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Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken

from AK4YH on February 22, 2014
View comments about this article!

The most taken route to Ham Radio is probably the Technician license, followed or preceded by the purchase of an HT or a mobile VHF/UHF rig. Then comes the General after a while and the OM's first steps into HF SSB. Some will continue to the Extra Class and maybe even CW. Nothing wrong with that but why not start from the “other end” and why?

In April of 2012 I decided to build a RockMite kit, a little 20m crystal controlled transceiver you could buy for $29. I hadn't touched a soldering iron for twenty seven years but it is like riding a bicycle, well, somewhat. I wasn't a Ham then and didn't know much about how to become one. I had no preconceptions of where I should start. Morse code seemed like a good idea at the time. I like simplicity and efficiency. From what I read, that's what I was getting. I was elated when I first heard static in my earphones, along with some faint CW and a song by Journey! The RockMite's bandwidth is as large as a barn door. I couldn't transmit but I didn't know any Morse code anyway.

I should have spent some money on the ARRL Technician license book right then but instead I immediately ordered an Elecraft K1 kit. I also installed the “Ham Morse” app on my iPod and started the Koch method of learning Morse code. What did I just get into! I couldn't chicken out, having just spent $300 on a radio I couldn't use. So I started at 20wpm; ended up slowing down to 7wpm. What a mistake that was. I very slowly climbed up to 12wpm. Now I had to think about getting my ticket...

The Technician license doesn't offer much bandwidth for CW so I was already thinking of getting the General as soon as possible. It didn't take long for me to pass most online practice tests so I tried the General ones. They weren't that much harder. I ordered the General book, and why not, the Extra book as well. The three books had pretty much the same chapters, just much more in depth for the Extra. I started reading the same chapter from each book in order, then the next one, etc. I had decided then to attempt all three exams in the same session. There is no penalty for trying and I would save a few dollars on top of a couple trips to the exam center. Chance favors the bold.

I had no doubt about passing Technician and General as there isn't much more material in the General book. Extra was a bit harder and it seemed I had forgotten most of the math on the way to the Red Cross facility. I had to “educationally guess” quite a few answers and whether it was chance or my subconscious helping out, I passed. As soon as I saw my call sign appear in the FCC database I plugged-in my K1 into my PAR end-fed in the back yard and browsed to lower end of 40m until I heard F5IN calling CQ. I sent my call sign... He replied! I have no idea what he said, but he did repeat my letters. That was on September twenty first of the same year.

Learning Morse code has been a blessing. There is nothing as efficient and simple as a small CW QRP radio, period. It took me a year and a half to get to 20wpm, something I am not proud of, but I am reaping the rewards now, in money saved and fun of operation. I now have built a little Weber MTR which I have taken camping and to my favorite coffee shop to operate outside under an umbrella, sipping coffee. Nobody notices the Buddistick clamped to the white picket fence. The radio is the size of a pack of cigarettes and gets me to Europe from Florida on a regular basis, as far as the Black Sea. I have regular skeds with my friend Ray in Virginia eight hundred miles away, sometimes using as low as 100mW. CW is like using a laser instead of a flashlight.

What better way to enter Ham radio? I suspect that it is where I would have ended-up anyway after trying countless rigs and modes of operation, to what is in my opinion the essence of radio. I don't have a shack. My whole station fits in a small Pelican case (1150), including the antenna, batteries and paddles. I have a small solar panel to charge my eight AA cells. Since the radio sips 35mAh on receive, they last one to two weeks of daily operations anyway. Best of all, I don't hurt my back when I go hiking.

My point is that you don't need to limit yourself to a Technician license when starting. Aim at least for General. You also don't need to spend a fortune on gear. That might be the attraction for some but the older I get the more I seem to like simple, elegant and cheap solutions to real challenges. Morse code is not easy to learn, or at least wasn't for me, but anything worth doing usually isn't. “When All Else Fails,” you will hear Morse code on the air long after the power goes out and generators have run out of gas.

Member Comments:
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Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by VK6IS on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
what a way to get your ticket.
- buy an expensive radio, that you can't use ..
But, at least, you got there, in the end.
Congratulations on that achievement.

- Probably better that my way,
where the ticket was obtained thirty years ago,
& now it's all about re-learning CW, - all over again.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by F8WBD on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"You also don't need to spend a fortune on gear. That might be the attraction for some but the older I get the more I seem to like simple, elegant and cheap solutions...".

Couldn't agree more. At well past 70 years of age, the older I get, the more retro I become. Don't recommend my aging state-of-mind and preferences for 20-year-olds' though.

When I was a Novice, it mean't beginning the hobby in the CW mode. Even now am 100% QRP CW with HW-8, OHR100A, and a straight key.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by WD8KNI on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Get a Ham License, learn CW, sounds like you found the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's. Welcome to the Wayback machine Mr. Peabody.. The only thing you missed along the way was Novice and Advanced.. But since you can solder, and read schematics, you most likely could have passed an old school Novice and Advanced test.

However You must be very quiet about your accomplishments or someone will call you an elitist and a CW begit your article has most likely doomed you..

Regards.. Fred know CW here..
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N4OI on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

"[...] My point is that you don't need to limit yourself to a Technician license when starting. Aim at least for General. [...]"

That is great advice. What's more, go for the Extra class so you do not miss out on all that great DX at the lower ends of the bands!

