My interest and fascination with radio goes back to when I was a teenager. In the early 60's I discovered AM radio DX'ing and was intrigued by the many stations I could hear at night.
Then in the mid-60's, my parents bought a radio which had several shortwave bands on it. I immediately "adopted" this radio (I don't think they ever got to use it much again after that). I loved to listen to the many commercial shortwave broadcasters. I also began to discover there were other strange-sounding signals in the shortwave spectrum - sounds like people trying to talk with their mouths shut, pulsing hisses, even more exotic sounds (this radio didn't have a BFO).
Then serendipity paid a visit and my seventh-grade teacher was a radio amateur! He taught a few of us the Morse code after classes a couple days a week, took us to see his "shack", and helped us to study for our Novice licenses.
I received my Novice license in April of 1967. My callsign was WN9UOT. It took a couple months for me to talk my dad into helping me accumulate the equipment and antenna material for a station. I finally got on the air. Back then a Novice license was good for one year and non-renewable. Novice stations were limited to 75 watts from crystal-controlled transmitters in small sections of 80, 40 and 15 meters. I found it was typical to call CQ on a frequency and then tune the entire Novice segment of that band for an answer.
Mostly I hung out on 40 and 15 meters (our yard wasn't big enough to suppport an 80-meter dipole). I had great fun working people all over the USA and an occasional DX station on 15 meters. I participated in my first contest - the Novice Roundup - in 1968.
At the time I did a lot of CW ragchewing but began to develop an interest in DXing, contesting, and VHF/UHF operation. I received my General class ticket in 1968 and my call became WA9UOT. I passed the Extra exam in 1971.
I had a very modest station back then. I used a Hallicrafters HT-40 transmitter (about 40 actual watts out) and a Heathkit Mohawk receiver (desk-crusher!) and an inverted-vee antenna. Most of my operation was on CW, as the HT-40 was a CW/AM rig and I didn't have a mic! When I upgraded to General, I converted a surplus ARC-5 transmitter to a VFO. I also had various QRP transmitters I built, and I earned the coveted "Million-miles-per-watt" award one afternoon running about 300 MICROwatts.
When I went off to college at the University of Illinois in 1972, I didn't have any station of my own on campus but joined the University club, Synton ARC (W9YH). I became very active in the club - quite a few of us almost lived at the shack! We had two free-standing 150-foot towers at our disposal which held a tribander and a zepp antenna, and occasionally more exotic antennas such as a bobtail curtain. Now THAT could work some DX!
In 1977 I received the "vanity call" W9SZ (they were free back then!) A friend
of mine found records to indicate the first holder of this callsign died at
Pearl Harbor, so I use it with respect.
Over the last 10 years I have become a very active DX'er, contester and VHF operator. I currently live in a second-floor apartment, and my HF station consists of a TS-440 transceiver, PK232MBX/DSP, and various computers for logging, antenna design and digital modes (RTTY, AMTOR, PACTOR, Packet, Feld-Hell and PSK31). I have a full-wavelength vertical loop for 40 meters which also tunes 15 and 10 meters, and dipoles for 80, 30 and 20 meters. See my VHF page for my VHF equipment.
Below are some of my interests. Please click on the buttons to see more.
DXing It's an obsession!
Contesting Another obsession!
VHF/UHF/Microwave Weak-Signal Work There is still a frontier
PIC Microcontrollers Is there anything you can't do with them?