History of KAØDXG - KMØT
Hope this is not to boring for you all......
I always had an interest in radio for some reason. The first things I can remember along those lines was my Dad had an old Hallicrafters receiver in the house. I can remember seeing when it was turned on, the bright yellow light from the lamps inside the radio as they shined through the display windows. I donít recall ever listening to it, but I certainly remember being interested in it. My Dad was a Ham for some time while in the Air Force, K4VPO, but after he married Mom, let his ticket slide. (Dad did get his ticket again!)
At an early age, I also started building scale plastic model airplanes, this eventually gave way to rubber band powered balsa flying models. Over time, I got interested in basic two channel RC airplanes and boats. I would build them, crash em and then rebuild them. I never had anyone to teach me how to fly them, just learned by the seat of my pants!
During my RC days and the late 1970s, the CB boom started to hit the country. Looking back it appears to me now it was a combination of affordable electronic technology advancements corresponding with the peak of Sunspot Cycle 21. This seemed to produce a wave rushing across the country in terms of affordable CB radios and you could if you wanted, talk all over the world. Also, other media picked up on this, which made it popular. Movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" where they used CBs all the time to avoid the police. Also, CW McCall and his country songs about truckers and CBs, put this technology in the spotlight.
My Dad picked up on this and put CBs in his plumbing trucks thinking that this would really help on service calls, etc. Well, central Minnesota with trees and hills, combined with 1/4 wave magnetic mounts and only 5 watts made this pretty difficult. Nevertheless, I became interested in the communication aspects. I know a lot of Hams came from the CB ranks, I just never got that involved other than making some local noise.
Then, somewhat of a miracle of timing happened. I was in 9th grade and a science teacher decided to offer a "Ham Radio Class". This had never been done before in the Jr. High, and to this day I do not know what prompted it, but I took the class. We had a little Hallicrafters receiver in the class to listen to the outside world, and built code oscillators to teach each other the code. I happened to be the only student to pass the Novice test and the code. The teacher never made it. Thatís where it all began, my call sign being KAØDXG. I found a few Elmers, ADØS and AFØT and got my first QSOs under my belt and I was on my way. Not having a clue what the future may hold and never even fathoming that Ham Radio could be a lifelong friend.
When I got to high school in Brainerd Minnesota, they offered a large number of electronic classes on the industry side of the education. The head instructor was a Ham and we got along very well. In fact, he allowed me to take the Sr. level courses right away since I had my ticket already. I did however get some flack from the resident Sr. students since those classes normally did not have freshmen. They had a full blown Ham station at the school, with Yaesu transmitter, receiver and linear. Some RTTY gear and a tribander yagi on a tower.
Over the next 3 years, I took all the electronics classes and also spent an extra hour in independent study as a teacher's aid. This meant I had free run of the electronics labs and operated the Ham station all the time. I had friend in metal shop across the hall make me booms for quads and yagis that I would build and experiment with, it was a really neat time of my life. I eventually upgraded when I was a Jr., to Extra Class, getting the callsign KMØT.
High School ended in 1982 and I went to college at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud Minnesota. Most of the Ham gear got sold to buy books and beer. Priorities had changed dramatically and I never thought much about operating over the next number of years, I managed to keep my ticket in good standing however, a thing now that I am thankful I did.
After graduating college in 1988 and into the business world, Ham radio was not pursued very much either. I did get an HR2600 and worked a bit of mobile DX on 10 Meters, but living in apartments and worked dreadful hours did not play into the hobby very much. I did however always have my KMØT callsign plates on all my cars even if I had no radio. It was always good for conversation! Note the picture in front of the Engineering Building at SCSU, there is yours truly on the very left in a suit, graduation day - 1988!
Changing jobs and ending up in Sioux Center Iowa around 1999 is what brought Ham radio back into the spotlight. Having a house and settling down is what seemed to trigger that inner voice. The rest of the website indicates what I have done with Ham radio since. I am glad to be back and have made lots of new friends. Boy, it was a long time away, my oh my - how things have changed!
Over the years, I have had a number of QSL cards operating as KAØDXG and KMØT. Its kind of neat to look back and see the cards I used to send out. All cards represent a different time in my life of Ham Radio, bringing back memories of what I was into at the time. Perhaps you may have received one of my earlier QSLs years ago! I would like to hear from you if you recognize some of my cards from my operations from my novice days in 1979 and early 80s during sunspot cycle 21. I was doing HF at that time and a little bit on FM and repeaters. I knew nothing of the "World Above 50 MHz" at that time. Wish I had however!
Here is my first card, thinking I needed some type of commercial card to get me going. It shows a Ham with headphones, kind of weird now that I look back at it. I always remember some folks, non hams, who looked at my card asking "why is there a pineapple on your card?" They failed to make the connection most of the time. Oh wellÖ..
Somewhere right at the beginning, I drew up this QSL card. As you can see, my lettering and artwork is not really good. Hence going the commercial route for my first QSL card. This card never happened, wonder why I saved the artwork?
In 1979, I started out with an old tube final rig, and Yaesu FT-200. It was a relabeled Tempo radio. It had its quirks but got me by for a while. I first operated using a vertical antenna off the roof of our hardware store in downtown Nisswa Minnesota. We had an apartment above the store and the antenna did fairly well even though I did not know much about radials, efficiency, etc. The current status of sunspot cycle 21 took care of the rest! The old desk mic was from my Dad. He apparently had it from his old Hammin days or when he was in the air force. That thing would "bite ya" when you got your lips on it during transmitting!
Soon afterwards, we moved to a house just outside of town to the north. There I scrounged a tripod and set up a 3-element yagi for 10 meters (rebuilt from the CB band) and built a quad for 2M FM. I also had a old "Dentron Doublet" ladder line dipole on our TV tower, the apex about 70í. Boy did I cream the TV when I got on the air, my first experiences with TVI were pretty much limited to fighting with my Dad for operating time.