"[...] the older I get, the more retro I become.[...]"

My experience also - buying and using old novice rigs, rejuvenating and using ancient typewriters, keeping and maintaining old, low-tech cars, turning off the machines and using 18th century woodworking tools and methods... watching old Seinfeld reruns..... It's the best, Jerry, THE BEST!

73
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by KY3F on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I'm having some trouble posting.
Please excuse me.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N8CM on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great story! A great motivator for me to get off my duff and relearn CW. Thanks!
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N8CM on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great story! A great motivator for me to get off my duff and relearn CW. Thanks!
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AA4PB on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Buying an expensive radio that you can't use may provide good motivation to get your license. It's sort of like buying pants that are two sizes to small :-)

 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AI2IA on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Why not take the road conventionally taken? Study for the Technician Class; pass the test. Keep your expenses down and use the gear and bands you are authorized. Study for the General Class;pass the test. Get yourself an HF rig used, or inexpensive. Use everything you've got so that you are well skilled, then get your main rig and improve from simple wire dipoles to other antennas. If you like, learn CW along the way, but keep your eye on digital communications because that is the way of the future.

Avoid clutter and junk. Sell what you no longer use.

Skill in operating your rigs is more useful than spending much time on one mode or another.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AI2IA on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Why not take the road conventionally taken? Study for the Technician Class; pass the test. Keep your expenses down and use the gear and bands you are authorized. Study for the General Class;pass the test. Get yourself an HF rig used, or inexpensive. Use everything you've got so that you are well skilled, then get your main rig and improve from simple wire dipoles to other antennas. If you like, learn CW along the way, but keep your eye on digital communications because that is the way of the future.

Avoid clutter and junk. Sell what you no longer use.

Skill in operating your rigs is more useful than spending much time on one mode or another.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N0SAP on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Some what reminds me of my intro into Ham Radio back in the mid 60's. I learned Morse Code from an encyopedia. Never heard tones until two weeks before taking my Novice test. I love CW, I always will. For those wanting to get back in CW or trying your hand for the first time remember one thing...It's Not About Speed, It's About Communicating. So all experienced operators need to QRS or match the speed of the sender. No one is impressed how fast you can send, only how good of an operator you are. "SAP" NØSAP
 
Go the popular way  
by AI2IA on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
You will get there faster.
You will learn more as you go and be ready for each advancing grade.
There are good reasons why it is structured this way.
As you become more proficient in operating skills, your test preparation enhances your readiness to take on more privileges. This is the way it was intended and put together.
You can always learn code, if that is what you want to do, but learn all you can and try out the digital modes, because this is the way to the future.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W8LGZ on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"If you like, learn CW along the way, but keep your eye on digital communications because that is the way of the future."

Cw IS digital. So, he's already in the future.

Jim, W8LGZ
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W8LGZ on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"If you like, learn CW along the way, but keep your eye on digital communications because that is the way of the future."

Cw IS digital. So, he's already in the future.

Jim, W8LGZ
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K8QV on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"If you like, learn CW along the way, but keep your eye on digital communications because that is the way of the future." >>>>>>



And if you like, learn oil painting, but keep your eye on the digital cameras because they are the way of the future.

Now, how stupid is that? Ham radio is a HOBBY about having fun with communication via the airwaves. If your only interest is in cutting edge technology then buy the latest smart phone; it's decades ahead of anything ham radio has to offer.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AI2IA on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
K8QV says:
"Now, how stupid is that? Ham radio is a HOBBY about having fun with communication via the airwaves. If your only interest is in cutting edge technology then buy the latest smart phone; it's decades ahead of anything ham radio has to offer."

No, John, amateur radio is a service built upon certain principles:
Foremost it is intended to provide emergency communications.
It provides opportunity for radio progress from the primitive past to modern accomplishments.
It allows for advancing skills and acquiring technical knowledge.
It provides a pool of electronically skilled operators.
It promotes international good will through common interests in radio.

You want to have fun? Sure have fun, but always have kindly consideration for the interests of others. - ai2ia

.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AI2IA on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
K8QV says:
"Now, how stupid is that? Ham radio is a HOBBY about having fun with communication via the airwaves. If your only interest is in cutting edge technology then buy the latest smart phone; it's decades ahead of anything ham radio has to offer."

No, John, amateur radio is a service built upon certain principles:
Foremost it is intended to provide emergency communications.
It provides opportunity for radio progress from the primitive past to modern accomplishments.
It allows for advancing skills and acquiring technical knowledge.
It provides a pool of electronically skilled operators.
It promotes international good will through common interests in radio.

You want to have fun? Sure have fun, but always have kindly consideration for the interests of others. - ai2ia

.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K8QV on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Foremost it is intended to provide emergency communications." >>>


Ah, that one again. If we really were interested in providing the most reliable communications "when all else fails" then CW would be the most important mode in EMCOMM. No big power requirements, no repeaters, no computers, no Internet needed. The problem is that "official" emergency communication relies largely on people just barely able to press a button on a pre-programmed HT. The right tool for the job is the most simple and effective tool, not whatever happens to be the latest technology available to radio amateurs.

