W6TNS - May 4, 1999|
Donald L. Stoner|
Clearwater Beach, WA
QCWA # 22166
The man who conceived of Project OSCAR, Don Stoner, W6TNS, of Clearwater, Florida died May 4, 1999. He was 67. Stoner reportedly had been in ill health for some time. He reportedly suffered a ruptured aneurysm.
In 1960, Stoner, then living in Alta Loma, California, was the idea man behind Project OSCAR. Stoner outlined his concepts for an Amateur Radio space program in the February 1961 issue of QST (see "Project OSCAR--Something of the Future"). In his prophetic article, Stoner envisioned a two-phase project, the first to launch an orbiting VHF beacon transmitter into space, the second to launch an "orbital repeater." OSCAR 1 was launched December 12, 1961.
More recently, Stoner had become a guru for amateurs battling restrictive covenants to install antennas.
A Flint, Michigan, native, Stoner developed an early interest in electronics, according to longtime friend Merle Parten, K6DC. Stoner´s father, Lew, was W8IMS. Don Stoner went on to enjoy financial success in the commercial world. In the Citizens Band heyday, he was a manufacturer of CB transceivers. Later, he founded a company that developed systems to back up bank records and to telephone overdue accounts. He retired in 1989.
An ARRL member, Stoner also will be remembered as a CQ columnist--he served in several editorial capacities, including VHF editor, Novice editor, surplus columnist and semiconductor columnist--and as founder of the unsuccessful National Amateur Radio Association. Stoner also wrote the "In Theory" column in CQ VHF magazine in 1996 and 1997.
Donald L. Stoner, W6TNS, considered by many as the "Father of OSCAR", was an important ingredient to the world of radio communications, including his love of Single-sideband. From his earliest beginnings as Ham magazine columnist, to Corporate Executive, Don never seemed to forget to have fun on the radio! He wrote a variety of columns for CQ Magazine, (most recently CQ VHF), and if I.m not mistaken, guest-wrote for several other periodicals, both HAM and CB.
He authored several books, including: "How To Earn Your No-Code License," "Upgrade," and "Marine Single Sideband."
While I only knew "of him", (as close as I got was swapping a few e-mails back in 94-95), I.m under the impression that Don always sought sideband excellence, and during the heyday of CB radio, it became clear that for the most part, Single-sideband base stations were more-or-less AM designs, with SSB afterthoughts . loaded down with "bells.n whistles".
As the saying goes: "The rest is history", because Don decided to make a single-sideband radio for the enthusiast, desgined by the enthusiast! Setting up shop in the John Hancock building on Mercer Island in Washington, a tremendously well designed radio began to taken form. To begin with, the rig was designed as a Sideband ONLY transceiver from the ground up. With his vast experiences Don realized that one of the greatest features should be a tight front-end, to cut down on overloading and bleedover due to the 10KHz channel spacing of the 11 meter band, and the Stoner Pro-40 did just that. I won.t digress further into the radio.s specifications, as we have several reviews here on the website, however I have to make one further point . There weren.t guys out there that had the guts to put THEIR name on the front of the radio, but those that did such as Browning and Stoner, were legends in their own time.
The Stoner Pro-40 line came a bit late into the CB frenzy and unfortunetely, Don.s company went out of business (In my e-mails with him, I was curious about how things happened, but he indicated that this was a not-too-pleasant memory from his past, so I let it drop). Previous to this, Don Stoner and Pierre Goral formed a company called SGC (Stoner-Goral Communications) in 1972, which made Marine-band radios. Once again, Don.s single-sideband knowledge and savvy marketing skills helped lead marine radio out of the "Ancient Mariners" mode (AM) and into the world of SSB.
Retired from SGC, the early 1980.s saw another company spring from Don.s creative genius, called Digital Electronics, which he retired from later in that same decade. Don and his wife Lucy, became embroiled in a antenna covenants fight in Florida, which led him to help other hams in the same predicament .
Not only did he design radios in style, Don also talked radio in style with a custom "shack" that.s out of this world!
Finally, this amazing story comes to a sad end . Don Stoner passed away on May 4, 1999 at the young age of 67. No matter what you think of HAM or CB radio, you have to admit that it.s extremely rare for someone to stay so focused on one area throughout their lifetime, but Don did just that, and I.m sure there are many Ham/Cber.s out there that will mourn his passing.