finest aspect of our hobby are the people who have the distinction of
calling themselves Hams. Of the Hams I have met, the one
that has had the greatest impact in my enjoyment of our hobby
is W6VLM, Paul Sheffield. I met Paul at my technician
class before I got my ticket. He was studying for his
upgrade to Extra class. I introduced myself to him and
immediately felt like I had known him for years. Over
the next few weeks, he helped me learn about various aspects
of our hobby including SSTV, PSK, building wire antennas and
of course the dreaded code--which had kept me out of the hobby
for years because I just couldn't seem to learn it well enough
to pass a test. Paul took the time to help me learn the
code by sending and receiving code on 2 meters with me. Without
his help, I'd probably still be a technician.
Among Paul's many radio
interests, was our QRP group at our club. These pictures show
Paul in his field setup with his equipment. The pictures
were taken during the winter on top of La Cumbre Peak during
a club QRP outing. He
does look like Santa, doesn't he? We must have thin skin
here in Santa Barbara because the temperature was maybe 50 degrees...burrrrrrrrrr.
He always ribbed me because I was more interested in high
power operation than low power. But his shack sported
two amps. He knew how to enjoy both QRP and QRO. His
setup here shows his operating table, his car and his G5RV (which
is a little hard to see).
One of Paul's many interests
was high power model rocketry. Not content to just
blast them off, he put an ATV transmitter in the nose cone of
his largest rocket. In the desert of Southern California,
near Edwards AFB, is the Lucern Valley Lakebed. It was
there that we took his rocket and his ATV equipment and spent
several weekends shooting it off and capturing the live video
using a highly directional antenna. The pictures below
show Paul (and me), his rocket and the receiving antenna we had to
point in order to capture the live video feed. It was
a great kick and loads of fun. Paul gave a presentation
at our club about high power rocketry and showed the video (which
included sound) of the launch. In one of his first attempts
with the rocket, the parachute he used was too "efficient".
The five mile trek across the desert and back was his
reward for such fine engineering. WB9KMO (Rod) and Paul
looked like they'd just crossed the Sahara when they finally
got back to our little tent on the lakebed. Laughs all
around, what great comedy
Paul was also the President
of our local radio club, SBARC, during 2002. Honestly, I think he
never really liked the position. I think it was something
he felt he had to do because the choices in the alternative
were mediocre at best. I think he felt that amateur radio,
as a hobby, should be individually motivated. But he understood
that SBARC had a 75 year tradition of pursuing and supporting
our hobby and he was proud to be part of that lineage. He
was ALWAYS supportive of anything the club could do to promote
the good and honorable traditions of amateur radio: Education,
Public Service and Operations. That being said,
he was also particularly disgusted at the politics that goes
on in any organization. "What does that have to do
with amateur radio" I often heard him mutter under his
breadth. "If people spent more time focusing on important
things, they'd have less time to waste on bullshit."
How true were
his words as I was to find out only a few years
later how progress can be stiffled by those who
lose sight of what is important, and what is not.
I am enriched by my friendship
with Paul. I will always remember him as a kind, considerate
and decent human being. I will miss him. In the
early morning hours, when the QRM is low, I will always be able
to hear his voice in the static, encouraging me to learn and
become a better operator and a better person.
Thank you Paul, W6VLM, SK.
Here's another picture of Paul.. The long shot with Paul, auto and doublet was on the
west shoulder of La Cumbre Peak, in Feb. 2003 The others
were at Figueroa Mtn Campground in about Nov. 2002. Both
were during unofficial QRP parties.
LB Cebik, whom Paul corresponded with for
the antenna story Paul wrote in the May issue of KeyKlix sent
the following email:
I am very saddened to learn of Paul's sudden
death, but perhaps he would have wanted to pass on among all
of his friends in Amateur Radio. However, I am certain
that the event must have come as a shock to all of the members.
Indeed, I would be very pleased to receive
a copy of the club newsletter with Paul's article in it. It
would be an honored memento of a Ham who believed as I believe:
to pass on to others every good thing to be learned about
Please convey my sincerest condolences to
Paul's family. Amateur Radio has just become poorer by
one good man.
LB Cebik, W4RNL, email@example.com