J361- Clueless interview
J361- Clueless interview
From the outside, his house looks like any other. The house is painted a tan color and roses line the walkway. A blue car is parked in the driveway. The smell of old spices is immediately present from the entryway.
Look left and the television, mounted on a wooden table resting on freshly cleaned carpet, plays an old television show.
Continue through the kitchen down four stairs to the basement and into a small room named “the shack.” It is packed to the brim with electronics. Red, yellow, and black snake-like wires, wrapped in circles, hang from the wall. Cardboard boxes filled with flashlights, more cords, and electronic equipment balance precariously three high on top of each other. Old radio transmitters line the walls leaving not an inch of paint from the walls to be seen. His house is passport back in time.
Ryan Dillonsworth is ham radio operator.
“Ham Radios were the cell phones before cell phones existed,” Dillonsworth says.
Ham radios are radios that operate off of short waves that bounce off of the ionosphere, the upper most part of the atmosphere that influences the behavior of radio waves, to a portable or stationary antenna and then back to the transmitter’s antenna, giving great distance and frequency ability to the radios.
Dillonsworth started operating ham radios as a second career at age 40. He worked as the middleman at the railway station in Eugene helping communication between the train driver and the train station. Now he works from home and goes on special calls into the field for cellular failure or airway congestion.
To operate a ham radio, Dillonsworth starts by turning on the power button on a rectangular metal box, the ham-power station. It comes to life with color and sound. Green lights flash as he turns a knob and the volume increases. A small signal strength meter on the left hand side moves between one and nine meters, nine being the best. Static fills the air and, as Dillonsworth looks to the computer adjacent to his ham radio the moments before horizontal line on the screen spikes as a voice comes through the speakers.
“Oh it looks like someone is on line right now,” Dillonsworth says. “He’s not coming in too clearly. Let me see if I can fix that.”
He fiddles with the dials on the transceiver part of the large box set up. He turns the larger one of the two for the frequency and the smaller one for the volume. Finally the static dissipates some and a second voice reporting on the weather in Canada fills the room. As Dillonsworth presses the side button on his transmitter and the static abruptly ends and Dillon’s voice comes through nice and clear.
“This is N7QJM Ryan Dillonsworth,” he says. “Hello M4ACF. You are 10/9 in Eugene, OR. My location is Eugene, OR. My handle is Ryan Dillonsworth. Back to you,” Dillonsworth says.
Dillonsworth removes his hand from the transmitter and the static returns with the voice of M4ACF.
“This is M4ACF, Remy Freeland,” the other voice says over the radio. “I am in Ottowa, Canada. I repeat Ottowa, Canada. It is 14 degrees Celsius out here, mostly cloudy. You can expect rain later on today, but travel conditions are not in danger.”
From this point, just from the twirling of a few buttons and understanding of radio frequencies and Dillonsworth is connected and in deep conversation with someone in Canada.