The Master Woodbutcher's Amateur Radio Story

I was turned on to amateur radio at a very early age; probably 6 or 7. My father was the waterfront director at a boy scout camp, and there was a station in an office in the mess hall. I remember the black wrinkle finish panels, meters, dials, tubes, etc. It seemed like magic. I looked for it years later as an adult, but it was gone.

My father had been a radio operator in B-17s during WWII, and I played with his helmet often, longing to hear things coming out of the earpieces. Trying to figure out how to connect that short " plug to the console radio was my first foray into electronics. I read the K6ATX books and became utterly infected with a desire to work the world. I started dabbling in electronics, and then met a classmate of my brother's (a year behind me) who showed me how to get a license.

I got my Novice in 1963 (1 year, up or out; it took me nearly a year to get my station together.), took my Tech to hold my call (WA4NJI) in 1964, and became a Terminal Tech for 12 years. It was frustrating; a license with no equipment and equipment with no license. When I got a job, I built a Heath SB110 and had a stint on 6 meters in 1968, but got hired by the FAA as an air traffic controller and moved away from home. Then in 1975 I upgraded to Advanced, and got my Extra in 1978. I finally was able to get on HF as I had always dreamed.

Amateur radio has been my life ever since. I've managed to work most of the countries (> 320), I discovered contesting and am an avid proponent if not an accomplished user of TRLog by N6TR, and I've been able to retire from the FAA after 30 years of high density traffic (Chicago ARTCC). Life is good.

Another dream I had was to get my father into amateur radio. I figured he would be a natural; CW training from the military, love to talk, interesting life pursuits. I never could, until one day I mentioned to my mother that she could do this, too. Unbeknownst to me, they both signed up for a class and presented me with their successful exam certificates at Christmas. They bought an HF station, but due to one thing or another, never really pursued it with the rare exception of some 2 meter activity.

One day I was on the phone (long distance) with them, and was tuning 10 meters checking the Ft. Lauderdale beacon. I could hear it, so I had them turn their radio on to a specific frequency. I made a couple of transmissions and could hear my voice over the phone from their receiver. We hung up and had a chat on 10 meters. My only HF contact with my parents.

I do have a few odd interests outside of radio. Flying (the number 1 crossover interest in amateur radio), wood working, writing, photography, and computers.

Although I lived in the Chicago area from 1973 through 1999, and my wife (Linda, K4ENF) and I were planning to move to the mountains in western North Carolina or Eastern Tennessee (I had hoped to find that mountain top with no close neighbors all hams long for), we wound up in NE Florida, not far from where we met. The house we bought was formerly owned by K4LT and has a tower base in the back patio. I think there's some kind of karma there.

Rod, K4QG


ARRL, FISTS, QCWA, Society of Midwest Contesters, among others.

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Last updated: 27 January 2009

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