Mike Vandewalle , N8MTV

CWops# 2065, from League City , TX , USA.---->View on Google maps

I first became licensed on a work trip to California in 2012 as KF5NZT so I am a fairly new ham. I recently acquired my vanity 8 call sign due to my upbringing in Ohio! Since I was young, I have had a strong interest in electronics, and have made a career out of it as an electrical engineer at the NASA. Right now I work in an RF test lab that supports various manned spaceflight programs.

Even now I can’t believe it took me so long to discover amateur radio. This interest, especially in HF DXing, was fueled by reading “Ham Radio for Dummies” (of all things) by CWops member Ward Silver N0AX. This captured my interest and really set everything in motion. Despite the title, it is an excellent way to get introduced into the hobby.

I am a little antenna-challenged at home due to antenna restrictions where I live, so thanks for being patient with me on the air! And really, part of what I enjoy most about amateur radio is experimenting and building antennas and electronics. My main antenna is in my attic and is a homebrew magnetic loop for 30M through 10M. The HV capacitor is tuned by a stepper motor driven by a homebrew autotuner that I recently built and tested. It consists of a custom antenna analyzer with an off the shelf stepper motor controller board. I’ve been happy with it – it lets me keep the antenna tuned after temperature swings and helps me switch bands rapidly.

I can work 80M-40M (and tune to 160M but haven’t QSO’d yet) using a sloper or short Hamstick vertical. Feedlines, pulleys, and attachment points are concealed well enough I suppose.

As far as CW equipment, I have a David Clark H10-76 headset with gel cups (bought off eBay for very cheap, somehow) and a Vibroplex Vibrokeyer single lever paddle. I have a couple old straight keys in my collection, but rarely use on the air. When I’m not operating CW I am on digital modes, and very rarely on SSB.

Outside of ham radio, my main hobby is traveling to various places with my wife. We love seeing new places around the world and make a point to reserve time every year to go on a big trip. I also play several musical instruments (piano/bass/saxophone – and learning the accordion), but likely spend too much time watching whatever is on Amazon or Netflix. During the fall I cheer on Ohio State Buckeyes football, and I also brew a decent amount of beer every year.

Big thanks to my CW Academy instructor John Huecksteadt AC4CA and everyone else that makes CWA happen. I think it is such a great program because it is very encouraging to hams new and old that want to learn CW. My speed was stuck for such a long time before starting the course, but quickly improved with this organized instruction, which was excellent. Lastly, thanks again to my sponsors for helping me get into the club!

This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.