I had since upgraded my ticket to General and was working tons of DX on 10 meters, the bands were hot and I also took my summer working money and bought a Kenwood TS-130. With all the DX QSOs, I quickly ran out of QSL cards.
I had a good friend who had classes in the high school reprographics lab and he said he would print me a bunch as a class project. I also who had a girlfriend at the time that had extraordinary talent with handwriting and lettering, so I laid out the card and she gave me her version. I added some sketches of antennas, quiet accurate for what I had in the air to complete the card. Notice however she was not a good speller, "Amateur" was spelled wrong!
My buddy in the graphics class took the card and ran a zillon of them. Never cost me a cent! I then would color in the letters to make em look good for those DX contacts that I really wanted cards back from. I worked so many JAs and UAs back then that I just sent them non-colored versions, it would have been too much work. Its amazing what I worked back then on 10 meters, DXCC was a breeze, only held up by the time it took the cards to get back to me.
The shack had taken shape a bit more at that point. I got a better desk and started taking pride in the layout, so began the pictures of the shack! Also, here is a picture of some antennas, snow and all in the dead of winter.
Also, here is a picture of me in my high school letter jacket on my little tripod with my antennas, something I would probably not do today unless I had it guyed! My brother took the picture from the TV tower just on the other side of the house to get the vantage point for the photo. He never had fear of heights like me, he scampered up the tower with no problem and took the pictures!
Here is a picture of myself (I'm on the right) and my brother Matt, you can see my tripod in the background. Matt was tragically killed in car accident soon after this picture was taken. There is not a day that goes by where I wished he was around to share in the things we are doing these days. I wish my wife Colleen, daughters Patricia, Jenna and son Matthew could have met him.
I soon upgraded to Extra Class and continued to operate on the HF bands. Chasing DX on 10 Meters, working all states on 10 meters as well. I used the Dentron Doublet antenna on 40 and 80 meters working all states on those bands. I worked a bit of DX on 40 meters, but always tried on 80 with no success.
The family would travel to Kentucky every summer to visit my Dads folks. I packed up the radio and worked up a dipole, set up on their deck and proceeded to operate portable. That was a lot of fun and my Grandpa thought it was pretty neat. Here is a picture of the operation, I think I was a Jr. or Sr. in high school at the time. My oh my, did I have some hair back then!
Here are a few incarnations of cards right before I went off to college. The standard card got converted to a KMØT card via pen. Note the coloring in of the card to entice QSL reply!
I then got tired of that and had my buddy print up a bunch more cards for me that had the proper call. If you look closely, one can tell the lettering is not quite as good where it shows "KMØT" and the award designations. Well, you guessed it, I was no longer going out with the "talented lettering girl" and my current girlfriend at that time would have nothing to do with that. So yours truly took a stab at it. I knew my future profession would never be in freehand art! (I did fix the spelling in "Amateur" however, a scissors was my friend in order to keep the same lettering.)
Since I could not draw or letter, I resorted to other methods. I was inventive for sure. Here is a card where I cut all the good stuff out of the other cards and pasted them on a background. This was around the time the first shuttle went up (1981-82?) so it was appropriate to get some of that in there as well. See, no lettering needed, just good work with scissors! Well, as it would be, this card never made it to production and no amateurs ever received it. I saved it for some reason all these years. The equipment is exactly what I was running right before I cruised off to college. (Except for the space shuttle, my vehicle was a 1976 Pinto!)
After the big layoff from 1982 till 1999, I knew I needed QSL cards. I ordered commercial cards to start out with, just as I did when I first became a Novice in 1979. These were pretty nice cards and lasted for a bit. I then needed to order some more and ran those out as well. They were kinda spendy and now being into VHF/UHF, chasing grids really ate them up quickly, something had to be done.
I had been doing quite a bit of PageMaker and Photoshop stuff over the years for work, nothing serious but enough to know my way around the programs. So I laid out some cards and printed a few off. Well, something got screwed up with the photos and it printed only a gray background where the pictures would be. For some reason, I took my red pen and sketched as a joke what I wanted and showed it to my wife. I figured she would get a kick out of the "Upset XYL" in the kitchen. (Which is a joke because I do most the cooking!) She actually thought it was pretty neat and realized what an artist she had married!
Well, needless to say that card never made it to production. Here is the card that is currently being used for the most part. It took a while to find the best paper for the price, and these seem to be relatively inexpensive for the amount of stuff they show. Sure, black and white basic QSLs would do, but I really liked these colored hombrew cards.
Also, meteor scatter contacts I felt needed a special card. With the help of the electronic scissors in Photoshop (remember, I cant draw or letter) I was able to liberate my callsign from my commercial card and use it on the card you see below. The computer took care of the rest of the lettering. The picture of the meteor, cant remember where I got it. It is pretty cool however. I had a few versions of this card, ones for SSB and ones for HSCW contacts via meteor scatter. I never did receive any positive feedback on this card, so I donít really use it any more. Did anyone really like it?
Well, thatís about it for now. Current time is 3:03 PM, Sunday Sept 16th 2001, hope I donít take a big layoff again, otherwise it will be 15 years before I update this. In the meantime, Patricia keeps track of the shack!
In closing, in light of the tragedy in America on September 11th, 2001. My family and myself extend our condolences to all those who have been effected by these unspeakable acts of terrorism. Our hearts are heavy and feel very helpless to do anything of substance that will help our country. We will however do our best to keep up our chins and support our leaders as they push forward, trying their best to handle the situation. God Bless America.
73 - Mike - KMØT EN13vc