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DXer, Contester and CW operator.  Licensed since 1986. Extra class (/20) since 1992.  No "extra lite" here...

Update: August 2017 - back on air after almost a decade in mainland China  -- enjoying high speed QRQ cw on the low end of 40M.  Where have all the younger cw ops gone?     I'm on 9 acres here and have a full sized 160M loop,  80M OCF,  and some other simple coax fed  single band resonant dipoles for other bands.     I mostly work 40M.  

I am once again a member of the Indiana University Amateur Radio Club, K9IU https://www.indiana.edu/~k9iu/   30 years ago, I was president of the very same ham club, during my time as an undergrad student.   I owe a lot to my education from Indiana University  and am back here to give back with my time and effort.  I'm one of the advisors to the radio club and we've been on a mission to revitalize and grow the club with new, younger, and energetic members ! ! !   

Recent shack photo is below, followed by my  (long) Ham Radio history...  I  like the IC-7300.... It has a couple of small short comings but nothing show-stopper.  For the money, it's impossible to beat.  I have two 7300's now and learning SO2R, which is "single operator two radio"  use.   I also use the solid state ALS600 but have a back up amp which is an AL80, a bargain for being a single 3-500Z amplifier.   Aside the couple of IC-7300's,  I have an IC-7100 (lower right)  that gets used for diversity RX on HF and for VHF/UHF FM and DSTAR capability.   Begali makes a fine line of cw paddles - best purchase ever was the Sculpture.  I picked up an Expedition last year in Dayton so now that's a new item to collect....

My ham radio history:   Was age 17 when I got my  Novice and within a few weeks, my Technician licenses.  Was 18 and had my General,  19 for Advanced and then 22 for Amateur Extra.    Now it's been  32 years of Radio Activity and counting (long version...):

Beginning:  Mentors made it happen:    I got interested in radio in grade 6 -  thanks to an elementary school counselor, Dr John Siebel, KA0BAI.  He sparked radio interest by setting up an HF station in the 6th grade classroom.  He got us on the air... I was hooked.   It would take another 6 years to actually get my Novice ticket.   CB Radio was like the smart phone, everyone had one and it distracted me from ham radio.....that Radio Shack 3 channel, 2 watt TRC-201 walkie talkie, specifically.      

I earned my novice license (elements 1A code and 1B theory) and was granted  KA0ZDH as my first callsign  in 1986. Elmer Eric NF0Q (sk) taught a license class and my friend from work (Radio Shack, of course) was Brad, KB0BPA and he and I attended the class together.          Thanks to Bill WK0E (sk) for being an older mentor to me in my early ham career and teaching me the art of a hamfest...as well as Mike (WB0SND) for inspiring me to become a better CW operator and work toward my general class ticket.      We had a fun group in St Louis, MO, where I grew up.   QLA was the home-grown Q-Signal heard on the suburban ARC  2M repeater...and so began the regular lunch bunch meetups with other hams.  QLA (have you eaten lunch yet)? 

Within a few months of getting my Novice, I  earned my technician ticket and then my general ticket in mid 1987.   Field day 1987 got me on the air and I made many slow and jittery cw contacts and yet I was hooked.   Remember it was on an FT-101 that Joe, K0BX (sk) lent the club to use for the FD event.   Novice enhancement was the big discussion of the time giving Novices access to 220 band and 10M band.  I worked a lot of DX as a technician and general on 10M and that propelled me.    Incentive licensing works.

Later ham influences included Physics Professor Dr Daniel W Miller, KQ9I (SK) , who ran the atomic accelerator/cyclotron at Indiana University.  Aside being a physics professor, he was the ham radio club sponsor, and the small crew at K9IU radio club at Indiana University helped me along.    Thanks to  Pat (N9RV) ,  also one of the faculty sponsors and membes of the K9IU radio club for introducing me to contesting and specifically into CW contesting....woah...even better than field day.     

First time as DX:  In 1989, I was an exchange student to Ljubljana (Loo-Bee-Yah-Nah) , (former Yugoslavia) Slovenia.   At the time, the so-called Iron Curtain was still up  and the cold war was on -  the Berlin wall had yet to fall down.   I was able to operate from behind the iron curtain (from the other side) while living in Ljubljana and met a few very kind, technically proficient and interesting hams while there.  They really sparked the DX interest -- not just working DX, but BEING DX became a priority in my ham activity.  I got to visit a few mega-stations (YU3EA, what is now S56A)...   That was my first chance at being DX.  The internet and email was just coming into existence for the average ham using VAX/VMS systems.    Wow...cool...

