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Survey Question
What's the worst thing that has happened to you while on the air?
  Posted: Nov 22, 2015   (959 votes, 66 comments) by N2MG

  Power went out
  Lightning strike
  Domestic (family) interruption
  Fire, flood or similar
  Equipment failure
  Something else
    (959 votes, 66 comments)

Survey Results
Power went out 9% (89)
Lightning strike 8% (79)
Domestic (family) interruption 14% (134)
Fire, flood or similar 3% (25)
Equipment failure 36% (345)
QRM / QRN 17% (161)
Something else 13% (126)

Survey Comments
This actually happened.
I was diving on the small island of Saba in the Caribbean. There is only one Ham on this island and he rarely operates. I took my FT-100D and an R5 antenna. I was operating one evening after diving and had a pretty good pile going when I was asked to move so that an Islands On The Air net could use my frequency. WTF? I was on the air as PY/KO4JY and they wanted me to move so they could start a net for islands?

Posted by KO4JY on June 28, 2016

chewed out
I had just upgraded to general, (1972) and was trying to make my first voice contact. I had a dx-60b heathkit radio. I got so chewed out for operating AM. OUCH

Posted by WB0EYA on April 16, 2016

Chewed Out
Years ago hiking in the Cascades with my qrp rig, I awoke and tried to transmit and found the squirrel had chewed through my key cable

Posted by KG2RS on January 28, 2016

Worst Thing
Seeing the same Poll as I saw 2 months ago on

Posted by W4KVW on January 10, 2016

Something else!
Up with the antenna of those appalling(I now know) coiled spring things from USA...don't ever buy one....set up on a Pacific Island with my TS130V....only to find a complete barrage and band block of hams in a usual running billions of RF watts....for the whole long weekend. I've plenty of stories about the behaviour of nets and the like however running 7 watts-10 watts input nett (nett...the correct spelling for quantum is two t's)really even if they hear you and you'd never know without call back it's too difficult when not 3-5/7-0. Once comps were fun....using homebrew and even ex military gear but now, blocking whole bandwidths is not what we once had courtesy and tradition and leaving room for the low power/less yep...that was one of my worst 'put off the air' experiences...So then I pulled the antenna down ...sproing-g-g-g-g- all care made no difference it just became a heap of metal spring junk worse than a rubix cube..after a couple of hours I snipped off the balun and insulators and binned the junk 'wonderful American made by ham wunderbar' etc coiled spring junk , sulked a while and then had a couple of black Russians Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!...well so much for island dx.

Posted by VK2MS on January 8, 2016

Field day - Lack of common-sense.
Field day 1971 or '72 on a large open field at the local college.

It was an unusually hot midwestern weekend so we pitched the mouth of the canvas tent into a gentle breeze. About mid-afternoon a fast-moving front promised to offer relief from the heat. The cool breeze suddenly became a gale. The tent inflated like a wind sock and three Ops and a table of gear tumbled for about 250'. A bit bruised (boat anchors back then!) and some gear needed fixing, but no serious injuries. As a teenager, I was suddenly wise beyond my years.

Posted by N9CYS on January 8, 2016

Looks like we're heading for another two month anniversary of the current survey, AGAIN!!

Posted by K0CBA on January 7, 2016

Powerpole connector failure
I was in the middle of a chat on the local repeater when all of the equipment shut down. Turned out the Powerpole connector on the main feed to my DC power buss failed. It must have been arcing because the shell of one of the connectors melted. I couldn't even see why it had failed. It is waiting for me to take a Dremel tool to the melted shells and do an autopsy of the failed connection.

Tom Horne W3TDH

Posted by W3TDH on January 3, 2016

While blazing away at a record 8-10 wpm with my straight key on an old HW sb-101 I noticed that a disquieting amount of smoke was coming from under the cover. I was still putting full power out, but throwing ham QSO decorum to the wind I stopped transmitting in mid word, unplugged the rig and looked under the cover. There were burn marks near the tubes but no obvious component blackened. Maybe it was just dust. In any case I haven't fired it up again yet.

Posted by AD7QQ on January 3, 2016

Snow Static
Kept hearing an unfamiliar crackling sound thru the receiver. Outside was a white out snow blizzard with high winds. I shutdown the radio & upon removing the antenna I seen a 1/2" blue arc snapping to the radio chassis (ground). It was a wonder that the solid-state receiver front end was not fried.

