Antenna launch & solar powered remote station on Lasqueti Island.
At age 13 in 1958, I assembled a two-tube Knight Kit Ocean Hopper regenerative receiver. It didn’t work very well—the only shortwave station I could hear was HCJB, “The Voice of the Andes,” from Quito, Ecuador. Amazing, but my Spanish was limited.
I soon discovered that if I turned up the regen, I could hear many Morse code signals. Novices on 40 meters sent slowly, and my Boy Scout code allowed me to copy a few callsigns. I was hooked on CW and started collecting SWL QSL cards. Within a year I had my novice license, and eventually passed my General—K0UVL in St. Louis, Missouri. I assembled my first Speed-X bug from junked parts salvaged from a trash can in a local alley.
I taught a CW class at the University of Missouri radio club, independently inventing a kind of simple Farnsworth, fast letters at a slow WPM rate. I remained active almost exclusively on CW, while building the local campus carrier current radio station and studying electrical engineering.
After I lost my best friend in Vietnam, I joined the Peace Corps. Headed for Africa, I got a deal on a 1957 KWM-1, because it only worked on CW (the SSB mode was dead). I dreamed of a 2-year DXpedition from Niger in the Sahara Desert. Admin vetoed this plan saying that I would be mistaken for a CIA agent, with my life at risk. At 21 years, I was naïve. Instead, vaccinated nomads in the Sahel in a smallpox epidemic.
When I returned from Africa, I finished my engineering degree. After many career twists and turns, I ended up in Canada running a small aerospace company designing autonomous space station robots for the Canadian Space Agency. During that period, I remained QRT for 45 years, while raising three children and working 80-hour weeks.
When I sold the company’s patents and retired, I decided to resurrect my long-dead KWM-1. After I got it working, I discovered that Canada would honor my old license, and let me choose a new call. I was back on the air as VA7GI. But my CW was rusty my ancient bug was a beast. With paddles and a keyer, and I gradually improved to 15-20 WPM. I love my Begali Signature!
I now operate two stations, one in Vancouver (an IC-7300 & 42-year-old Drake L7 amp to a beam)—and a second remote station on Lasqueti Island (a K3 & KPA-500 to dipoles). I joined a local contesting club and dabbled in many modes, SSB-RTTY-FT8, but always returned to my first love of CW for 90% of my Qs.
I’m fortunate that my wonderful wife, Gayle, supports my eccentric ham radio hobby (and also tolerates my writing science fiction, an even more eccentric diversion). I also spend time on technology to reverse global warming, see: www.planet-cooling.com.
I’m grateful to both Phil NE0S, my Advisor in the Advanced CWops class, and Christine K0ALT, my Assistant Advisor, for boosting my CW skills to 25 WPM. Great fun!This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.