I have been interested in Radio from a very early age. In my teen age I used to listen to short wave radio on my parents old "His Masters Voice" receiver. I had it attached to a long wire of about 75 feet. It was a great radio (they don't make them like that anymore). It had a bandspread on each of 10 bands across the commercial short wave spectrum. I used to avidly listen to all the foreign stations and send SWL reports. QSL cards were cherished with great pride and pasted on the wall above the radio. My most interesting QSL card was from Radio Norway which showed a photograph of the midnight sun. Living in Johannesburg, South Africa at the time, it was a most attractive site, which I have yet to see.
My mentor in Amateur Radio was Bill Fenton, ZS6DJ (Now a silent key). Bill was one of the original old times. He moved in to the house next door when I was in my late teens. Bill was retired as an engineer for the Otis Elevator Company. We spent many an evening talking about the early days of radio. His Yaesu FT101 with separate receiver built into a solid oak console (built for him by a master carpenter and given to him as a retirement present by his wife) was the envy of many a visiting ham. Bill used to talk to a VK station every evening. (I do not recall the call sign of the Australian station). Bill had make friends with this person some 20 years earlier and had continued to communicate with him over all these years. It was only after some 26 years of communicating that they finally arranged a meeting. I was fortunate to be present at that meeting. It was quite an event. Both these fine gentlemen, now in the waning years of their life finally met face to face to exchange handshakes after having spoken and followed each others lives for over a quarter of a century!
That's what Amateur Radio is all about! Friendship and technical achievement!
I was never licensed in ZS (South Africa). But the bug had bitten. I got involved in CB in the early days before I left South Africa. It was all I could afford in those days of commitments of family and home.
Upon moving to Belgium I took the plunge and within 6 months of arrival in Brussels I took the test and obtained my restricted Amateur radio license ON1KIP (Technician equivalent). Six months after that at the end of the year I passed the 13 Words per minute code and obtained the full license ON4KIP. Two years later I obtained the highest category of license available in Belgium at the time (equivalent to the extra class in the USA).
Upon arrival in the USA I worked with a reciprocal agreement license W2/ON4KIP fir the first 18 months of my stay. I finally decided to rewrite my exam and obtain my US ticket one very rainy day at the Trenton Hamfest. (The VE room was the only dry place!!!). I passed through to general in one sitting and was issued N2ZJS as a call. It only lasted two weeks because I upgraded to Advanced within three weeks and was issued the call of KF2XK.
Throughout my amateur radio life I have always been interested in many different modes of communications. I was introduced to RTTY early in my ham life. Early RTTY was still done with old Teletype terminals. In Europe the Siemen's T1000. My first RTTY computer was the Tono 9000E. It was a very well engineered dedicated terminal that looked like an oversized keyboard and was attached to a green monochrome screen. It was dedicated to RTTY and could decode CW. It also had a word processor mode and attached to a 9-pin dot matrix printer.
G3PLX Peter, pioneered AMTOR, and I was soon driven to explore that mode. My first AMTOR terminal was the AEA unit AMT1 jointly manufactured by the British and AEA of PK232 fame. I had to get special permission from the Belgian authorities to operate AMTOR in experimental mode. The AMT 1 was a terminal unit that was driven by a PC and a simple communication terminal. I used an Apple II to drive the unit. Many hours of pleasure with low power followed. All this was with my trusty IC720A. The 720A delivered full 100 watts of power without complaining throughout all the long RTTY and AMTOR contacts. (I had to modify the T/R switching to accommodate the faster QSK switching required in AMTOR). Following the 720A I bought the 740 and then a 730 for mobile use. I soon changed the 740 to the 745 with general coverage (I got spoiled with then720A and somehow have always regretted it). When the 751 was released I acquired one of the first units produced. Although I had problems with the finals that was traced down to a cracked circuit board that rig served me for 9 years.
Within the first three months of being licensed I participated in my first VHF SSB contest. The European Field Day, a contest similar to our field day but where the main activity revolves around the VHF part of the spectrum. This is held the first Saturday in June. What an exciting event for a new ham! To DX on 2 meters with G, PA, F, DL, EA, SP, OE, I, OZ, SM, LA, HB, and a rare UK stations.
