My Photo at Age 11

Call Sign: W6LAN

License Class: Extra (Granted Dec. 14, 2017)

Rigs: ICOM 7300, ICOM 2730 


  1. 160-Meter Homebrew 520' loop up about 50' with 40' of 450-ohm ladder line connected to an ICOM AH-4 Remote Tuner (new, as of 02/20/18),
  2. Buckmaster 80-6 OCF Inverted dipole,
  3. Diamond X510 HDM 2 M/70 cm Dual-band Vertical

Clubs/Memberships: El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club, ARRL

Preferred Bands and Modes: SSB on 160, 80, 40, 20, FM on 2 meters.

When I was just 11 years old, and living in Placerville with my family, I earned a Novice-class license (WV6ZHL). I had the honor at that time of being the second-youngest ham radio operator in the United States (see newspaper article, Aug 02, 1962, Mountain Democrat and Placerville Times).

Feb 26, 2018 UPDATE: The Mountain Democrat sent a reporter out last week to interview me about regaining my license after all 55 years. They ran a story this last Monday: In the story, it was great the reporter highlighted our local El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club ( Maybe that might generate more interest in Ham Radio around our area. 

HT-40My first radio was a Hallicrafters SX 71 and an HT 40 Transmitter. that my parents scraped together enough money to buy me (Thanks, forever, Mom and Dad). I had strung a dipole along the edge of my parent's house, and just twisted the connections onto the end of a piece of 50 ohm coax - no matching, no baluns, no nothing. I had also put up a random long wire. Again, no matching (didn't know what that was). Fortunately, my transmitter was vacuum-tube based and low enough wattage that I didn't burn anything up!SX 71

Novice-class was originally the first of four licenses available back in 1962. A few months later, I earned a Technician-class license (WA6ZHL). I always wanted to earn a higher license class. But before I could master the 13 to 20 wpm code speed and electronics skills required, I entered into a different group of classes at my local High School and became more interested in cars and girls than radios. I quickly lost interest in Ham Radio altogether and let my license lapse.

Now 55 years later, after a career spent in high tech and satellite communications, I found myself wanting to renew my Ham Radio hobby and earn my license all over again. Only this time around, I'd promised myself I'd go straight to the top and pass all three exams at once.

One of my first steps to get back into Ham Radio was to join our local El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club ( where I could meet other local Hams, and start spinning up on current radio technology. This was one of the most important moves I made. There, I met a lot of great people who generously offered advice and assistance to a 'wannabe' Ham. I think it's absolutely vital for anyone thinking about becoming a Ham to connect with their local Amateur Radio Clubs first. My advice is to attend some club meetings in your area, and see if it works for you before you make an investment in hardware. Here, you'll find a welcoming group of fellow enthusiasts who are more than willing to share what they know, and answer questions you hadn't yet thought to ask.

My CertificateEven though I could have grandfathered in on my former Technician's license and skipped the Technician and General tests, I wanted to make sure I still had a grasp on the fundamentals. After two months of online study at and, I felt I was ready to pass the exams. A twice-yearly exam session, sponsored by the Rubicon Trail Foundation, was held on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, in El Dorado Hills. I passed all three Exams, and earned my Extra-class ticket in one sitting.

<<< My sincere appreciation for all the VEs who donated their time, and then stuck around while I pondered my answers. Special appreciation for VEs Stephen Porten/KN6OX, Gordon Fuller/WB6OVH, Merv De Haas/WA6LYE, and Barbara Olson-Arenz/N6BOA.

Two weeks later, I received my new call sign, AJ6AR (it just so happens my first two initials are "AR." How's that for a Vanity Call Sign right out of the gate?).

So much has changed in radio during the 55 years since I first earned my license, I feel a bit like a modern-day 'Rip Van Winkle' who woke up in another century. Now, we have communications satellites, computers, the Internet, smart phones, Google, and WiFi everything. Back then, all my gear used vacuum tubes. Now, radios are all like miniature computers. 

When I announced I was going for my license, friends and family asked, "Why Ham Radio when you have Email, SKYPE, Twitter, Facebook, and instant, world-wide Internet communications?" For me, apart from the sheer fun of building my own radio station from scratch and talking with fellow Hams all over the world, I'm really interested in learning about how to participate in providing local communications services through emergency-response groups like ARES, CERT and RACES.

