My name is Ken Arck and I have been a ham since 1967 when I first licensed as WN3JWL and WA3JWL (back then you could hold both a Novice and Technician license) while I lived in the Philadelphia area.
My first rigs were:
I was thrilled on the day I was able to buy a Knightkit T-60 (shown here with its companion R-55 which I never did own).
And while I did spend several years honing my HF CW skills, I was always more interested in VHF and UHF operation and spent many years chatting away with the locals with my trusty ol' Heathkit 2 meter Lunchbox. I used it for several years by itself and finally bought an Ameco 2 meter converter to use with the SX-42. I also built an 829B amplifier I saw in the ARRL VHF Manual. Man, a solid 25 watts out!
I managed to obtain my General class license but lost interest in ham radio during my high school years and sold everything off (probably for pennies on the dollar!) and devoted my time to girls, my rock band (another story) and other pursuits I'd rather not get into. In the early 70's and right out of high school, my family moved to Southern California and I continued my non-ham pursuits for several years.
But in the late 70's, my interest in ham radio returned and I bought a Drake TR-22C to get involved with the newly burgeoning 2 meter FM and repeater operation. My new call was WA6EMV and I remained active on all bands but my main interests remain FM repeaters and VHF/UHF weak signal work.
I was married in 1981 and lived on a houseboat in Los Angeles Harbor (yup, very active on all bands from there too!). I started Arcom Communications shortly after getting married. My company dealt in 2-way radio products and specialized in public safety radio (police & fire) and we did very well in the South Bay (Torrance, the beach cities, Inglewood, Long Beach, etc). During this time, I made some very important contacts which would benefit me in the next phase of my life.
In the late 80's, cellular technology was just coming to The Hawaiian Islands and I wanted to get in "on the ground floor". So we pulled up stakes and left for Maui in September 1989, where I started up Valley Isle Communications. We did not only cellular but 2-way radios as well, just as I had done on the Mainland. Our customers were everyone from local businesses to Maui County to even the State of Hawaii. We were there when Hurricane Iniki hit the Islands in 1992 and, fortuneately, I had promoted and helped set up a statewide PacketCluster network which proved to be the only reliable source of communications with the hardest hit island of Kauai (in fact, the Director of Civil Defense of Kauai was a ham and had his own Packetcluster node set up). Of course I had changed my call to AH6LE when I moved to Maui and have had that call ever since.
While living on Maui, I soon realized that there wasn't all that much VHF/UHF weak signal stations, except for what seemed a daily tirade of JA, VK and ZL stations. I worked a lot of HF too because of the lack of VHF stations and boy, did I find out how popular being an AH6 was!
I don't exactly remember why, although I vaugely remember reading a QST article about moonbounce, gave it a try and was immediately hooked. Click here to visit my EME page.
As happens so often, things began to change on Maui as several big box stores opened. And while Valley Isle Communications did more than just cellular sales and service, it was a very big part of our business and unfortunately, the big box stores were able to majorly undercut we small guys and we were no longer able to keep our doors open. So in late 1996, we closed our doors for good.
Internet service had arrived on Maui in 1995 and I had become more and more involved with it (who hasn't?). In 1996, I started doing some side work for an Internet startup based in Portland Oregon who created an online graphic chat program called The Palace. In 1997, they offered me a permanent position but I'd have to move to the Portland area. Man, talk about a tough decision - stay on Maui or move to Oregon! Well.....my job prospects on Maui weren't so good and the offer from The Palace folks was VERY good (don't forget, this was the age of the Internet Boom) and they would pay for moving us. I would be one of 2 Support Technicians and have my hands in everything from helping with the code to some IT work. Well, my wife was less than thrilled but one's gotta do what one's gotta do so we moved to the Portland area in early 1997 and have been here ever since.
Unfortunately only a year later, The Palace was bought out by Electric Communities in Cupertino, California. Well, I was not about to move back to California (I was one of 8 people the new owners asked to stay on) and was told "No problem! This is the Internet Age and you can telecomute!". For the next 2 years, I worked from home and flew down to Cupertino for 3 days every other week. Talk about frequent flier miles! But on election day, 2000, I receive a phone call that I was being laid off. 3 months later, Electric Communities filed bankruptcy, yet another victim when the Internet Bubble burst.
I did some contract IT work for a few months and, during that time, wanted to get back into building and running my own repeaters, as I had done in Southern California and on Maui. Because of this, I started looking at equipment and wasn't thrilled with the offerings available for state-of-the-art repeater controllers. So I decided to design and build my own, which I did and some locals asked me about them. Hmmmm, there was interest in them and before I knew it, I was selling more and more so I reformed Arcom in 2001 and we've been manufacturing controllers and selling repeaters, duplexers, accessories and all sorts of goodies ever since!
I am still active on VHF/UHF mostly with some occasional HF work. Still doing EME as well!