 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W0BAV on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I thought I was the only person foolish enough to start with CW and QRP. I was 48 when the radio bug hit me and I wanted to do two things, build my own transceiver and learn code. Fortunately, it was during the peak of the last Cycle. Passed the Tech and General exams together, because I was too impatient to listen to all that CW and not jump in. When I took the Extra exam I insisted on using a circular slide rule, in penance for not having to meet the 20 wpm code requirement of my venerated fore-Hams. There's definitely something wrong in my wiring: I collect fountain pens, sing Gregorian chant in a schola, learned bookbinding, and (had I the space and money) would own every boatanchor and mid-sixties British bike on the web. Kits with surface-mount parts or too many ICs leave me cold. There must be a name for this, maybe Analog Syndrome? There is hope, however. I do find that the more electronics I learn, the more curiosity I gain about computers, interfaces, baud rates, VHF and UHF. Stick a Collins vernier dial on a TS 590, I might buy one someday.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by VK5GI on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
It took you 18 months to get to 20 wpm??? My friend, it has taken me the best part of 40 years! Congratulations for being single minded, tenacious and having FUN. I, too, like building kits, and have three on the go at the moment. Thanks for a great article.
Norm VK5GI
Willunga, South Australia.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W6BP on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Let's review. AK4YH has found a way into the hobby that, while unconventional, has led him to a part of ham radio that he greatly enjoys. In less than two years he learned enough to pass all three elements in a single sitting, copy CW at 20 WPM, and chase DX with a QRP rig and simple antennas. Those criticizing him should instead ask him how he managed to do all that. Thanks for the story Gil, and congratulations on your accomplishments.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W3TTT on February 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
18 months or 40 years, at least you got to 20 wpm. Actually, i think that there is a sort of learning disability that some people do have, regarding code. I know that when my wife would s-p-e-l-l out words in front of our small kids, it would be hard for me to imagine the word. The kids were better at it than I "going to the store to buy some i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m...and the kids would yell Yeah!!!" So some people will find it easier and some will find it harder.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W1JKA on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Refreshing article, AK4YH has experienced the way most hams over 50 years old started out in the hobby. Many of us learned Morse code the easy and fun way via Boy Scouts (remember the flashing light and buzzers?) and got a merit badge to boot,then got our Novice license at which time we scrounged up some type of SW receiver and homebrewed a 1 or 2 tube 3-10 w xtmr. from TV parts or depending on how many lawns you mowed could afford a small Heath Kit or Eico, QRP at its finest and we didn't even realize it. In fact when we occasionally saw or smelled smoke from our rig we could trace down the problem and solder in a replacement circuit part and get back on the air. As to CW after attempting 50 or 60 contacts we were gradually able to figure out what we were saying to each other and our CW proficiency progressed from there.
Compare this to the newly minted Ham of today armed with a learners permit anywhere from Tech to Extra within one exam session who then purchases a 100+ watt instant shack in a box with a mike and makes his first contact, to ME this is nothing more than an oversized and expensive Smart phone with about as much excitement and fun using it and hoping to hell nothing goes wrong with your rig that has to be sent back for repair if even possible.
After about 43 years QRT I saw the light and jumped right back into QRP/CW and that's where I'm staying.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K1CJS on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>...amateur radio is a service built upon certain principles:
Foremost it is intended to provide emergency communications.
It provides opportunity for radio progress from the primitive past to modern accomplishments.
It allows for advancing skills and acquiring technical knowledge....<<

This is where a lot of the misconceptions of "emergency communications" comes in. First of all, THE MAJOR PURPOSE OF AMATEUR RADIO IS NOT--NOT--NOT TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS!!! Amateur radio was originally intended to provide a pool of trained radio operators in case of need. It is a HOBBY, and as such IS NOT MEANT TO BE ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY APPROACHING A FULL TIME EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE--such as statements like the above presuppose.

Statements like the one I refer to is what is driving this hobby straight to uselessness--by preempting hobby use for the sake of people and groups who want amateur radio to play at becoming the so called indispensable lifeline that emergency communications in the amateur radio service has come to be seen by some.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by WA1RNE on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"It took me a year and a half to get to 20wpm, something I am not proud of, but I am reaping the rewards now, in money saved and fun of operation."

Not sure why you say that, it takes a lot of practice to obtain CW proficiency. I also believe it comes easier when you're younger in part because you have the time to devote yourself to singular tasks.

As a 13 year old Novice, I was eventually copying around 30 WPM but I attribute that to the Novice license with its CW-only privileges and CW only DX, the activities during that era of ham radio which included lots of CW traffic nets, of which I was a frequent participant (and net control on occasion) and drive at that age.

I agree with your sentiment on licensing - these days the General is the way to go, the Tech just doesn't make a lot of sense.

...WA1RNE

 
RE: Go the popular way  
by KD9AGN on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
WOW the legalist is attempting to scare people. What he calls the "popular way" while being the traditional way is by no means the only way. And he claims "digital" is the future. Sure is until an EMP wipes out all your equipment. What good is digital then? Even if your shack is one giant Faraday Cage? So you and a handful (and I do mean a handful) can still comunicate. The Daddy Bigbucks by and large will be crying about their shack going up in smoke.
Fat wallet hams with thousands of dollars of fried junk and no idea what to do next. You will be knocked off the air and helpless. (I have known extra class hams that couldn't solder two wires together) Then it will most likely be homebrewed simple rigs to replace all that high $ junk in your shack.
As I age I find that Phone is less interesting because voices all carry accents and inflections that are difficult to follow with failing ears. Fortunately, I can crank up the volume and still copy CW.
For various reasons I never got my ticket until last month, but I have been interested in radio all my life. And yes, I learned Morse Code as a Boy Scout,got the merit badge to show for it and went on to other interests. (I was more concerned with collecting merit badges than really following any one path)
I got my ticket so that I can test my projects myself instead of chasing down a buddy to test them for me.
When the "digital modes" fail CW will still be here.
I for one can still slap together a spark gap transmitter and a cat whisker receiver if needed. Yes, I know they are illegal now but in the event of an EMP I seriously doubt anyone is going to raise a fuss.
You see, what I lack in money I make up for in knowledge. I hope to find ya on 40m when I'm running my Hartley reproduction, The tone is different than anything else you have heard from modern circuts.
1915 technology that will outlive it's descendants.
It doesn't get any better than that!
 
