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I took a long break from amateur radio in the late 1990's, and relicensed in August 2016. After years of operating high-powered stations in my youth, my main focuses in my return to ham radio are QRP and the new digital modes. I still enjoy contest operating (CW, SSB, digital) and DXing with my very modest setup, but in a much different way than when I had routine access to larger antennas and high power.

I received my first ham license at age 9 in 1974. My father - Bob Edward W5RDZ - was my mentor. Although not a formally trained engineer, he was the most ingenious electronics builder/repairer/technician I have ever known - he could fix seemingly anything electronic, and loved to design and build his own gadgets. 

I seriously considered majoring in electrical engineering at university (Rice University in Houston, TX), but I never had the same hands-on talent and aptitude for electronics that my father did. I gravitated toward applied mathematics, econometrics, accounting, and finance, with radio/electronics remaining only a hobby. I completed Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees at Rice.

My first transceiver in 2016 was a Yaesu FT-817ND. I enjoyed the 817 very much, but the subpar dynamic range and mediocre filter options of the receiver were annoying in contest/crowded band conditions. I switched to the Elecraft KX3 in March 2017, and it has worked very well for me. 

I lived in 2 antenna-restricted high-rise condominium buildings in Hawaii, so I combined QRP with the need for small/transportable/temporary antennas. Most of my operating was done at nearby beachfront parks with a Buddipole vertical dipole on a portable tripod/mast or a half-wave end-fed dipole supported in a tall tree, but I had some success with a tiny Buddistick clamped to my balcony railing late at night or on my building's terrace deck in the late afternoon/evening.

My new home in California is also in an antenna-restricted community, so I will have to rely on stealthy wires in trees, possibly a flagpole-disguised vertical, or my Buddipole. I will continue QRP operation with the KX3 - I do not plan to purchase any amplifiers or higher-powered radios at this time. Contacts for me are about quality - not quantity. All of my California operation so far has been with a vertically-oriented end-fed 35-foot wire hoisted in my backyard palm tree and fed with the EARCHI 9:1 matchbox.

These are photos of my typical operating setups in Hawaii. California pictures will appear soon:


It could be very frustrating operating low-power HF from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but I really enjoyed experiencing the propagation fluctuations, and every contact I made was a treasured achievement. I worked 92 DXCC countries, 48 of 50 states, and 44 of 47 Japanese prefectures - all with 5W or less and simple non-directional antennas - and the median distance of my contacts was about 4000 miles/6500 km.

So far from California, I completed WAS (QRP/FT8) in less than 4 weeks. I had worked 48 of 50 in my 14 months of operation from Hawaii, but North Dakota and Maine were elusive.

The challenge of simple antennas and low power is thrilling (and I really don't want the hassle of maintaining an expensive tower/antenna/amplifier system - the finance wonk in me knows there are much better ways to spend/invest my money!). There is real magic to making very distant 2-way contacts with less power than that used by a small light bulb. I don't need to have the strongest signal on the band, own the biggest antennas or most powerful amplifier, make the DXCC Honor Roll, or win contests. Making contacts and friends, and improving my operating skills are my primary goals.

I upload my logs to LOTW, eQSL, QRZ, and ClubLog within 24 hours of all my operating sessions. I will gladly confirm electronically or by paper QSL.

Hope to meet you on the bands someday if we haven't already worked!


8467209 Last modified: 2017-11-21 22:24:42, 4599 bytes

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United States Award#3722
Granted: 2017-11-21 21:56:02   (AA6OC)

  • Mixed Digital
United States Counties Award#7798
Granted: 2017-11-08 15:51:47   (AA6OC)

  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
Grid Squared Award#17599
Granted: 2017-11-08 15:51:45   (AA6OC)

  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • Mixed Digital
World Continents Award#18832
Granted: 2017-11-08 15:51:43   (AA6OC)

  • 20M Mixed
  • Mixed Digital
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