I was first licensed as a ham in 1978, shortly after the Great White Hurricane, also known in New England as the Blizzard of ’78. At the time I was working as an electronic technician for a company called Analogic, located in Wakefield, MA. One of the other technicians, Paul Silbert (W1AGE – SK*), was a ham radio enthusiast. In those days, one took the the novice exam in the presence of a licensed ham (General class or higher), and this licensed amateur operator conducted both the Morse code test and oversaw the written portion, then returned the paperwork to the FCC. Paul graciously agreed to be my guide. On the day of my test, I remember going over to Paul’s house, wondering if I really knew Morse well enough to pass. As it turned out, there was no problem, and I was issued the call sign KA1AHD.
At the same time, another technician at work, Dana Rodakis, took his test and got the call KA1BMJ. He and I pushed each other to upgrade our licenses. We upgraded to Technician pretty quickly, and started playing on 2M VHF. I built a Heathkit rig, a synthesized transceiver which worked pretty well. I also had a couple of boat anchor radios which allowed me to work HF, all Morse.
At this time I started becoming involved in the National Traffic System, and got to know a local ham by the name of Jim Hatherly (WA1TBY – SK). Jim found me a nice used TS-520S at a local flea, at a good price, and hooked me up as long as I promised to check into the CW nets. Jim was a great guy, and a good evangelist for Ham Radio.
Things sort of evolved from there. I got my Advanced class license the same day I got my General. Dana became AJ1R (now K4LK) along about now, and won the race to Extra. In those days, one trudged into Boston to the Customs House, went up almost to the top floor, and sat in an exam room to take the 13 and 20 word per minute Morse tests and the more advanced written exams. It was a bit nerve wracking, and I never did pass that 20WPM test. As a result, I remained an Advanced class licensee until recently, when I took (and aced!) my Amateur Extra class written exam. As the requirement for Morse code has been eliminated (not something I’m happy about, despite my general problems with CW), the written exam was all I needed.
My radio hobby took a back seat when I joined William Sutton Lodge, AF&AM, in Saugus, MA. I was soon working my way towards the East, and was priveleged to act as Worshipful Master of the lodge in 1998.
In 2012, after 24+ years with OSRAM Sylvania, I retired and moved down to Hanover County, VA. We built a house on a 2.5 acre lot, and started landscaping. The radios stayed packed away for 3 years. Ouch. Now I’ve re-activated the shack. I currently have a 43′ vertical multi-band from Zero Five and a 130′ end fed long wire for HF, and a dual band vertical for V/UHF. Eventually I want a tower and an inverted vee to go along with a beam.
In my shack currently I have an Icom IC-718, an Icom IC-7200, an ICOM ID-5100A, an Elecraft KX3/PX3/KXPA100 combo, and a Flex 6500.
* The initials ‘SK’ are Morse code shorthand for ‘silent key’, the signal an operator would send when they were going off the air for the day. Hams use it to denote those who have died, a permanent ‘silent key’.