Hello from the city and county of Victoria, Texas. Victoria is also known as “The Crossroads of South Texas” because of its location on several major highways that intersect or pass through Victoria. The city of Victoria is the county seat of Victoria county in Texas and is located approximately equidistant from these major Texas cities: Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi.
My name is Terry L Turner and my amateur radio call sign is N5HV. As a resident of Victoria for approximately 32 years, I and my wife, Dorothy, of 36 years have raised two sons in Victoria. Both attended Gifted and Talented schools and both graduated from Victoria Memorial High School and went on to graduate from Texas State Technical College in Waco majoring in a computer-related field.
After moving to Victoria from my home town of Beeville, Texas located about 60 miles south of Victoria in January of 1985, I was diagnosed with a mental illness known as Bipolar Disorder. I was working as a radio and television technician for a local company at the time and eventually lost that job as a result. After that, I tried to go into business for myself as a radio and television technician but failed at that also. I then worked for several other companies in Victoria and Corpus Christi which also did not last. Then in 1989, I went to work for the local Coca Cola Bottling Company which was located in Victoria at the time as a service technician and I worked there for about a year and a half before I lost that job as well, also from complications with my mental illness.
At that time, I decided to become a stay-at-home dad full time and support my family as a domestic partner staying at home to support our two children in school and my wife, Dorothy, who would be our sole income in her job at a local plastic bag manufacturing plant. This proved to be a challenge, but with time and the patience and acceptance of my family, I became accustomed to it and even accomplished as well. Our children have since grown, married and left home and I have retired. Dorothy still works at her job as quality assurance technician for Berry Plastics and even though we live in an apartment, the owners and managers allow me to operate with an antenna just outside our window on a home-made stand. We live on the ground floor and enjoy checking into the various nets that are held locally and in the state for such organizations as the Daytime Texas Traffic Net, the 7290 Traffic Net, the State ARES net hosted by the South Texas Section of ARES and the ARRL, and the Victoria Amateur Radio Club’s Monday night VHF net on the W5DSC repeater at 8 pm. Info about the latter net is available on the club website. I also check into both the HF and VHF portions of the Sunday and Wednesday night simplex nets, respectively. The HF STEN net is at 7:30 am Sundays and the VHF Simplex portion is at 7 pm Wednesdays on 146.50 MHz. Info on the DTTN and 7290 traffic nets are available on their respective websites by Googling “DTTN” or “7290”. The state ARES net is held on Monday nights from 7:30 until all districts have been called, and the Nighttime Texas Traffic Net is held at 6:30 until 7:30 just prior to the South Texas ARES statewide net on 3.873 MHz.
As a bit of history, I became an amateur radio operator as a Novice in 1986 with the call, “KB5BLL” or “Bow-legged-lizard” as a funny phonetics for the suffix of my call. My wife, Dorothy, also got her license at that time as KB5BUR, or “big ugly rabbit” as the phonetics for her suffix. It wasn’t long until we both studied for and passed our Technician License Exam and were issued the new calls of N5KIY for me and N5KLP for Dorothy which she still has today. We were active on 10 meter phone band in 1987 when the sunspot cycle was such that propagation on the band was usually good in the morning and at night. This was great fun for both of us as individual hams and as a couple. We still have QSL cards from all over the US and the world. Our first HF rig was a Drake TR-3 if I remember and we had a heathkit 2m that worked fine at 10 watts on a Ringo Ranger antenna for 2 meters. Also, I was net control for the STEN net on the W5DSC repeater and occasionally for the Victoria Amateur Radio Club. In those days, I couldn’t check in to any HF STEN net because of limited privileges due to class of license I held. The same was true of any HF nets held anywhere but on 10 meters.
Then we had to move into an apartment for financial reasons and we had to sell most if not all of our ham gear as we were not allowed to set it up at our new apartment. And then for a number of years, neither my wife nor I were active hams until in 2006, I had a renewed interest in ham radio and studied for and passed my General Class license exam. I received the call K5TLT as a vanity call which just happened to be available and replaced the call I had prior to that of N5KIY. I kept this call until November of 2015 I passed my Extra Class license exam and was issued the call of AG5BQ which I remembered by the acronym: “Ask God 5 Big Questions”. When that call became familiar to me and my fellow hams, I applied for and received the coveted one by two vanity call of N5HV. And that is my present call and my license does not expire until 2026. I now am also a volunteer examiner for the ARRL helping test potential licensees and those who wish to upgrade a license already held.
Ham radio has turned out to be a family affair for my family as not only is my wife and oldest son hams, but my youngest son is also studying for his Tech license.
