Bill Etter , AG4EA

Many thanks to John K4BAI for nominating me for membership and to Dave K1VUT, Jim N3JT, Hank W6SX and Mike N8DNA for sponsoring me. It is an honor to be a member of CWops.

My start in this great hobby was in the early 70s while still in high school in NY. First as a Novice, then progressing to General and finally to Advanced class before graduating. In the mid-80s, after graduating from college and settling down in upstate NY, I went QRT for a bit as my career and marriage began to take over my time. In 2000 I was able to become active again as AG4EA while living in NC and finally moving to SC, my current QTH.

I have always been a casual CW operator, preferring to rag chew more than anything else. Since I traveled quite a bit for my job, I also operated a lot of QRP CW, both mobile and portable from parking lots. I especially enjoyed operating portable on vacations and from our camper at the lake.

After I retired at the end of last year, I decided I would try to improve my CW skills. Up until this point, although I was CW only, my comfort level was at 20 wpm and primarily with rag chew QSOs using a bug. I discovered the CW Academy and the online lesson plans. So, I self-studied the Level III class by following the plan and also added a set of paddles to the shack. About 8 weeks later, by following the lesson plans step by step, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could now operate comfortably at 25 wpm and a bit higher if I stretched. I had also discovered the weekly CWTs and since the lesson plans told me to participate in them, I did. At first, I resisted since I never have been much of a contest operator. But I started with a single session and survived, even though most of the code was so fast it was a blur. But over time I found that my CW skills did improve, and the CWTs are so much fun that I quickly moved to participating in all of them each week (gotta love retirement!).

These days, I still prefer a good rag chew more than anything else. I am also trying to continually improve my CW skills and participate in as many CWTs as possible each week. I enjoy being able to choose between using my bug, paddles or even a straight key for QSOs. I like helping others learn CW and improve their skills, so I try to participate in many of the SKCC events as well. Now as a member of CWops, I am also looking forward to helping out in the CWA as an advisor.