I grew up in a small town outside Chicago. My father was a licensed ham (W9OHZ SK) before WW2 and served as a Naval Educational Officer for radio schools during the war. In the late 1950’s as a young Boy Scout earning the Radio Merit Badge, I learned Morse Code and built a one-tube short wave receiver with an abundance of guidance from my dad. With that, an exciting new world opened.
My next-door neighbor at the time was Ernie Brown (K9QAG). He and my dad were great “Elmers” and on October 13, 1960 I was issued Novice callsign KN9ATB. I was 11 years old and in 7th grade. My first rig was a Heathkit DX-20 CW transmitter and a Heathkit AR-3 receiver. After getting on the air, my code proficiency increased steadily from 5 wpm. In March 1964 I earned the ARRL’s “Certificate of Proficiency in Reception of the Continental Code” at 30 wpm. I progressed from Novice to General (becoming K9ATB), to Advanced to Extra Class. I changed my callsign to K9PM in the mid-1970’s.
Like many others, family and career priorities took precedence over amateur radio and I was off the air for extended periods of time during a 40-year business career. In 2010 I retired. My wife and I bought a 24-foot motorhome, equipped it with rooftop solar panels to live off-grid, hit the road and never looked back. We drove more than 80,000 miles crisscrossing the 48 continental United States, Alaska and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
During retirement I took up hiking. One day I stopped to chat with another hiker who turned out to be a ham radio operator. He told me about the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. Our chat caused a spark that rekindled my passion for Amateur Radio and CW. My first SOTA activation occurred in September 2015. In June 2017 I reached the level of “Mountain Goat” and in June 2019 “Double Goat”. To date I have made about 8,000 CW QSOs from 250 SOTA summits in the US and Portugal.
In 2019 my wife and I decided to make a lifestyle change from full-time RV’ing to international living. During a month-long scouting trip to Portugal in August/September 2019 we leased an apartment in a small seaside community about a 10-minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean. After returning to the US, we disposed of most of our possessions, obtained residency visas and returned to Portugal in November 2019. I subsequently became involved in the CT-SOTA community as well as WWFF.
My apartment ham shack includes a Yaesu FT-891 transceiver with a companion ATAS-120A auto-tuning antenna mounted outside a window at a 45-degree angle. For most SOTA and WWFF activations here I use the FT-891 and an 80m EFHW antenna with a 56:1 impedance matching transformer. For long hikes I use an Elecraft KX3 to save weight.
I joined CWops as a Life Member because I am passionate about CW and want to hone my CW skills. After comparing the CWops membership roster with my SOTA/WWFF logs, I discovered more than 1,000 QSOs with CWops members through my SOTA/WWFF activities and noticed how many of my SOTA/WWFF friends are CWops members. Thanks to KR7RK, ON4VT, NU7Y and K9IR, I gained admittance to CWops. I participated in my first CWT (1900 May 6) and enjoyed it. I look forward to expanding my participation, sharpening my CW skills and making many new friends in CWops.