Amateur Radio Station WD5B


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John Bess - WA5VVT

John Bess - WA5VVT

I was headed up to Fayetteville, Arkansas in my Olds Cutlass supreme to the University of Arkansas. My first year. AWAY FROM HOME! I had a GE "pre-prog" VHF radio in the trunk. It did better as a counterweight than a radio. Had the sensitivity of nothing.

But, just north of Little Rock in a car (going slightly faster than meI saw WA5VVT and gave him a call on .94 simplex. I would lose him if he got a few miles ahead of me. I only had 34/94 and 94 simplex. From that day on we became great friends.

John became my away from home 'dad'. I was constantly over at his house to sip a bear and talk ham radio way into the night. Uh, I still contend for the first couple of years that I was legal age to drink no matter what my drivers license said.

We worked with the 34/94 repeater which was located in a college dorm. The big units then were Motorola 80D VHF FM units that came out of trains. They were retuned to amateur bands and was one of the first ways we could get on 2 meters with a decent radio. John did a lot of modifications. He had one in his car with a dynamotor for the high voltage. He couldn't transmit when stopped or his car might die.

When I think of John I think of the blue panel 80D with four channels. He mistakenly tied all four together and would be on four different repeaters when he transmitted. Army MARS. We became heavily involved in Arkansas Army MARS.

But, of all was the Collins equipment. John is an expert on Collins radios. He taught me a lot on how to repair and maintain them and to this day I still have Collins radios that you see in my shack photo. John taugh me a lot about electronics which I still appreciate to this day.

John still lives in northwest Arkansas with his wife, Dottie. We correspond occasionally.