RE: Go the popular way  
by KG4RUL on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
CFR Title 47 Volume 5 Part 97 Subpart A - General Provisions

§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing res­ervoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

......................

The ONLY thing close to defining Amateur Radio as anything other than an emergency communication service is 97.1(e).
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W1JKA on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Perhaps the NAME of this road less taken should be named "Most Practical & Effecient Rd."
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N8TI on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Before I received my first Tech license in the mail in 1992, I bought a FT-101ZD. Never transmitted until I learned enough code to pass the Extra exam at 20 WPM. I never wanted to do anything else but CW. Must have been all the old war movies or cowboy movies where Morse Code was on stage.

I think it is normal to buy something before you are licensed to use it. Got my first motorcycle before I had my driver license. You can always sell something later if you don't like it. The whole thing is about satisfying your curiosity and having fun. Having the radio sitting there motivated me to keep learning the code. Even now, I will buy antenna components with some vague plan about putting together this or that antenna.

Admittedly, some things did not work out. I've had a BC-610 in the garage for the last ten years that I never hooked up. Probably will sell that. Too darn big. Still, it was fun buying it and planning to use it.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W5LZ on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
You know, that was the route I took when I first got a license! Not exactly for the same reasons though. CW was all I was allowed as a Novice, and then only for a year...
- Paul :)
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by WA7SGS on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
1 1/2 years to get to 20 WPM sounds more like the power of persistence than anything else. I too have gone with the Koch method. Currently (1/2 year into this in relaxed fashion) I am doing 13/15 at an average score of 88% correct. I do 100 characters at a time and this is done twice a day, rain or shine...LOL! I see the groove wearing in and also my problem area with the dits (S, H, 5, B, 6, V, 4) so I just keep plugging away for those incremental improvments which seem to become noticeable after a month.

Kudos to you for keepin' on keepin' on and getting to 20. As a Novice 40+ years ago I never could crack 13 and now I do for the most part just because I keep plugging away too!

73,

Rick

 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by VA6GWS on February 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Gil, Congratulations. 20 wpm! Making contacts! A station you can carry! You have done well!
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K9MHZ on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"This is where a lot of the misconceptions of "emergency communications" comes in. First of all, THE MAJOR PURPOSE OF AMATEUR RADIO IS NOT--NOT--NOT TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS!!! Amateur radio was originally intended to provide a pool of trained radio operators in case of need. It is a HOBBY, and as such IS NOT MEANT TO BE ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY APPROACHING A FULL TIME EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE--such as statements like the above presuppose."


Yep, well put. "....advancing the radio art...." and other language is in its purpose statement. EMCOMM is fine, but so is everything else. Big tent, EMCOMM is only one of many in it.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K9MHZ on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by N4OI on February 22, 2014..... It's the best, Jerry, THE BEST!<<<<

LOL!

 
Confused Hams. Know 97 Subpart E .  
by AI2IA on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I am happy to see that KG4RUL had the wisdom to reference Part 97.1 (a) Basis and Purpose of the Amateur Radio Service. This is what it is.

K9MHZ is confused when he and others believe that "Emcomm is only one of many in it."

Now don't get it wrong. I do not say that Emcomm is the only purpose, but I do remind those who are confused that the primary purpose of the amateur radio service is emergency communications.

While we are on the subject, I strongly advise every ham to get prepared for that awful moment when you might hear an emergency call and you must respond. Get familiar with the emergency frequencies in your location. Write them down and make a habit of listening at least for a short while whenever you are on the air. Make a list of these frequencies. Get very familiar with your rig and know how, to whom, and where to use it if something threatening life or property comes across to you.

We do not all have to be emcomm association members, but we all should have our priorities right and be ready in the event the responsibility falls on us. Know how to listen and how to get help to anyone who needs it.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K9MHZ on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by AI2IA on February 24, 2014
I am happy to see that KG4RUL had the wisdom to reference Part 97.1 (a) Basis and Purpose of the Amateur Radio Service. This is what it is.

K9MHZ is confused when he and others believe that "Emcomm is only one of many in it."

Now don't get it wrong. I do not say that Emcomm is the only purpose, but I do remind those who are confused that the primary purpose of the amateur radio service is emergency communications.<<<<



You and RUL are running with one bullet point in 97's description and viewing the other 4 with your EMCOMM-colored paradigms. Clearly, the League and FCC will ALWAYS mention and allude to EMCOMM, and admittedly that's good because it's noble sounding and keeps us nicely allocated. But to insist that the overriding reason why we're even here is due to EMCOMM is just not true. It didn't even exist in the early days of ham radio.

