When I met my future wife’s family in 1996, I noticed her uncle Steve, N8CPA, was using fancy radio equipment to talk around the world. I admired the ability to do this, but I was not that interested at the time. I was (and still am) an avid railfan and purchased a scanner to monitor railroad frequencies. I soon discovered local repeaters and was monitoring conversations. I realized that I want to speak with those who were in the conversation. I soon went to my wife’s uncle and exclaimed, “I want to get my ham radio license!” Of course Steve was excited that I had an interest and shared with me how to get my license. So I purchased a copy of “Look Who’s Talking” from the ARRL. I already had knowledge about electronics (thanks to my dad, N8WXE), so it was fun to brush up and to learn more about ham radio.
I first got my license in the summer of 1997, two days after I got married. This is how I remember my anniversary! HIHI! My original callsign was KC8HYI. I soon started learning CW and I took to it quickly. As a musician, I found that I was a natural at CW and I sure am glad that I learned it. By the fall of 1997, I became a Tech Plus. Shortly thereafter, I obtained a Yaesu FT101EE and started making contacts on 40M, with my simple attic dipole. I have many fond memories of the winter of 97/98 making 10 wpm QSOs in the novice portion of 40M while the air was freezing outside, copying code from the glow of the FT101EE.
I eventually got my General the following year. I remember going up to the table of testers and saying, “I hope I passed so I can get on 30 Meters”. The tester told me, “Well, now you can!” KC8HYI/AG was now making contacts on 30 m. It was in 1998 that I experienced my first taste of contests. I recall working Japan on my little attic dipole on 15 m during the ARRL CW DX contest. I was hooked! It was the fall of 1998 when I experienced my first CW Sweepstakes and it became the center of which my whole ham radio year revolved even to this day. By this time, I upgraded to an Icom IC745 HF radio.
I soon passed my Advanced, and had my sights set on getting my Extra license. By this time, I knew that the 20 wpm code requirement was going to be dropped eventually, but I wanted to pass the Extra before that happened. So I was heads down attempting to increase my speed. So in early 2000, I passed my Extra! It was in that same year I decided to treat myself and get a smaller vanity call. I applied for, and received, the callsign of N8XE. Why did I pick that? Well, my favorite Morse code character is the letter “X” because to me it is symmetrical both with the actual character, and aurally in Morse code. I picked “E” because it was short and I wanted a nice short callsign with my favorite Morse code character. My first contact with my new callsign was ER2000L in Moldova.
Since then, I have made thousands of contacts with CW. I earned my DXCC, DXCC QRP, and WAS in CW. I won Ohio in 2011 and Ohio and the Division in 2013 for CW Sweepstakes. I have made several friends from around the world from this hobby. Recently, I discovered the CWT and started participating every week as it is so much fun! I look forward to it every week. I also am active in SKCC and enjoy collecting straight keys, bugs, and paddles. I have built some of my own radios from kits (for example, I have built 4 Elecraft K2s) and some of my own antennas.
Outside of ham radio, I enjoy amateur astronomy, astrophotography, building telescopes, model railroading, writing music in my studio, and reading.This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.