Although I grew up in the “CB” days, I never had much desire to learn morse code. While several of my friends got licensed after high school, I took off and joined the Navy. During my time in the Navy, I went to school for advanced electronics, computers and radar in support of the shipboard surface-to-air missile system that I worked on.
Fast forward 25 years and I found an ad on a gun forum to take the amateur radio exam for free at the local Boy Scout council office. So, I signed up for the exam and did about a week’s worth of studying. I took my Technicians license test on 2/14/15 and, by 2/17/15, I had my call sign. Since I work in the IT field and I was looking for a technical challenge that was not work related, I set a goal to pass the Amateur Extra exam within six months. On 7/28/15, the FCC granted my Amateur Extra status.
Like most people who are starting out, I bought a Baofeng HT. Despite all of the complaining about Baofeng that people do, the radio is not all that bad for what it is. It is a $40 HT with a flashlight. Realizing that the Baofeng was not going to meet my long-term needs, I bought a Wouxon 950 mobile rig for the truck. It was not a bad radio, but I found that I did not use the 10M or 6M at all. Then, I found out about D-Star, so I started out with the Icom 880. I, then, replaced that with an Icom 2820.
To get more involved with HF, I bought a used Yaesu FT-897 and a 31-foot vertical antenna that sits in my backyard on a tripod. Not a bad setup. I was able to make a contact in Russia right from the get go. I just purchased a SignaLink USB sound card to work with the FT-897, so I am working with the digital modes.
In addition to amateur radio, I have been an Assistant Scout Master for the last four years with my son’s Boy Scout troop, I am a working with a soon-to-be chartered Boy Scout Venture Crew focusing on amateur radio, and I am an NRA certified Range Safety Officer and a NRA Certified Instructor for Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun.