Allen J. Hall

Materials Science & Engineering, Productivity, and Life

Another silent key… Howard Knoebel, W9MBD, 73s, you’ll be sorely missed.

Very sad news. Howard Knoebel passed away at the age of 85 in Neoga, IL, Nov. 19th. Here’s a picture of Howard I snagged from his website. I hope to have a bit more about him in a future post. In particular some of the fantastic science he accomplished.

One hilarious anecdote is that Howard actually calculated whether or not it is worth your while to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. His calculations show it is not. He basically calculated how much you would make an hour if at every step of the way there was a penny to pick up. :) It turns out you won’t make minimum wage by doing so. Hence, it does not pay to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. :) Howard was a bit of a rascal Scientist, I think that’s not too bad a name for his ever present creation and discovery. He always had his hands in something. We were all sure that his tractor with various add-ons would flip over on top of him one day. He also had a hatred towards wood peckers.

You’ll be sorely missed, Howard. I regret not being more in touch than we were. 73 DE N9RZC!

ps- Howard’s website can be found here (for while it is still up): Howard’s RR1 Site


  1. Liz White
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh how sad! I grew up next door to the Knoebels in Champaign. Wonderful family! Loved Howard. He was brilliant and yet so humble and down to earth. Very gentle man. He used to mow his lawn in his work clothes. I have been trying to get in contact with them for a year or so. So sad to hear this news.

  2. Posted December 14, 2009 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    Hi Liz!

    Thanks so much for dropping in! Wonderful that you found my little post about Howard. I was really hoping that I could invite Howard to my graduation party when it was finally finished. He joined me for my B.S. party, and it was great fun having him around again. I remember taking trips into his lab as a young boy walking around UIUC with my father (Prof. in General Engineering). He showed me all sorts of wonderful things there- a Jacob’s Ladder he had just built recently (back then) is still fresh in my memory! Man, was I scared of that thing. I was only around 5 or 6 at the time of course.. and huge sparks of lightening climbing towards the ceiling and giving off that ozone sharp smell were enough to have me freaked! hahaha

    I remember him showing me a ball of something- a little bit of digging makes me believe that this ball was the long work of many years- the same project that he and Prof. Jay Gooch (also recently passed away) were a part of. That was the gyroscope project for the U.S. Navy I think it was- how to sense a spinning sphere and determine one’s position with respect to it. Very interesting work.

    I often think back on Howard and his intellect. He was one of the sharpest yet kindest fellows I knew. I think that showed through with his love of his dogs. I met Molly, I think his favorite (don’t tell the other doggies though)- he loved her dearly.

    I never got to see Howard after the wheelchair. I should have tried harder to stay in touch- I always say that, and I always fail on it. :( The older generation are a huge asset- the life lessons and stories- and with Howard, that amazing intellect. I’ll sadly miss both he and Jay at my graduation shin-dig. I hope they’ll be there in spirit.

    If you remember any stories that you can relate, I’d *love* to hear them! Part of the joy of one’s life is what they leave behind. I probably should have tried one of Howard’s turnips, but I just couldn’t bear to eat one raw. :) [He did though- he loved his farm! :) ]

    Wishing you a fantastic New Year, Liz. Thanks so much for dropping in to make a comment. Please feel free to do so again!

    Any friend of Howard’s is a friend of mine! [That goes for Jay too!!]


  3. Steve
    Posted September 9, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I just posted a tribute to Howard on the National Silent Key Archive. Please feel free to add your stories, a QSL or any pictures.

    Here is the link:

  4. Posted September 9, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Steve!

    Thanks so much for adding your comment here! It’s great to meet others that Howard had an influence on in his life. I grew up having random contact with Howard as my father teaches in the same department (General Engineering). I remember seeing his Jacob’s ladder and even one of the beryllium balls he and Jay Gooch used for their gyroscope work. A very interesting man!

    I’ll definitely add a story or two as time allows. Please feel free to drop in anytime and let me know if you find anything fun. I’ll also check out the Silent Key page here and there to see if any updates were added from time to time.

    Jay Gooch reminded me a lot of Howard when I first met him, and it was only later on that I learned that Howard and Jay worked hand in hand for quite some time on various projects. Both are sorely missed.

    My best, and 73!

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


A Quick Introduction...

I'm a graduate student (PhD Candidate) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I've studied and researched in two fields of Materials Science and Engineering (Polymers and Semiconductors). My interests are as diverse as my musical tastes and I usually have my hand in some crazy project during my free time.

I'm available for consulting and have access to a world-renown materials research user-facility supported by the D.O.E. If you would like to know more, please contact me.

Popular Tags

Amazon Associate Link Apple Support AppStore Bug CIGS CIS CLI Conferences Cross Platform Data Mining data visualization dual-driver headphones failure Friend Geek Tool Great Scientists HAM Radio Hardware Tips How To Humanitarian IEM IM In-Ear Monitors iPod Touch LaTeX Linux Mac OsX Materials Science and Engineering Matlab Obituary Open Source problem Productivity reciprocal space return Silent Key Software Software Review Support This Blog Thesis Writing Tip UIUC VOIP Windows xrd

Support This Blog

You can support this blog by shopping on Amazon through my Affiliate Store.