Posted by N8FVJ on January 3, 2016

Lightning Strike
I was home alone and new thunderstorms were
in the area, but hadn't gotten close to me
yet - so I thought. All of a sudden there
was a flash and a loud bang. The burglar
alarm was sounding and since it is also the
fire alarm. My first thought was to call
the fire department - phone was dead. I
went up into the attic and the A/C was out
and I smelled the strong oder of ozone.
Everything in the house electronic was wiped
out. The roof was made of Hardyshake, a
fiber cement product. The next day I found
a lot of pieces of the roof in the back
yard, and found that they came from the peak
in front of the house. I'd taken a direct
hit. Two weeks later a house down the block
took a direct hit and burned to the ground.
Since my roof is the highest on the street,
I now have new equipment, a new polymer roof
and LIGHTNING ARRESTORS. Now during storms
I wear adult diapers. (Just kidding -
couldn't resist).

Posted by WA2ASB on January 2, 2016

Burning of my eyes
I was operating HF one evening with the windows open
and a skunk must have walked by and filled the shack
with skunk smell. I mentioned the skunk in my qso, and
have a qsl card for the contact mentioning the skunk in
the comment section of the qsl card.

Posted by K9YR on December 31, 2015

Middle of a contest
In the middle of an ARRL 10 meter contest my IC-745 CPU RAM battery decided to quit. I switched to a mobile rig while my wife retrieved a battery for me and I was able to install it that night while the band was down and resume contesting the next morning.

Posted by N7UQ on December 28, 2015

St Helms fire in my shack
While being on air on VHF with
considerable QRO and there was much static
in air due to an upcoming thunderstorm, a
huge charge had built up between my HF and
VHF antennes. The HF and VHF rigs where
not properly grounded, hence the discharge
appeared in my shack as a blueish cloud
and a huge bang in result. All my rigs
where dead...
I have been told this was a st Helmsfire
in my shack. But whatever it was, it was
the worst I ever experienced and I
recommend to ground your rigs well to
prevent such event! Even the burning of my
2m dipole (also not very pleasant...) in
one of my EME QSO's, could not match the
catastrophy of st Helmsfire...

Best 73 and have a safe and healthy 2016
Dick PA2DW

Posted by PA2DW on December 27, 2015

No Antenna !
Probably the worst that happened to me while operating was forgetting to turn the Antenna switch to an active Antenna and making the radio very hot ! In other words transmitting into a dead to ground connection !

Posted by AA7LX on December 23, 2015

Tuning knob
While in a pile-up I unfortunately touched the tuning knob and missed the DX .....
Shit happens ......

Hans, PA0HOP

Posted by PA0HOP on December 21, 2015

Sitting at a red light and having a qso with some friends
on the local repeater, keyed the mic and BAM I got hit
from behind by a young lady who was apparently too
busy with her phone to realize the light was red and there
was a vehicle stopped at it. Once we exchanged
information I had to get back on the radio and ask if the
string of expletives that flowed from my mouth at the
time of impact had been put out over the air. Thankfully
the impact had knocked the mic out of my hand and
nobody heard me. ;o)

Posted by AA4JR on December 21, 2015

One evening I was operating RTTY from Nigeria where I was a missionary, A knock on the door was for a woman in labor who needed a ride to the hospital. I explained why I was going QRT and an hour later the station I had several American stations asked how it went. KI0QS ex 5N7YZC

Posted by KI0QS on December 19, 2015

January VHF Contest
I was running schedules on 1296, 2304 and 3456. At the time (the late 1990's) the only real high power operation on those bands was running 7289's and using water to cool them. My return hose somehow feel out of my 5 gallon reserve bucket I started to feel my feet getting wet as I watched my output power drop.
This could have been a real disaster because the anodes were water cooled and the supply was a couple of amps at 1kv. I was in my socks and holding the gooseneck of my mike. I didn't get the shock of my life but it did scare me into securing the return line of the water supply. I guess I was lucky that I had just freshened up the water with distilled water.

Posted by AA2UK on December 17, 2015

A few years back, I was working 2 meters with a HT from the lower level of our house. With only 16 channels, 2 meters soon went quiet.

So, I decided to experiment - see what the cable signal going through the house looked like -- on a spectrum analyzer. So I ran a cable from the cable outlet to the RF in on a Systron-Donner 751B.

After about five minutes, the phone in my shack/office started ringing. It was my wife calling. WHAT WAS I DOING TO KNOCK THE FINALS OF AMERICAN IDOL OFF THE AIR?

I finally figured it out. The first conversion swept oscillator in the 751B was radiating OUT the RF IN jack and jamming the cable system in our house!

PS: I never could find out the strength of that LO's radiation But it must be pretty strong!

