Maxwell, W2DU, died July 3, 2012 at his home in DeLand, Florida of
natural causes. He was 93. Walt was best known in the Amateur Radio
realm for his ground-breaking series of articles, “Another Look at
Reflections.” Published in QST in seven parts from 1973 to 1976, the
series explained in plain English concepts such as line loss, SWR,
baluns and antenna tuners. The articles were later compiled into a
book, Reflections: Transmission Lines and Antennas, that included
additional material on matching networks, antennas and the Smith Chart.
It was first published by the ARRL in 1990 and went through several
editions. Later editions were published by Worldradio and CQ
He is survived
by his spouse, Jean Binkley Mayhew, three sons, William W. Maxwell of
DeLand, Florida, Richard A. Maxwell of Marietta, Georgia, and John R.
Maxwell of Gainesville, Florida, and one daughter, Susan M. Glasnapp of
Delray Beach, Florida.
The photos below
show Walt at various stages of his amateur-radio and musical
career. Click each photo to display the full-sized version.
Walt's biography follows the photos.
biography, from 1990, is taken from Walt’s own summary of his life’s
work that appeared in Reflections:
Maxwell, W2DU, was an ARRL Technical Adviser (TA) in the specialty
of antennas and transmission lines. Walt was born in Daytona Beach,
Florida in 1919, and grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. A life member
of both the ARRL and QCWA, he became W8KHK in 1933, and has been
licensed continuously ever since. He entered Central Michigan
University in Mount Pleasant in 1935, earning a BS degree in
mathematics and physics. After college, he joined the announcing and
technical staff of WMFJ, Daytona Beach, and was assigned the call W4GWZ.
With the FCC
from late 1940 to 1944, his professional antenna experience included
participation in building antenna farms at monitoring stations in
Hawaii and Allegan, Michigan. Then until 1946 he was a navy instructor
of Aviation Electronic Technicians at Corpus Christi, Texas. While in
the navy he played trumpet in the big band of Alvino Rey, W6UK.
As the result of
an interview with RCA’s Clarence D. Tuska, cofounder of the ARRL, Walt
joined the RCA Laboratories (the David Sarnoff Research Center) in
Princeton, New Jersey as an engineer in 1949, later becoming a charter
member of its new Astro-Electronics Division. From 1960 until
retirement in 1980 he was in charge of Astro’s Space Center Antenna
Laboratory and Test Range. More than 30 earth-orbiting spacecraft
utilize antennas that were designed solely by Walt, include ECHO I and
all early TIROS-ESSA-NOAA weather satellites. He assisted in the design
of many other spacecraft antenna systems, including data-link antennas
on TIROS-M and TIROS-N, and on RCA’s SATCOM communications satellites.
He also performed design work on the Search and Rescue (SAR) system
antennas flying on TIROS-N, which are used worldwide for relaying
signals from emergency locator transmitters (ELT) aboard aircraft in
distress. He assisted in designing the moon-to-earth TV dish antenna
used on the moon on Apollo’s lunar rover – the moon buggy. He
engineered ground-based antenna systems at the Kennedy Space Center,
Cape Canaveral, for prelaunch checkout of the TIROS and RELAY
spacecraft. In addition he had total engineering responsibility for the
receivers, transmitters and antennas of the five ground stations spread
across the US, used in Project SCORE, the orbiting Atlas rocket that
broadcast President Eisenhower’s “Christmas Message From Space” in
Having also been
licensed as W8VJR and W2FCY, Walt held the Extra Class license
since 1967, and the call W2DU since 1968. Every full-time position in
his career resulted from association with Amateur Radio. When he
DeLand, Florida, he continued to serve as antenna consultant for AMSAT,
member of the FCC’s advisory committee for WARC-79, and a trustee for
K2BSA at National Headquarters, Boy Scouts of America. A
three-generation family of hams, his father was W8YNG, and two of his
sons are Bill, AG2B [now W2WM], and Rick, WB4GNR [now W8KHK].