Joe L. Showalter
QCWA # 36794
I was always interested in electronics for as long as I remember. I became involved in the CB craze during the 70's until that fad died a much needed death. I had the 'handle' of Winchester. Then in 1988 as an employee for 3M, I saw a notice on the bulletin board in the break area. (An actual board with bulletins on it) that was looking for people that were interested in becoming licensed ham radio operators. I signed up and went to the classes every week and listened to the code practice tapes diligently. I owe a thank you to Terry (NØHRK) and Jeff (WB5MTV) for teaching the class and allowing me to get my ticket.
Let me back up a bit...
In 1986 we were in the process of buying a house and in the basement was a radio room with ham gear in it. When we were negotiating the purchase, I said does the ham gear go with the house. She said sure. So I was the proud owner of a new house and lots of old radio gear. The transmitter was a Heathkit dx-60b and the receiver was a Drake something-or-other and a 5 band vertical antenna was laying in the garage.
So, when I got my novice ticket I ran to the basement, fired up the rigs, listened to a cq, and responded with slow awkward CW on a straight key. I thought his name was Collin but when I got the QSL card it turned out to be Colleen. (CW operators will see how I made that mistake)My first contact was with a YL.
I became a CW DX chaser with the help of a fellow 3M employee who was my true Elmer. Vern (KUØS) we would chase rare countries and work pile-ups while communicating on the 3M repeater. I upgraded to a bencher key, a memory keyer, a solid state HF rig, beam antenna, and a simple G5RV. I also upgraded my license class one step at a time. I went from my novice call (KBØCQF) to my Technician call (NØJOL). When I took my General test I decided not to update my call. I later passed my Advanced class and decided not to upgrade either. I passed my Extra and thought I would update my call but I had already worked many countries and other contacts with my old call. So I kept it. I operated for many years on the east side of St. Paul. I worked ~125 countries, all CW. With the exception of Pitcairn Island. I had to find a microphone, plug it in, tune up in the SSB region, work a small pile up, just to ask if she would consider a CW contact. She agreed, and everyone waited while we exchanged information. I had all CW QSL cards with the exception of that one.
I became active in the 3M radio club and am still a member. In the 90's I became less active when my two boys were active in scouts and became their scoutmaster and enjoyed watching them achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. When I was stopped operating packet was big deal, PSK31 was really hot, and the internet was not known to many.
Fast forward to 2004. We sold our 1000 square foot house in St. Paul and moved to a 27 acre hobby farm in rural Isanti, MN. It took about 10 years until I put up an antenna again. But I'm back on the air and loving it. I've put up a tower, bought a newer rig or two and can be heard on the bands again. I can't wait until conditions improve in a few more years. While working a rag chew on CW, the operator told me about the straight key century club. And, that they only use mechanical keys. I looked up their website, dusted of my old J-38 key and have never looked back. I love it. Check it out http://www.skccgroup.com/
I love a good hamfest, portable HF operation, and can be found on packet 145.67 NØJOL-1, the MORA repeater 147.240 - PL 146.2, and always on the 3M repeater 147.120. My wife Jodie is licensed as KCØWY and my oldest son James is now licensed as KD9GEU in Menomonie, Wi.
March 31, 2017