The evolution of ham radio over the years since 1986 when Dorothy and I received our Novice licenses has been interesting. When we were first licensed, an applicant for a Novice license was required to be proficient at copying 5 words per minute of Morse code. A Technician license did not have to take a code test since he had taken one as a Novice and a General Class license required the applicant to be proficient at copying 13 words per minute. The next class of licenses were the Advanced which required the General licensee to take additional theory, but no further code testing until they went for an Extra Class license which required the applicant be proficient at copying 21 words per minute of code. I believe there were more questions on theory too. Then a few years later, the code requirement for all licenses was dropped to 5 words per minute. That was to be a step in eliminating the code requirement for all classes of licenses. A technician license with code was called a Tech Plus to acknowledge and differentiate him/her from a technician with no code proficiency yet when going for a General license. Also at that time the Advanced license was merged with the Extra Class license and the Novice license was dropped altogether.
I went through another slump in interest in ham radio after having received my General license as K5TLT, but rekindled that interest in 2014 when we rejoined the Victoria Amateur Radio Club. I attended a hurricane conference in Victoria and met a local Red Cross representative who recruited me as a communications volunteer. I took as many online courses in all areas of volunteering as I could and was joined by Noel Villarreal as another volunteer for emergency communications. Later, my wife, Dorothy also volunteered to help with the Red Cross. Then in September of 2014 after having joined ARES and RACES through Noel Villarreal, I accepted the position of Emergency Coordinator for ARES in Victoria County. After a short time, I recruited Jim Shields, AE7JS, and Noel, KD5PMU, as my assistant EC’s. About the same time, I was appointed the position of Alternate County Liaison for RACES. ARES and RACES are groups of amateur radio operators who volunteer their time and sometimes equipment for assignments in emergency communications when other forms of communications are down or unavailable due to extreme weather or other disaster in our area. ARES, which stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Service, is a division of the American Radio Relay League. RACES is a State of Texas organization which is a part of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Department of Public Safety and requires a background check and certification to be a member along with certain training requirements offered by FEMA, TDEM, and the DPS. Both are outstanding organizations and I would encourage anyone interested in emergency communications to consider becoming a member of either or both. A ham who is interested should contact either me, Terry Turner, N5HV, or Noel Villarreal, KD5PMU, for entry level to ARES and/or RACES and Jim Shields, AE7JS, for ARES only. My phone number is 361-648-0363 and my email is N5HV@N5HV.com or N5HV@arrl.net. Noel Villarreal, KD5PMU, can be reached at phone number 361-655-7980 and/or email to email@example.com. Jim Shields, AE7JS, can be reached at 361-484-4108 and/or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For ARES you may also visit the website at www.arrlstx.org for more information. You do not have to join ARES to participate in ARES functions, drills, or nets, but are encouraged to join along with your membership in the ARRL if desired. To serve as an EC or hold other office in ARES, you do have to join ARES and the ARRL.
As far as RACES goes, either Noel Villarreal, KD5PMU, who is the District Radio Officer for District 17 which includes Victoria County or myself, Terry Turner, N5HV, can help you get started with the application process. There is some mandatory training involved/required in both ARES and RACES. I was recently promoted to the position of County Liaison Officer after a year or more of holding the Alternate County Liaison office and asked to help with new members. Most of the training is available online through the Preparing Texas and FEMA websites, however a couple of classes for RACES require classroom time and are given by the DPS.
Other areas of involvement which require little or no formal training are several local and area/community based opportunities such as the Texas Water Safari, the Goliad Tour de Goliad Bike Ride, and the Family Outdoor Expo held in January or February of each year. The Texas Water Safari is spread out from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas with hams assisting with the communications at a number of checkpoints along the route on the Guadalupe River. It is held in June of each year.
The Goliad “Tour de Goliad” Bike Ride is held in October of each year and the Victoria Amateur Radio Club assists with communications between checkpoints along a route of varying distances around the city and in the county of Goliad. Also, the club may help out with the annual JOTA or “Jamboree On The Air” held by the Boy Scouts of America in various locations about the area, state, and nation. To help with any of these activities, an amateur radio operator would need to get in touch with the Victoria Amateur Radio Club (VARC) to find out who to contact specifically and the details of each event. I can help with some of that or direct you to someone who can as I am currently the Secretary for VARC.
Finally, as far as my involvement with ham radio, emergency communications, and my having a mental illness, the friendships formed, the teamwork and camaraderie are all positive influences for even a healthy operator. The challenges are a bit more for me than perhaps for the average operator, but the structure and investment of time and energy are all good and contribute to a healthy atmosphere to learn, grow, and recover both as an operator and a person with a mental illness.