I began my Ham career in 1984 by passing my first exam, becoming VE1CIT. The following year, I passed my Advanced Amateur test. When PEI was issued the new VY2 calls, I became VY2AC. Dx has always been my major interest in Ham Radio followed by SSTV and other digital modes.
In the early years, I was extremely active, and by the third year, had worked 300 DXCC countries on 20 Mtrs. CW and SSB. At one point, I was very proficient in Morse, copying over 100 wpm, something I was very proud of, but once I got my Advanced license in 1985, I seldom worked CW again, sticking to SSB and digital modes.
I first went on the air with a Yaesu FT-200 (A black face model of the FT-200 was also sold by Henry Radio as Tempo One - some may be more familiar with that), MFJ Keyer, Bencher paddle, and dipoles. Soon, I erected a TA-33 Sr. on a Ham-M rotor at 40 feet. A second Hornet tri-band beam was set up on a fold-over tower. I used a Commodore C-64 for logging and SSTV along with a teletype KSR-33 for a printer. RTTY was done with both the C-64, and a Teletype Model 15 and homebrew interface. I soon built a 4-1000 amplifier which was used for several years (could that one ever heat and light up a cold shack! For those of you unfamiliar with 4-1000s, they are the size of commercial condiment jars). It eventually was sold and replaced by a SB-220 linear and the FT-200 was replaced by a Kenwood TS-140s.
We had quite an active contest group back in those days, the Prince Edward Island Dx Contest Association, VY2CA, for which I am the call holder. We were active in the spring and fall contests each year from my location, and for several field days, setting up in the barns and various buildings on my property. An interesting highlight from those days is when we set up a 40 meter wire quad in the field, and were operating into it with the 4-1000 linear. How we discovered it, I don't remember, but when we took breaks from operating at night, we went out under the quad, playing Star Wars with 48" fluorescent bulb light swords lit by the RF below the quad. My neighbours thought we were nuts. Perhaps we were. For us, it was great tension relief from the rigours of contesting. From that point on, and for several years, the neighbours gave me strange looks whenever they passed.
Another neighbour admitted that when they were children, that they used to check our mailbox after the mailman came to see what QSL cards had arrived - they were convinced that every communist block QSL card that came was evidence of spy activity! Cute - I can just imagine the fun they had! This would have been something I would have done when I was a kid.
For several years, I was the President of the Charlottetown Amateur Radio Club and produced the club newsletter, and also Vice-President of the Prince Edward Island Radio Association. During this time, we actively campaigned for our own distinctive prefix for PEI., something that eventually we received.
In 2003, Hurricane Juan put a temporary hold on Ham Radio for me, bringing my two towers down, one onto the roof of the house. It was 1 a.m., when Juan reached its peak passing directly overhead. I heard a terrible crash, and foolishly dared to venture outside to see what had happened. The rain was driving into my face, feeling more like hail than rain as I tried to stay upright, and bits of branches and other flotsam blew passed my face. I staggered and half crawled to the back of the house, where I found the tower bent over, and the TA-33 Sr. through the roof. I could have avoided this hazardous expedition, had I only gone upstairs to see the mangled tubular metal poking its way through the ceiling of my son's room! The next morning it was all over, both towers down, and trees down all over the property. We were without power for a week, as the storm had ripped the electrical service off both houses, and many rural lines were down. Unfortunately, along with this came a very busy time in my life, and Ham Radio was moved to the back-burner. My equipment remained idle for the next seven years.
This spring, however, I put up a brand new Hustler 4BTV vertical, and am setting up again. I have purchased a second TS-140s and also an Icom-730 to do as a backup rig until my original TS-140s returns from servicing a PLL problem, and an Icom 2100H for two metres. The Icom-730 will eventually be re-sold. Due to several disablities, limiting my ability to walk and climb, the set-up will more basic than it used to be, but at least will get me back on the air. I am looking forward to retirement in 2012, and Ham Radio will again be a very important part of my life.
Have a peek at my Telephone Museum pages, and the newly added SSTV, Digital TS-140, and Teletype/RTTY pages. I will be adding to this site in weeks to come...
Dave, VY2AC (ex-VE1CIT) in Prince Edward Island, Canada, Locator FN86ND