<Yawn, here we go again> Don't get me wrong, it's OK if that's what you desire to do with your spare time. Just spare the rest of us, ESPECIALLY new and impressionable hams, the sanctimonious narratives about how we should all be on the EMCOMM bandwagon.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W1AMF on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to thank you for sharing these steps & successes.
I am a General and just started taking CW courses. Thanks to you I also just purchased the Iphone app Ham Morse.
Appreciate your sharing these tips.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K9MHZ on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, PARTICULARLY with respect to providing emergency communications.<<<<


BTW, that ".....particularly with respect...." refers to "service to the public" IN THAT BULLET POINT. That bullet clarifies the amateur service's role in the public service role. It does NOT however, define the amateur service as a whole. If that was the intent, that text would be in the header, not in a discrete bullet point.

 
The road that must be taken.  
by AI2IA on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The Amateur Radio Service.
"Service" is the act of helping or working for someone.

Yes, you can have "fun" and can make it your "hobby" along the way. Nobody said otherwise.

But you must get your priorities straight.

Emergencies communications - are you prepared?

Don't twist it, stretch it, or subvert it.

Know your rigs. Know how to listen. Know how to communicate facts concisely without adding opinion. Know who to contact. You never know what may come your way. As a ham, this is your first responsibility to the Amateur Radio Service - to be ready.

Yes, you can make it an enjoyable hobby. Yes, it can be lots of fun, but the FCC is not the "Fun Communications Commission."

We have privileges, but we have responsibilities, too!
Yes, all new hams must keep this in mind. By the way, CW is good in emergency situations, also.

If you call for help, won't you want someone on the other end to be prepared and capable to help you?

 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N8AUC on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think this is awesome!

What today is called the road less taken, used to be the way almost everybody got started. I know it's the way I got started. As a novice on 40 meters, with a cheap straight key. I built my first transmitter from plans I found in an old book at the public library. A 5763 as an oscillator, with a 6L6 as the final. I think I got like 15 watts out of that thing, and one crystal on 7115KHz. But it worked.

Now I qualify for QCWA. But at 53, I don't feel that old, and it doesn't seem like 1978 was that long ago, but I guess it was. You know what they say. Inside every old guy is a young guy wondering what the heck happened. I think that could be me.

You got to 20 WPM in that short a time? Fantastic! It was much quicker than I got to 20WPM. But the important thing is that you got there. Congratulations on your achievement! Hope to find you on the bands sometime!

73 de N8AUC
Eric


 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by WI4P on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good article Gil. Hope to work you sometime.
73, JP
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AK4YH on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you everyone for the positive comments. It has been a great adventure. I can be found, sometimes, late mornings (EST) on 14060 and nights on 7030. I am having some trouble with intermittent high SWR on my PAR, I suspect water in the connectors.

A note on emergency communications and CW: There are two kinds of EMCOMM, personal and community based. They require different gear, though if an emergency lasts long enough, the smaller, more efficient CW rigs would indeed prevail. While willing to help my community, my preparations are geared towards personal communications with family and friends. I do use Winlink but my success rate is MUCH better with CW. I have only three radios, my MTR (favorite), KX3 and a Rock-Mite 40. At least two are always in a Faraday box (cookie tin can). You can see a photo of my MTR station on my QRZ page (AK4YH).

Not only is Morse code excellent with a radio, but it can also be used with a flashlight, laser pointer, banging on stuff, touching someone, etc. The possibilities are endless.

I did not realize that a year and a half was all right to get to 20wpm because of the military methods I read about, which took someone from zero to twenty in a matter of weeks... If I was starting now, knowing what I know, I would do head-copy only and at 20wpm, right from the get go. It would be harder, but I suspect much faster.

My main concern with radio gear is weight and portability. The first number I check for a rig is the receive current draw. Batteries are heavy and take a while to recharge without grid power. Very little power is needed and 3W is quite enough, 5W is luxury. I even reached Estonia from Florida on 1.3W with my indoors magnetic loop on 40m. SSB in those conditions is futile. I would suggest anyone to learn Morse code and keep a small QRP rig in a tin can for rainy days...

For field operations, I carry a slingshot with 1oz fishing weights and line. I aim for a high branch and get my end-fed up a tree. No trees, I use a Buddistick. Power is provided by rechargeable AA cells, which can be used for other things in camp. I have a small solar panel to charge them. My MTR goes camping with me, the KX3 stays home (a bit big and expensive).. The less I carry the better. I never fail to make skeds with that setup.

Gil.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by KF5KWO on February 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
".....It's the best, Jerry, THE BEST! "

Excellent.

"Wood, Jerry. Wood."
 
UNIQUE  
by LEON on February 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
KG4RUL:


§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing res­ervoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

......................

The ONLY thing close to defining Amateur Radio as anything other than an emergency communication service is 97.1(e).

---------------------------

LEON:

97.1 speaks about principles, PLURAL.

Recognition and enhancement.

Continuation and extension.

Encouragement and improvement.

Expansion.

The one thing that REALLY DOES define Amateur Radio IS 97.1 (e).

Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Good God man, you have it BACKWARDS?

LEON.







