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I got my first ticket in Wisconsin as WN9HFZ in early 1963 but all my records from those early years are long gone. NOTE: Thank you, Tom, KE1R, for looking up my novice call in a few callbooks at ARRL HQ from that time period and finding it in the Summer 1963 callbook shown below.

This next picture shows me in my Novice ham shack using a rock-bound Heathkit HX-11 50 Watt CW transmitter and a borrowed BC-348 receiver. My antenna at that time was a short vertical that had a loading coil at its base. I changed bands by moving an alligator clip to an appropriate spot on the coil. I distinctly remember calling CQ on my fixed frequency and then tuning all over the band listening for someone to call me on their different fixed frequency. Oh, for the good ole days! NOT!

I then got my General class license WA9HFZ. The next picture shows me in 1964 in my home shack still using the HX-11 transmitter. Unfortunately the BC-348 receiver had to be returned to the owner, so I was relegated to using an inferior Hallicrafters shortwave receiver. The device sitting between those two items was a surplus ARC-5 military aircraft transmitter that I converted for use on 80m CW. The "bookends" for my rig: on the left is the homebrew power supply for the ARC-5 and on the right is my homebrew keyer. Of course in that era vacuum tubes ruled the day! In fact, I don't think there was so much as an atom of silicon in the whole shack other than the glass vacuum tubes!

The next picture shows me in the foreground making CW contacts at ARRL Field Day in 1964 shortly after I graduated from high school. Ed, WA9JGO (now N1TO), is seated at my left shoulder and to his left is Gary, WA9FMQ, I think. How do you like our source of electrical power visible through the opposite end of the tent way in the background??? They don't make 'em like that anymore!

About two decades later, I was using a National NCX-3 transceiver with a folded dipole at my Michigan QTH, but haven't yet found any pictures of me using it! At some point in the 1970s or 80s I upgraded to Extra Class. I didn't get on the air very often in those days because my family, teaching/coaching career, and operating an organic fruit/vegetable farm left me no time for hobbies!

I returned to being an active ham in June, 2015, after a 30 year period of being away from ham radio. After being retired for eight years, I decided to get some new equipment and get on the air again.

Now in the modern era, I mainly work 160m through 10m CW, but use the mic once or twice a year, too. I like to rag chew, chase DX, and participate in CW contests.

The following pictures show my current setup. My only rig is a Kenwood TS-590SG transceiver. An MFJ-993B antenna tuner is above the transceiver. Everything is powered by an Astron RS-35A.

Gear closeup

The straight key next to the Vibroplex keyer paddle is the one on which I learned International Morse code almost 60 years ago. I still use that old straight key (see picture below) when working other SKCC members. The rough appearance of the plastic knob is a result of the many years of use during which my fingernails have created divots! My very old Vibroplex bug (visible in the third photo on this page) is missing in action after many QTH changes over the years. And yet, I still have the weights that were used to change the dot speed! Go figure. I keep hoping that I will come across a box lurking around here that contains that old bug, but I'm not holding my breath!

From the top of a telescoping fiberglass mast (about 42 feet ) hangs my 80m inverted vee. That antenna along with the tuner and homebrew open-wire ladder line (about 560 ohm) give decent results on all bands from 160m through 10m although I can't tune the lower 20kHz on Top Band.

Antenna at top of mast

I recently started coaching others in the art of Morse code through CWOps CW Academy. Other hobbies include canoeing, camping, fishing, handyman projects, and various community volunteer projects.

Thanks for visiting my web page.

Hope to hear you on the air!

73, Gary N8LR


8602864 Last modified: 2018-01-24 23:24:21, 6298 bytes

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