Everyone has their own story of how they got their start in amateur radio. Here is mine.
In the winter of '71 after receiving my draft letter from Uncle Sam, I went into the delayed enlistment program for the army and entered the service in Oct '72 (at age 20). I became a Morse Intercept Operator (Ø5H2Ø) in the ASA. I was trained in "ditty bop school" at Ft. Devens, MA in the spring of '73 and did a 14-month tour in northeast Thailand from the summer of '73 until the fall of '74.
After returning from overseas, I spent my remaining tour of duty at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. The amateur radio interest intrigued me after seeing a local flyer from the Pilot Knob Amateur Radio Club, the local amateur radio club in Leavenworth, KS. They were starting a novice class. Knowing the code, it was just a matter of time learning the other facets of amateur radio, I became WNØPFT. A few months after that, I went to Kansas City to the FCC office and came back as a general receiving my license about six weeks later as WBØPFT. CW was my passion then and still is today.
I give credit to my two "Elmers", Gary, WBØMNA, from Leavenworth, (now WØMNA) who helped me get my novice ticket and who convinced me to buy Heathkit equipment (SB-401 and SB-303 which I built under his guidance and final tuning) after getting my novice ticket. That was a great radio pair for almost ten years for me.
My other "Elmer" was Bud, WØOAQ, who was also from Leavenworth. He has been a silent key for some time, He helped me to pursevere through all the radio and electronic theory, all that math and the FCC rules and regs to get me ready to take my general exam. I remember sitting in his television repair shop in downtown Leavenworth,using a blackboard for his lessons, listening to "Professor Bud" in his bib overalls explain radio theory, Ohm's law and drawing schematics on his blackboard. He was a fantastic teacher and mentor. Well, he succeeded in helping me get my general license. My hat is off to both these gentlemen!
My very first CW QSO was accomplished on 04 May 1975 with my "Elmer" Gary. using his Heathkit HW-7 that he had loaned me until I had my SB 401/303 on the air. I had a Hy-Gain 14 AVQ vertical ground mounted in the back yard at that time. It was really exciting to hear a return on my first CQ and was great "breaking the ice" over the airwaves with him. He recently sent back my very first QSL card I had sent him.and one I will certainly cherish forever.
I was honorably discharged from the Army in the fall of '75 and returned to my home in northeast MN (Hoyt Lakes - about 65 miles north of Duluth). The photo above is taken in September, 1975 after I got out of the Army. Our small town had 8 radio amateurs. We formed a small informal club. Our mission was to upgrade. It was in July of 1980 that I took the step to amateur Extra. It was a very exciting day for me, along with half a dozen others from our club who decided to upgrade. Well, we all made it! The FCC was giving out 2x1 calls at the time. That's when I became KKØI.
I spent many hours on the air with my station. I eventually traded my SB401/303 for a Ten Tec Triton IV with a local ham, Brian Wermager, KØEOU. Brian loved my Heathkit gear as it matched his Heathkit amp and I loved the thought of the solid state 100w radio he had, a beautiful receiver and QSK. Wow! What a great CW rig! It was the model 540 with an external digital readout and external VFO. That radio had many great cw qsos using an inverted vee for 80 and 40 and a Wilson System 33 tri-bander at 50 feet for the upper bands.
I became inactive on HF bands in '84 after losing my job and returning to school (thanks to Uncle Sam's GI Bill). After school, employment relocated me to the Fox Velley (Appleton) in northeastern Wisconsin (decided to stay in the midwest ... love the four seasons).
The landlord where we first lived didn't allow any antennas, and it was just a matter of time, and with focusing on a new job, I lost interest in amateur radio. Although, I did check with the local amateur radio club after first moving to Appleton and made myself available for Field Day for the first few years.
It wasn't until Field Day '06 when I was "bit" hard (22 years QRT). A blast from the past; one of the local ham club members that knew me, called and asked if I'd like to participate in their Field Day activities again and asked if I'd help run the CW station. I told him that it has been many years since I operated CW. It took just a "little" bit of arm twisting to get me out there. The "rust" fell off the CW in no time and by the end of the shift I was back to my copying speed ... just like riding a bicycle, some say!
