I was first licensed in 1960, fairly active for 5 or 6 years, and then took a 50 year break. I just got back on the air in August of 2015.
While I was in high school, I met Herb Cox (HH2OT, W4NL, W0NL) who was a missionary to Haiti and back in Kansas for some R&R. Herb had been a radio operator in the US Navy during WWI and won all of the hamfest CW contests with more than 50 WPM. I got my novice ticket (KN0ZDK) in 1960 and Herb helped me setup some war surplus gear to get on the air on 40 meters CW. I upgraded to Conditional/General in 1961 and used my Hallicrafters SX-40A and Johnson Ranger to make many good contacts. Didn’t quite get WAS but I have a card box full of QSL cards.
College, family, aviation*, and life distracted me for over 50 years. In the mid 70s, I spent 4 years at Heathkit as an engineer, product line manager, and general manager of their computer business. Too bad I wan’t interested in amateur radio at the time since my buddy ran that business unit.
I am mostly interested in building and experimenting with QRP digital mode systems and Olivia, Contestia, JT9, JT65, and PSK31 QSOs. I have built a few homebrew SDR receivers and transmitters. My primary setup is a Flex-1500 tranceiver and an Elecraft KXPA100 amp with 15 – 50 watts out for digital. HOA restricts me to a simple antenna which is a fan 20/40 meter dipole. However, I live on hill with the east/back of my lot diving nearly straight down about 300 feet.
Latest project is a 0 dBm (ONE milliwatt) WSPR transmitter. I was curious to see if anyone could hear me and was quite surprised by the number of signal reports on the WSPR website. Transmitter uses an Arduino for control, GPS for timing, Si5351 DDS for frequency generation, and a BS170 amp. Actually the “amp” is an attenuator since the output of the Si5351 is greater than 1 milliwatt. Have gotten reports from stations that are 2,500 miles from me or 2,500,000 miles per watt. JT digital technology is amazing.
As a weapon in my battle with local background noise, I also have an untuned amplified receive-only 3 foot diameter magnetic loop antenna connected to a second receiver and then to a second copy of FLDIGI – poor man’s diversity. The two antennas have different polarization, noise, and fade characteristics. By moving my eyes between the two displays, I can stitch together perfect copy when either would be unreadable on its own.
My computer, which is big part of an SDR radio, is an AMD-based homebuilt machine running Windows 10. I use PowerSDR and HDSDR for SDR plus FLDIGI and WSJT-X for digital. Thanks to Joe Taylor and David Freese.
* Like FCC, I also progressed through the FAA ranks. Starting as a Private Pilot in 1968, I now have Airline Transport Pilot Single-engine, Multi-engine, and Helicopter.