Saturday, January 23, 2010

An attack of nostalgia.

I took my car for State inspection this morning. In New Jersey, once you pass a four year period after you buy a brand spankin' new vehicle, that vehicle has to be inspected by the State every two years. They test for basic vehicle safety and to ensure that your vehicle is within current emission standards. No big deal really, and in New Jersey you can either have the State perform the inspection for free; or pay for an "authorized" private inspection. Being the frugal Ham that I am, I go for the free inspection.

But I ramble; and you are probably wondering what this could possibly have to do with Amateur Radio.

The inspection site is in Edison, NJ - which is two towns over from me. In between us is Piscataway, which was home to the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club, of which I am still a member (as I guess it still technically exists). Driving to inspection I passed the firehouse where we held our annual auction; and I also passed the McDonalds where Bob W3BBO and I used to meet for coffee and Ham Radio BS'ing from time to time. I also passed the street where Chuck Phillips WB2MSV used to live. Chuck was kind of the "guiding spirit" of PARC, for lack of a better term.

I served as Secretary, Vice-President and then eventually as President of the club for two terms. You've seem me write about PARC's Field Days before; and those were good times. All this got me thinking and ruminating on how things change; and yet, at the same time, things remain the same.

My interest in Amateur Radio has never waned since I was licensed in 1978. Sure, like everyone else there have been ebbs and flows as far as my activity levels went; but the initial spark and flame never faded. The activities changed a lot in all those years! Although CW and QRP have been constants and are now my only preoccupations, there have been others that were part of the mix throughout the years.

There were times when I was DX crazy; and there was a time when I was very much into the digital modes - mostly RTTY, PacTOR and AMTOR. I think I still have a few certificates from the ARRL hanging around somewhere for placing high from NJ in the ARRL RTTY Roundup for three or four years. And there was a period of time when I would spend some time every weekend hunting down Special Event Stations. I have quite a few certificates from chasing those; and some of the certificates are so beautiful that I have them hanging on the Shack wall to this day.

When I go through my log, looking at my activities through all those years, the majority of SSB contacts that I have made were from chasing those Special Event Stations. It seems that only a minority operate in the CW portion of the spectrum. That's kind of sad, as I found working them to be very enjoyable; and I really can't work any of them now as I don't have anything that is SSB capable. (Time to add a new rig? Unless I win the Lottery, I don't think so!)

And the rigs! Like most Hams, I've had my share of different rigs. It's fun to remember the joy and anticipation that occurred with the planning and eventual purchase of a new radio. Over the years, I guess I have had relatively few new rigs. Once I bought something, I tended to stick with it for a while - probably out of loyalty and financial circumstances, too. I have known guys who would change rigs like they changed their socks - almost on a daily basis, it seemed! I could never afford to do that.

During the heyday of RS-10 and RS-12, I was really into operating through those two satellites. I even had a QSO with Great Britain through RS-10 once, which was a rare thing for a Low Earth Orbiting satellite. I never accomplished WAS through satellite, which was a goal; but it was fun, none the less. To this day, there is still nothing quite like the experience of hearing your own signal on the downlink from a satellite orbiting hundreds of miles above your head. Just the thought of what was going on was impressive to me; and it never lost its luster. I wish those two Russian satellites were still up there and operational. I have Bob W3BBO to thank for introducing me to that super exciting portion of the hobby.

Anyway, it was fun remembering all of those things, the events, the activities; but most especially the people - the friends, the personalities; and even the "characters" ( we All know a few of those!). All that being said, I look forward to the coming years, the new friends, activities, and events.

One eye on the past and one eye on the future.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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