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General Information

I am an Extra class license amateur and was first licensed in 1991 as N9MZP and later changed to the vanity call WA9LT in Jan 2007. I'm active on the amateur bands 160 meters through 70cm (440). My QTH is located in rural Geneseo, IL about 11 miles east of Moline, IL in grid square EN41UL.

Retired in April 2006 only to build a new house which was completed in October 2006. I thought that retirement was supposed to involve less work; however, I have not experienced this so far. Still working to finish landscaping the new house, so I added a temporary long wire antenna, until I will have time in the next two to three years to establish better antennas.

Normally operate QRP most of the time in CW mode with my Elecraft K2 transceiver (main rig). Backup rigs for HF are Kenwood TS-590, and Yaesu FT-101E (AM Mode). I have also built several QRP single band CW transceivers, including SW-40, DSW-30, 2n2/40, MarkII (NN1G) 40 meters that I operate from time to time.

Hope to work you some day soon.

How I got started in Ham Radio

Amateur radio brings back many happy memories for me. When I was in grade school, I began teaching myself radio design. From the junk piles of several neighborhood radio/TV repair shops, I retrieved some of the older tube radios that had shortwave bands. After getting several of them to work, I would attach a piece of hookup wire for the antenna and listen to the AM Ham operators on 80 meters.

Although I did not become a ham operator until later in life, I always thought this was something I wanted to do. I enjoyed hearing the signals coming from the warm, glowing tubes of the radios I had fixed.

When I was in the sixth grade, one of my friends challenged me to build a transmitter to talk on one of the older SW BC receivers that was in his house located across town. I did some research at the library and revisited the radio/TV trash bins and was able to collect enough parts to homebrew my first AM tube transmitter. It was not very efficient, but it did work and my friend was able to faintly hear my voice over his radio.

That was my first experience with home brewing radios and one that I will always remember. Although my interest shifted away from radio for many years, this was a lasting experience.

My home brewing was short lived after having to work two jobs while going to high school. After high school I got married and then enlisted in the military. After the military, I received my college degrees and with my wife had our two children. Making a living and raising my family keep me very busy, and did not leave much time for hobbies. To make a long story short, I did not get my ham license until 1991 when I finally seemed to have some additional time to myself.

At first I was not very active, and mainly listened and was trying to learn amateur operations. I bought a six meter ICOM transceiver in 1998 and with a ringo antenna started getting involved in operating. In June I operated in the ARRL VHF contest, in which there was a good band opening. This really got me excited and I decided to study my Morse code and get on HF.

I received my Tech + license in April 99 and wanted to continue practicing CW. Code tapes and W1AW code practice were good learning tools for CW, but I wanted to start trying on-the-air QSO's for additional practice--in my opinion, much more exciting and challenging than tapes. I was 50 years old when I started learning Morse code and my ears are not the best, which was very challenging for me.

My first HF rig was a Mark II XCRV 1 1/2 watts design by Dave Benson NN1g (K1SWL) to which I added the freq mite. This was my first venture into HF radio, CW operating, and QRP operation all at the same time. I put this rig on the air in July 99 and quickly learned that copying 100% from a code tape at 5 wpm is quite different from on-the-air copying. From July to September, I worked with this rig whenever I had a free moment in the 40-meter novice band. Then in September, I passed the 13-wpm test on my first attempt and received my general class license.

My confidence in CW grew and I started trying CW contesting which helped increasing by code speed.

Since, that time I have been fairly active in many different facets of the hobby, and have been enjoying the learning experience.

73 WA9LT