My interest in the wonders of electricity date back to the early 1960s and visits to the Thomas Edison Laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey, where my father worked as an electro-chemist. In third grade, I created a semi-automated model railroad, using relays, diodes and motors. After a detour into coin and stamp collecting (an obsession with lists that later asserted itself with bird-watching and DXing), I became intrigued with my father’s shortwave radio (Hallicrafters SW-500), listening to Voice of America, Radio Moscow, etc. After visiting a friend with a CB radio and asking my father about getting one, he redirected me to finding a local ham who gave me an ancient key, which I hooked up to a buzzer. Then, at the age of 12, I took a train to New York City to the FCC and got my Novice call, WN2BHJ. My rig was the SW-500, a crystal-controlled Amoco AC-1 15-watt CW transmitter, and some wire antennas. I remember my first “DX” was a QSO with someone in Texas. I was thrilled. Over the next couple of years, I got my Advanced Class call, WA2BHJ, built a Heathkit SB-301, SB-401 and SB-200, and put up a 2-element tri-bander on our roof. I obtained a Vibroplex bug, and then saw an article in QST about a solid state keyer kit, which I ordered and built, jerry-rigging my bug to be a paddle. I was active in DXing (DXCC, etc), some contesting (NJ QSO party), and, especially, third party traffic handling with CW, which led to ARRL Brass Pounders League and Code Proficiency awards (25 wpm).
Then, in 1971 my attention turned to girls and playing music (rock, bluegrass, folk, classical, jazz, jug band, etc.). While still in high school, I began touring with the Bottle Hill bluegrass band, and continued on the road for a year afterwards. In 1975, I entered Ithaca College School of Music as a music composition major, later transferring to Bennington College. My technical interests were not dormant, however, and I was drawn to the new field of electronic music synthesizers. Frustrated with the non-repeatability and drift of analog electronics, I became convinced that computers were the way to go. At that time, the only way to do computer music was at large research facilities, so I headed out to California and began a doctoral program in computer music composition at the Stanford University Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, which was part of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (“SAIL”). I created computer music pieces that fused my bluegrass and classical experience, and pioneered computer models based on the physics of musical instruments. One such work, “Silicon Valley Breakdown,” has been performed in over twenty-five countries, and was released by Elektra Records on one of the first compact discs ever made, “The Digital Domain, a demonstration.” Toward the end of the piece, you can hear synthesized plucked strings tap out “CQ DE WA2BHJ.” Then, in 1986, (despite having never taken a programming class), I was hired personally by Steve Jobs to create a music system for his new venture, NeXT Computer, Inc. This led to a job with the Stanford University Office of Technology Licensing in 1992, developing a portfolio of music synthesis patents, and eventually to the co-founding of Staccato Systems, Inc., with support from Yamaha and Stanford University, which focused on physical modeling sound synthesis for games and music. Around that time, I ran into an old Stanford friend who told me he had gotten into ham radio. He showed me an HT, a small packet modem, a tiny laptop, and a 40m QRP rig that fit in an Altoids box. I was fascinated to see what had happened to ham radio in the thirty years I had been off the air. I wondered if I could still do CW, so I purchased some cassettes and listened to them during my commute. Within a short time, it came back to me.
Meanwhile, a lot was going on in my personal life… I got married, bought a house in Berkeley, California, and a year later we had our first child. Working from home and taking care of him, I could no longer do the extensive traveling I had done when I was a touring musician, and ham radio seemed the perfect way to have adventure while still staying home. So, I got my Extra ticket, bought my first solid state transceiver (an Icom 746), threw a wire out the window and was back on the air. This was around 2000, the sunspots were on the rise and I wanted more, so I put up a KLM KT34A tri-bander on the roof and dusted off my SB-200 linear amplifier. After getting tired of fighting with NJ/NY when the DX calls for “2s,” I changed my call to K6DAJ (my initials). I also put a rig in my car and enjoyed CW rag-chewing while commuting to work in San Jose at Analog Devices, Inc. (they had acquired Staccato Systems), and then in Santa Cruz at Universal Audio, Inc., where I am currently Senior Scientist/Engineer.
I explored a variety of modes, including receiving SSTV transmissions from the MIR space station, as well as PSK31 and RTTY (winning the low power category for the RTTY Roundup in the East Bay section one year.) Despite a decidedly-compromise QTH on the south-west side of a hill with antenna height issues and a tiny lot, I’ve been active on 160-70cm, and have worked over 300 entities. I’ve recently gotten the contesting bug in a big way and joined the Northern California Contest Club, and have participated in several M/M contests.
Morse code is still my favorite mode, and continues to appear in my music, including my massive concerto, “The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” where the names of all of the Wonders are intoned in code. My musical and radio interests have also intersected in my work on the “radio drum,” a 3D percussive sensor based on near field radio waves. For more info, including audio and video excerpts and information on commercial recordings, please visit jaffe.com. I am honored to join CWOps and look forward to meeting many of you on the air, both in CWTs and perhaps for a rag chew now and then.
Photo shows my current shack, which includes IC-7610 transceiver, a KLM KT34A on a roof-mounted tower, a Wellbrook receive loop, a Butternut HF2V 80/40 vertical, an Alpha Delta 160/80/40 half-sloper that I also use for WARC and 6m, and a small dog who likes to play soccer.This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.