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January 2, 2019

*A tip of this old mans hat

and a short posting

for the hams that follow my blog.

…. even though my oil stove was roaring sitting in my radio shack, (aka…the loft of my cabin ), there was visible steam coming from my morning coffee, I think the temperature outside at -20° is what made it a loosing battle. But with enough layers of clothes I would repeat my thrice daily ritual of taking a sip of coffee and turning the dial ever so slowly never wanting to miss any chance at a contact that would rise above the background noise.

I had recently placed my antenna, a single strand of copper wire 35 feet up in the trees in front of my cabin in hopes of reaching out the 3,000 plus miles to my son’s home in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. A lofty goal no doubt but I had already spoken with Hawaii in the west and Germany to my East, so Philly should be doable if the ionosphere would co-operate. My reasoning for targeting my son was based on the fact that he was the driving motivator for me to obtain my ham license. He was licensed before me and on his visits to Alaska was always letting me know the benefits of having a radio station out here in the wilderness where there was no phone service.

So whenever my son had a few hours open we would schedule a time to try and make a contact, but for the most part the ionosphere was not very cooperative until…. August 6th at 03:50 UTC when rising from the roar of background noise was my son calling KL1HB. Though the contact was extremely week (3/1sent-3/3 received) almost to the point of making it indistinguishable from the background with an exchange of information it was my first contact with my son in Philadelphia. The next day at roughly the same time contact was again made and this time (5/7 sent 5/5 received) it was strong enough to hold a good QSO.

That first contact with my son marked with red

People look strangely at me when they find out that I am a Ham and a few even ask why bother when today we have the cell phone and instant messing…. My explanation though simple most of the time goes over their heads….. With cell phones and social media for the most part you know who you will be communicating with.

When operating an amateur radio
and calling CQ
you never know who may return you call
and just sometimes
that contact
is more rewarding than speaking with someone you know.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2019 1:23 pm

    Another hobby I want to try. I just started fooling with electonics and I always wanted to build a radio from scratch. Maybe in a few years once the dream shop is built.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jon permalink
      January 2, 2019 10:05 pm

      Your comment about building a radio from scratch reminded me of the old Heath Electronics catalogs, at least I think that was the company name. Then along came Radio Shack or maybe Radio Shack was here before Heath Electronics. Then you can go back to Tandy Leather, too!
      Good luck if you should decide to build one.

      Liked by 3 people

    • January 3, 2019 12:20 pm

      To me amateur radio is/was a necessity when I lived off grid in Alaska and I think you may find it helpful also. I have used it to contact emergency personnel and when we had a forest fire coming up the valley towards us I used it to find out what the ‘smoke jumpers’ were doing. Let alone the fact that I had no phone service so I was able to use a ham radio digital mode to send and receive email.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. January 2, 2019 1:45 pm

    Pete, in my earlier life with an earlier husband we lived aboard a sailboat and checked into the Waterway Net each morning to get news or have someone patch us through to a land line. No cell phones back then in the 70’s.

    However, even today, if the grid goes down (which it certainly could), Hams will be invaluable if they have a generator. Cell towers are vulnerable, but a ham with a dipole is sometimes the only communication possible.

    I had a novice license, but he had a general. We sometimes communicated in Morse Code from boat to shore using hands.

    Very cool!

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 3, 2019 12:22 pm

      So true… like I commented above I used it for almost 14 years while living off grid as a means of getting emergency response and by using digital communications I also used it for my email.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. john dobson permalink
    January 2, 2019 2:34 pm

    great , Pete–been at this wonderful hobby since 1955.. met and made a lot of wonderful friends on and over the air,, and the thrill is still there after all this time..
    john w8wej /w8bar

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 3, 2019 12:24 pm

      ((always searching never knowing what one will find on the air)) I do so miss it John…

      now living in a restricted apartment complex. I was up and running on a stealth system but apparently my QSO was heard by a neighbor and I have been shut down ever since.


  4. Jon permalink
    January 2, 2019 10:10 pm

    Pete, I looked at your list & sure enough you had a couple of visitors from Mn. as well as S. Dakota. i do’t know anything about ham radio but it must be an interesting hobby as well as a communicating tool.


  5. Del Hoskins permalink
    January 3, 2019 9:34 am

    Yea Pete I remember receiving Q cards for people I never made contact with. Even letters… Got one from a women in NY that wanted me to contact and move her to AK…. Had several opal miners in Australia that sent me opals and I would send them gold… One sent me Aussy beer…. LOL those were the days… Maybe I need to get back into it again… I see there are way better radios then the Yaesu FT-101 I had in the late 70’s. But that was a heck of a radio back then…. Made contact with my Fl family with it too…. Del

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 3, 2019 12:26 pm

      Yes Del I have stacks of QSL cards too. Back in the cabin my shack ( in my loft) the walls and even the ceiling was covered with the cards.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 4, 2019 3:14 pm

    I have this experience with cellphones. If you mix up my sons number and my spouses, I reach a man in Georgia who always answers!

    Ham operators are a gift and a joy. I wish more people would do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dwight permalink
    January 6, 2019 3:41 am

    Hi Pete, Thanks for the tribute to amateur radio. Finally got my Worked all Continents and Worked all States awards, but I have just as much fun tinkering with the associated antennas and electronics. Its a great hobby! 73, de KD8YFV

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mike Hohmann permalink
    January 8, 2019 2:03 pm

    Got my antennas in the attic, Pete. Plus others for mobile use, and I just added solar power to the mix on my FT817. I’m new to the hobby but slowly gaining experience.


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