My parents looked at each other confounded. CQ?!? What did that mean? They didn’t understand. After all, a child’s first words were supposed to be “ma-ma” or “da-da”, weren’t they?
Well, this was just the start of a long train of radio events in my life that perplexed my parents. Taking a stroll through my childhood, they didn’t understand when I didn’t eat lunch at school for a year (a true story and I have since more than compensated for this deficit) in order to save my school lunch money to buy my first receiver. They didn’t understand me staying up late at night listening to the ham bands and foreign broadcasts. They didn’t understand the static, squeals and off-frequency voices coming from the radio in my bedroom. I had frequent late-night visits from them directing me to either turn down the radio or go to sleep!
How It All Began!
Where did this interest in radio come from my parents wondered. Looking back I can see it was part genetic and part environment (nothing like coming down on both sides of the debate)! My very dear Uncle John was a radio aficionado. As a boy he suffered a debilitating illness and didn’t have the stamina to play like the other children. Instead, he spent his time with this new-fangled invention called radio, and promptly started building them. He built them for his parents, for the family, for the neighbors and for his friends.
I still have the very first crystal radio he built for a middle school science project in 1926. I know the date because he signed his radios and this one reads "John Duy, Central Junior High, 9 - 25 - 1926, Ninth Grade". It will always occupy a prominent place in my shack.
Well, I spent a lot of time with my Uncle John. He showed me how the crystal radio worked. He told me stories of ham radio operators in the ‘20s. He had me build radio kits for him (he was disabled due to health issues later in life) and he always made sure he kept in touch, even when I was away at college. Because of my Uncle John, I was determined to earn an Amateur license.
I Finally Get Licensed
Despite my interest in radio it wasn’t until 1980, after college and after starting my career, that I could get licensed. I was first licensed as a Novice in 1980 in St. Joseph, Missouri and began my amateur radio career as KA0JTM with an HW-101, straight key, and a 15 meter dipole. I spent all my free time on the novice CW bands. About a year later I upgraded to technician class. I clearly remember going to the dreaded FCC office in Kansas City, excited about upgrading. I tried to engage the FCC examiner in a conversation about amateur radio and received the blast of a frigid cold stare that washed over and past me -----quickly quieting my conversation ---- as well as several more conversations behind me. These folks were all business. Luckily, I endured and successfully upgraded.
Work Gets In the Way of My Ham Radio Career
Shortly thereafter, I moved to Tucson and employment with the Hughes Aircraft Company (yes, the folks who built the "Spruce Goose" - only we were the Tucson manufacturing division), later to become Raytheon. A hectic domestic and international travel schedule conspired to keep me off the air for a chunk of my career. Finally, the time came when I no longer lived out of a suitcase and I again began to think about amateur radio. Lucky for me I was blessed with a wife with no misunderstandings about my fascination with amateur radio and actually encouraged my hobby. I guess the stack of QSTs on the coffee table and next to the bed did the trick because on Father’s Day in 1992, this lovely lady presented me with a beautiful new Kenwood TS-950. Despite this great new radio, my desire to operate had to take a back seat to family demands of raising three sons and increasing responsibilities at work. I was only on the air sporadically until my retirement in 2009.
During my twenty-six year career with Hughes Aircraft and Raytheon, I spent the majority of my time in Quality, the Systems Engineering Center, and eventually retired from the Advanced Missile Defense and Directed Energy Weapons product line. I also had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award at the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as the Board of Examiners for the Arizona Governor's Quality Award.
Finally, I Have Time To Enjoy Ham Radio Again!
Since my retirement I have become more active. I upgraded to Extra in 2010 and now regularly enjoy casual contesting, DX’ing and rag chewing. I also restore antique broadcast radios and really enjoy “hollow-state” technology. As you can see in my picture, I enjoy both Drake and Collins radios. I don't spend near enough time operating them but always enjoy firing them up. I am a member of the Radio Society of Tucson where I serve as a VE, the Southern Arizona DX Association, the Central Arizona DX Association, the International DX Association and the Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club. I know, that's a lot of clubs, but they're all a great bunch of guys!
Here is my main station:
Alpha 76 PA Amplifier
Mosley Classic 33 Yagi with WARC and 40 Meter add-on kits.
160 Meter Dipole for 80/160
The Mountains At My QTH Are Beautiful, But ---
The only issue I have with my station is that my short path to all of Asia and China is blocked by a rather imposing foothill of the Tortolita mountains lurking about150 meters to the north and west outside my home. I try to work as many Asia stations as I can via long path but my signal may be weak, or not make it at all at times. Asia, please be patient with me and listen for a weak long path call from me. Luckily, all other directions are clear!
If you hear me at the operating console of W7AAA pictured to the right (just kidding) please give me a shout. I would really enjoy a QSO with you and receive a QSL card. Please save your postage - no postage needed for either domestic or DX, I'll be happy to send you one of my QSL cards. You might consider donating that postage you save to one of the fine dxpeditions undertaken each year. Send an extra green stamp to the team that put in a lot of hard word to get a rare country on-the-air.
That's all for now. I'll be listening for your call! I hope to meet you on-the-air!
Con Dios - Doug
I do my best to support and follow the DX Code of Conduct and invite you to do the same!
I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling.
I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine.
I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine.
When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect
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