K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Report by Justin, KD5AKO (now - K5AEA)

Hello, my name is Justin McAllister, and my callsign is KD5AKO. I am 17 years old and I hold a General Class Amateur Radio Operator's License. I live in Weatherford, TX, and also enjoy playing high school and club soccer, rock climbing, snow and water skiing, and I hope to go on to college to study Electrical Engineering.

I became interested in Amateur Radio in April of 1997, and became licensed as a Technician in May. By November 1997, my interests pointed more toward HF, long distance contacts, so I learned Morse Code and earned my Tech+ ticket that month. After working many stations on 10M phone and 40M CW, my code speed gradually increased to 13wpm just before field day, 1998, and I got my General Class license. I saw CW as only a hurdle, and after I upgraded to General, I thought to myself, "OK, now I'm a General, I'm gonna be an SSB man, chasing the DX on my new 20M phone privileges." Field day 1998 changed that attitude, and heightened my interest in CW.

My Elmer, KJ5ZR, was the only station at our field day using CW! I wondered why, and it seemed that while everyone knew the code, nobody wanted to use it, so I began helping Terry by running CW on another band. I made many contacts on just about every band, and even grabbed some DX contacts in the nulls of the contest. This is the fact that really surprised me-while the voice bands were so crowded that only stateside stations could be heard, I worked DX stations with ease because of the low bandwidth of CW. This was the fact about CW that peaked my interests: while weak stations on SSB were completely covered up by adjacent interference, CW stations were easily picked out of the crowd.

CW is most enjoyable to me because of its aspect as a language, not a written or spoken language like Spanish or French, but a language of the hand and ears. As one becomes proficient with CW, he or she begins to recognize other operator's "fists," just like one can recognize the voice of a friend calling on the telephone. Even though there are many CW operators out there, I feel like a member of an elite group because I know "the code." If you were to ask around school or work for people that know Morse Code, I'm sure you would get some funny looks...but in the Amateur Radio Community, many, many people know the code.

QRP: Its amazing what one can do with less than 5 watts. If you've ever tried, 5 watts PEP on SSB phone won't get you too far, but if you put a CW signal on the air with 5 watts, it will almost always get through. QRP is one of my favorite aspects of the hobby, an aspect which wouldn't exist without Morse Code.

Imagine yourself on a week-long hiking trip in the mountains of Colorado or the rolling hills of South Texas. As you pack for the trip, you're frowning on the possibility of taking your new(to you) Kenwood TS-520S...at 38 pounds, you definitely couldn't take that along with you, let alone power the rig. So, you look from the portable CW rig to the portable SSB rig. If you don't care how much wieght is on your back for a week, you may choose the 5lb SSB rig, then pack the 15 pound gel-cell battery so you can have a few hours of operation, all the time thinking about the megawatt short-wave stations you will be combating for airspace. If you're like me, you know that in hiking, WEIGHT IS EVERYTHING! Easily, you decide on the CW rig. At less than one pound, you have room to throw in the 2 pound, 3 amp-hour gel-cell battery, a dipole antenna, and a few feet of feedline. And, there you have it, hours of pure operating enjoyment on those cold nights in the wilderness, never worrying about the propagation-40M CW is always great in the evenings. And hey, you're using CW, you'll get through. Without Morse Code, this would be impossible. It is because of that fact that CW stands out to me. As the President of a High School Amateur Radio Club, I have found that one of the major issues in Amateur Radio for younger hams is the availability of low-priced alternatives to "kilobuck" high-priced transceivers. Most kids don't have the money, its as simple as that. The alternative? Kits, kits, kits! For $55-$130, a young ham can build a CW transceiver, all the time learning about electronics, RF theory, etc. True, the radio may only put out 3-5 watts, but many people have earned Worked All States, DX Century Club, Worked All Continents, and a plethora of other awards using less than 5 watts! If you're a young ham like me who doesn't have the money to spend on an HF transceiver, a kit is the easiest and cheapest way to get on the air, and gives a new level of satisfaction when you make contact after contact with something YOU built.

Our High School ARC is presently putting on a Novice/Tech class because presently only 3 of the 15 club members are licensed hams. The students and the one teacher in the class thought of CW as a hurdle, until they saw how easy it was to learn. I asked if any one knew the most common letter in the English Language, and quickly a student replied "E, of course!" Ok, I said, "then what would be the appropriate Morse Code character for the letter E?" "Just a dot, I guess" replied one student. "Exactly...its that easy, and all of you only have 25 letters to go!" One or two more class periods and the students will be ready to take the Novice written test and begin work on the CW. When I asked the class whether they wanted to learn the code and shoot for the novice class license, or study more theory and go for the Technician, the results were unanimous: all wanted to become Novice Class hams, and get on the air using CW. Not a path many hams take these days, but a step in the right direction, for sure!

"When the going gets tough, a real ham can strip two wires, beat them together, and make the contact!"

"If it ain't fun, you ain't doin' it right"-the AZ sQoRPions

I am a member of the Tri County ARC of North Texas, the Internet QRP Club, the Adventure Radio Society, and the NorCal QRP Club, as well as president and founder of the Weatherford High School Amateur Radio Club.

Tnx es 72/73

Report written in 1997 when Justin was 17.

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