Well, the rest is history and now am back pounding brass once more using a whole array of cw sending instruments...anything from a straight key, a sideswiper, a bug or a paddle. Gotta love that CW!
My wife and I attended Dayton Hamvention '07 with the local ham radio club (Fox Cities Amateur Radio Club) and after almost 33 years, I reunited with my "Elmer", Gary, then WBØMNA (now WØMNA), along with his wife, Martha, then WBØERI (now WØERI). We had a geat time reacquainting ourselves and remeniscing the old times. They are both retired now and enjoying the ham radio life.
Since then I have accumulated a number of keys. In early 2008, I challenged myself to master the bug. I decided on a Vibroplex and ordered an "Annie", the Vibroplex 100th year anniversary Original bug. Learning the bug was definitely a challenge and one I thought I would never master. I didn't have much of a first impression of a bug back in the 70s. I had a Heathkit electronic keyer at that time and thought who would want to learn something like that antiquated bug when I could make it happen electronically. I can say now that I'm glad I persuvered mastering the bug.
To add to my bug collection, I have acquired a 1948 Vibroplex "lightning Bug", a1952 Vibroplex Original (my "birthday bug"), a Les Logan Speed-X and a 1940 "marbelized" McElroy Model 600. My favorite "old gal", a 1919 Vibroplex Original is one of my favorites. Below is a sampling of my favorite key, bug, paddle and sideswiper.
I also found a liking towards K4VIZ's keys, so I added his 90 degree horizontal bug plus his Cootie Key, which I received for Xmas '09. The next "gauntlet" was thrown ... the Cootie Key. I had never used one before. It was my greatest challenge in ham radio thus far. After about two weeks, I stirred up enough courage to put it on the air. That first Cootie Key QSO was the first of many hundreds to come. It truly has become my most addictive key and one you will hear me using quite frequently.
In April '10 I purchased a Ten Tec Omni VII, which has a great receiver and I find it a very nice CW rig. I generally run around 100w, but also enjoyed running QRP once in awhile with it. The antenna is an Alpha Delta DX-DD with its apex at about 20 feet favoring east/west. It seems to work well on the bands. It has worked so well that it got me my DXCC CW Award. I'm not a DX'er, but as DX stations have popped up on the bands, I gave them a try. Some I was able to get ... and others ... oh well. That's off my bucket lisst.
I'm generally on 80 and 40 meters in the early morning hours. They are my favorite for working other CW ops.
In June '12, I sold my Omni VII to a local ham club member and purchased the new Ten Tec Eagle. It's about a quarter of the size of the Omni VII. What a great little radio with a fantastic receiver. It will hopefully be my radio for many years to come.
In addition, I also run QRP with an Elecraft K1 ... currently set up for 80 and 40 meters.
I am a member of the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC). My SKCC #2370S (April 2014). The "S" is for Senator. To learn more about the SKCC, their events and their awards simply go to www.skccgroup.com. I am involved with their awards and am always in search of helping out the newer members.
I am a member of the Fox Cities Amateur Radio Club in Appleton, WI. I still enjoy participating in our local Field Day event every year. It's fun watching the young ones get bit by the CW bug and having fun with the Old Timers too!
Other than ham radio, my wife and I enjoy our two lovely granddaughters, a small photography business, a little golf and plenty of hours in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe PhotoShop and making slideshows in Photodex ProShow Producer. My wife and I have a Facebook page with plenty of photos of ham radio, our travels to her country of Thailand and her many beautiful flowers, which I just love capturing.
Also, enjoy a little cruising on two wheels yet ... here is my 2001 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500.
BCNU on the bands pounding brass! Would love to put you in the log. I do paper QSLs and will return if you send me one.
CW FOREVER! DIT DIT!
7707490 Last modified: 2016-11-20 03:40:35, 11614 bytes
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