Over the next few years, I worked my way up the ranks and earned my advanced and then my extra including the  20WPM CW - that was early 1992.  

From Student to Employee:  Early 1990's  I was working/living in  north Texas and began contesting with the Texas Instruments Employees Radio Club crew (that club callsign: K5OJI) and occasionally,  hitting the weekend sidewalk sales in front of Hardin electronics or over in Fort Worth at the Tandy/Radio Shack warehouse.    In the early 1990's, the  hobby was changing fast - on the cusp of computers and internet too.  

The DX lifestyle:  Living all over the world for my career, I have enjoyed being on the recipient end  of DX pileups   I had tons of fun operating from Taiwan, Philippines, Japan and China over my career.   Lots of other DXpeditions too.  I worked mostly the WARC bands. 

Japan /  7J1AOF:   In  1992 I moved to Japan for a work assignment and was licensed in Japan with a "Gaijin" callsign (all foreigners had 7J1 prefix, Japan was still a bit Xenophobic back then).    So with 7J1AOF and using a Yaesu FT-890 from my apartment balcony, I earned DXCC and used lots of different portable/ mobile antennas - I used a buddipole sort of home made contraption (buddipole having not been invented yet).   Best of all, my apartment balcony was  20 stories up, I could see Mount Fuji on most days and path to EU and Indian Ocean was alwasy easy.       I was a member of TIARA, the Tokyo International Amateur Radio Club..and went to the infamous Harumi Tokyo Ham Fair (Dayton Hamvention equivalent in JA) for  3 years in a row .   I must say that  Hamming in JA was prolific -  those guys were very professional in their approach to everything ham radio and wow were they active.  It was tons of fun and I used to scout out all the new radio gear in Akihabara from time to time.  Good stuff ! 

Here's a photo of my shack in JA in 1993.   I used this setup from 1993-1995.    No computer-logging back in those days (I had an early notebook pc, black and white monochrome screen, DOS,  nothing connected to the radio).  I worked DXCC from my apartment balcony on 50 watts and mobile antennas.



Taiwan ROC /  BV/N0IAT       In 1995, a work opportunity came up in Taiwan, so I transferred to Taiwan and that got me connected to Tim Chen (BV2A, BV2B ..now SK).  Tim was the godfather of ham radio in Taiwan, and was huge help to me in navigating the system and applying via the CTARL (chinese taipei amateur radio league) for a rare /  coveted "foreigners" ham radio license for the Republic of Taiwan.    AsI was one of the first foreigners allowed to operate from Taiwan after a long long period of both Martial Law and strict HF radio restrictions, it was all unchartered territory.  Tim made stuff happen.      I had a 17M and 20M dipole on the 14 story apartment roof  in downtown Taipei and operated lots of cw and a little ssb as BV/N0IAT  (note there was  NO "number" in the prefix and that number designation, ie  BV2, BV3, BV4 etc was only added later for foreign hams).   I put out a good signal at 100W !    I worked 20,000 qso's or so during that time and sill have  paper logs if anyone needs a confirmation.   Here is the card that I handed out.  Have many  (now worthless) IRC's from then.

Here's a photo of my "shack" in Taiwan, operating as BV/N0IAT circa 1997- around 20 years ago.    Note the white patio chair - I was young, had a new family, and kept it simple.     Rig was all-new Alinco DX70 and the  brand new  Icom 706,  a Diawa PS from Japan,  a TI notebok PC, a small MFJ antenna tuner, and dipoles for 17M and 20M  on the rooftop garden.    Icom 4AT UHF rig in background.   QTH was:  100 HoPing West Road Section 1  / Xiamen Jie Corner Taipei, Taiwan.    My older son.... now 21 years old...time flies.   With a young family, and busy work life,  I didn't have a lot of time to operate....but I got on the air when I could.   

USA/OREGON(K7JOE) :     Moved back to USA in late 1997 and I moved to the west coast in 1998 (Portland, OR), changed my call to a vanity callsign, K7JOE-  it cost $50 to the FCC"  for a vanity callsign in those days.   