 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K5MF on February 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you are enjoying what you are doing, then keep at it. That is all that matters. It is a hobby. Don't let anyone tell you what or how it should be done.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W8MW on February 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
AK4YH, the story of your rapid advancement and focus on CW is a breath of fresh air. Amateur radio is better off now that you’re here! I don’t like to participate in thread hijacking but feel it’s necessary to respond to the incorrect assertion that your (or my) amateur experience must include emcomm. The price of admission into this radio service is passing the tests. There is no requirement that any of us participate in any communications activity outside where our interests lie.

It's a good idea (actually it's required) for hams in the United States to be aware of FCC Part 97. For me, it helps to read all the language and try to absorb the intent in a broad context. My take is FCC designed Part 97 to provide flexibility not typical of other radio services . Consider:

97.3 (a)4 Amateur service. A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

I place considerable weight on that personal aim business because it’s what got me here in the first place and it’s the only thing that’s kept me involved for the past 52 years. If there had ever been any evidence I had somehow signed up to be anything other than a hobby radio enthusiast, I would have been long gone. I have, at times of my choosing, provided traffic handling service and relays to advance delivery of messages. But not because it was a duty implicit as a licensee.

Part 97 goes back many years and it takes historians to identify when various sections were modified and updated. But in recent years FCC has made formal statements about emergency communications in the amateur service. This one is germane to the discussion here:

"... we note that although many amateur radio operators choose to use their communications ability to assist the public by proving communications during an emergency, and we continue to encourage such activity, there is no requirement that they do so." ---FCC. WTB Notice FCC 05-143A1 July 19, 2005 Paragraph 20

To our emcomm friends I say don’t beat me over the head with your flashing light and I won’t beat you over the head with my telegraph key. I’m perfectly happy to share this big radio sandbox where participants have so many varied interests and personal perceptions of what amateur radio means to them. There is no metric ranking who is the better amateur. But these days we should all agree the best amateurs are the ones still around.

73 Mike W8MW
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by RSHIRE22 on February 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I started as a novice with cw and qrp. Talk about starting at the bottom. I had an HW-8 but I lived in New York City and never made an actual contact. Not until two years later when I lived in San Francisco and I acquired a Century 21. I strung a 15 meter dipole on the roof of my rooming house on Hyde St on Knob Hill. It was the summer of 1980 and I made cw contacts to Japan and Hawaii.
The best time ever. I was KA6PYZ.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by KW6LA on February 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great story that many can relate to. I started in 1989 as a Tech –plus, passing 5 WPM. Had a HR-2510 that sounded awful on SSB, so I worked slow code on 28.150 MHz’s. Many will remember when the 3 to 8 WPM’s
operators would migrate there to hone CW skills. It was about 3 yrs later with the 20wpm Extra, I started to using Phone on a modern day radio. There is something special about the way the Novice class Hams started
in amateur radio, and I was close to the same experience ( Fun ). This opened up a world of cheap / QRP / Cw radios for camping trips that gave me a bigger thrill than those $ $ 3000.00 stay at home boxes. I was the guy
that was never to learn Morse code, but never say never ! Earned a T2 ( Second Class Commercial ) FCC license 6 yrs back. Digital is great technology, but CW is a skill earned to be proud of. Just know it is an acquired skill
so no real easy way around it ! Have fun !
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by K9MHZ on February 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"By AI2IA on February 24, 2014....Yes, you can have "fun" and can make it your "hobby" along the way. Nobody said otherwise. But you must get your priorities straight.<<<<


Oh, I think I do....Growth of the hobby and utilization of our bands, first and foremost.....just as it's ACTUALLY written in Part 97.

People need to feel welcomed and never feel like they have to be a part of something a little out there, just because they're led to believe that "this is an ECOMMM hobby primarily."

Of course people need to be prepared. Too, if volunteering your time for ECOMMM with your local gov't blows your skirt up, then God Bless you.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W5HEH on February 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, i agree , but these youngsters today want even more instant gratification with fast internet ,video games etc, i think there are many prospective Real Hams waiting in the Robotic clubs and Tech Schools . We have to go and put ourselves out at local Elementary Schools, and do a show and tell and demonstrate CW oscillators and perhaps a QSO on a portable rig , Sell the Magic that you felt when first started out ,when Children get the Wow Factor internally then you have planted some Future Amateur Enthusiasts . Mentor those Kids , help them set up their station, they will become part of this great Hobby/Service and our Family . Share the Enjoyment , 73s, AJ from the Ozarks a Fun Playground for QRP .
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by KJ4FFF on February 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article. My interest is peaking in QRP...CW especially.
 
Wishful thinking.  
by AI2IA on February 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Take Bradley, K9MHZ. He does not quote my point, but takes part of it out of context. Here I put it back where it belongs:

§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

The very first fundamental purpose is providing emergency communications. The emcomm haters refuse to accept this. They see it as a hobby first, not as a service to the public.

Dumb bunny hams refuse to grasp that it is not saying that you must join an emcomm group.

Once again I ask, are you prepared? If you heard a distress call on the air, have you taught yourself how to handle it?

You have a great privilege in being licensed under the amateur radio service. You also have a responsibility to be ready to help in the event of dire need. Are you ready?
 
DUMB BUNNY  
by LEON on March 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA


There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Take Bradley, K9MHZ. He does not quote my point, but takes part of it out of context. Here I put it back where it belongs:

§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

The very first fundamental purpose is providing emergency communications. The emcomm haters refuse to accept this. They see it as a hobby first, not as a service to the public.

