I was first licensed in 1968 in high school. My activity level dropped off during college, then picked up for a while after I graduated. Then I joined the Air Force and my available time for hobbies went negative. My license expired in 1982; somehow, I could just never find the time to get a renewal application sent in.
I'm retired now, and in 2014 got involved with the HI-SEAS research project with the University of Hawaii and NASA. A member of the previous crew was a ham and tried to set up a station in the dome. That was my impetus to get my license back to do something similar. As you can see from the web page, I ended up as a reserve crewmember. And no one on the primary crew broke a leg, so I never got into the dome. But I had this shiny new ham license, so decided to set up a shack and get back on the air.
While I was deciding what HF rig to buy, I used an MFJ 9200 QRP xcvr which I named "Fire Breathing Desk Crushing Behemoth" (Behemoth for short; I was trying to inspire it to squeeze out a few extra milliwatts). It ran 5 watts to a temporary three-band inverted vee. I was able to renew my CW skill, and was amazed at what you can do with the power of a flashlight.
I now have added a Yaesu FTdx 1200 to the shack, and a 6-band GAP vertical. More home-brew antennas to come. It's nice to be back on SSB, and I plan to explore the new digital modes, but I don't believe I'll ever give up CW. I have also added a Yaesu FT-736R all-mode, VHF/UHF transceiver. It has the factory capability on 2 meters and 440 MHz, and I have added modules for the 220 MHz and 1.2 GHz bands. So far I've used it for local FM (simplex and repeater) communication, as well as SSB and CW, but it's designed for satellite work.
I also have a Bao Feng/Po Fung 2M/440 FM HT that I can connect to an outside antenna, or take mobile. My wish list for new capabilities grows longer every day, but I'm not hurrying to fill up my shack. I'm having a blast with the equipment I already have.
Excitement on the air
Shortly after I got my license back, I bought the Po Fung handheld transceiver at a hamfest--primarily because it was so cheap. I would joke that my radio shack used to take a large part of a room, and now it fits in my shirt pocket. And I'd show people this picture--the only one I had of my early ham shack in its 1970 configuration.
Of course, I'd always have to explain that's not me at the mic. That's Steve, WA2GMC. When I was a novice, I made contact via slow speed CW with WN2GMC, a teenager about my age who lived on Long Island, NY. When I sent my QTH, he got all excited and said his father grew up in my small home town in Iowa. We kept in contact, and when his family visited Iowa in the summer of 1970, I think, his dad brought him out to our farm. I showed him my shack, and took this picture.
After explaining all this for about the forty-eleventh time, it occurred to me that Steve might still be a ham, so I looked up WA2GMC on QRZ.com, and sure enough, found and hooked up with him via email, now with the callsign W2GB.
Excitement #2: My first weekend on the air with the Behemoth, I discovered the SKCC. I soon entered one of the SKCC Sprint minicontests. In the results (about 20 spaces above me with more than double my score (but I'm closing the gap)), I discovered Jim, KE5AL, who turns out to be one of my best friends from high school; the only other ham in our school.
Ham radio is great. Not only do you get to play around with some cool technology (old and new), you also never know who you'll run into!
I've been intrigued with what other folks post on QRZ about interests outside ham radio, so I'll share one of mine.
A 1967 Piper Cherokee Six single engine, six seat airplane. Actually flying in general, but this is my corner of the flying world these days. In brief, my other hobby is airplane maintenance. And flying, sometimes.
I started flying in the Air Force, where I was a B-52 pilot. Flying was always a dream, growing up, and I'm still living it.
7598996 Last modified: 2016-09-29 15:39:50, 5083 bytes
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