|This was me with my test results the day I received them.|
I hung up the phone, and immediately called out through the Dundalk 2 metre repeater. Tony EI4DIB came back to me for my first QSO as a licenced ham, and at that moment a great adventure began. Following years of interest in the hobby of radio, I was finally a fully fledged radio amateur.
|My first ham station, pictured in winter 2009.|
The station grew, as did the antenna system. An MA5B minibeam followed, as did 40m and 30m inverted vees. The DXCC count went up steeply. I was working far-off places with a hundred watts, morning, noon and night. Stuff I could only have dreamed of. From a small garden I was, quite literally, working the world. I was following a passion which had been ignited when I was a teenager, and my older brother was a CB operator, and later a ham. I worked DX on 11m using an old Silver Rod from my boyhood home. Now, I was back chasing DX again, years later, and feeling good.
One of the nicest aspects of the hobby though is the camaraderie and the friendship. I have so many friends in the hobby; people of all tastes and interests. Some of them love HF and DXing. Some of them don't. Some of them are shortwave listeners. Some are VHF enthusiasts. Some of them live in far-off countries. Yes, ham radio unites people, across political, geographical and religious divides. Everyone has their niche in ham radio. But all of them are friends, and in the long nights of winter, and even in the balmy days of summer, there's always someone on the other end of your CQ, waiting for a QSO or a good ragchew.
|Morse code opened up the world to me. This is the J-28 |
morse key which I used to learn CW, borrowed from EI2HX.
And this coming month, with any luck, I will be battling through more pile-ups, for rare and far away places such as Wake Atoll, Juan Fernandez, Banaba and more.
But in addition to all this DXing, I have been involved in other areas of the hobby. The local clubs are a great source of friendship and social interaction with other radio enthusiasts. I have been involved in contests and portable operations and even an IOTA dxpedition. I am on the committee of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society, and write the HF Happenings column for the society's magazine, Echo Ireland. It really has been a fantastic four years. Here are some of my stats: I've had 19,163 QSOs. I've worked 301 DXCC (6 deleted) and confirmed 280 (4 deleted). I've worked 287 DXCC on CW, 256 on phone, and 131 on digi modes.
|Enjoying a bit of craic during AREN (Amateur Radio |
Emergency Network) training with Derek EI7CHB and Pat EI2HX.
What a wonderful hobby we have. Thank you to all those who've been there along the way. Thank you to all my ham friends, in Drogheda, in Ireland, and all over the world. It's been a beautiful journey so far. And we have so much more to look forward to.