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Antenna Expert L. B. Cebik, W4RNL (SK)

04/25/2008

L. B. Cebik, W4RNL, ARRL Technical Adviser and antenna authority, passed away last week of natural causes. He was 68. An ARRL Life Member, Cebik was known to many hams for the numerous articles he wrote on antennas and antenna modeling. He had articles published in most of the US ham journals, including QST, QEX, NCJ, CQ, Communications Quarterly, Ham Radio, 73, QRP Quarterly, Radio-Electronics and QRPp. Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, QEX Editor, called Cebik "probably the most widely published and often read author of Amateur Radio antenna articles ever to write on the subject."

Cebik lived in Knoxville, Tennessee and wrote more than a dozen books on antennas for both the beginner and the advanced student. Among his books are a basic tutorial in the use of NEC antenna modeling software and compilations of his many shorter pieces. A teacher for more than 30 years, Cebik was retired, but served as Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Cebik served his country in the US Air Force from 1957-1961, specializing in air traffic control.

One of Cebik's last articles for QST, "A New Spin on the Big Wheel," appeared in the March 2008 issue. The article, co-written with Bob Cerreto, WA1FXT, looked at a three dipole array for 2 meters. This was a follow-up to their article in the January/February issue of QEX that featured omnidirectional horizontally polarized antennas. Cebik authored the "Antenna Options" for QEX.

Former ARRL Senior Assistant Technical Editor Dean Straw, N6BV, and editor of The ARRL Antenna Book, said, "LB will be greatly missed by the thousands of hams he's helped through his incredibly prolific -- and invariably proficient -- writing about antennas. LB helped me personally in numerous ways while I worked on antenna matters at the League, always communicating with a gentle, scholarly attitude and a real eye for detail. I'm in shock at the news of LB's passing. May his soul rest in peace."

Licensed since 1954, Cebik served as Technical Editor for antenneX Magazine. According to Jack L. Stone, publisher of antenneX, he had not heard from Cebik for a few days and became worried: "I called the Sheriff in Knoxville to go check on him since I hadn't heard from him in over 5 days, either e-mail or phone, which is highly unusual. The Sheriff [went to Cebik's house to check on him and] called back to tell me the sad, devastating news. As his publisher of books, monthly columns, feature articles and software/models for more than 10 years, we communicated almost daily during that span of time. Not hearing from him for that long was unusual, causing my concern. He was like family to me and was loved and respected by so many."

Cebik maintained a Web site, www.cebik.com, a virtual treasure trove to anyone interested in antennas. Besides a few notes on the history of radio work and other bits that Cebik called "semi-technical oddities," the collection contains information of interest to radio amateurs and professionals interested in antennas, antenna modeling and related subjects, such as antenna tuners and impedance matching. Cebik said that his notes were "geared to helping other radio amateurs and antenna enthusiasts discover what I have managed to uncover over the years -- and then to go well beyond."

His Web site also contains information on antenna modeling. His book, Basic Antenna Modeling: A Hands-On Tutorial for Nittany-Scientific's NEC-Win Plus NEC-2 antenna modeling software, contains models in .NEC format for over 150 exercises. "Since the principles in the book apply to any modeling software," Cebik said, "I have also created the same exercise models in the EZNEC format. For more advanced modelers using either NEC-2 or NEC-4, I have prepared an additional volume, Intermediate Antenna Modeling: A Hands-On Tutorial, based on Nittany-Scientific's NEC-Win Pro and GNEC. The volume includes hundreds of antenna models used in the text to demonstrate virtually the complete command set (along with similarities and differences) used by both cores."

ARRL Contributing Editor H. Ward Silver, N0AX, said, "LB typified generosity. He was always developing material that was published widely. Furthermore, the quality of the articles and concepts was always high, but the writing was such that an audience with a wide range of technical backgrounds could understand it. His Web site is a Solomon's Treasure of solid antenna information -- available to all."

Wolfgang remembered Cebik, saying, "L. B. was an ARRL Technical Advisor, with expertise in antenna modeling and design. I learned that I could count on L. B. to offer clear, concise comments on any submitted article dealing with antennas. He was always a friendly voice on the other end of my phone line when I needed to talk to an expert, and I came to expect a quick e-mailed response to any antenna questions that I sent him. L. B. was so much more than an antenna author, though. He was one of the first ARRL Educational Advisors I ever had the pleasure of working with when I became editor of the ARRL study materials. He played a key role in helping develop the concept of online courses when ARRL began to study the idea of the Continuing Education program; his Antenna Modeling course has been one of the most popular offerings in the program. L. B. leaves a legacy of friendly advice and Amateur Radio wisdom. I will miss him as a friend and as an advisor."
Cebik's niece, Gina Robeson, also of Knoxville, told the ARRL that her uncle "was amazing to me in a different way than hams viewed him. But he was a legend to me and to the thousands of amateurs whose lives he touched with his work. To me he was my uncle, teacher, friend and confidant. He was a wonderful man, but his family did not really know about the ham side of him."

Robeson said her family spent each Christmas with Cebik and his wife Jean; Jean passed away in 2002 from cancer. "It was always the greatest fun with all the food and family getting together. It did not matter if we were getting together as a group or if it was just me and Uncle Roy, he always had the time to listen and offer advice. He will be sorely missed."

A memorial service for Cebik will be held Sunday, April 27 at 1 PM at Mynatt Funeral Home, 2829 Rennoc Road in Knoxville. Cebik will be cremated and his ashes scattered in his garden, the same place his wife's ashes were scattered. "They will once more be together," Robeson said.



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