Posted by N9LCD on December 16, 2015

Fell out of boat
Theres a kenwood in the lake!

Posted by AB3LW on December 15, 2015

close encounter of the worst kind
Was working 2 meter when a storm came up. Signed off and unplugged the coax and lay it on the radio table. Turned away to leave when big flash and crack filled the room. When I gained some composure I looked back and saw the table was burning in a small spot and an electric cord near the coax was smoking.

Posted by W4CPT on December 13, 2015

very shocking
After doing a little service work on my faithful HT 32 transmitter I was itching to get it working on my favorite vintage net. About to go on the air, I realized I had forgotten to install the internal fan. I rationalized I could just prop up the lid with a pencil, set the fan inside and plug it into the internal receptacle. All with the xmtr on as it was warmed up and stabilized. Very carefully I set the fan inside and plugged it in not realizing I had my finger in the fan which gave me a good whack, causing me to jump, knocking the pencil out causing the lid to fall cramming my hand on the the 6146 plate caps which in turn caused me to curse loudly activating the vox causing me to transmit a bunch of bad language over my favorite vintage net.

Posted by WB0SNF on December 12, 2015

Hot Stuff While Mobile
I got a fresh hot Dunkin Donuts coffee in my right
hand, mic in the left hand close to the mouth
yakking away on 2 FM and I hit a curb coming out
of the drive thru. The coffee flew all over my pants
- HOT!!! - but I kept radio composure - no swears
until after the car stopped and the mic was
released. Then it was F-bomb city and then some
laffs. Thankfully also in the parking lot was a
WalMart so could get some pants and still make it
to my first sales call of the day. Life on the road!

Posted by WD1V on December 12, 2015

Cockpit Error!
Signing off as net control of a 75 meter mornning net, I mistakenly left on the vox as I yelled at the dog for barking while I was on the air. Several inappropriate words went out over my 1 KW signal! OOPs! There were several snickers heard after the vox dropped.

Posted by W2FBS on December 12, 2015

Man the lifeboats!
Power failed during a once-in-a-century
After a half hour of the backup pump
running on battery, I had to disconnect my
deep cycle marine battery from the ham
station and couple it to the battery
powered backup sump pump.
Fortunately the power came back on about
then, the basement flooded but not over a
couple inches.
Enough to cause me grief, damage and some

Posted by KD8NGE on December 11, 2015

I was driving home from college, MANY years ago and talking to a friend, via the local repeater. While I was transmitting, another vehicle cut in front of me and almost caused an accident. I hit the break hard and must have uttered some descriptive adjectives. The other station only said after I let up on the PTT button.....I presume we have had an accident. It was embarrassing to say the least and I have never repeated it.

Posted by WA3LWR on December 10, 2015

That's the breaks
Working a contest in our upstairs bonus (radio) room when wife comes up to comment on something from Olympics. Going downstairs she slips, falls, breaks leg.

QRT and then 911

She recovered.


Posted by KF7CG on December 10, 2015

That's the breaks
Working a contest in our upstairs bonus (radio) room when wife comes up to comment on something from Olympics. Going downstairs she slips, falls, breaks leg.

QRT and then 911

She recovered.


Posted by KF7CG on December 10, 2015

The top answer is missing from the list..
"Made inadvertent contact with arrogant operator best described as 'azzhat'."

Posted by N4REV on December 9, 2015

I took a lightning hit while on the air. It
split a tree in the neighbours yard. I
received some damage...but the radio didn't!

This was my second close encounter with
Thor... The first time was when I was a kid,
and my Remco Billy Wizard Crystal Radio didn't
fare as well. Fortunately, I wasn't listening
at the time.

Posted by W8LV on December 9, 2015

close call
I came home from work one day and my tv and my stereo and my power supply was damage by lighing my computer and my radio was unhook iwas lucky but rest was damaged


Posted by N4MJG on December 7, 2015

One evening during the early nineties, while repairing a radio, a close neighbor who was talking to another neighbor, both using enough power to reach Europe gave me cause to ask them to lower their power level. I got the " my radio, use it how I want" and so on remarks. I hooked up my generator and set the frequency just a bit to one side, and added a few watts. And soon with a few additional generator adjustments, At two city blocks away, it became silent. I will admit, that was not my normal behavior, but it was fun.

