I was originally licensed in 1991, after being encouraged by KA8WNS (SK) and KB8BNV to study the code and take some tests. I originally obtained my Novice license and became KB8MAZ. A few weeks later I passed the Tech and General licenses as well as 20 wpm code at the Triangle Amateur Radio Club VE session. Within a year I had my Extra license and became AA8IA.
In the 90s I enjoyed working DX during the peak of the solar cycle. I then got into packet with a few other local hams and spent the 90s doing that along with various antenna projects. Then I got a new job that took all of my time for the next 8 years.
During a job transition back in 2006 I decided to get back into amateur radio and started participating in some QSO parties and small contests. I moved to a new house in 2008 and am just now having the chance to plan a new ham station here.
I’m a member of the Mad River Radio Club. 99% of my HF activity is on CW. I work 80m through 440mhz, regardless of whether I have a proper antenna for the band. If it tunes up, I use it — no matter how inefficient. I’ve always enjoyed the code and have always been a proponent of code being a requirement for a license. I am probably about 1/100th of what a true contester is. I don’t have the stamina or ambition to be in the same league as the real contesters. They consistently perform amazing feats of radiosport and I’m amazed at the lengths they go to in an attempt to be #1.
I am quick to rush into things, and I almost rushed into a crankup and some sort of beam, but fortunately the wisdom that comes with age finally prevailed. Those plans are waylaid, for the better. Now I”ll have another year to think about how I proceed with a better antenna system. In the meantime, my current antenna is performing much better than the one did at my previous QTH.
I like to promote CW. I don’t like to hear people bellyache about CW being too difficult. For 99.9999% of you who don’t know CW, either you dont care to learn it OR you are too damned lazy. You may just be missing out. It is one thing not to have an interest — after all, there is a helluva lot of things to do in ham radio that don’t involve CW. But there are a lot of amateurs out there who would like it if they learned it, and many who would really enjoy it but who are just too lazy or too busy making up excuses for why CW is outdated.
With the above rant out of the way, I’m a firm believer in being a well rounded amateur. All modes are great, all bands are great. It’s what you do on them/with them that determines their fate and your fun. So homebrew an antenna, pick up an old piece of equipment or build a kit, and try out some new bands. If you have a computer, wire up an interface and work the digital modes. They can be a lot of fun and are full of all kinds of interesting people. There is a lot of DX to be had on the digital modes, and you will find many of the digital modes to be very forgiving of a mediocre ham station.