K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Report by Cal, K0DXC

Hello everyone;

I am Calvin, K0DXC, a 13 year old ham of Waconia, MN. I wanted to write an article for John because of his enthusiasm for young hams in CW.... Here it is.

A little about myself; my grandpa, K9MMS, is the real reason I am in this hobby right now. He did kid's day with me in 2003 when I was 7 years old and I was hooked from the start. I am still amazed with the things that low power and simple antennas can do. Soon after that I asked him if I could get my license. He was very happy by my request because I am the first person in the family besides him who has shown any interest in obtaining an Amateur Radio license. He then lectured me on various subjects ranging from mathematical formulas to propagation. Surprisingly, I understood most of what he said. There were times when I was lost but I always got the message. You have to remember that I was 8 years old at this time and he was lecturing me on subjects that I normally wouldn't be learning until high school or later. Then he had me sending (and receiving) CW at 5 wpm on a straight key. I then received the "Now Your Talking" technician study guide published by the ARRL. I was all set to go, ham radio..... HERE I COME! Then something happened that changed my life and ham radio forever....

We moved to Minnesota. It's not a bad thing except for the fact that it totally cut me off from Amateur Radio. I made new friends, went to a school, and lived a different life without ham radio. I now lived over 400 miles away from my grandparents. The only time I saw them was on major holidays.

Then one day things changed. We were at my grandparent's house for Thanksgiving and when we were out in the yard I noticed his 70 foot tower and other various antennas. I approached him, "Grandpa, can I still get my ham radio license?"

This question probably surprised him out of his mind. (I know it did because he stared at me for a couple of seconds and said that he hadn't thought I was still interested.) For the rest of that weekend before I made the trip back to Minnesota he once again lectured me on various radio subjects like he had done two years ago.

I went back to Minnesota and immediately found a ham in the neighborhood. (KB0CQ) He ended up also being a VE so things worked out twice as good. He told me when his radio club testing sessions were and one ended up being not that far off. (They are held every month) I told my mom about my discovery and then she took me to the next V.E. testing which happened to be at a library not that far away.

Was I nervous? Of course I was. I really wanted to pass this test to make my grandpa proud; there was a lot of weight riding on my shoulders that night. I went in..... AND PASSED on my first try. I obtained a Technician WITHOUT code. I had forgotten Morse code in my two year absence from the hobby from when we moved to Minnesota. I was very happy and my grandpa was also thrilled. I had fulfilled my two year quest of obtaining a ham license and became one of two hams in my family.

A couple weekends later my grandpa came up to Minnesota for field day. We spent more time setting up my shack then operating, it was a lot of work. Things done included setting up an IC-706MKIIG and the rest of my indoor shack including a place to house it, HF6V HF vertical, 6 meter dipole (since then it has been upgraded to a KB6KQ 6 meter loop) and a 2 meter ground plane.

I had a lot of fun on 6 meters and VHF repeaters for a while. I met a lot of local hams. In addition to that I worked over 30 states and a couple of countries on 6 meters in 3 openings! Unfortunately, things started to get boring. 6 meters only seemed to open up when I was at school, and there were never any people to talk to in the repeaters (Not a ton of 2 meter activity in my area.) I then went inactive for a period of 7-8 months. I didn't upgrade to General because I didn't want to re-learn Morse Code. (I had forgotten it during the 2 years I had been away from the hobby.)

My story is a long one, it would take me a long time to tell you everything that happened during this period of time when the fate of my ham career was in jeopardy; a lot of thoughts went through my mind during this time.

Then the FCC dropped Morse Code as a licensing requirement. I, along with many others in this world went and upgraded to General right away. I was a smart kid and I knew all the theory so all it would have taken was for me to learn the code.

It was a new hobby for me again; I had a ton of fun on HF. I would work tons of states; it was just like 6 meters except a lot better. Then I noticed how big the pileups were for DX stations; they were HUGE! Even Mexican and Caribbean islands stations would have huge pileups. It took me forever to break them and the only reason that I did was because I used good operating skills.

Eventually I got tired of wasting time on pileups for countries that you could hear every day. I then remembered the thrill that CW had on me years ago. I decided to once again use this fine mode; I also became very mad at myself because I had babied out and not gotten my general just because of Morse Code.

I dug out a sheet of paper that had all the Morse characters on it. Then I tuned down onto the CW portion of 20 meters for my first time and was amazed at all the activity I heard. It had more activity than SSB that day. I tuned around, found a frequency, and called CQ. It was probably a stupid thing to do because of the fact that I couldn't copy to save my life, but I'm a kid and we have our "moments" (I did have the A, K, N, and W circled on my Morse sheet though so if someone answered me I would at least get the first part of their call) I had called CQ at a speed of less then 5 wpm, and sure enough, somebody answered me. That is another thing that I love about this hobby, there is always someone out there who is willing to help you out. I nervously replied and had a good 10 minute QSO with the person. I didn't copy much, but I did get his callsign and I had a lot of fun. After that my microphone found a place in a storage bin in my closet as I was having way too much fun on CW.

Since then, I have worked contests, DX, and regular ragchews on this fine mode. My speed has improved to 30 wpm and I have no trouble copying now. Without this mode, I probably wouldn't be in this hobby right now; if I was I wouldn't be nearly as active. I strongly advise you to try this mode if you haven't already, it has done so much for this hobby. I am a member of the ARRL, MWA (Minnesota Wireless Association), Y.A.C.H.T. (Young Amateur Contest Ham Team), NAQCC, FISTS, and SKCC.

I would like to thank my CW elmers; My grandpa, Gary, K9MMS, Keith, WI0S, and Carl, WB0CFF. All of them have played a big part in helping me with this hobby, THANKS GUYS!

If any of you would like to have a QSO you can look me up on qrz.com (http://qrz.com/callsign/k0dxc ) and send me an email. I would be more than happy to meet you on the air. Even if you aren't the greatest CW op I would be more than happy to slow down. I remember when I was starting out and the only way to improve is to get out there and use this mode. I would also like to thank John, K3WWP, for our 30 meter QSO.

73, -Cal, K0DXC

Report written in 2008 when Cal was 13.

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