CW OPS – Life-Time Membership #2346
My journey into Amateur Radio began when I was just age 14 back in 1966 when I built a Heathkit HW16 CW transceiver for 80 40 and 15 meters. I was first licensed as a novice operator holding the call – WN8ZIQ back in the day, then gradually moved up next as WA8ZIQ (Technician and General class), KC8NZ (Advanced Class), finally reaching the rank (Extra Class) – KT8D before graduating high school in 1970. During the entire tenure of acquiring my licenses, Morse code was a mandatory requirement for a license, up to 20 WPM.
After almost 55 years into this hobby, I can still be found running 40 meter CW around 7.045 and other favorite CW frequencies. My love for CW had prompted me to relinquish my 2 x 1 call and acquire my 5th call and present vanity call KW5CW, and YES, I’m crazy for CW – SKCC #6349…. 10-10 #9370…CW OPS (Life-Time member) #2346. I’m also very active with the Parks-On-The-Air program (POTA). My main mode of operation of course is CW, and a bit of SSB. I try and visit a park somewhere in the states of Texas and Oklahoma at least one time every day. I’ve operated digital FT4 and FT8 from the parks, but starting on January 1, 2022, I will not operate digital while at a park. My reasons at least the way I see it is that operating digital is just not challenging, and especially in a park setting, it’s kind of boring to me. To date, the maximum amount of power ran at the parks is 20 watts but in 2022, I will run a maximum of 5 watts unless the bands are so bad that real QRP power just doesn’t cut it and then maybe a maximum of 20W. I also want to run lower power to get more time using my 30A Bioenno battery which is my only power source while doing park activations. At 20 watts, my radio can last up to 8 hours with special thanks to ICOM as the rig draws very low current on receive. I can’t imagine how much longer the battery will last with my transmitter running at on 5-watts. My equipment used at the parks consists of an IC-7100 in a Go-Kit, and a very short vertical consisting of the Wolf River Coil, standing at about 7 feet max with four 35-foot radials attached. I also use an end-fed sloper antenna at times.
This blog will come active with articles centering around my experiences at all of the parks that I visit, so please stay tuned to this website for the updates.
My radio station at home consists of various brands of radios. Currently, I run the Kenwood TS-590SG, after acquiring it as a door prize in 2016 from a newly opened store in Plano, Texas called Ham Radio Outlet. Just two weeks after winning that fantastic radio, I won a second door prize, another low band mobile radio from HRO, the Alinco SX-SR9T. Prior to those winnings, I never won so much as a ‘red-cent’. I also use older Drake equipment, including the TR7 solid-state transceiver, MN2700 tuner, and most all Drake accessories. Recently, I purchased a Xiegu G90 QRP transceiver, which runs from 1 to 20 Watts and my backup transceiver for operating at the parks. I usually run it with a maximum of just 5 watts, and it’s very gratifying to me to be able to make lots of contacts with QRP. I’ve used it running CW mobile which I really enjoy.
As far as antennas, I sport wire antennas because of HOA limitations at my residence, and also frequently use a short inductively coupled 40-meter vertical, ground-mounted and stands at 8 feet tall. The antenna design is the brain-child of a late friend and fellow CW operator who resided in Girard Ohio – Don Moler – N8BKR. Other antennas I use are a magnetic loop antenna on 20, 30 and 40 which I use indoors and occasionally use my ground mounted 6BTV Huster vertical. It’s mounted on a foldover mount to keep my neighbors from complaining to the HOA. I did receive a notice from the HOA about the 6BTV Hustler vertical with a pending fine if it wasn’t removed within 2 weeks, so I’m not using it at the moment. It stuck out like a sore thumb at 17 feet tall mounted on the ground, and my friendly neighbors called the HOA. I also use a Tarheel antenna that I used to use while running mobile. The antenna is controlled by an Automatic Screwdriver Antenna Controller that keeps the antenna tuned for any frequency that I’m on.
Presently, I belong to the Grayson County Amateur Radio Club (GCARC) located in Sherman, Texas, and am the newsletter editor, webmaster, and director-at-large. As a member and officer, I also became involved in teaching Morse code classes, one in 2015, and another in 2016 as I thoroughly enjoy helping others learn the almost lost art of CW.
I am now retired from IBM after 25 years with the company as a computer engineer maintaining IBM mainframe hardware such as CPU’s, data libraries, data storage disk systems, and attached network devices. I’ve been retired now for almost 4 years.
Thanks to Parks-On-The-Air, I’m now pretty active in amateur radio during retirement. One of my short term goals would be to go back home to Youngstown, Ohio, and hookup with an old friend, K3LR of DX-Engineering and maybe work a contest with him, and maybe even go on a DX-pedition with him someday. (My ultimate dream)
My wife, Virginia, whom I married in 2007 after two other failed marriages, is the love of my life. She claims that she will get into this hobby soon, as she refers to my CW operations as ‘dit-dit’. She claims I ‘dit-dit’ allot and she’s right. While I wait for her to get into the hobby, my youngest son Christopher is now in the hobby, with the vanity call of K5KDE. He is active on the digital bands.
As I continue to stay active with one of the local radio clubs in the area, the Grayson County Amateur Radio Club, I’ve had the privilege of working special events, namely the Perrin Airfield Special Event, The Red River Bridge War Event using the call W5R and the Eisenhower Special Event – W5O. The main club special event call-sign is W5I. In 2020, I operated from the Eisenhower State Park located in Kansas using the call W5K and it became my 1st park activation.
I regularly work CW on frequencies I’ve most frequented throughout the years. You can find me usually on one of these frequencies on the different bands.
3.545, 7.045, 10.105, 18.145, 21.045, 24.945, 28.045
During special events, contests, and general rag-chews, you can easily find me during CW operations on one of those frequencies mentions +-5kc pending band conditions, so whichever station is designated for me to operate CW next year, it will be one of those 1×1 calls above. So if you happen to work one of them on a said frequency, most likely you would be working me behind the key.
James – KW5CW