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Who Am I ???
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- VA3RJ -

My name is Dave, and I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on July 7, 1948.

In High School, I majored in mechanical drafting and machine shop. I finished off my education at Mohawk College (Hamilton, Ontario) with an electronics technician course. My work career has included a wide range of varied and interesting jobs. These included cable television, broadcast television (CKNY-TV, North Bay, Ontario), audio/visual and TV production at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), chief engineer for the Media Prduction Department of Seneca College, Toronto (television production), and finally into the video security and surveilance field.

I was first introduced to amateur radio while attending the Sportsman's Show in Toronto, in 1964. I was amazed when I heard a gentleman talking to someone in Bermuda via two-way radio. Jean Evans, VE3DGG (SK), who was taking part in the amateur radio demonstration, came over to me and explained what ham radio was all about. Jean made arrangements for me to visit a ham operator back in Hamilton (Tom Stewart, VE3IM) who explained the hobby in more detail, and gave me a tour of his station. I was on my way - bitten by the bug.

My first step was getting involved in shortwave listening with a very simple multi-band, transistor, receiver. On February 10, 1965, I received my Canadian SWL callsign VE3PE2FE, which I still hold to this day. The small transistor radio was soon replaced with a second-hand Hallicrafters general coverage shortwave receiver, with bfo, which would eventually become my first ham radio receiver.

For the next two years I studied on my own, in my spare time, with books from the library as well as the ham's Bible (ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook). I memorized the Morse code, listened to code on my tape recorder, and later copied transmissions from ARRL headquarters, W1AW, for code practice. By no means did Morse code come to me over night. It took quite a while, and a lot of patience. But once I got it, I had it. Now it was just a matter of increasing my speed to 10 words per minute for the Canadian Amateur Operators License. This being your first license, at that time, in Canada.

On February 17, 1967, I made the big step and took the examination for my Amateur Certificate of Proficiency in Radio, through the Department of Communications. To my delight, I passed and was issued the callsign VE3BMR, and I was on the air March 16, 1967. January 2, 1968, my license was upgraded to include voice operation on the 10 meter band. As my love for Morse code (CW) continued, I did little in the way of voice operation. After a lot of prodding by my ham friends, I upgraded my license to Advanced Amateur Operator (Canada's highest license class) on July 14, 1972. This license gave me full privileges, CW, SSB, etc. Even with full privileges, I still operated 95% CW, and still do to this very day. CW is my favorite mode of operation and always will be.

The year 1993 saw another major change. Ontario introduced the VA3 callsign prefix. This gave me a chance to obtain a two letter suffix callsign (available to hams who have been licensed for ten years or more). I was issued the callsign VA3RJ. I held on to both callsigns (VE3BMR and VA3RJ) for two years, and eventually relinquished VE3BMR March 3, 1995. My old callsign ended up in good hands, being used by the Blue Mountain Radio Club in Collingwood, Ontario.

I enjoy working contests, DX, county hunting, island hunting, and general rag chewing. I also homebrew my equipment as much as possible. My station could be considered a museum. I run the old Heathkit twins, SB-301 receiver and SB401 transmitter, which I maintain on a regular basis. and they still perform quite well. Two meter FM is also Heathkit (HW-2036A). The remainder of the station is homebrew.

I am a member of Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), Contest Club Ontario - CCO, 10-X #05247, ARS #1401, BARLS #106, CTC #089, DL-QRP-AG #2341, DMC #1604, EPC #011, FISTS #6196, FPqrp #508, GACW #658, GTC #130, I-QRP #463, NAQCC #0004, NJ-QRP #408, MARAC #R-0960, SKCC #2292, SOC #539, SRT #375, SV-CW-C #130, OTC, RCC, and hold DXCC, WAC, WAS, WAZ, USA-CA awards, to name a few. I also now hold a second call sign, VE3JDR, which are my initials (John David Raycroft).

My other leisure activities include walking, mountain biking, Tai Chi, photography, fishing (when I get the chance), and some coin/stamp collecting.