In December of 2014, I relocated to Oregon from Massachusetts. Work brought me to this beautiful area of the Pacific Northwest and it feels great to once again be surrounded by mountainous terrain and scenic views. I'll share a bit of ham history on how I ended up here...
Where It All Began
Originally from Northern Ohio, I obtained my Novice license after taking my tests back in 1987. My original FCC issued callsign was KB8DVT, which was granted to me on January 27th, 1988. I continued to upgrade until reaching my Extra Class, passing my written and code examinations on April 9th, 1988. When I passed my Advanced Class license written test, I had checked the box to change my callsign. My new Advanced Class callsign, KE8RO, was issued on May 15th, 1988. I liked the callsign, and opted to keep it even after achieving the Extra Class license.
With the help of several hams, specifically my original Elmers Don, KF8FE and Ralph, WA8GAK, my interest in the hobby continued to grow. They originally got me started in ham radio and after taking receipt of my brand new Icom 735, the world opened up in a way I never imagined. Nervousness changed to confidence, and it was not long before I was calling CQ rather than answering someone elses.
I resisted Morse Code at first, even though I had managed to pass my 20 WPM required code test. With the help of my DX and CW Elmer Ed, K8QWY, his persistant friendly pursuasion allowed me to realize what a valuable asset Morse Code (CW) was when chasing new countries. After awhile, when on the key, my nervousness also gave way to confidence, and I was chasing new DXCC countries at the bottom of the ham bands. During that time, I also became interested in UHF / VHF. My passion grew to an addiction, and living on a small town lot, I packed as many antennas as I could on my property. I was active on 6, 2, 432 chasing grid squares along with DX'ing on all of the HF bands. The photo left is of my antennas, which was located in Ottawa County, EN81om.
The BIG Move
In 2002, we traveled to Alaska to visit friends (KL1SF & KL1MF). Having fallen in love with Alaska, the next step was to make our way to the 49th state. That dream came true at the end of 2003. Leaving behind a well established career, I moved my family to Denali National Park. You can research and read plenty of details on Alaska, but you never understand it until you live it. Since we moved late in the year, Alaska welcomed us with bitter cold temperatures and limited daylight. We took it in stride. The Northern Lights of winter welcomed us, and I knew from that time on, this was the place for me!
I brainstormed on callsigns, and decided to apply for the vanity call of KL8DX. I was originally from 8'land and I enjoyed DX'ing. Little did I know the confusion it would cause as KL7DX was very active on the air. Once we settled down, it was time to put together a station. We lived at the base of Mount Healy on Otto Lake, which turned out to be a great location. I had great paths to Europe and the lower 48, but I soon realized that area received very strong Chinook winds, especially during winter. I missed a portion or entire contests due to 60+ mph wind gusts over the years. Thankfully, I had my beam on the Hazer system, which allowed me to lower my beam to roof level, saving my exterior hardware.
The winters were tough, but the summers made up for the cold and dark winters. Actually, it was the perfect place for a contesting ham. When I first became active on the air in Alaska, I was not prepared for the pile-ups I would encounter. Gone were the days of calling CQ and having nobody answer me. The intimidation factor was pretty high at first, but with the help of the local contesting group, I gained the insight and courage to manage my way through. I learned from the seasoned statewide locals on how the best ways to handle a crowd on any mode. Once again, my nervousness changed to confidence, and the bands became truly exciting. It was not long before my mailbox was full of QSL requests and as I participated in contests, my scores began to get better. Once I had a few contest seasons under my belt, it was the only season other than summer I looked forward to.
As the temperatures turned cold and the sunlight headed south, it marked the start of contest season. What a perfect time of year to spend in a warm shack. It was not hard to remain in the chair for hours at a time, working a contest or just simply playing radio. Our town trips (supply runs to Fairbanks) were planned around contest weekends. One summer and contest season lead to another and many fond memories were made. Then, in 2010, KL1SF & KL1MF relocated to Arizona. This would also change things for me, not knowing it at the time. Having your best friends move away leaves a void that just can't be filled.
Our Time To Depart The 49th
The winters began taking their toll on my wife, and she soon decided a change was necessary. Alaska was truly a place that I personally found gratifying, even during the dark and cold months. My other hobby, which began in Ohio, has been photography. When we moved to Alaska, I had the desire to capture photos of the Aurora. You see the aurora on clear winter nights. With temperatures well below zero, I would stand outdoors, photographing the green lights directly overhead, for hours at a time. This worked out well for the hobby, because when the aurora was active, normally absorption would make the HF bands silent. So when the Interplanitary Magnetic Field tilted south and the solar wind was gusting, outdoors I would venture in an attempt to catch the beautiful lightshow. My favorite photo of my Mosley TA-34-XL.
