The Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut (VRCMCT) has donated equipment designed by former ARRL staffer Doug Demaw, W1FB (SK), to ARRL Headquarters for exhibit. One of the most widely published technical writers in Amateur Radio, DeMaw — who earlier held the call sign W1CER — was on the HQ staff for 18 years, from 1965 to 1983, and he served as Senior Technical Editor and Technical Department Manager from 1970 to 1983. Beginning in 1970, he engineered a shift in emphasis toward solid-state design in QST and in The ARRL Handbook. After retiring in 1983, DeMaw founded Oak Hills Research, but he continued to write construction articles for QST as well as several books, including W1FB’s QRP Notebook and W1FB’s Antenna Notebook.
“The ARRL has a significant collection of Amateur Radio-related historical documents and equipment,” Allison said. “Besides the ‘Evolution of Amateur Radio Equipment’ exhibit at the Lab, we have a ‘Made in the Lab’ exhibit. Doug DeMaw and his Lab staff built equipment that many radio amateurs duplicated at home. They are an important part of the history of Amateur Radio and the ARRL.”
It’s still unclear just how the museum ended up with its collection of DeMaw project prototypes. With the exception of his famous “Tuna Tin” QRP transmitter, detailed in the May 1976 edition of QST and appearing on its cover, Demaw retained his projects after the articles about them had been published, in line with the HQ custom of that era. When DeMaw died in 1997, though, the whereabouts of many of his construction projects was unknown. Recently, ARRL Senior Test Engineer, Bob Allison, WB1GCM, spotted something that looked familiar in a box of parts at the VRCMCT. Allison, who is a museum board member and ARRL historical collection curator, instantly recognized a receiver that DeMaw had featured in a series of articles.
After some digging, more boxes containing other DeMaw construction projects were discovered. Apparently, an anonymous donor at some point had dropped off the items, some bearing Oak Hills Research stickers, at the museum. During an impromptu meeting conducted by Museum Director John Ellsworth, the museum board — all ARRL members — agreed that DeMaw’s work belonged at ARRL Headquarters.
The equipment is currently being lightly cleaned by ARRL Laboratory volunteer Pete Turbide, W1PT, and will soon be on display at the Lab for visitors to see.
“We’re in the preservation business too,” said Ellsworth. “We’re glad to make this donation to the ARRL, which will preserve and display DeMaw’s work.”
The ARRL Doug DeMaw, W1FB, Technical Excellence Award honors DeMaw’s memory. Allison noted that he is the trustee of the Central Connecticut QRP Club, which now holds DeMaw’s W1FB call sign.