1) How did you get involved in Ham-radio and how many years are being a ham now?
I have had an interest in RF for as long as I can remember. I started out on CB radio as a child and was fascinated with how a signal could travel from point A to point B in thin air. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was at one of my friends house, whose father was a ham, Jimmy, KA5V. He gave me a demonstration of DXing and from that moment on I was hooked. I began listening to code tapes and studying the ARRL's "Now You're Talking" book. In fact, my studying was so intense that for almost a month during the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, my school friends neither saw me or even heard me on the CB radio. Once ready for the test, I went to Jimmy's house and was given my novice test at his kitchen table. At the time, the novice test only required two extra class hams to administer a novice exam. The other ham was Bill, KO5Y(SK). I've been a ham since 1989 and an extra class ham since 1990.
2) What attracted you the most in being a ham radio operator?
I was fascinated with talking to people on the other side of the world. My first QSO was with TI, Costa Rica, on 10 meters. Once I passed my general exam, I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning working VK and ZL on 20m SSB. Those guys always had a lot to say and were always willing to have a good rag chew.
3) What is your favorite mode and/or band?
My favorite mode has been CW ever since 1990. I found it to be the best way to work new countries. When I wanted to rag chew, I knew I could count on SSB. Around 1993, I started rag chewing on CW and specifically on 30m. I had a blast! While the high bands ruled my HF radio world when I started, these days I am obsessed with the low bands and specifically with 160m. I guess I feel like working a new DX station is a real challenge there ( and it is -- I earn every QSO I make on 160m! ). Some of the higher bands have gotten to be too easy and with the new license structure in the US and the loss of the code requirement the bands are packed, even near the solar minimum. I liken working DX on 160m to the guy who sits in a boat all day long waiting for that one good catch. he doesn't have to do it, in fact, he could get fish from the market. he does it because he loves the challenge!
4) What equipment do you use?
My main HF radio is the FT1000 Mark V Field although I have an FT920 that gives it a good fight as far as performance comparison is concerned. I think an FT2000 is also in my future. I sue an Ameritron AL-811 and currently I only have a top loaded quarter waver vertical for 160m which sits over 2.5 miles of radials. My receive antennas are all K9AY loops although it isn't out of the question for me to roll out a beverage in the park behind my house when conditions warrant. My signal processing and protection equipment is all manufactured by ICE.
5) Do you hold DXCC and what is the score?
I currently hold 5 band DXCC as well as CW/SSB/Mixed modes. The ARRL had me listed as 275 confirmed but I haven't made a submission in a few years and my total now is 314 confirmed. I also have 30m DXCC that hasn't been submitted and need just 4 more new DX on 160m to have 100 confirmed.
6) What has been your most memorable story related to ham radio so far?
This is a tough one because every QSO and every QSL tells a different unique story. The first story that pops into my mind is the one where I was trying to work K7C on 80m. I was at home that morning and those guys had an amazing pileup running. I was watching the QSOs on the DXA website that was developed to display real time QSO data to the masses and after sunrise I started to get discouraged as the JA wall was starting to build. After about 1.5 hours I was still hearing K7C and moments later I was in the log. It was fulfilling to see my call sign in between all of the JA call signs. I had broken the wall!
7) Do you think CW had it's best time since you don't need it anymore to get a license?
I despise the fact that CW is no longer required to get an HF license. Listening to the bands today, it is really sad some of the things that you hear. CW won't go away, in fact I see more and more people migrating to it as they get fed up with some of the things they are hearing on SSB. Also CW is really the best mode for DX and also for contesting!
8) How would you explain our hobby to someone not familiar with ham radio?
I struggle with this a lot. I hate having to give the speech about how Ham radio and CB are different and getting the blank looks for people. I am just not a very good ambassador of ham radio to non-hams.
9) Do you have other hobbies besides Ham radio?
Not really, I actually unloaded all of my hobbies a few years ago. I used to play amateur ice hockey and do enjoy watching sports. I also enjoy working in my yard and garden but I don't really consider that a hobby. I also consider ham radio a way of life, more than just a hobby.
10) Any final words to the people reading the interviews?
I would just say if you are a ham, get on the air and use your privileges. Make a commitment to making one contact per day or week. We are a part of a hobby that is in competition with many other things in life. One of the nice things about ham radio is that it is there for you when time allows you to operate.