Posted by N9MAV on December 6, 2015

ale datron tw7000

Posted by W3AE on December 6, 2015

ale datron tw7000

Posted by W3AE on December 6, 2015

One time I was operating from our club
station, when the member sitting next to me
heard someone he didn't like come over our
repeater. He blurted out an expletive right
while I was in the middle of a qso. (And
running the amp, of course! )Never forgave him
for that. Another time another club member's
son cut the power to the shack while I was
operating. I'm sure glad I have my own

Posted by NO2A on December 4, 2015

One two crap
Yea I had a fireball once, got my attention but not like the tornado! Blew the shingles off the roof over my head, water coming down the walls wow.. then the train sound. Skywarn called me this time :)

Lets just say I was scared pretty good.

73 Dave

Posted by KD8GEH on December 4, 2015

While I was on the air, my space heater started a fire in the
shack. My plastic QSL card holders and a few of my QSL
cards went up in smoke!!! The good news is that I had a full
cup of coffee at hand which I used to douse the flames as they
climbed up the wall. (YES, I unplugged the heater first.)

Posted by W6AAJ on December 2, 2015

Worst thing to happen to me on the air.
Hit by lightning twice. First time rig was off and COAX disconnected. Spark jumped across 3" of air gap and fried the radio. Second time was on the air with my HW-101. Took an indirect hit that did slight damage to the radio.

Posted by K4PIH on December 2, 2015

Car breakin
I was talking to the NCS on my 6:00pm MARS net, when my teenage daughter yelled that
somebody was breaking into her parked car.

Posted by KA1VF on December 2, 2015

Nothing bad happened
Maybe the QRM of some of the rude characters that hang out on 80 meters trying to interrupt my rag chew QSO, when I am trying to have a civil rag chew. That is probably the worse thing that has happened.

Posted by KB6QXM on December 2, 2015

Lightning Ball
Back in early '70s, operating HF from TJ1BG a
ball of lightning rolled in on the antenna
ground cable, rolled across my desk, turned and
rolled back and out the window to ground rod.
XYL was screaming for me to do something, all I
could manage to do was sit there unable to move
and hoping it stayed outside. Fried
everything, lost capacitors in every piece of
equipment I had hooked up. Will never forget
it and have never seen anything like it since.

Posted by WA4JLR on December 1, 2015

RFI and the Police
June 1987 or 1988 VHF contest in Cape Cod, MA. at a temporary station in a small house. There may have been only one other station besides us operating in grid square FN51.

Local police showed up at the door due to RFI complaints. We were interfering with the reception of a sporting event, may have been a Red Sox game, not sure, I am not a sports fan. We agreed to stay off the air until the game was over in order to maintain peace in the neighborhood.

Posted by K1XS on December 1, 2015

Power outages are a good thing
I love it when the power goes out!

Suddenly my noise floor drops to nothing when all of my neighbors' plasma TVs and other electronics shut off. I can hear and work stations that are otherwise in the noise.

I have a PowerGate 40 connected to a deep cycle RV battery, which has allowed me to work through outages lasting several hours at least.

Posted by KL2ZZ on November 29, 2015

Caught Fire
My shack was on the lower walkout level of our home. I went outside to adjust the 160M dipole fed with 450 Ohm line which required me to slide up the aluminum window screen. I came back in the shack and closed the screen pushing the feed line into the groove I had cut in the sill. I started CQing with my MLA2500 when I saw a light out of the corner of my eye. I had ignited the the plastic insulation! I created a resistive connection and was pumping a KW into the now shorted line. The fire was easily put out.

Posted by K3SX on November 29, 2015

Worst Thing That Happened
One evening about a dozen years ago, I was engaged in
a long ragchew when I heard a loud popping noise
behind me .... suddenly followed by the sound of
wooshing water.... My hot water tank had just blown
out its bottom promptly unleashing 50 gallons of HOT
water all over the basement. The QSO, at least for me,
ended rather abruptly so I cound handle the situation....

Posted by KR4BD on November 28, 2015

Band dies
In middle of contact 40 meters or some other band turns off. At least it has not been caused by the other selections!

Posted by K8BDW on November 28, 2015

Nothing Yet
I must have an Angel in my station. Do not recall
anything bad happening during my 52 years. Well, I
better say I do not remember such a thing after I "came
to"!! Gotta be careful around the tube gear power
supplies. As a novice in 1961 I did not know anything
about matching my antenna system to my transmitter.
Most of my Heathkit 50 watts was reflecting right back at
me and I was getting painful needle sharp rf burns off
the steel set screws in my gears' plastic knobs. I guess
that counts for this new question. Has been a great ham
radio life for me.

Posted by K7NSW on November 28, 2015

1987 was working a 2meter SSB contest when the
tower took a lightning strike out of the blue.
No storms in the area! Blew the antenna
completely off the tower and cooked my rig
along with a TV and stereo in the
house...Scared the crap out of me..I was
shaking for 30 minutes after!!!

