside (I think this might have been a set up!) and was the first to respond to my CQ. I understand there was quite a pile up a minute or two later as more than 25 hams tried to say hello!
Thanks everyone. It’s great to be a ham!

It’s kind of cool to have video of my first ham contact!

Radio Day

I am so grateful to Ray Novak of Icom for bringing us three incredible radios and configuring them for my first QSO.
And to Mike Dorrough, David Jennings, and Bill Smith for the amazing restored 1961 Collins transmitter and mixer. Bill spent all day moving it in and setting it up. Some day I hope to get on the air with it on 75 meters.

Pictures of the day are posted on Flickr. I’ll write more about the day later. I’m bushed!!

Radio corner at the TWiT Brick House

You can also watch on this week’s Hamnation episode #13 later today, I give a tour of the entire setup and make my first ham contact.

Party At The Ham Shack

46CQ CQ CQ Calling all hams! We’re having an open house at our new TWiT Brick House Studios August 20 and 21 and you’re invited.
A special event station will be active on 40 and 20 meters afternoon and evenings commemorating the official opening of the new TWIT studios of Leo Laporte, W6TWT. Tours of the new studios and classic Collins AM broadcast station will be available 10AM – 10 PM Saturday and 10AM to 5p Sunday to all Amateur Radio operators. The TWIT Brick House studios are located at 140 Keller St. in Petaluma, CA.

The call sign to be used will be W6KB, the Redwood Empire DX Association whose members have been instrumental in the planning and installation of the antenna system during the final construction of the new broadcast studios, home of the HAMNation netcast which is produced each Tuesday night hosted by Bob Heil K9EID, Gordon West WB6NOA, and George Thomas W5JDX.

The radios will include the IC-9100, IC-7800, and IC-7200, all courtesy Icom America and mics from Heil Sound. We’ll broadcast a preview of the new gear tomorrow night at 6p Pacific/9p Eastern on HAM Nation.

QSL direct to W6TWT, P.O. Box 1018 in Petaluma, CA 94953 or

Temporary Antennas Are Up

Last Saturday members of the Redwood Empire DX club under the direction of ARRL Section Chief, Bill Hillebrand KH6GJV, installed temporary antennas on the roof of the TWiT Brick House Studios to prepare for our ham weekend, 19-21 August 2011.

On Friday, the antenna team from the Redwood Empire DX Association (REDXA) got together at one of the team member’s home to gather all parts, pre-assemble and dry-fit all parts. They spent the better part of the day getting everything ready. The VHF/UHF antenna provided by Comet arrived on time.

This morning, the team gathered at the TWIT studios at 8:00 AM and went right to work. Expecting the studio to go live at 11:00 AM, the team worked quickly, but carefully, to get the job done in time. The antenna feed lines were pushed down the conduit into the studio. Then the HF antenna was assembled by part of the team while the others put together the temporary tripod support structure non-invasively on the roof. The HF antenna was mounted on the tripod and final tuning adjustments were made. The VHF/UHF vertical was assembled and C-clamped to a structural element. The whole job was done by 10:30 AM.

The feed line ends are appropriately marked and are resting on the table for the station ready to be used.

Stand by for details on this weekend’s Special Event!


Starting today and every Tuesday from here on out, I’ll be joining Gordon West WB6NOA and Bob Heil K9EID on HAM Nation, TWiT’s show for amateur radio enthusiasts. We broadcast live at 6p Pacific/9p Eastern/0100 Tuesdays UTC on but you can always download audio and video of the show any time after the show from the TWiT web site, iTunes, and wherever better podcasts are sold available.



Leo w6twtMy vanity call sign, W6TWT, became official today! Thanks to Bob Heil K9EID, Gordo West WB6NOA, and Tracy at for their help in securing an amazing call sign. (FCC ULS Listing)
I’ve registered,, and If you enter any of those URLs you’ll arrive here – my ham related postings on Leoville. That seems easier than setting up an entirely new page, at least for now. And you can email me regarding ham stuff at

I’ve also created a Twitter account for my call sign: @W6TWT. Not sure how I’ll use it, but better me than someone else.


It’s official. The FCC has assigned me my new call sign: KJ6QGP. I immediately applied for a vanity call sign.

My First Radio(s)

Icom IC 92ADMy new HT radios have arrived from HRO: The Kenwood TH-D72A and Icom IC-92AD. I’ve turned them on and off a bunch of times but am too afraid to do anything else.
Kenwood TH-D72AThese handy-talkies are dual-band: VHF/UHF, the frequencies most suitable for Technicians. And since there are lots of FM repeaters in the mountains near Petaluma, there’s lots I can do with them. Not that I have yet.

I bought the Icom because it does D-Star, a packet-based digital voice and data protocol that’s new and gaining popularity. The Kenwood was Gordon West WB6NOA’s recommendation because it supports APRS, IRLP, Echo-Link and other popular digital technologies.

One of these days I’ll actually give them a try.