Ham radio

    I’ve been having fun with shortwave radio since about 1970, and with ham radio (contacting other hams all around the world) since 1991.

I especially like using Morse code (“CW” to hams) and radioteletype (RTTY) on the shortwave bands.

My FCC-issued callsign is AC4RD. Back when I passed the testing, I had to pass five written tests, of increasing difficulty, and pass three Morse code tests, at increasing speeds.

I have had a lot of fun operating portable–like many afternoons from under a tree in the back yard, with a tiny radio that transmits less power than night light bulb burns (fellow hams: an FT-817) using a lantern battery for power, chatting by Morse code with hams in Australia and New Zealand.

Five watts, to the other side of the globe–pretty good, right?

One of the photos shows one of my portable setups: tiny shortwave radio on the left, Morse code keys homemade from a mousetrap and scrap brass, a Morse code “keyer,” and a little digital watch set to Greenwich Mean Time. (Which we now call “Coordinated Universal Time.”) (That photo is the little portable setup; I’ll put a photo of my regular in-home setup at the bottom of the page

That whole outfit is built into an inexpensive plastic case for portability. Add a little 12-volt power and a piece of wire for an antenna, and I can communicate around the world.

(Yes, I know your cellphone is smaller and just as capable. But this is fun, unlike a cellphone.)   

(Also, all of my radio stuff will keep working when the power is out, and the cell towers are down or have been closed to civilians, which happens in some emergencies.)

I’ve also operated a good bit from my riding lawnmower, using the mower’s battery to power a bigger radio (hams: an FT-897)–sitting out in the yard on a beautiful day, having a barley-based beverage, and working stations around the globe.

I had a special QSL card printed for my “lawnmower portable” operation. If you’re not a ham, you probably don’t know what QSL card means; it’s a postcard you can send to other hams.

I’ve had some really good friends in the ham-radio world, and it can be a lot of fun. It’s also really easy to earn an FCC license these days, if it sounds interesting to you.

Email for ham stuff is ken.AC4RD@gmail.com 73!