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Friday - November 01, 2013 - Amateur Radio at the Beach - Amelia Island - KH2D.net

I have been a ham since the mid 70's, but I honestly don't remember what year I was first licensed. Somewhere between 1974 and 1976 I think. I was originally licensed as WB3IXC in Maryland. I did the same things as most hams do when I lived in Maryland, including 900+ CW contacts as a Novice. CW wasn't fun to learn but once I had it figured out it kept me up late lots of nights and caused me to go to work with only a few hours (or no) sleep. Morse code has been like a second language to me - I can put it away for three years and then take it back out again and it works just as good as it always did.

I went to Guam in 1985, and when I upgraded to Extra in Guam, the FCC computer spit out the call KH2D for me and I've had that ever since. Going to Guam was an experience, both culturally and amateur radio wise. Spending sixteen years on the other end of the pileups was a lot of fun - at first - but then it tended to become more like a job than an adventure. For a few years in Guam I was 'off the air' so to speak, as I was running a packet BBS and a digital satellite gateway on VHF/UHF and my radio gear was tied up with that constantly.

When the Internet came into full swing, the need for a packet BBS disappeared (as did most of the digital satellites) so I returned to HF but mostly in the 'rag chew' mode when I wasn't doing a contest.

Over the years I've experimented with about all the modes that amateur radio had to offer - packet radio, CW and SSB, digital and voice satellites, 10 meter FM, six meters, the Static Crash Band (160), Amtor, Pactor, PSK, SSTV, and probably a few I forgot to mention.

I've always been fascinated by wire antennas - it amazed me as a new ham what I could accomplish with a roll of wire, a ball of string, some 90' pine trees, and a fishing rod connected to a bow and arrow. Given enuff space and a few skyhooks, the HF bands can be a lot of fun with simple antennas.

For some reason I've always been more interested in the technical aspect of the hobby as opposed to the actual communications aspect of it. It was always more fun for me to kludge something together, interface it to a radio or a computer and then see it work than it was to use it after it was working. Many of my projects over the years have wound up in the 'unused' mode shortly after completion.

I left Guam in early 2001 and moved to Florida, due to the declining economy, the unavailability of reliable medical services, and the fact the local government had reached the point where they were struggling to provide basic services. By the time I left, most of the ham community had already gone before me. When the military downsized in the 90's, a lot of hams who were either in the military or contractors for the military left also.

Ham radio is gradually making it's way to my back burner. I'm also interested in computer programming, web page design, photography, and surf fishing. Fishing is one of the main reasons I came to Florida when I left Guam.

Since amateur radio on the HF bands has become nothing but a post card chase, hamming from Florida isn't the same as it was from Guam. Also when we moved here, I decided that other things in life were more important than big towers (location, lifestyle, neighborhood, etc.) so we purchased a home in an area that is not conducive to big towers and beam antennas. Which is probably a good thing, because Florida has more lightning in one week during the summer than Guam had the who 16 years I was there, and I haven't met a ham here with a tower that hasn't been struck by lightening. I still have an HF station, I have antennas for 4 bands (wires - 10,15,20,40 meters) but I don't use it much anymore. HERE are a couple pictures of the shack and antennas if you are interested.

I've recently become interested in radio linking with VoIP and the Internet. Using a free program called EchoLink, and a simple homebrew interface, I've connected a VHF radio in the shack to the computer, and I can talk to friends in Guam, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and other places in the world with an HT from around the house or with a two meter radio from my truck around the island. Not much of a technical achievement but a way to keep in touch on a daily basis with old friends. VoIP radio linking isn't exactly new to me - five or six years ago I built two interface boxes from a computer to a VHF radio so that the guys in Guam could talk to the guys in Saipan via on a simplex frequency thru the Internet. Back in those days everybody was still using dialup connections, and ISP's were pretty unreliable, so not many people got interested in using the link (basically because it was down more than up:-).

I've always been fascinated by computers also (maybe that's why I worked as a field service engineer for a big computer company for so many years) and I've always viewed a computer in the shack as a necessary accessory - my first one was an Apple back in the early 80's I guess. While many hams about the same age that I am view the Internet as the root of all evil regarding ham radio, I've always viewed it as an enhancement and an extension to the hobby instead of a threat.

One of the most rewarding things about ham radio over the years has been friendships I've made with the people I've met. Because of ham radio, I've made lifelong friendships with people whom I otherwise would have probably never met. I've traveled to countries I would have never gone to just to meet other hams. I have friends in places far away that I'll keep in touch with for the rest of my life because of ham radio. To me that is much more important than a shoe box full of post cards, but you can read more about shoe boxes and post cards elsewhere on this web site.

Friday - November 01, 2013 - Amateur Radio at the Beach - Amelia Island - KH2D.net
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