Amateur Radio’s Part in My Life
Having a fascination with wireless communications since my childhood, I became aware of amateur radio as a pre-teen in the early 1980s when an uncle also interested in amateur radio came to visit from out of state. He allowed me to join him on a visit to the American Radio Relay League headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, where we received a red-carpet tour of the facilities and observed a demonstration of the League’s W1AW station. Included in that presentation, was firing up the old spark gap transmitter still functional in those days. I was further fascinated and grateful for having had the experience!
I continued to read up about amateur radio from the old 1950s and 1960s published books available on the town library’s bookmobile, which came to our part of town once every week or so when I was a kid. I also discovered my father’s old electronics schoolbooks from the 1960s, including either the second or third edition (cannot remember which it is) of Electronic Communications by Robert L. Shrader. I would read various parts of the book trying to fathom and understand the concepts of radio telecommunications and the electronic circuits involved in facilitating the desired effects. I was hooked.
While life moved on and the activities of my teenage years consumed my time, it was at age 19 when I finally got my code skills sufficient to attempt and achieve status as a technician class amateur radio operator in the summer of 1989. My level of involvement and activity has varied over the years. Still, I have maintained and upgraded my status as an amateur radio operator, achieving extra class license status at the end of the year 2000.
Certainly, my desire to know and understand all about how wireless communication worked influenced my decisions in life, resulting in my entry into the United States Navy in 1990 pursuing (and achieving) my quest to become a nuclear-designated electronics technician (i.e. Navy Nuke / Reactor Operator). So, for me, amateur radio locked my interest into what we now call STEM in the context of education. This inevitably drove my technical career progression, paying the bills the whole time. It continues to be an interesting ride!