Dumb bunny hams refuse to grasp that it is not saying that you must join an emcomm group.

Once again I ask, are you prepared? If you heard a distress call on the air, have you taught yourself how to handle it?

You have a great privilege in being licensed under the amateur radio service. You also have a responsibility to be ready to help in the event of dire need. Are you ready?

------------------------------------------------

LEON HERE

The very first fundamental purpose is providing emergency communications.

This is what you spoke about Ray.

If the very first fundamental purpose is providing emergency communications, why is the FCC giving the license away.

Who would I call? The Dumb Bunny hams on 7.200.

Ray you are crazy if you think Ham Radio is nothing but a HOBBY.

And Ray, when you use the term DUMB BUNNY, you pretty much lost any credibility you may have had right off the bat.

LEON





 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AI2IA on March 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"If the very first fundamental purpose is providing emergency communications, why is the FCC giving the license away.

Who would I call? The Dumb Bunny hams on 7.200.

Ray you are crazy if you think Ham Radio is nothing but a HOBBY.

And Ray, when you use the term DUMB BUNNY, you pretty much lost any credibility you may have had right off the bat."

LEON

Leon without call sign, what nonsense you write! My consistent point is that amateur radio in the U.S. is not a hobby. Get it? Not a hobby. It is a public service. You write that the FCC is giving the license away. Is that one of your sane statements? What does 7.200 got to do with anything?
I wonder, do you listen to your radio with the power off? Normally I don't respond to folks who don't give a call sign, but you are so far out there that wonder how you get through a day. Read what I wrote, Leon. Where is you mind?
de Ray, ai2ia

 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by AK4YH on March 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know how this turned into a hobby vs. public service debate... When I got my license, nobody had me sign a paper requesting that I provide a public service... I would be likely to help in case of an emergency, if I have the luxury to do so, but nobody is going to make me do it. It's a public service for some and a hobby for others, period. For me, it's a hobby and potentially a PERSONAL emergency communication tool, and I couldn't care less what a piece of paper says it is or should be. The day the FCC forces hams to do emcom will be the day I quit. As far as I know there is no such requirement.

Gil.
 
RE: Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by W8MW on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA: My consistent point is that amateur radio in the U.S. is not a hobby. Get it? Not a hobby. It is a public service.

I am very interested in the authoritative or credible source(s) leading you to that conclusion. Please enlighten us. Unless you have new, compelling evidence that my hobby has undergone a massive shift from what it was when I signed up, I have to disagree with you. Sorry, but the hobby bell can’t be un-rung. Here are some definitions of amateur radio from easily confirmed sources:

Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) is a popular hobby and service in which licensed Amateur Radio operators (hams) operate communications equipment. --- ARRL

Amateur radio is a scientific hobby, a means of gaining personal skill in the fascinating art of electronics and an opportunity to communicate with fellow citizens by private shortwave radio. ---The Radio Amateur’s Handbook 40th Edition

Welcome to the wonderful world of Amateur Radio. It is many different things to the individual three million plus people throughout the world who enjoy this multi-faceted communications hobby. --- Wireless Institute of Australia

Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for the non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. --- Radio Society of Great Britain

Amateur radio. The greatest of all scientific hobbies. Amateur radio offers everyone a great technical hobby, with opportunities for growing your own technical capability, and having fun at the same time. --- International Amateur Radio Union Region 1

Amateur radio is a form of communication; a hobby; a community service. ---Radio Amateurs of Canada

Amateur Radio is a hobby of constructing, experimenting and communicating. --- Irish Radio Transmitters Society

73 Mike W8MW
 
Refusing to see the facts.  
by AI2IA on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
To Mike, W8MW, to those without call signs, to those who are emcomm haters, although I never ever said that any ham must join such a group, once again I make the point. You can make the amateur radio service your hobby. I've said this before, but that is not its fundamental purpose. Get it?

What is the matter with you, Mike? You reference all sorts of sources even from Australia, for what? You do not reference the only authoritative source for US amateur radio service operators. Why not?

Once again I give you the fundamental reason why the amateur radio service is not established as a hobby:

§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

Our reason for being is as a public service, particularly for providing emergency communications. Man! Can't you read?
Sure you can treat it like a hobby most of the time, but for goodness sake, if a distress call comes your way as an individual amateur radio service operator, are you capable of handling that distress call properly? Are you ready? This is my key point and the lesson we all should learn - to be ready to handle a distress call. Forget emcomm! Forget kit building, or QRP activities, or ham clubs! Just fix your mind on Part 97 above, and always make certain that you are ready. This is your responsibility for the privileges you get with the license. If you are ready, then enjoy your radio hobby and whatever else you may do as part of the amateur radio service in the United States of America.
vy 73,
de Ray Mullin, ai2ia
 
RE: Refusing to see the facts.  
by W8MW on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>What is the matter with you, Mike

Don’t get me started. Suffice to say plenty is the matter, Ray, but unlike some other old farts I try to keep it to myself.

>You do not reference the only authoritative source for US amateur radio service operators. Why not?

In my first post in this thread I referenced FCC twice. I’ll repeat in case you missed it:

FCC Reference 1: 97.3 (a)4 Amateur service. A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

My comment: Without ever getting involved in public service, a licensee can self-train, intercommunicate and make technical investigations, thus fulfilling the purpose of this service. There are no additional responsibilities attached to the privilege of having a license. There are opportunities, however, for those who wish to do more for personal reasons.

