Originally licensed in 1991 as a 20-wpm General with callsign KB8MAZ. Upgraded to Extra in 1992 and received the AA8IA callsign. The two individuals responsible for piquing my interest in Amateur Radio were KA8WMS George Westling (sk) and KB8BNV Bill Wade. They were on CB 39 or 40 SSB and I was on AM. They switched over to AM to see who was making the racket and we struck up a conversation. They then started to tell me about amateur radio.

Back in the 90s I belonged to TARC (Triangle Amateur Radio Club) in East Liverpool, Ohio. It was there that I had all of my testing done to become a ham. Notable figures from there who played a part in testing and/or elmering me (whether they knew it or not) were Paul Jones N8LZV / W8WIF (sk), and Dick Sisley K8JKB (sk) as well as John O’Hara KB8TJX / N8GHZ (sk).

My first contact on HF was XE1MMJ, Maria Martin-Jones. I was running a Kenwood TS-130 back then. Throughout the 90s I was predominantly playing around with VHF packet, Linux, and JNOS. This was when packet radio was in its heyday, back when KC8JN, KB8JNM, K3OIW, W3IXR, K8EIW and other node/BBS operations were active. It was around this time that Jeff N3GLV introduced me to some guys from Duquesne U physics lab — Don Broderick N3GUZ, John Vukovic N3OVQ and John Kaminski N2VQJ. Some of them showed up my house one day with an SLS 11-floppy distro of Linux, kernel 0.99pl14. The rest is history. I’ve been a Linux systems administrator for the past 23 years. Amateur Radio has clearly been pivotal in the direction I took with my career.

I was pretty much inactive from 1998-2008, and then again from 2015-2021. I was busy with work and life and had moved a couple of times. In Spring 2021 I put up an 80m EFHW, bought a Yaesu FTDX-10 and got back on the air. I participate casually in various contests / QSO Parties when I’m feeling ambitious, but I mostly have been running FT8. I’m surrounded by a forest of tall trees all around and a shale hill about 100 ft higher than my QTH. And an 80m EFHW is a lousy antenna on 20-10m. It is pretty hard to get a signal out of here on any band at a good takeoff angle for DX, especially to the east. Despite making thousands of FT8/FT4 QSOs since I became active again, I think I’ve only picked up one new DXCC. Fortunately, Cycle25 is on the upswing and I’m starting to see some activity on 10/12/15m, my favorite bands. Hopefully I’ll manage to get an antenna or two installed at the top of the hill sometime before I die so that I can work some Asia DX!

I’m also playing around with some old packet software, namely JNOS and BPQ, along with XRPi. I’ve got a BBS and node online on the AMPRnet with some connections to other BBS’ and nodes all over the world. I’m hoping to get a packet node set up on the hill by Spring 2022. As part of that project I’ll be using some Microtik gear with AREDN mesh firmware to connect the two locations.

I am a member of the Steubenville-Weirton Amateur Radio Club, an ARRL member, and lifetime member of CWops (member# 996).