K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Geoff Pallett - Future (CW) Ham

(Comments from K3WWP - This story came in a personal email to me, and I felt it was so inspiring that I asked Geoff if I could post it on my web site. He agreed. I think it shows how ham radio and especially CW can be a life changing force. It also shows the unfortunate bad side of many modern-day hams and local ham radio clubs.)

My name is Geoff Pallett and I have been very, poorly for the past 20 years. I was crippled by M.E. when I was just 33 years old. I then developed a blood clotting disorder and suffered a brain clot which has left me with a horrid form of mental illness and terrible depression. My wife (Amy) and I exist on a small occupational pension and my therapists keep driving me insane telling me that I need a good hobby to take me out of myself - they don't seem to understand what it means to be knackered and broke!

Anyway, last September I had a flash of inspiration and remembered hundreds or thousands of happy hours that I spent in my late uncle Graham's radio shack. Graham was very much the intellectual, a life-time HAM and I suppose in those days he would have been the equivalent of today's 'geek'. I can still smell the solder, his pipe and see the valves glowing in his garden shed/shack. I was only a kid then (late 1950's) but as I recall the airwaves were not congested, I could knock-up a crystal set in my tent and over a weekend Graham could bolt and hard wire a few bits to a piece of board, power it up and work CW around the world - I have never lost the romantic fascination of radio that he instilled in me. Why I didn't become a HAM years ago I will never know. Any how, I have announced to my doctors and my family that I am going to come back to life and be a radio HAM like Graham.

I tried joining a club but it didn't convene until 8.30 PM and it was all over by 9.30! It seemed to me that the members were more interested in getting an hour away from their wives than they were in radio. I came home the first night convinced that radio really is a 'Black Art'. When I announced to fellow members that I had no money and intended to learn Morse Code and homebrew like my uncle Graham I became a source of ridicule and laughter. They advised me to take a second mortgage or forget H/F and buy a 2m hand-held which I did - it's less fun than CB!

I had this dream of getting a licence and if need be, setting-up a shack at the side of my bed so that I could spend the long and lonely nights (I don't sleep) tapping away on a Morse key. {Amy says she can sleep through the dashes and dots}. Then the club instructor told me that he would not be doing another Novice Foundation Licence course until the back-end of this year. To cap it all I told them that I only had 56' of garden and basically they told me to try stamp collecting. Why? I asked myself...was there no room for uncle Graham's anymore.

To try and get the measure of the hobby as it is today, I joined the RSGB and now I receive their monthly RADCOM magazine. Last night I read a reference to the NA QRP CW Club. I typed the address into my browser and in a split second I was staring at 'Bamboo Bill' and his shack. A kit like that really turns me on - I am not a 'Black box LED man'. I scrolled down the pictures and then took the link to your site; BINGO! as we say in the UK!

John I was gob smacked. You don't have a fancy $5M aerial farm! Your photos and articles told me more about HAM radio in a couple of hours than I have learned from my local club, 13 textbooks and the cyberspace Ham's in 8 months! You and your gang are like music to my ears. I intend to get out of bed today and start running wire around the house and garden.

I am excited about something for the first time in 20 years. I wouldn't wish this illness on my worst enemy. A hobby like yours would put some quality back into my life and find me something constructive to do. My wife is as excited as me, not because she's interested in radio but because she is thrilled to see me take an interest in something again. Now I know it can be done because you and your friends are doing it. 'No DUES, just DO'

QRP has a parallel in fishing John. Until recent years, I was a fishing fanatic and my son (Tony) is a semi-pro specimen hunter. He and I differ on the challenges offered by fishing - Tony is just not interested in anything that weighs in at less than 40 lbs but then he uses a 20 lb breaking strain and a few $$K of electronics; whereas I prefer to hook a 10 pounder on a 2 lb line. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy at the radio club - I told him I was interested in QRP and he said to me: "In this day and age, if the lights don't dim when you press the PTT your kit's no good."

Thanks for creating such an encouraging website and I wish you a nice life.

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