The Return of Ham

Dr. Gerg on a tower.
Image: This is what I call fun.

Many years ago in a far-away land . . .

. . . there lived a not-quite-so-young man who was about to realize a life-long dream: he was about to get his ham radio license.

It was the mid-90's in the Great Republic of Texas and my wife and I both passed the Technician Class exam. For the next few years we used local repeaters to stay in touch. She worked about an hour from where I was, and we kept Kenwood TH-79A handhelds with us to stay in touch during the day. Those radios coupled with a pair of TM-732A's in our vehicles were a huge investment for a full-time student and his working-wife mother of two. But we did it, and we enjoyed it.

Then we got cell phones . . .

My wife, being a woman and already burdened with more things to carry than she has arms, lost interest in carrying the handheld radio with her. "What's the point?" was a valid question, and one I really couldn't argue.

For a while I continued enjoying aspects of the hobby. I involved myself in local preparedness. I got my certification as a weather spotter, and often spent evenings sitting on hilltops watching tornadic storms pass through. I feel fortunate to have never seen an actual tornado touch down, although me and my pickup both suffered the indignities of large hail.

I particularly enjoyed climbing towers. It was a way I could contribute that made a tangible difference.

Greg on another tower.
Image: I did more tower climbing in Arizona than anywhere.

I peaked in my ham radio experience (no pun intended) around 2008 or so. I was equipped with a really good 4-wheel drive pickup. It had a rack on top which was perfect for mounting antennas, and for carrying antennas to mountain-top tower sites.

1987 Toyota SR-5 Turbo.
Image: Behold the 1987 Toyota SR-5 Turbo. Very rare. Great truck.

It was only a few months later that work situations required selling that pickup in order to purchase a more modern full-size truck. Very shortly after that came the disastrous 'downturn in the economy'. We would soon be leaving Arizona and heading back to DFW.

I eventually divested myself of all the ham radio gear, confident that those days were behind me. It was a sad moment, but one I felt was a fate of sorts.

Then I got older . . .

. . . and a lot of things changed. One of them was RTL-SDR. That cute little USB dongle re-ignited my interest in radio.

Then there was Dan Maloney at He kept writing articles about ham radio topics that piqued my latent curiosity. He prodded me to start moving toward my destiny.

I bought a NanoVNA. That was really the next-to-last nail in the coffin. I was now equipped with a piece of test equipment that could answer a lot of questions that in the past had gone unanswered. The stage was set.

In all the time I had been involved in ham radio, I never got to do the one thing I had always wanted to do: work HF and learn morse code. I still haven't learned morse code, but I can now.

I recently discovered the Yaesu FT-991A. When I saw the price for a new one, I told my wife I wanted to buy it. That radio has opened up a whole new world to me.

So I'm involved these days with a steep learning curve, hardware and software and General prep. It's going to be a while before I even approach the borders of bored in terms of ham radio.

There's a world of accessory interests as well. A pair of Baofeng BF-F8HP's for our hurricane bug-out kit. The NanoVNA, tinySA, Oscope, and all the (what I call) higher math stuff I've been able to put off that relates to power, antennas and such.

Random Gallery of Related Photos:

Every bit of it pulls my brain a bit farther along the path of learning. And it is learning that is my favorite thing of all.

Is ham radio still a Thing That Works!? I think so. At least for me for the foreseeable future. So carry on! 73 de KB5SBW.

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