My First Solo – Guess the Song

Born in New Jersey then moved to New York in my teenage years. I could have been a professional saxophone player having played since childhood but technology won out in the end.

I credit the corruption of a potential music career to a much older cousin of mine, David Jablonski. David was an eclectic individual with a diversity of interests. One summer when I was about eight he gave me shortwave radio for my birthday and setup a long thin wire antenna in the yard. I was immediately hooked into Shortwave Listening (SWL.) When I heard a far away radio station I would send them a letter with time and frequency I heard them on hoping they would send a QSL card in return to add to my collection. 

The kit as used for AFSK circa 1983

When I moved to New York, I met an Amateur Radio club and got my FCC Amateur Radio license. Within four years I got my Extra class license (NE2Z) which included me having to demonstrate ability to copy Morse Code (CW) at twenty words per minute. (Yes, I still do CW at speed.) With the first computer I owned and built (Sinclair ZX81), I would do AFSK communications over 2 Meters using the load/save cassette ports with another Amateur Radio owning similar kit. This was a precursor to the standardization of AX.25 v2.0 for Packet Radio. My first “hack” was sending his computer commands to fire up the thermal printer scaring the hell out of him. By this time, saxophone was not going to be a career path.

Should I have brought my saxophone? EMI nearby.

Once I got my AAS in EET from SUNY Orange, a good friend of mine, John Katonah N2ETY, helped me get into the business of component-level computer repair — Apple, Commodore, IBM, etc. Since working on cars helped put me through college and I thought there would be a convergence with computers so I also ended up getting a GM certification on the Computer Command Control Systems. Computer repair was interesting times until the average pin count on chips got too dense to work with and the world went to board-level repair (swaps.) Outside of work, my friends and I ran a few BBS with “The Particle Board II and III” the most notable.

I went from being certified hardware technician on multiple compute platforms to getting into network starting with Novell certification, Token Ring, and TCP/IP networks and then when I got married started work with enterprise systems and an emerging area called security. .My LinkedIn profile can fill you on on the rest of my professional career.

Usng the local park Flagpole as a 40M vertical

My computer interests and career put Amateur Radio on the backburner for just over a decade. While I missed out on the “heyday” of Packet Radio, a friend of mine, John Champa K8OCL, asked me in the early naught years to join a ARRL Technology Task Force on High-Speed Multimedia radio investigating the next generation in digital communications within Amateur Radio. Happy to see over the years since that task force disbanded developments in mesh networking born from it.

The New Yorker Hotel when I stayed in Tesla’s Room for HOPE XII (top right window)

Hacking for good has been part of my core whether it manifest as hardware, software, or social. Over the past decade I have supported the biennial Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference whether it be running an special event station or conducting a workshop.

Today you can find me spending my leisure time with microcontrollers and 3D printers engaging hacker and makerspaces working on open source projects the reflect the convergence of my RF, hacker, and maker interests

Peace, Health, and Happiness to you and yours !

— Joe. NE2Z