I saw some hams on TV back in 1977, perhaps doing some emergency communications. Since I was already into shortwave radio, it seemed like the natural next step was to get an amateur license. (I had played around with CB radio as well, when someone brought a CB to school. But CB never quite had the attraction that ham radio did...
I was invited over to his house on August 25, 1978. I listened to him make a few calls, and we made plans for him to help me get my license. But, they never materialized. So I studied on my own for awhile, using books and code records from the local library...
In late 1979 we moved to another town. There were a few houses with ham towers around, and I occasionally saw a few hams in places like the flea market, the electronics stores, or even at church, but I never got to know any of them. (Once in a while, we would drive through the "old neighborhood" for one reason or another, and I remember seeing Harold's antennas until at least 1984 or so. I'm not exactly sure when he became a "Silent Key", but the W6QET call has been reassigned to the Los Angeles Amateur Radio Club as of November 1996.
In any event, other interests (computers, shortwave, music, etc) and the usual high school travails kept me away from pursuing the ham radio license back then.
At W6YRA, I was able to communicate long distances due to the excellent antenna system. I got out as far as Alaska, Argentina, and I even heard a station in India, but the band conditions were deteriorating, so I don't think he heard me...
In 1998, I used my train commute time to study for the General test and code. By December, I was able to pass both General written and 13-wpm code (boy did my arm hurt). A few months later, I passed the Advanced and Extra written sections (due to restructuring, I didn't have to pass the 20-wpm code!)
At that time, my real interest was packet radio, since it combined computers and ham radio in such a neat manner. Using the HT and TNC, I was able to access a few bulletin boards and other local packet users, mostly on 145.01 mHz. There was even a way to access European packet users, through what was called a "wormhole". But I was limited to indoor antennas and low power, so broken connections, and the occasional inability to connect at all, were constant frustrations. In late 1995, I moved far enough away that I could not reliably connect to the bulletin boards at all.
In late 1998 I bought an Alinco 2-meter hand-held and started getting
active on the local repeaters. In mid-2000, I finally made the "big
splurge"...an ICOM IC706MKIIG, along with an antenna tuner and a power
supply. I'm still limited to an indoor dipole for HF, but so far I've
contacted stations in New York and Florida (from Southern California)
I took a couple of tests with the
San Fernando Valley Amateur
back in 1990. But it wasn't until late 1994 when
I joined. Even then, I wasn't horribly active until late
1997, when I went to my first contest (the club had access to a
former Nike Missile site north of the San Fernando Valley, until 1999).
After that, I got more involved with club events (Picnic, Field Day,
other contests, etc).
Between 2000 and 2005, I became the editor of the SFVARC's newsletter,
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