My first VHF Radio was a FT480 all mode 2-meter mobile. This was followed by a TR2500 HT. The TR2500 I sold to a good fiend in ZS land and then bought an IC02AT. The FT480 I replaced with an Microwave modules transverter for 2 meters as well as a unit for 430 MHz all driven from the HF rig. I later added an IC290D 2 meter multi mode mobile which I still possess. Soon after the transverter phase I added an IC741H UHF base to my station.
My first antenna was a J-pole for 2 meter FM and a 16-element ZL special yagi beam. Both these were home brew and made in my garage with very simple tools. The ZL special worked well and was the envy of my good friend ON1BVS (now ON4ASU) who finally inherited it when I replaced in with a 4x Swiss quad. This antenna looked good but was short lived, as it did not come up to my expectations. Two HAG 11 element wide spaced yagi beams stacked vertically replaced it. These performed exceptionally well in general duty and contest and I kept them for over 9 years till I left Belgium. A Cushcraft A4 supplemented this antenna arrangement. This very versatile 4 element 3 band Yagi for 10,15 and 20 meters to which I added the 40M extension survived a number of very heavy storms. Cushcraft replaced the fiberglass center insulator that broke after the first storm with a revised heavier duty unit that withstood all future storms. Hats off to Cushcraft for their A4. It is a rugged and well-designed general-purpose antenna. My A4 withstood two 100Mph windstorms. It flapped like a wet string in the wind but was still up and working after the storm!!!!
HF contesting soon took my fancy and together with ON8BK - Jurgen, we participated in most of the major international contests. In 1991 my first visit to the Dayton Hamvention was a revelation. I had never seen so many Hams together attending what I still feel is one of the greatest ham events of all time. I had the opportunity to meet with great Dx'ers and see all the amateur radio equipment available in one place. For a European, although we have good representation by most major manufacturers, it is an eye opener. (I have been to the 93, 94, 95, 96 and 97 Dayton Hamventions since).
Upon arrival in the USA in February of 93, I moved to Bergen County in NJ and soon became a user of the 146.790 repeater. I was immersed in many very interesting technical discussions and rubbed antenna with great hams such as NO2T, N2OBH, NW2B, AA2GM, just to mention a few. After the 1993 visit to Dayton my interest turned to SSTV and very soon NO2T and I were modulating the late night airwaves at 14.230 with those melodious tones between 1100 and 2300Hz that are unmistakable recognized as SSTV. We soon developed quite a group of interested users and Gerry NO2T and myself gave many a presentation on SSTV to the clubs in NJ as well as the ARRL Hudson division convention in 1994. I was awarded a technical Achievement Award by the Bergen Amateur Radio Association for my work in SSTV in 1994.
In 1995 I met my wife Susan KA1YED. and I had moved up to Waterbury Connecticut. By September 1995 I was nominate as Vice President of the Waterbury Amateur Radio Club. I have server the club as VP and Editor of SPARX our monthly newsletter. I asspired to the office of President after the resignation of Steve KD1XH in 1996. I served in the role of President for the years of 1997 through 1999 and was again monimated to a further term in 2002.
I have also been a member of the YCCC since 1997 and have contributed in a small way to some contest as part of a contest team at K1AI for the CQWW contest and have run my small station at home for some limited activities in ARRL DX, CQ WPX, CQWW as well as some other contest over the years.
I have been active over the years in HF and VHF and was a frequent user of the W1HDN repeater in Propect CT while commuting to New Haven daily. I also installed a small vhf radio into the Goldwing motorcycle that I had and was able to go Motorcycle mobile. I also have served an President of the East Coast motorcycle radio club. During those years a small group of rides all equiped with radio enjoyed many pleasurable rides throught the north east. Cocurrently to those yers and antill 2017 I have also been president of the Masonic Motorcycle Club, Chapter 15.
After I left Yalein 1995 I have not been very active on the repeater. My current work at Home Depot in South Southington is the evening shift, so Radio activity has been greatly curtailed. My HF radio activity has been in a few contests and also on digital modes.
With the intent to retire and travel the USA in a few years time I acquired a 2007 Fusion toy hauler 5th wheel travel trailer and a 2000 Ford F350 dual wheel pickup. I also purchased a Yeasu 857D to install in the pickup and am currently building a cabinet to house my old Icom 746 Pro and my digital equipment to install in the RV. I plan to use a vertical antenna on the RV which I will mount on the ladder. I am also building a loop antenna for listenig to general broadcast and as a recieve antenna when required.