Back into Ham Radio as NK6Y!

After an absence of about 15 years, I got back into ham radio! In celebration, I changed my former Extra Class callsign from NZ6E to NK6Y. (I hated that “E” on the end… when you say it, everyone hears “D”).  My old radio was a Yaesu FT1000MP, a radio made in the 90’s. Unfortunately it had suffered some water damage, I think. I had trouble with its CW filter, even though it works perfectly on SSB. So, I got a new radio! (above)  This is my primary radio now, a Yaesu FTDX-3000D. This one cost about $1800, but I bought it after comparing it to the Icom 7300, the “hot radio” of the moment, and I’m glad for my choice.

  My transmit antenna is a 3 section fan inverted Vee, but I am not especially satisfied with its performance at present. I don’t do contests, but I do enjoy rag chewing when conditions are good, and I’m a member of SKCC.  My CW is done with an original Vibroplex bug, modified to do about 7-19 WPM.

I’m a retired electronics engineer.  In my career I designed electronics for hard disk drives and for high performance Xray equipment.  I specialized in analog circuit design, control, and high voltage.  I also wrote microcontroller firmware. In my career I received 6 US patents, most of them involving hard disk drive servo design.

I got my license in I think it was 1993. I went in to the test center unlicensed and emerged 5 hours later with my Extra. They told me I was the only woman they had ever seen who tested all the way to Extra on their first test day. But I had to study hard for that. The 20 wpm code was brutal. Being an engineer the tech stuff was not as hard but still took weeks of spare time work. The ARRL test books were a big help.  For the code, I practiced copying 5-character random code groups.  Only when I could copy that did I feel confident enough to try the test.  To my surprise, I didn’t even have to show my copy, I only had to answer a set of questions about what was sent.  Today, some say the random 5-character practice code method is not the best because you have to start out too slow and you reach a “plateau” at about 17 WPM where you can’t go faster, and you get discouraged.  I think that might be true.  That’s the speed where you have to be hearing the next character while writing the previous character.  But don’t give up! Learn to skip your mistakes and move on. If one method doesn’t work, switch to another.  Code is important.  If we have a Zombie Apocalypse, or even a major solar corona mass ejection, we may need amateurs to communicate again with small hand made radios.  You can also join a SSB net and learn to move traffic.  (A skill that I need to learn myself.) In case of emergency, CB radio is NOT going to help much, I think.

So, I’m going to be adding lots more blog posts here in the future, so that this becomes a web resource of some sort. I like to design things and talk about them, so here is a good place to display the information to the rest of the world.


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