For me, the recent weather and fire disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California once again proved the value of Ham Radio operators who provided life-saving, local emergency radio communications when power, cell phone towers, and Internet connections were cut.  Now that I've regained my license, my dream is to outfit a complete mobile communications rig so I might be able to help some day when Ham Radio operators are called again to assist in another emergency.

In the meantime, I've been busy buying equipment for my new Shack, and stringing up antennas at my property where I and Debra Webster, my wife, live - just two miles from where I had first earned my license in 1962.


I've started with a 100 Watt ICOM 7300 HF, and a 50-watt ICOM 2730 Mobile 144/440 Dual-bander. For antennas, I've got a Buckmaster DX-OCF-HP 7 Band Inverted dipole and a Diamond X510 HDM VHF Dual-band Vertical, both up about 35 feet. >>>>

As of February 17th, 2018, I've also started putting up a 530' multi-band long loop antenna on the property, cut for a full wavelength on 160 Meters, and connected with a section of 450-ohn ladder line to an ICOM AH-4 Remote Antenna Tuner, with the tuner then connected to my rig with RG 8X coax.

To get the loop support ropes up into the trees, I built a compressed-air launcher using about $30 in parts from Home Depot, fitted with a tire filler valve from a local auto parts store. Worked pretty good once I got it pumped up to about 90 lbs of pressure. I could shoot a fishing line "puck" about 100 feet up over the oak trees here.

I had also bought a Powerwerx SPS-30DM power supply but it was bad out of the box and I replaced it with an Astron RS-35M. That took me three weeks to figure out since I could receive but not transmit. At first, I thought there was something wrong with my antenna. I'd always thought power supplies either worked or they didn't - nothing in between. It wasn't until I hooked up a car battery that everything started working and I could finally transmit. Apparently, the Powerwerx was generating just enough power to run receiver functions but not the transmitter.

My Practice Key

For my daytime job, I'm the owner and Chief Technical Consultant for El Dorado Networks (, a satellite TV and Internet service and installation company in Diamond Springs California. I also offer remote VSAT consulting, installation and repair services.

<<< Left, is a photo of the key that sits on my desk at the office as a reminder of my hobby.

My wife says now she just needs to figure out how get me back into the office every day, since I'd really rather be home gabbing on my radio.

You can find me mainly on 80, 40 and 20 Meter SSB most mornings and evenings (Pacific). Also plugging into the local, weekly two-meter Nets whenever possible.

More info about me here:

Feel Free to send me an Email:


VSAT Satellite Internet Systems Installation and Consulting Services

Professional VSAT Satellite Internet system installation and consulting services are provided by Alan Thompson, owner, Principal Consultant and Chief Technician for El Dorado Networks. Alan has well over 30 years of continuous professional satellite communications experience. He has personally supervised the installation of over 300 satellite Internet voice, data and Internet communications systems during that time and is familiar with all aspects of satellite TV and Internet communications systems installation, troubleshooting and repair. Serving El Dorado County, Northern and Southern California, Nevada, Mexico, and Central America. For a FREE consultation and analysis of your needs, call 530 903 4257 or Contact Me Today.

W6LAN | VSAT Satellite Internet Systems | HughesNet Satellite Internet Systems |
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Alan Thompson, W6LAN AJ6AR Ham Radio iDirect VSAT satellite internet systems technician, consultant and installer, HughesNet, Infinity 3000 Series, Evolution, Shaw Direct, Video Teleconferencing, remote uplink, downlink Receive-only, TVRO, Mining and Minerals Exploration, Oil and Gas Exploration, Drilling Platforms, Emergency Response, Disaster Recovery, Forestry, Fire-fighting Camps, Dam, Road Construction, motosat mobile satellite, Placerville, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County, Western United States (Northern and Southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington), Northern and Central Mexico, Baja California Sur (Monterrey, San Luis Potosi, Santa Rosalia, Guerrero Negro, Huatulco, Oaxaca, Cancun, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Merida, Chihuahua, Tijuana, Tecate, Sonora, Rosarito Beach, Tecate, Vizcaino, Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas,, Somerset), Central America (Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica) the Bajamas, Haiti, Guatamala, Ecuador, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Managua, Nicaragua, Santo Domingo, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Yucatan, Mexico City, Zacatecas, Matamoros, Xalapa, Aguascalientes, Saltillo, Guadalajara, Colima, Acapulco, Los Mochis, Mazatlan, Tepic, Hermosillo, Sonora Cuidad Obregon, Durango, Tampico, Veracruz, Campeche, Chetumal, Playa Del Carmen, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area.