In 2013, we headed for the East Coast, as my wife obtained a well deserved promotion. Our careers took us to Boston, which was extremely hot when we arrived. Living the quiet life in the interior of Alaska for nearly 10 years, Boston was nothing more than sensory overload! We settled roughly 48 miles northwest of the city in an attempt to escape the hectic city lifestyle. It was nice to be amoungst the farm fields and open areas once again, however the two hour one way commute to and from work was tough to manage. I did apply and receive what I felt was an appropriate callsign for the time, AK2MA. Somewhat fitting, considering the next step in our winding road of life. The expense of Boston and surrounding areas, not to mention the taxes of Massachusetts, began to have me rethinking our career goals. Seeing my retirement date extending further away as we lived this crazy, no time for ham radio life, I began looking for that slower pace of life once again.
East to West, Again
Even though I was not going to miss the city, I was thankful that Boston was the only city I had ever lived and worked in. The city is rich in history, and it was great to experience many of the historic areas that Boston has. One of the projects I was excited about was working at the Old North Church. All the photos found here I've taken personally and the photo to the right overlooks Charlestown from the Lantern of the Old North Church. Old North Church is probably best known for the events of April 18th, 1775. If you ever make it to Boston, I would highly encourage you to make the Old North Church one of your stops, and take the tours that are available. Old North Church is just one historic symbol, and part of Boston's rich history. I would also encourge you to see Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site. Having ties to these areas makes them high on my recommendation list to anyone I know who is planning a trip or is looking for places to visit while in the great, diverse city of Boston.
Another Callsign Change
Once we landed in Oregon, I really had no intention of changing my callsign. One thing led to another, and after some thought, I decided that I was in fact going to change my call. I wanted it to be representative of my geographic location. I also still missed Alaska, so I knew the prefix was easy, AK7. It was the suffix that I needed to figure out.
Our family beagle left us on October 23rd, 2014. She lived a great life, and having made the decision to end her suffering came harder for me than I could imagine. Spending 15½ years with us, she was just as much a part of the family as our children. Her name was Dempsey, who we often called "Dempsey Dog" when we called to get her attention. As I thought about my new callsign, I felt having a suffix of "DD" would be a perfect tribute to her. I checked, and the callsign was available, and it was my only request on my vanity application. Thankful to leave the busy city life, I'm just as thankful to return my old callsign AK2MA. I once again have a fitting callsign that I have no intentions of parting with.
The photo left is Dempsey and I in my shack in Alaska. Dempsey would often come lay down on the shack floor during contest weekends and fall asleep. I'm assuming it was not to keep me company, but to enjoy the warmth created by the busy electronic and computer equipment on those cold winter contest weekends. I miss her daily, and contesting will never be the same. She helped finish my snacks and meals my wife so graciously brought to the shack, and indeed was this man's best friend.
I support several organizations which are listed below.
GRID: CN82WV SMIRK: 6533 10X: 46862 VP: 2393 SKCC: 3800T PODXS 070 CLUB: 889 FELD HELL: FH2407
NAQCC: 3972 POLAR BEAR: 197 QRP ARCI: 13835 OMISS: 6823 FISTS: 15457 QCWA: 36087 A-1 OPERATOR
I work QRP from the home shack frequently. I also enjoy QRP operating in the field.
When in the field, my QRP set up consists of the following:
- Icom 703Plus typically at 5 watts or less
- Yaesu FT-857D @ 5 watts
- A123 battery power with supplemental solar power folding panel
- Buddipole antenna system
- Par Electronic End-Fedz wire antennas
- J37 Straight Key and Palm Radio portable key
The photo to the right is of a portable operation I did from the Denali Highway in Alaska.
I enjoy CW and many digital modes, followed by some SSB.
I can be found on Blogger & Twitter & Google+ and I'll be posting future videos to my Youtube page once I've created it.
If I had to summarize my BIO, I would have to summarize it as;
"Ham Radio operator since 1980 something. The most underused piece of ham equipment I own would be a microphone. The key to my ham success is Iambic and Straight. The waterfalls I frequent don't have a drop of water to them. I've put more miles on a VFO than any vehicle I've ever owned. To some, surfing is a sport but to me, it's an addiction, one band at at a time." - PS (AK7DD)