DXCC All Time New One – 39 Years Later!


DXCC All Time New One – 39 Years Later!
2013 is my 40th year as an Amateur Radio Operator. On January 1, I made honor roll by working Father Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A – on 40M SSB and then 17M CW.
An even more amazing thing happened this year – ATNO #336 appeared out of the past – as a QSL and 39 years after the QSO was made! It sure brings back memories that intertwine ham radio and my career, and turn this into a great 40th anniversary celebration.
I received my Novice license (WN2QHN) on my 14th birthday in March, 1973 in Newton, New Jersey. I had a very simple Novice station – a Hallicrafters HT-40 CW only transmitter, which was 75 watts, (crystal controlled), and a Heathkit SW-717 general coverage receiver that I built myself. They were controlled by a Dow Key T-R (transmit – receive) switch – which was a single tube relay, and my antenna was a 40 Meter dipole that worked on 15 Meters as well.
Hallicrafters HT-40
Heathkit SW-717
The key used was an old Vibroplex “Bug”.
Used with permission of trademark owner
I would come home from school and have long CW rag chew QSO’s with other teen agers who lived mostly on the East Coast and then would check into traffic nets. One of the QSO’s I had was with KZ5VV, Ted Herrman, who lived in the Canal Zone.
I received my General Class license in 1975 while on vacation in Seattle, Washington. I had previously failed the test (after being intimidated by a fellow named “Finkelstein” in New York City). Little did I know that my family would move to the West Coast only 4 years later, and that this trip was actually a scoping trip my father had to see what the San Francisco Bay Area would be like. (The three of us would end up working at Lockheed in Sunnyvale a few years later.) My brother, father and I drove from San Francisco to Seattle straight through, and I studied in the back seat.
When I got home, I took my savings from my 2 years work as an (after school) dish washer at Don Bosco College and went to Barry Electronics in New York City and bought my first new ham radio – a beautiful shiny TS-511S. It was a hybrid, solid state receiver and used “sweep tubes” for the drivers and finals. I loved that rig.
I also added a Rohn 40’ free standing tower and a Mosely TA-33 yagi. I wasn’t a DX-er, but a rag chewer who worked DX when a DX station just happened to answer my CQ. In fact, I remember being more excited to work Hawaii or Alaska back then – they seemed more exotic to me than Europe – which was very easy from the East Coast. I also was a “Traffic Man” – remember that? Mostly CW and on the NTS.
Around that time, my father’s friend told me to “Stop playing with tubes and wires and make the switch to computers”, and plopped this down on our kitchen table:
I graduated High School in 1977, and that was pretty much it as far as ham radio was concerned. I followed my Dad’s friends advice and went to college (Lock Haven State in Pennsylvania) for a Business Computer Science degree and (after one year working for Kodak in Rochester, NY and 2 years at Lockheed in Sunnyvale) ended up as Oracle’s 127th employee – and have made my career pretty much as an Oracle and Teradata database expert since then. I attribute ham radio for getting me into my career.
I tried getting back into the hobby in 1991, and even upgraded to Extra, but it just didn’t stick. My kids were just babies, and I just didn’t have the time for ham radio. My career was also in full swing.
In 2001, when my kids were 10 and 6, I found myself with more free time and decided to get into ham radio again, this time as a DX-er. I went to Ham Radio Outlet in Oakland, and bought one of the newest and wildly popular rigs – the Icom IC-756 Pro II. I also bought a Force-12 Sigma-5 GT vertical dipole and built a ladder line fed doublet – up 35’.
I still had my old logbooks, and entered all of the QSO’s into a logging program. As I got into DX-ing very seriously, I saw that I had that 1974 QSO with KZ5VV, but no QSL card. I knew that Canal Zone had been Deleted from the DXCC list in 1979, and had even thought it was useless because it was “only a Deleted” and didn’t count towards any awards, but on a lark, I posted on the eHam:
“Way back in 1974 I worked KZ5VV (Ted in Canal Zone) and either didn’t bother to send or receive his QSL. Does anyone know how I might try to track him down or track his log or QSL manager down?”
Steve, W3HF, was kind enough to look up the call up in an old “Flying Horse” Callbook – and then the ULS, and found that Ted has a newer call – AE8G. I tried several times to get a QSL by sending a letter asking if Ted could respond and just sign my “QSL Letter”. No luck – as it turned out, Ted had been inactive for years and his QRZ.COM address was old and it seemed that mail wasn’t being forwarded to his new address.
A couple of times over the years I re-posted, and eventually found out that Ted Herrman is an author of a science fiction novel on Amazon.com. I found that there was a forum on Amazon.com where you could post about his novel, and I decided to ask if he could email me – that I was a ham radio operator from the past. The Amazon “Ted Herrman Page” had a nice bio and even a picture of Ted. So, you can say that between the eHam and Amazon online internet forums that social media is responsible for me finding Ted.
Sure enough, I received a reply from Ted on the Amazon Forum – and he gave me his email address. I emailed him, and he graciously agreed to send me a QSL “letter”, and I received it from Florida – only 2 days later. Thanks Ted! I also kept the postmarked letter and showed these artifacts to my QSL card checker, Bruce, AH0U. Thanks Bruce!
It’s been a great 40th anniversary and a fun year so far. I’ve been working on upgrading my antenna system and have just completed that work and am having more fun than ever with a new Elecraft KX3 that sits next to the full K-Line. Back in 1973, there were no PC’s, no internet, no spotting clusters, not even a transmit VFO! I was stuck on a handful of frequencies, but I had a blast. I have fun with all modes now, but am partial to hand sent CW. I use a Begali Simplex key – and send as if it were still a Vibroplex Bug.
It’s amazing to think how far things have come since the early 1970’s – this has been a great trip down memory lane, and this QSL is the icing on the anniversary cake.
73 de Rich Holoch KY6R