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K8MFO USA flag USA

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I was first licensed as KN8MFO at age 12 in 1958, and became K8MFO about 11 months later. This was in Ontonagon County, in the western end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My Dad - K8HHZ, a WWII CW operator, had become a ham just a year before that.He was encouraged by 3 hams with whom he partnered in a copper mine. All 3 had Finnish surnames, as did a good portion of the people in that area.   They were Ensio Suhonen - W8FYZ,  Arne Kangas - W8DCD, and Eli Sironen - W8BJE.    Ham radio was alive and well in that area, although most of the operation was on 75 and 10 meter AM PHONE.  W8FYZ gave me my Novice exam as well as a bunch of CQ and QST magazines, and I read about the exploits of Danny Weil - VP2VB, Bob Dennison - W0NWX, and others who operated from exotic spots.  That's when I decided to become a DXer, and I have been ever since!   W8DCD gave me my Conditional Class exam, along with my life long friend Bob Sikkila - K8MXC.  My initial reason for upgrading was so that I could also operate AM PHONE, but I liked CW immediately, and that continues to be my mode of choice.    While all of those "Elmers" are now silent keys,  this past summer I was fortunate enough to secure the Knight T-50 transmitter and matching V-44 VFO,   RME-4350A receiver, plus Lionel and Telegraph Apparatus bugs of W8BJE.   See them at the bottom of this listing.    They are now working again, and I arranged my first contact to be with K8MXC.    Yes,  NOSTALGIA from the "good old days" lingers with me.   I feel very fortunate to have been licensed in the 50s and 60s.

I attended Michigan State University from September 1963 to June 1967, with a lot of that time in the W8SH club ham shack!  It so happens that my arrival at MSU coincided with a major upgrade of the equipment and location of the club room.    On a visit to campus before my freshman year, I looked up the club advisor Tom Drake - W8PWZ, and I had the honor of making some of the last contacts from the old shack, quartered in what looked like a storage shed next to a smokestack!   The gear was a well worn National NC-183D receiver and a Collins 32V3 transmitter.    The only antenna was a snaggle toothed Hy Gain tri band beam.   When I returned to campus a few months later, the club had moved into the shiny new Engineering Building, and was equipped with a Collins S-LINE 75S3/32S3/62S1/30S1.   Wow --this looked like it was going to be Ham Radio Paradise, and indeed it was.

More important than the equipment were two individuals,    the aforementioned Tom Drake - W8PWZ, an assistant professor in Electrical Engineering and our club advisor,  plus Bob Rose, an unlicensed technician in the EE Department.     Some of us had been licensed for 5 years or so, but now we were encouraged by two of the most enthusiastic and caring "Elmers" that you could imagine.  Bob Rose would keep the antennas and gear in fine shape, and Tom Drake would go to bat for us on every occasion.     We were encouraged to chase DX,  operate contests, or whatever we thought would be exciting.      Lifelong friendships have endured with these two wonderful guys.     Here is a current picture of Tom Drake, who is now W4IWH, and a retired PhD. in EE from Clemson University, along with his wife Carolyn.   She was so very patient with "Tom's hams", even when we called in the middle of the night to report something needed fixing during a contest!          

 

Here is a photo of Bob Rose and his wife Sue when they were in my part of Ohio a few years back.         Many of us who were encouraged by the Drakes and Roses are still enthusiatically active to this day.   Thanks to both of you!

 

 

Less than a year after graduation from Michigan State, I was drafted by the U S Army and spent 14 1/2 months in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.  This provided the chance for travel to some exotic locations.

Was lucky to be able to retire from my "day job" at age 53 in 1999, and now I grow and sell Christmas trees in Ohio's Amish Country.  Also dabble in a little wine making. 

​I've been a Life Member of the ARRL for over 40 years and a member of FOC (First Class CW Operators Club) since 1972.  

I've operated from several DX locations over the years including VS6 - Hong Kong, BV2 - Taiwan, XV5 - Vietnam, OH - Finland, OH0 - Aland Is.,  OJ0 - Market Reef, and several locations in the Caribbean.  I've also dabbled in QRP and worked all 3077 USA counties twice on CW.  These days I haunt the most challenging bands, 160 and 6 meters, and actively chase the DXCC Challenge.  I'm in a good portion of the CW contests, but almost invariably as a low key participant, chasing my own personal goals.  That could be to chase a half million points in a DX Contest from my "barn station" using an ancient Johnson transmitter, Colllins receiver, and a Windom antenna, or perhaps an effort to work 100 countries or all ARRL sections.

FUN is my primary objective in ham radio, and I try not to take myself too seriously in the process.  Here is a photo from a recent Dayton Hamvention.      JK3GAD, OH1VR, OH2KI, K8MFO and W4OI are toasting each other with a bit of my homemade wine in the flea market.

Here is local friend Goose - W8AV and yours truly with English friends Keith - G3RPB and  John - G3PQA.   G3RPB was my first European QSO on 160 meters over 50 years ago.   John is also a Top Band specialist.

 

 

This is a  2015 photo with Wal - W8LRL, the "Big Dog" on 160 meters, currently with 342 countries.   Wal is the first to make the DXCC Honor Roll exclusively with 160 meter QSOs.     When you're around someone like that, you ask a few pertinent  questions and then LISTEN.    You learn a lot more that way!

 

 

Here is the Knight T-50 transmitter and matching VFO, plus RME-4350A receiver that belonged to childhood mentor Eli Sironen - W8BJE.    Eli never owned a microphone, and this was the fanciest rig that he ever needed!    Here Eli sits, with Lionel J-36 bug ready for action, and Telegraph Apparatus Company CP-810 bug on the shelf for backup if needed.     Eli was the kind of guy who could fix anything, and well respected.

 

Finally, here is the little guy who runs this place.  He keeps me plenty busy.   His name is COCO and he is Havanese, as in Cuba.   His name is the Cuban prefix twice!       

7462628 Last modified: 2016-07-24 12:13:23, 9290 bytes

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