My first exposure to ham radio was in 2019. While living just outside of Philadelphia, I picked up a Baofeng UV5R and programmed some repeaters into it, but never heard any ham traffic. I used the radio as a scanner, and that was it. Fast forward to February of 2023, I found the radio in a moving box, turned it on (still had some juice in the battery!) programmed in a repeater, and finally heard a couple folks talking! Two days later, I took my Tech exam and eagerly awaited my callsign. Finally got a mouthful of a callsign a few days later (KQ4FXU) and started calling CQ on a repeater (oops) and spoke with a gentleman that invited me to the local club meeting the next day.
A week later, I picked up an ICOM 7410 on Craigslist, built a 10m dipole, and hung it on my apartment balcony. I made my first contact to the Dominican Republic, and I was hooked! Lucky for me, 10m was booming, and I was making contacts left and right. After a month, I passed my General exam and applied for my current callsign, W4YDL.
This April, I began learning Morse code. In a few hours, I had the alphabet memorized, but more visually than anything. May 11, I finally had my first CW QSO with AE4R using my Speed-X straight key. It was slow going, but the excitement of completing my first CW QSO totally had me hooked! I couldn’t believe how excited I was to use Morse code to “talk” with someone. From then on, my mind was consumed by Morse code. Any free time I had was spent playing the Morse Mania app on my phone, or listening to Kurt Zoglmann’s videos on YouTube.
I did my first POTA activation on my birthday in August this year, using CW only. That was when things started clicking for me. The instant character recognition was forming, and having mini pileups was a blast! In November, I finally got my Kilo award at my local park (K-2734 Hammocks Beach State Park)
In October, I started the CW Academy with K5GQ, and by the end of the course, Mark had nominated me for CWops membership! The Morse Runner and Rufz programs combined with Mark’s curriculum really helped get my speed to where it is now. I’d like to thank K5GQ, WB0RLJ, JP3REM, and KD2KW for the nomination and sponsorship into this fine group.
CU on the bands!This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.