PHILIPPINES /  (DU1/K7JOE)   In 2000, we moved to Manila, Philippines on another work assignment.   I ran an Icom IC-751A (2000-2004) as  DU1/K7JOE.  After the Philippines, we moved back to the west coast for a few years.    

CHINA  /  (BY1/K7JOE)    2007, work again moved me and the family to mainland China  and  I secured an operator license, but a station license was not available in the People's Republic of China, so only club station operation during that time...very limited.  I was busy with career, kids, and living life in China.  Ham radio took a back seat for all of those 8 years, plus some.

CONTESTING:    After 25 years, I still consider myself a beginner contester.    I enjoy cw contesting -   My favorite contest experience was operating aside Rush Drake,  W7RM (sk).   He had an amazing station on the west coast for decades.    Winning the zone in CQWW at Radio Free LaCenter was a thrill.  The Rush Drake Orchestra, as it was called, consisted of some of the best contest ops in radio, and a bunker full of legal limit amplifiers - one for each band - designed by Rush.   His antenna farm was almost beyond belief.  .    I'm grateful to Rush for being one of my elmers. 

WORK and RETIREMENT:   I  hold BS/MS degrees in finance from Indiana University Kelley School of Buisness.  For the past 25 years, I was in the high tech / semiconductor chip  industry in various finance/CFO roloes - thanks to ham radio for sparking the broader semiconductor/electronics interest -  and that career allowed me to live/work all over the world.   I retired early in 2015, got bored of watching Oprah every day,  and  I'm on to a second "fun" career as a University business school instructor.    

OPINION :   The ham radio hobby has changed a lot during the time I was away.   The hobby itself as a "public service" is mostly irrelevant these days with the advent of reliable satellite and cellular comms.  So, the best bet is to just  have fun ....find your area of interest, keep learning  and  help others to become better operators, as that effort is a service to all amateurs.    If you have a chance, please  mentor a younger or less experienced ham.  It's a great way to give back to the hobby.   Gear is cheaper than ever....donate your time, your used gear, and old antennas to bring a new ham on the air.   Help the next generation to learn to communicate beyond a smartphone or computer keyboard.... basic interpersonal communications is fast becoming a lost capability....    

I also believe CW is/was an essential element of amateur radio that should not have been removed as it develops good listening and overall important communications skills.   When ARRL advocated for eliminating the code requirement entirely,  just to grow the quantity of  extra class hams on the air, I cancelled my membership in protest.    What ham radio wound up with were a few new good hams  but also an influx of some very damaging behaviors.      Going from nothing to extra in a day (literally) does not teach or coach hams properly nor does it give time to integrate them and thus we have the cesspool of LID operators now days.  It was certainly different  and in my opinion a lot better "back then" when it took hams several years to progress and eventually earn what was then a coveted amateur extra license.  Today, it's all give-away....that's why there is no longer respect for the airwaves nor the hobby at large.  OO's are ineffective, and the FCC chooses not to enforce the rules.  If we dont stop the chaos, it will destroy the hobby.    

As for excuses about  not learning code,  I've heard them all.....  Yet I've seen 5 year old kids, blind people, dyslexics, and all walks of life successfully learn cw;   Those who TRY to learn and stick with it WILL learn it.     It takes practice, usually about 2 months of study.  It's not instant.  It takes W-O-R-K.    I  truly wish they would bring back even a simple 5 or 13 WPM test for access to sub-segiments of some of the HF bands, making at least a small slice of our bands "exclusive" again and adding some incentives back into license upgrades.   

DX CALLSIGNS/QSL CARDS  : BY1/K7JOE in Beijing, China (2007-2015)  DU1/K7JOE in Manila, Philippines  (2000-2004) BV/N0IAT (Taipei, Taiwan 1995-1998), 7J1AOF (Tokyo, Japan 1992-1995), YU3/N0IAT(Ljubljana, Slovenia, former Yugoslavia 1989-1990) N0IAT (1987-1998) KA0ZDH (1986).    

QSL cards direct to me if you would like to confirm a contact. No SASE required.   A QSL is the final courtesy of a contact.  I still receive paper QSL cards from the W7 Buro.   I love paper QSL cards - the more colorful, the better.  This whole e-log stuff is fast and easy but it's impersonal. 

Other hobby: harley-davidson motorcycles.  I fix them and ride them and am MC club member too.




8551107 Last modified: 2018-01-01 16:43:21, 15200 bytes

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