I first became interested in the idea of getting a ham radio license when I was about eight years old. The main reason that I was interested was because my dad told me that you could experiment and build radios. He offered to give me a radio if I learned Morse Code. I started practicing with a computer program called SuperMorse. At this point I did not know any of the techniques that are suggested to learn Code. I learned a few letters, but the task seemed unable to be accomplished. My dad told me about a class you could take, but because I was even more shy than I am now, I didn't want to go. I forgot about ham radio for a few years.|
I met Ben Bays, now KC8LHR, in fifth grade, and I found out that he was kind of interested in electronics and radio also. I guess we talked about getting a ham license a couple times in maybe two years. Then one day in early March of 1998 my mom said that they had a short article on a licensing class in the paper. Then Ben called, and told me the same thing. He had called the number listed, and he found out it would cost $37 including the class and the book ("Now You're Talking"). Wow! That's a lot of money! I couldn't decide whether to use it towards a dirt bike or spend it on the class. The class finally won out (but I got the dirtbike later, too).
I went to the class, and I studied hard. It turns out that I ended up using SuperMorse again, and I found it very helpful for practicing Code. I took the test in the beginning of May, with Ben, and I passed the elements for a Tech+ license, and I was one question away from passing the General. Ben got a CSCE for the Novice theory.
I studied code for months without ever getting on the air. I studied the written test a little (mostly on the morning of the test :-). I passed the 13 WPM code and the General written element. Ben passed the Tech element. Ahhh, now I could enter the contest for the IC-706. (I didn't win. :-))
I made the mistake of not studying code much after I passed the 13WPM test. On Christmas Day Jim, K8IQY, offered to give me an SW-40+ that he had built as a part of the Elmer 101 course. Wow! What a Christmas present! On the Thursday after Christmas, my dad and I put up a 40m dipole. My first HF QSO was a sked with K8IQY. I operated FYBO in early Feb.
Sometime in the Spring I decided to pursue the Advanced license. I studied using AA9PW's Java question generator it was very helpful. I went to the test on the first Saturday of April. I was not at all prepared for the test and missed by one question. However, I also took the 20WPM code test and much to my surprise, I passed !! I actually didn't feel too good about that, knowing that I really didn't know 20WPM code. However, at the same time, KC8LHR got his Tech Plus. We went to R&L afterwards and Bens dad bought him an Astron Power Supply, a KNWD TM261A 2m mobile, a 40m dipole, and an MFJ straight key. Then he got an SW40+ which I had fun assembling. He has a few QSO's on it. In May I went to the FDIM QRP conference, and I had a good time. We went back on Saturday night for the building contest and I won the youth prize for my keyer/CW filter/paddles, because I was the only entry in that category.
I then got the Advanced study guide, and read most of it on our two week Canada trip. I operated FD from home, and made 12 contacts. I took the exam the first weekend of July, and I passed the Advanced. My goal is to pass the Extra the first weekend in September, and eventually get a Extra class call sign. The Extra Class license manual should be coming soon ( that was when I last updated this).
The Extra Class preparation book came from the ARRL, but I didn't really buckle down on it until school started. High School, that is. As a freshman who knew no one I went to the library and studied every day during lunch and whenever I had free time. I read completely through it, except for the last last page and a half. The bell rung right before I started it, and I mistakenly thought I was done with the book. More on this later. I went to the Cincinnati Repeater Association test on the first Saturday of October, and I passed the test. I was one question away from getting all the questions right. The one I missed was over the page and a half I forgot to study (it was about what impedance a source will see when driving open and shorted transmission lines of various wavelengths).
Then my "big rig" was a Heathkit SB-104 that a lady from work gave my dad because her husband had passed away. She was smart enough to give it to my dad and not to me :-). I made a number of contacts with it, including one at 100mW that was a few thousand miles per watt. After a little while, though, the SB-104 deteriorated. The display no longer works, and I'm not sure about transmit.
I joined the Flying Pigs QRP club that just started; I am member #8. We now have over 50 members. Check it out at the FPQRP Club Website. I first met with some of the guys on Saturday, October 23, at Caesars Creek State Park, where we operated in the QRP ARCI Fall CW QSO Party. I made 5 contacts on the Elecraft K2 built by WB8QYY! It was great! The K2 was, and I guess still is, my dream radio. Later, in November, I contacted Dan, N8IE, who was a member of the 4-person SWORDS (SouthWest Ohio Radio Demolition Squad) QRP-L foxhunt team, because I had no radio to participate in the fox-hunts with. He offered to give me an FT-101! So, at the FPQRP "monster loop raising party" at WB8QYY's house, he gave the FT101 to me. It worked great (and still does). it was Plug and Play, as they say. I made many contacts with it, including some of my first HF voice contacts. I used it in the November Sweepstakes, ARRL 10m Contest, ARRL DX CW contest, and the ARRL DX SSB Contest, and made many DX contacts. It's a great general-purpose, QRO radio (just wish I had a wattmeter :-).
Then along came the K2. That story is to long for this page, but check it out on my K2 #177 page. Again, a great radio. Read about the K2 bicycle mobile installation, on the K2 Bicycle Mobile page.