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  • From Arctic to Desert and back again

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    • Year first licensed: 1969 Current license class: AMATEUR EXTRA Past callsigns: KC3GZD

    I got into amateur radio basically when I was born. In fact, my very first bedroom was the ham shack. My dad was an operator not for passion or pleasure but out of necessity. At the time, we were living in the northern Canadian bush in a very isolated hamlet. Radio was how we called for a doctor, bought airplane tickets and even ordered from the 'Eaton' [sic] catalog (think Sears Roebuck, same thing).

    Radio is also how we communicated with my dad when he was away. He was an engineer working on distant road, building, dam, rail and other major projects so he would be away six to twelve months at a time, sometimes longer.

    Throughout my youth I traveled with him, usually during the summer. Some of my most memorable radio setups were of us sitting in a Touareg tent in the depths of the Sahara Desert with a vertical wire antenna hooked on to my dad's insane kite(s).

    The first radio? I won't put my hand in fire over this one because it was truly long ago, but to the best of my recollection, he had modified a Collins AN/ART-13 intended for the U.S. Navy in World War II. Again, not 100% sure but when I see a picture of a AN/ART-13, it seems right. After that, I was privileged to put my hands on a long list of radios, both purchased and hand-built. How I wish I had photos of those days, but I simply do not.

    My most vivid memory of those days was my mother's face every time he decided to put up a new antenna. She loved him and was very supportive... kind of. I guess after a while she just threw up her hands and figured if it kept him out of trouble, all the better.

    In later years I continued on air both in clubs and in the military but was not truly active again until after my recent retirement where I dove back in, only to have a cold shower from our HOA. Which made me focus on mobile operations, including HF. Indeed, both my car and my motorcycle are equipped with HF (Yaesu 891). As you can see in the following images, I've tried to be fairly active. And I must say, I've been acceptably successful. I tell you, I get a thrill out of driving down the highway while getting a 5/9 on a QSO with Melbourne, Malta and Israel... yes, while driving.

    My biggest ham radio thrill? More than likely my motorcycle trip up the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean. I was, in fact, the first motorcycle to drive up the entire Dempster Highway plus the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway when the latter opened on June 2, 2018 (it was 10ºF the morning of the last leg). And there, despite a partially inoperable antenna setup, I managed, with 5 watts, to have a QSO on phone SSB with Sweden on 20m. 😎

    Also, I love being involved in volunteering opportunities. To date I have participated as a ham volunteer in multiple public service events, emergency exercises and sit on the Board of our local county auxiliary communications service.

    What's next? When my wife retires, we're hitting the road to be permanent RVers for a few years. Now I spend my time figuring out the best antenna I can use, the best rig(s) for the road, and how to have enough on-board power to juice up a gallon and a half of sweet electromagnetic transmission.

    Oh, right, I also founded Ham Community one day, at which point my wife decided to do the same thing my mother did... she's very elegant and charming when she throws up her hands 😇
















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