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Pat Buller, W7RQT

Pat Buller, W7RQT1. It just seemed right when Pat Buller was around, and it seems completely wrong that now, he isn't. Pat died on September 18 from lung cancer. He was diagnosed not long before.

We met in the mid-1990s. I recall being impressed with his highly practical approach to resolving engineering and technical problems. Not to mention his blunt way of talking. And his sense of humor. At the time, he was an electronics design engineer with the Washington State Patrol. He developed some inexpensive ways of improving the patrol's VHF radio communications system and wondered whether the information might be worth publishing. I said I believed it would, and helped him do just that. What it was, was that he helped me to look good by letting me publish his work.

After Pat retired from the patrol, he joined Tacoma Power in 2000 where he worked as a communications engineer until early this year. He often spoke of the need to expose young engineers to RF. Well, maybe that's not exactly the right way to say that. To train them how to design radio and microwave systems, to maintain them, and to mitigate interference. That's better. Some engineering school graduates, he would tell me, had ample education in engineering basics and computer science, but lacked a level of knowledge about RF that once was taught. He saw it as his mission to pass along what RF expertise he could to the engineers who would follow him.

QSL card for Pat Buller W7RQT
In November 2001, following RCA's banquet in New York, Pat, his wife Eileen and I traveled by subway to see the site where the New York World Trade Center towers collapsed after being struck by hijacked jetliners during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. We stepped out of the subway car at a station near Ground Zero, and Eileen and I followed a woman passenger as she exited the platform through a turnstile. She tried to exit, anyway. So did we. But on the other side of the turnstile, a roll-down door blocked access to stairs leading to street level. Either Pat was more alert or one of us yelled STOP, but he avoided being trapped. He went to call 9-1-1, and officers from the New York Transit Authority came and unlocked a gate to release us temporary captives.

During another visit to New York in November 2004, Pat received RCA's President's Award for his contributions to the Club and the radio industry. Steve Klein, Tacoma Power's superintendent, said: "Pat Buller has made significant contributions to the radio industry and to Tacoma Power. He has an extraordinary depth and breadth of knowledge that he uses for practical applications to improve day-to-day utility operations. All of us at Tacoma Power congratulate Pat on this award."

Pat developed special test instruments and educational materials to locate and correct radio and television interference from power lines for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and was a contributing editor to Mobile Radio Technology magazine. In recent years, he custom-manufactured amateur radio balanced-line antenna tuners intended to replicate the functionality of the old E. F. Johnson Kilowatt Matchbox tuners. "There is always a waiting list for them," said Mark Peterson, WF7M. I wish I had one, myself. But then I would need an antenna. And who knows where that might lead?

Pat joined RCA in 1991. He became a senior member in 1998 and a Fellow in 1999. He was a member of APCO and served as an APCO frequency advisor for Washington and Alaska. His other memberships included IEEE, ARRL, NARTE and WWCIC. He studied at Weber College in Ogden and Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Pat worked for Utah Power and Light before joining the Washington State Patrol's Electronic Services Division. - excerpted from www.wcic.org, Western Washington Cooperative Interference Committee

2. A friend of Pat, Ross Carn, sent us the following memories. 

Pat and I grew up together in South Ogden, UT in homes across the street from each other on BelMar Drive.  We eventually went to Weber College, then a two year school, and studied math and science together.  I've had Pat on my mind for many months after coming across one of his Washington State Patrol business cards I've had for many decades.  I recently tossed a wild card into the Internet only, sadly, to find Pat has joined Issaquah Amateur Radio Club's "Silent Keys".

I cherish the memories of us studying calculus and physics together in his basement for hours at a time occasionally sneaking upstairs to snag a piece of his mother’s pecan pie.  I've retold some of these stories to others as an example of Pat's creativeness and electronics genius and will share some with the club as a tribute to Pat and our early friendship.

Pat loved designing and building his amateur radios which occupied several tall vertical racks and a large area of his parent’s basement.  His home bristled with various antennas as did his 1949 Ford with its tall whip antenna with everything powered by an extra alternator.  In those days TV was in its infancy and when Pat fired up his short wave radio all the TV's in the neighborhood knew it instantly.  Pat worked to solve that problem but also did a lot of his communication late at night; at times as a break from our long hours of study.

One night I recall we were talking to someone in New Zealand when a sizzling sound interrupted our conversation.  After a brief puzzled look Pat told the person we were talking to he would be back in 15 minutes and signed off.  He went immediately to one of the tall racks, turned off the power, backed out a few screws and pulled out one of the several modules in the rack.  Without thinking further he turned it over, heated up his soldering "iron" and removed the wiring that passed though an old cylindrical ceramic insulator located in the metal chassis. The black marks told him something had shorted out and was arcing. After rummaging through a box of odds and ends he found its replacement, installed it and reestablished contact with New Zealand - all in under 15 minutes. Diagnosis, planning and execution all within that time. Pat knew his business and always amazed this fledgling mechanical engineer.

Rest in peace Pat Buller - W7RQT or as I've always known him W7 Rats Quacks and Tacks.

3. I remember Pat talking about a Fox Hunt he was involved in in his early days.

He got a gal to go along with him and they had the transmitter hidden in a baby carriage they pushed around a park all dressed like they were going to church. The hunters got close,but took a long time to figure out they had a doll covering the transmitter.

   
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