FCC Reference 2: "... we note that although many amateur radio operators choose to use their communications ability to assist the public by proving communications during an emergency, and we continue to encourage such activity, there is no requirement that they do so." ---FCC. WTB Notice FCC 05-143A1 July 19, 2005 Paragraph 20

My comment: How much more plain can those words be?

>You reference all sorts of sources even from Australia, for what?

Thought you might pick up on the recurring description of amateur radio as a hobby not just in the states but in other parts of the world. Also hoped you might pause long enough to consider RSGB’s balanced description saying it’s a “popular technical hobby and volunteer public service”. Personally, I am comfortable with that language. Can you ever get comfortable with it too?

73 Mike W8MW
 
Fundamental purposes vs. operator activities  
by AI2IA on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
FCC Reference 2: "... we note that although many amateur radio operators choose to use their communications ability to assist the public by proving communications during an emergency, and we continue to encourage such activity, there is no requirement that they do so." ---FCC. WTB Notice FCC 05-143A1 July 19, 2005 Paragraph 20 - So quotes Mike, W8MW.

All well and good, Mike, but your quote concerns the activity of amateur radio operators, not the fundamental purposes of the Amateur Radio Service as given in Part 97.

Do you not see that distinction?

My point involved the purpose of the U.S. amateur radio service, but most importantly the readiness of each license holder to be prepared and willing to respond skillfully to a call of distress.

My concern is that we all give this readiness our first priority and then go about all the rest that ham radio implies.
 
COMMON SENSE  
by LEON on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
RAY:

Leon without call sign, what nonsense you write! My consistent point is that amateur radio in the U.S. is not a hobby. Get it? Not a hobby. It is a public service. You write that the FCC is giving the license away. Is that one of your sane statements? What does 7.200 got to do with anything?
I wonder, do you listen to your radio with the power off? Normally I don't respond to folks who don't give a call sign, but you are so far out there that wonder how you get through a day. Read what I wrote, Leon. Where is you mind?
de Ray, ai2ia

------------------------------------------------

LEON:

It's just a Hobby Ray. You can get a General Ticket pretty quick with a Gordon West study book. He gives the questions and the answers. The FCC allows this.

The FCC also allows folks to do all kinds of crazy things on the air with no enforcement.

I wonder, do you listen to your radio with the power off?

Listen to 7.200 and maybe check in and say hello as a public service to them.

Maybe you should just listen first, before you speak.
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by N8TI on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I am sure that we all would assist in emergencies if asked.
 
Being prepared for a distress call.  
by AI2IA on March 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This subject is admittedly off topic to the main thread. To see how it came into being requires that those really interested in the reason go back on the thread to where it began, that is, if it matters to you.

What should matter to every amateur radio service operator is whether you have a quick look up chart of the resources, frequencies, and alternates of emergency responders such as the U.S. Coast Guard.

Also what should matter to every amateur radio service operator is acquiring the skill to listen attentively to a distress call, to write down the critical facts, and to respond calmly and concisely, and accurately, repeating those facts exactly without adding any conjecture or opinion of your own. If you are capable of doing this you could save lives and property.

No you don't have to be in any emcomm group. Yes, you can pursue your radio hobby to your heart's delight, but you will know that you are prepared to meet your fundamental responsibility under the purpose of Part 97, and what is more, you will be an asset to your family, your community, your nation, and possibly to the international community should that fateful moment ever become yours.

Having experienced such a traumatic experience, you will never again look upon the radio service as a mere hobby. I hope that you never need to do what could come your way, but I hope that you are ready.

This is my message. Don't pick it apart.

de Ray, ai2ia
 
Road less Taken  
by W7WQ on March 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Golly
 
Starting Ham Radio, The Road Less Taken  
by KB9BVN on March 31, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Gil,

I got my ticket in 1988, had to do 5 WPM back then for your Novice, then study and move on to your Tech...so I played with 2m repeaters, PACKET and did some volunteer work with the American Red Cross. In 1990 I and my son crossed over into a Boy Scout Troop and for the next 8 years I took an active role in Scouting and let the Amateur Radio stuff just kind of fade into the sunset...so to speak. I renewed my license in 1998 because I didn't want to have to start over again, by then both my boys were Eagles, one was out of high school, and the other was involved in playing varsity sports more than hanging out with dad...so I decided to get back into ham radio. I had nothing at that point. Not even an HT. So I bought a 40m QRP mono bander called the NC40A, built it, and started relearning CW. I got my rig done and built a vertical dipole for it and next thing I knew I was hanging out on 7115 running CW QSOs at a smoking 7 wpm..on a good day. My first CW contact on HF was Indiana to Mississippi on that little rig, running 1 watt into a long wire I tossed over my roof and tuned with a homemade tuner. Labor Day weekend, 1998. In Nov of 1998 I upgraded to general (13 wpm) and a little over a year later I passed my Extra (20 wpm was no longer required). My CW speed varies with use...I normally QSO 15-17 wpm and if I hit the air every night for a few nights I get comfortable in the 20-25 wpm range...I am no speed champion. Since that time I have built a K1, KX1, several SWL+ rigs, many rigs from QRP Quarterly, and other websites and magazines...and have had a ball. QRP and CW go together like peas and carrots. Have fun.

73 de KB9BVN
 
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