My online ARRL course, “Introduction to Emergency Communication,” is in full swing. I’m happy to say that it is pretty demanding. Not that the material itself has been especially difficult (yet), but the essay-assignments do require some thought — and other assignments are pushing me to do some new things on the air, like listening to several nets, critiquing an NCS (Net Control Station), and checking into a net (okay, I probably have checked into a net or two over the years, but it’s been so long that I hardly remember doing it).
Today I reaped some unexpected benefits from one of these assignments. Having been assigned to check into a formal net, I checked into the PICONET this morning. This was no small feat, since it was on 75 meters. My New Carolina Windom is only cut for 40 meters, and the automatic tuner on my Kenwood TS-440S has never been able to match it — the SWR is terrible! But using my old Drake MN-7 Matching Network, I was able to match it surprisingly well. So now I’m on 80/75 meters! I even made a CW contact with a fellow in Wisconsin, and got a decent signal report.
And after checking in this morning, I visited the PICONET website — and learned that Lyle Koehler, KØLR, would be the NCS for the PICONET this afternoon! Wow! Lyle is the ham who gave me my Novice code test back in 1978. I was only 10 years old, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget how I shook like a leaf on the couch in his living room while he sat beside me and tapped out 5 wpm code with a straight key and oscillator. When he told me I passed, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for the rest of the day!
So the thought of talking with Lyle again after all these years was enough to make me watch the clock, eager for the PICONET to open again at 1500 CDT. And sure enough, at the appointed hour I heard Lyle’s voice as he opened the net! I was his first check-in, and I took advantage of the net’s slow start to explain that he had given me my Novice code test over three decades ago. He remembered me!
What a pleasure to meet this fellow on the air after all these years.