Today was a very good day

Amateur Radio-wise, that is!

At the VE session this morning, we were able to welcome three new Hams into the fold. Well, make that two and one revert.  One of the candidates was a Ham years ago; but let his license lapse. So maybe it would be more accurate to say that we welcomed three potentially active Hams into the fold.

I guess I am from another era; as I get frustrated (a bit) when the first question out of a new Ham’s mouth is something to the effect of, “So where can I get a good price on a dual band handheld?”  Man, when I was studying for my Novice ticket, the LAST thing I wanted was an HT. All I had my sights on was HF and working the bands.  In fact, I didn’t get my first VHF radio until nearly a year after I was licensed.

I got my ticket in December of 1978.  Spent November and December and part of January assembling my station, which was a “pre-owned” Drake 2-NT transmitter (which was my Christmas gift from my parents that year) and a Heathkit HR-1680 receiver which I saved up for and built all by myself. That receiver was the very first of many Heathkits that I was to build.  Between buying, building and making an antenna, I had my first QSO on January 29th, 1979.  And it was an HF QSO.  I still have that QSL card, framed in my basement.  Can’t recall the entire call of the poor victim that I plied my nasty fist on, but I do remember his name was Adam and he was KA9something.

My first VHF radio was a Tempo1 handheld, the very first to have a synthesized VFO, not relying on crystal control.  I bought it a year later, after I had upgraded to General, specifically to assist in the 1980 Winter Olympics Torch Run.  Those were the Lake Placid “Do you believe in miracles?” Olympics and the torch run  traveled right through Central NJ on its way to Lake Placid.  I was with a local club providing communications in an ARRL led effort.  I still have the Public Service Commendation hanging on the shack wall that commemorated that event.

But for me, VHF and UHF were never a Number One favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent A LOT of time on UHF and VHF repeaters – making friends, doing public service and all kinds of stuff.  But in W2LJ’s mind, when Ham Radio pops up in a little thought balloon, it’s always a picture of an HF radio, making worlwide contacts.  Just me, I guess.

I had another treat this afternoon, working my good friend, Bob W3BBO, who also took the plunge and just very recently got a K3.  He finished building his this past week and this was our very first K3 to K3 QSO.

It wasn’t a long rag chew, just enough of a QSO to see how we each sounded to one another. Good signals both ways.  It was a hoot!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Today was a very good day”

  • Don N4KC:

    Larry, as you well know that is one of my pet peeves, too. Guys think it is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to get themselves on the air, so they go for the handheld with helical antenna. Then they go down to the basement to “ham” or climb in the car and try to go mobiling, only to find they can’t hit the repeater and folks get rude with them for trying. “Heck, at least I could talk several states away sometimes on the CB. This ham stuff wreaks!”

    I’d love it if every ham-cram training class and every VE session spent just a few minutes highlighting ALL the different ways newcomers can get on the air…besides an HT with a poor antenna on 2 meter FM!


    Don N4KC

  • Ramji:

    Yep, Ham radio is usually the most rellibae means of communication in a disaster like this.Unfortunately, since Haiti is such a poor country to begin with, there are very few licensed hams there. That’s why it’s important to have plenty of trained operators around.I don’t know whether it will actually prove useful in this scenario, just due to a lack of licensed/equipped people in Haiti.

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