Winter of 2015 found me nearing the end of 45 years in electrical construction in one form or another, sitting in my recliner surfing the web. I ran across a ‘Prepper’ website talking about the use of amateur radio for communication when the poopy hits the ventilator. It sounded interesting, and with nothing else much going on, I researched a little more and found some online sites that offered free training to help pass the tests. I also contacted a local club, inquiring about taking the Technician exam, and was told ‘Sure, and if you pass that you can take the General, and if you pass that, you can take the Extra!’ That sounded like a worthy challenge, and since my job at the time required long periods of monitoring activities with no real work to do, I spent hours going through the flash cards and memorizing the answers.
January of 2016, I sat for the Technician and then the General, but they ran out of Extra tests, so I didn’t get to take that until February. So by the end of February, I was a licensed Extra class amateur radio operator, and didn’t have a clue what the meant! I only knew how to pass tests.
Fast forward to summer, I had hooked up with a local club and all the talk was about Field Day, and that became my first real exposure to the hobby. I found quickly that the noise on HF phone was painful, with my hearing loss and hearing aids, and was extremely mic shy. One station was operating PSK, and there I found a niche. Thanks to Odis (W4IOD) I began learning how to operate, and soon set up a digital station with a Kenwood 440SAT I bought online. The first time a station from Brazil answered my call, my hands were shaking so bad I could hardly type a response! But I finally made the contact and ran upstairs to tell my wife, which merely confirmed to her that her husband had indeed lost his mind.
Wanting to understand what was ‘under the hood’ I started trying to learn some electronics theory and troubleshooting. My first victim was a Heathkit HW-101 that I finally got working well enough to have a QSO on. I have enjoyed building and learned from several QRP Labs kits as well. Presently, there is a FT-101EX on the bench, and I think if I torture it long enough, it will give up its secrets as well.
Digital modes, smoke from the bench, and building antennas occupied my available time until a few years ago when John (KM4CH), offered a Morse code class at the local library. Intrigued, I attended, and became enthused with the mode. What a challenge. Working at it off and on since, I am thoroughly enjoying the journey. Fellow hams have since encouraged me and kept me at it when it seemed I was making no progress at all, so huge thanks and gratitude to John (KM4CH), Dwight (KM4FO), Bill (WE5P), a Morse code palindrome, by the way, and John (K4FT). Thank you John for nominating me, and to my sponsors for membership in this group. It is an elite group and I am honored to be part of it. Maybe, one day, I will even deserve it.This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.