I would like to thank my CW Academy Level 2 advisors Dallas, K1DW, and Frank, K1EBY, and my Level 3 advisor Joe, KK5NA, as well as my fellow students in all the CWA classes I attended for helping me improve my CW.
And of course, thanks to K1DW for nominating me and K1EBY, K7QA, K1VUT, and N7SU for sponsoring me. I am honored to be CWops member #2300.
I was always interested in radio and electronics, especially two-way wireless communication. As a youngster in Arizona, I was fascinated at how the guy who drove the ice cream wagon could talk to his base station a few miles away using a two-way radio. I wanted to become a ham and in 1965 when I entered Cortez High School in Phoenix, I joined the school amateur radio club. As it turns out, one of my sponsors, Dan, now N7SU, was also in that club.
The teacher who advised the club was a ham and gave the exam for the Novice license. In 1966 I received the Novice call sign WN7ETQ and a few months later I passed the General class exam and received call sign WA7ETQ. The General exam atmosphere back then was very serious. An FCC official had come over from Los Angeles to administer the exam. He was dead serious and so were we, no levity at all. I started to choke during the 13 WPM sending test but recovered and passed. Then I passed the receive test and the theory exam. I felt then and feel today that it was one of my most significant accomplishments. Like others, I had originally thought I would use mainly voice, but I ended up preferring CW.
Some of us young Phoenix-area hams would meet on 15 meters AM. It was only local, no skip, and that was pretty much the only voice I did. For a while 40 meters opened to Japan and my dipole was oriented in the right direction for that. I had to get up at 4:30 AM and be on the air at 5 to catch the propagation, but it was worth it. As a teenager, I believe that was the only time I ever voluntarily got up early. I also listened to W1AW and W6OWP Code Proficiency Runs and obtained a 30 WPM certificate.
I should mention my equipment back then. I built a 10-watt CW-only transmitter and later got a Johnson Viking Ranger. For a receiver I had a Lafayette HA-63 general coverage SWL receiver. The antenna in Phoenix was a 40m dipole, then later in Chandler an inverted V. Another friend in the high school club got a Vibroplex bug so, not to be outdone, I built a keyer and got a Vibroplex single lever paddle. I went from a straight key to a keyer and paddle fairly early in the game.
As I moved through high school and college, life got in the way and I became inactive in ham radio and let my license expire in 1971, though I still was able to copy CW occasionally. I might hear it as a station ID on a police officer’s radio. CW never really left me.
Fast forward to 1999 and I decided to get licensed again and signed up to take the exam. I listened to some CW audio cassettes for practice and read through a study guide. Then I went to take the exam.
The atmosphere was totally different than 1966, serious, but upbeat. A friendly volunteer examiner gave the test. I passed the theory for the General and the Amateur Extra license and the 13 WPM receive-only code test for General. There was no sending test. I told the man, “Well, I’ll come back next month and go for the 20 WPM Extra code test.” He said, “Hey, why don’t you try it now? You’ve got nothing to lose. If you fail, it doesn’t count against you, and you just might pass.” So, I took it and passed! When I had walked into the exam center I had hoped to get a General class ticket. I was ecstatic as I walked out, knowing my Amateur Extra class license would soon be in the mail.
Though I had the ticket, I still did not get active. I had a lot of demands on my time back then and lived in an apartment so a good HF antenna was out of the question. I did, though, keep my license current.
A combination of hard work and luck, mainly the latter, led to my being able to retire in 2003. I did just that and started travelling the world. I had always been fascinated by Asia, in part by my CW QSOs with Japan as a teenager, so I concentrated on spending time there. I didn’t even think of ham radio or CW, except during those rare times I would hear it in a movie or on a communications radio as station ID.
In 2018 I read an article on remote operation and decided to get back on the air. My CW was rusty–I hadn’t sent with a paddle or key in over 50 years–so I started the January-February 2019 semester in Level 1. After two weeks I moved into Level 2 and then took Level 3 in the April-May semester. Now virtually all my ham activity is operating US stations remotely on CW from Asia where I spend most of my time. Currently I participate in the weekly CWTs.
Good luck to everyone and I hope to see you on the air.