K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Ken - N6KB

Hi all, I am 47 years old and operate almost exclusively HF CW. When I first was attracted to ham radio I wanted to operate phone. I found demonstrations of CW operation completely uninteresting. I remember my dad taking me to visit a ham who had some kind of beam (maybe it was a quad) on a rotor above his shack. I thought that rotating beam was really cool! The ham worked a few Russians or Europeans on CW and since I could not understand it, it did not do anything for me. He also had an AM rig, which I think he fired up, but maybe did not manage to make a QSO with. Still the idea of communicating over long distances using invisible waves and all that neat equipment was really attractive.

Having to learn the Morse code to get a license seemed like an annoying, yet surmountable, hurdle. When I was around 8 or 10 years old I was studying to learn Morse code, but for whatever reason just didn't stick to it enough to ever take the test. I was probably proficient enough to pass a ten question type of code test, but in those days you had to really be able to copy and get a solid minute out of five.

My uncle was an electronic technician who decided to go into the two-way radio business. He had been a ham, but let his license lapse when he moved into a new house and got TVI complaints as soon as he put a tower up. This was before his radio gear had been unpacked. In his two way radio business he worked on VHF & UHF stuff and CB too. I remember this from when I was about 10 or 12 years old. He talked (phone with a mic) to people on the CB. In these days you were only supposed to talk to other units under the same license. It was okay to get a radio check from someone else, but chit chat was supposed to be kept to a minimum. CB was absolutely for home and small business and NOT for hobby use. Still I thought it was really neat.

Eventually my dad got a used CB from my uncle, and we built a groundplane out of EMT tubing and guy wire. We applied for a license from the FCC and in a few months received it. We also got a copy of FCC Rules and Regulations Parts 95, 97, and a third part, maybe it was 99. My dad also got me an old BC-779 Super-Pro. I talked on the CB a few times, but not much.

I spent hours with the Super-Pro listening to all the weird signals, playing with all the controls. Sometimes I'd listen to the AM SWBC stations, sometimes I'd just try to see how weird a noise I could get out of the receiver. I seldom listened to any CW, and when I did I wasn't really interested in trying to decode it, or learning how to do so. Still I really thought radio was way cool.

I loved to look at any book in the library about radio. Mostly I like to look at the transmitter and receiver construction projects in the ARRL Handbooks. Eventually I met a kid in seventh grade whose dad was a ham. We decided to study together and his dad or some other ham would be able to give us the novice exam. Finally in 1970 I took my Novice exam and passed the first try. That summer when I was 13 I finally received the license from the FCC. I had built a two tube TX from the 1968 Handbook and with the Super-Pro I was on the air on 40 meter CW. I had a lot of fun, and studied and practiced to get my General, so I could get on fone.

In about '71 or '72 I got my general, bought a used SB-401 and got on fone. I forgot about CW. I didn't plug a key into a transmitter again until about 1985. I had a lot of fun on HF SSB, but of course it got boring. I almost let my license lapse. Then when I got interested again I decided that I really wanted to learn to operate CW. I don't know why I changed, but I guess it was because I missed radio, but was bored with phone.

.... So what is the point? The CW requirement did not keep me from being interested in ham radio. There is already an HF band for people who don't want to put in the effort to learn CW. The present CW requirement is such a joke anyway. ANYBODY can pass it. These people that claim that some people are just incapable are full of (expletive deleted)! I know people who have passed the 5 WPM by writing down the dits and dahs and then translating. Without CW it's just CB. Ham radio IS CW.

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