Posted by N0FPE on November 27, 2015

Amplifier Transformer blew
In 1980 I was working the CQ WW SSB Dx Contest as single band 40 and Saturday Morning the Henry 2K Amp blew the power transformer. Hard to work 40 SSB with 100 watts.

Dave K4JRB

Posted by K4JRB on November 27, 2015

Worst thing that happened to you while you were on the air
P.S. That was in 2012 while operating fixed station KB3WGE

Posted by KB3WGE on November 27, 2015

Worst thing that happened to you while you were on the air.
Superstorm Sandy Oct.30-31 Bethlehem,PA. I'm mobile now currently heading out to the Southwest(in a slow lesirely fashiom)73' Jimi a,k,a, KB3WGE

Posted by KB3WGE on November 27, 2015

As a young General in about 1960 being told that I was in the Canadian Phone Band by a Canadian Ham. I saw the FCC trucks at the front door already.

Posted by DJ0RD on November 27, 2015

Sister Woes
Back many decades ago, when I was still living in the
family home with my parents & sister, I was in the middle
of an AM transmission on a local Sunday morning
roundtable 'phone net, when all of a sudden, my RFI-
plagued sister upstairs, poked her head through the shack
door, & yelled---at full throttle, too---"...GET OFF OF
THAT %^&*#@&*)^% RADIO...!!!"

I felt all of 2-feet tall as a result. It MUST have been
picked-up by the microphone, she was so VERY vocal. But
the guys on the net were discreet & polite enough not to
humiliate me any further by mentioning the incident...

Posted by VE3CUI on November 26, 2015


The new puppy pulled out my power supply cord from the wall outlet before chewing the plug up in the middle of a CW DX pileup.

Smart dog, most would chew the cord while still plugged in to the wall zapping themselves but not this little terror.

Right after this happened I knew what we were going to name him, 'Ivan The Terrible'

Posted by WB8VLC on November 25, 2015

equipment failure
The lock nut that holds wire to front of power supply came loose and lost ground wire. Hunted around checking stuff til I found the loose wire. Now I check that set of connections every time I get on the air!

Posted by K7ZSK on November 25, 2015

Amplifier Died AGAIN!
Had an Ameritron ALS-600 die when I keyed
it for the 4th or 5th time in just over a
month.It was the last time that it died on
me because I never removed it from the
boxes when it returned from Ameritron.
Traded it for another Ameritron tube
amplifier (811H) & never looked back or
had any other issues.I have had several
power outages while operating but the
amplifier blowing up was much worse in my
opinion since no gear was damaged during
any of the power failures.

Posted by W4KVW on November 24, 2015

I checked other
When I was still living in Chicago, I rigged a 2m radio to my bicycle. One day, I was riding down the street while checking into a net and a cab almost ran me over. I yelled a couple of four letter words at him, then I realized I was still pushing the PTT button. Lucky the mike wasn't right buy my mouth.

Posted by KB9SDS on November 24, 2015

Thankfully none of the really hazardous
stuff. I'd have to vote deliberate QRM. Why
some guys just have to wreck other people's
enjoyment of ham radio, is beyond my

Posted by AD7DB on November 24, 2015

Need an "all of the above" box :-)


Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark
County Indiana. EM78el
The once and future K9ZF /R no budget Rover
***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing

Posted by K9ZF on November 23, 2015

Stuck Toddler
My toddler granddaughter got her foot stuck in the commode where it promptly swelled up. Fire department carried the commode and the child out to the front yard where they broke the commode apart to free the child.

Posted by AA4PB on November 23, 2015

End Loaded 80/40 Meter Dipole went on fire!
I was using an end loaded commercially made 80/40 Meter
dipole antenna on 80 CW with about 700 Watts back in the
1960's. The end loading coils were wound on some kind of
clear plastic rod that also supported the ends of the antenna.
One end melted and went on fire right around the time I was
signing off. A neighbor saw the fire and rang our door bell
preventing any damage to our roof!

Posted by NB2I on November 23, 2015

Shelling on base camp.

Posted by WB5X on November 23, 2015

Nice to see a new one

Nice to see a new survey - finally.

Can't really say anything bad has ever happened to me while on the air .... probably a domestic minor emergency would be the only interruption I can think of.

Posted by K7AAT on November 23, 2015

I sheet myself also.

Posted by KT4WO on November 23, 2015

Stupid Questions
I chit myself

Posted by HFHAM2 on November 22, 2015

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