Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is a pursuit in which people from all walks of life use radio in a non-commercial manner to communicate or experiment. Some of the sub-categories in which Amateurs, also known as hams, participate include:

Unlike the Family Radio Service, or Citizens Band, a license is required to operate Amateur Radio equipment, and is earned by taking a series of tests—written and, until recently, Morse code. Upon successful completion of the requirements, the FCC issues a license and a callsign. I was first licensed in 1963 as WN4NJI, and have held the callsigns WA4NJI, WB9UQX, N9AKE, and N4SI since then. My current callsign is K4QG.

It all starts with anElmer.And when you're done reading that story, you can read about the rest of my licensing and call sign historyhere. By the way, I’d lost track of time and realized almost a half a year late that in the Spring of 2013, I passed the half century anniversary of my first license. I’ve been continuously licensed the entire time—although with periods of inactivity—which is kind of a big deal.

There are an almost unlimited variety of pursuits hams might take, many times they engage in more than one or two.

My particular interests are contesting and DXing. In the former, I'm what's called a little pistol (as opposed to a Big Gun). I would rarely be in contention in the final standings in a contest, but I like the competitive atmosphere of a contest and I like being around contesters.

Honor Roll plaque In the latter, I have accomplished what's generally considered Big Gun status, by attaining a position on the Honor Roll of DXers as tabulated and compiled by theAmerican Radio Relay Leaguein their DXCC (DX Century Club; 100 countries confirmed is the basic award) award program.

Credit for working various countries is given upon presentation of QSL (confirmation) cards sent by hams to one another to confirm contacts they have made. These cards can by quite colorful and are interesting in their own right, as seen below, but are invaluable for the purpose of attaining awards such as DXCC.

1A0KM, SMOM XW8DX, Laos 7Q7LW, Malawi VK9ND, Norfolk Island 3W8DX, Vietnam

Countries, in addition to the commonly recognized political entities, may also be:

If one had started in 1945 at the inception of the DXCC program, and had worked all the countries that were available during the period since then, it is possible to have worked over 390 countries. Some countries have been deleted from the list over the years as political circumstances have changed, such as the independance of some of the Balkan countries and the re-unification of Germany. Credit for each of those countries still applies, but one's DXCC status viz-a-vis Honor roll only reflects current country count. Therefore, DXers talk about numbers that reflect both current and all-time country counts.

The current list of countries maintained by the ARRL has 337 entries. I have 325 countries confirmed from the current list, and 330 countries all-time (including deleted countries). The list ishereshould you care to look it over. Aviation people will be interested to note that generally the aircraft prefixes from around the world fall into the same range of allocations as Amateur prefixes.

5BDXCC plaque

In addition, I have worked (and confirmed) 100 or more countries on each of the principal HF Amateur bands and received the 5BDXCC award in recognition.

Clickhereto see what's old and new in the Woodbutcher's shack.

Last updated: 15 September 2013

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