I’ve always been interested in radio. My first radio memory was of a crystal set my eldest brother made. I heard Petula Clark singing “Downtown” via the earphone. I thought it was so neat, that I asked him to replay it. He said it didn’t work that way. I was disappointed, and mystified.
Years later, the same brother got me a 10-in-1 Electronics kit with one project being a crystal radio. No expensive batteries required! I was able to lay in bed a night with the earphone running under the covers, my parents never suspecting that I was up past my bed time… The kit also included an AM broadcaster, my first time on-the-air. The people up the street could hear me spinning my records.
About the same time, I was at the house of a neighbor that had a ham shack set up. It looked like the set of a science fiction movie! I knew what I wanted when I grew up… I wanted a ham shack! Except that as I grew up, I had an unnatural fear of Morse code. Who could remember all those characters and numbers?
I grew up, and pretty much forgot about ham radio, immersing myself into the world of work. My engineering job kept my mind busy for the most part. Then the job got to be less technical and more clerical… And then I came across my grandparents console tube radio, with a shortwave band.
The radio didn’t work, and there were no repair shops left in my town. So I researched how to repair old electronics. I got the radio working just after September 11, 2001. As I first powered it up, I heard Spanish! I was on the shortwave band. I tuned again, this time getting an anti-American broadcast from Afghanistan! The broadcast ended abruptly, but I was hooked. It led to more ancient tube receivers with shortwave, and the dreaded ham bands! A local ham helped me with some repairs, and suggested I get my license. No code required!
I got my license, and listened a bit on UHF/VHF. I occasionally joined a net. I listened to some SSB and AM on my National NC-300. But the mysterious dits and dahs got my attention. It wasn’t hard to memorize the code (although I now know I didn’t “learn it the right way” initially). Then I signed up for the CWops class feeling like I had a leg up “knowing the code”, which I didn’t… It took several levels of classes before I got brave enough to get on the air.
My first QSO outside of a CWT didn’t go so well. I answered a CQ that was not sending too fast, but the other operator quickly got annoyed with my sending and started “CQing” again on the same frequency, ignoring me… The next operator was more forgiving. I kept with the weekly CWT and have started listening for POTA and SOTA activations. I’m working up to doing my own activations, having found several SOTA summits in my state that have not been activated. My trusty dog and sidekick, Dash, will be fitted with his own backpack to help carry our ham gear to the summits.
Hope to hear you on the air!This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.