Moonbounce Pioneer Bob Sutherland, W6PO, SK
NEWINGTON, CT, Mar 11, 2004--Robert I. "Bob" Sutherland, W6PO (ex-W6UOV), of San Mateo, California, died January 11. He was 78. An active VHF-UHF operator in the 1960s through the 1980s, Sutherland was on the West Coast end of the first Amateur Radio moonbounce (EME) contact in 1960 when the Eimac Radio Club's W6HB and W1BU worked each other on 1296 MHz EME. An employee of tube manufacturer Eimac for nearly 50 years, Sutherland, who directed the Advanced Products Lab, developed some of the more famous Eimac tube-based amps. His Eimac 8877 VHF amplifier design still is referred to as "the W6PO amp."
"His contributions to the Amateur Radio field are legendary," said well-known VHF-UHF and EME operator Dave Olean, K1WHS, when told of Sutherland's passing. Olean says that while most amateurs know Sutherland for his EME work and his accomplishments at Eimac, "most of his great deeds went unnoticed by many except for the legion of moonbounce operators whom he helped along the way." Olean says he was one of them. "Bob had his connections and would bend over backward to help people in any way he could," he said, describing how Sutherland helped him set up an EME station for 432 MHz.
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Sutherland, an ARRL member, authored eight articles for Ham Radio magazine describing various VHF and UHF projects, including "Design Data for a Two-Kilowatt VHF Linear" in 1969 and "High-Performance 144-MHz Power Amplifier" in 1971. He also wrote "A High-Power Cavity Amplifier For The New 900-MHz Band" for QST in 1982. Sutherland was the recipient of the John T. Chambers Award in 1977 for "his dedicated efforts in bringing EME technical information to amateurs worldwide through distribution of the famous Eimac EME Notes," which remain in circulation within the EME community along with his amplifier designs.
In a posting on the Stanford VHF Reflector, EME operator Peter Shilton, VE3AX, praised Sutherland as "truly one of the greats." He said he's still using Sutherland-designed 144-MHz and 222-MHz amplifiers. Noted VHF-UHF-EME op Al Ward, W5LUA, related a similar experience. Ward says he could not have gotten his 144 MHz and 222 MHz 8877 amplifiers going without Sutherland's help. "These two amplifiers have been working flawlessly at W5LUA for 25 years," he added. "That says something about Bob's designs and the tubes! He will be missed by all."
Former QST "The World Above 50 MHz" Editor Bill Smith, W5USM, said he was saddened to learn of Sutherland's death. "I was privileged to work with Bob through the 'World Above' column during the early EME days," he recalled. "Bob was a modest, kind man of considerable intelligence with passion for his professional and Amateur Radio work." Smith credited Sutherland with much of the success moonbounce enjoys today. "He was accessible and willing to help," Smith said, adding, "I suggest looking toward the moon and saying, 'Thank you, Bob. Well done.'"