K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Kristen - KI4NZU

I want the following story to be a very good promoter of CW usage.

It started as I was a Tech student at a local license class at the W4CQ station in Charlotte, NC. At age 19, I walked in the classroom for the first time, knowing barely anything about ham radio. But I already knew a great deal about the Morse code because I was fascinated with the history and decided to learn it before taking the class. I knew that the only way I could send code on the air was to get a license. Little did the other students in the class nor the instructor knew that I was going to be in the shining spotlight and the envy of the class. Throughout the 8-week course, every Saturday morning for 2 months, I would walk in the classroom with everyone looking behind at me, I felt like Cinderella entering the ballroom.

The real fun started on the 2nd week. A very kind gentleman, AK4GY aka Russ Kegley, walked into the classroom and escorted me to their radio room. I've never seen so many wonderful looking "gadgets" in my life. When we sat down at their main transceiver, he hooked up the J-38 style key and he started sending CQ. After exchanging a couple messages with a ham in Houston, TX, the man slid the key over to me and said, "send something, its your turn." I was very nervous. My fingers had to have been shaking the whole time, but somewhere in the QSO, the ham in TX said I had a good fist. He was KE5FIK.

That was my first contact.

For the next 6 weeks, I made one QSO after the class and everyone else went home.

2 weeks passed since my first QSO and as I was sitting in the classroom, the man, Russ came into the room with most of the other members of the club and presented me with my first QSL card. The room was filled with applause as I could not believe it. I later realized that it is a rare experience to get a QSL card before receiving a license.

On the 7th week, I thought I had learned enough where I can go and take the test to get my license before all the other kids who were to take it the following week. So I traveled to Wytheville, VA to a VE session. I passed my Tech and code with flying colors.

The last session came, and I was congratulated by everyone in the club, even the other students.

It is now a few weeks later, and I have found my callsign, which is KI4NZU. I jumped for joy.

But I was still sad.

I still did not have a radio to transmit or receive on. A ham friend of mine had a Heathkit CW QRP transceiver complete with tuner that he was going to let me borrow. But after finding out that the connectors needed for the rig could nowhere be found locally, I was disappointed.

Even to this day I await him to find the wires and conectors for the rig.

Meanwhile, almost every night I do lots of practicing sending with a practice oscillator that I've been using since December of '05. I would do endless QSO receive practicing on the internet. Some of my ham friends have told me that most hams that start out using CW, they start at 5 wpm or less. Not me. I tackled it head-on from the beginning and was heard sending and receiving at 10 wpm tops. I was even mentioned in the recent W4CQ club newsletter. Part of it said, "One student in the W4CQ license class did not settle for 'plain ol' Technician' phone priveleges. ................she marked the highest scores on both element one and element two tests." That meaning highest out of all the candidates at the testing session.

As I know my story will just keep going on for a long time, even later in life, this is where it stands at this point. I very impatiently await the day I will get to get on the air with my "loaner" rig and get on the novice portion of 40 meters. But until then, just practicing code with my little oscillator is just not the same.

I want this story to hopefully inspire teenagers and younger kids out there and let it be a lesson that if you have a strong enough interest in CW, trust me, you WILL go far with it.

73 to you all and good luck...............LONG LIVE CW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Report written in 2006 when Kristen was 19

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