Wednesday September 8, 1999 I took an early train to Brussels. Nervously among blaring white collar commuters. Almost anxiously looking for the offices of the Belgian telecoms regulator. I was prepared but you never know. The reason for my visit to the capital was my first ham radio licensing test. Not that I intended to become an active ham. And what is a DXer anyway? Just like contesting, I had no clue it existed let alone what it was. Passing the test was my only purpose.
I was young and stupid me felt like he had to prove something. A few of my (ex) co-workers at that time were hams. Or they just had a license and a callsign. Since I graduated in the RF branch of electronics, it seemed only natural I passed this test. Only to boast that I had passed that test. And passing I did. This test granted me a VHF license (50 MHz and above). A few weeks later I made my first local contact on VHF as ON1DRS. It was November 6,1999 at 6PM local time. I still have the Word doc I used as a logbook. I set up the TR-9130 on my parent’s veranda because I had yet to convince my dad to drill holes through the wall and run a coax inside. The contacts themselves didn’t mean much as it was local chit chat. But I do remember the feeling and the vibe. I was talking to people. Wireless. With my own means. And a homebrewed 2m GP mounted on a tripod. I was hooked.
I made eighty QSO as ON1DRS before the TR-9130 completely died in June 2000. I just waited a few months for the next Morse code exam to start using the TS-850 on HF. Passing was important because there were only two sessions each year then. Also the theoretical exam was held only twice a year. Not passing meant waiting at least another six months.
It took a while to ramp up my ham career. One year later I did my Morse code exam and got HF privileges. That boosted the radio activity. The rest is history.
I knew I had written about this before. I had to look it up but it makes sense I posted this 5 years ago: 10 years as a licensed ham: from ON1DRS to ON5ZO
Five years, fifteen years. Time flies. And it has achieved a scary speed by now!
On the side, something to file under miscellaneous. During two of my three years studying electronics, the RF classes were taught by a licensed ham radio operator. But he never told us about the hobby. Imagine that. Graduated cum laude as an RF technician not even knowing people did this for a hobby. I had to find out he’s a ham after graduating and getting into the local ham scene.
Looking back, I feel this is a missed chance. Year after year he had at least twenty and maybe more possible hams. I can’t remember how many graduated in the RF class on average. But it was popular at the time. Young men and even the odd woman, in their early twenties who had picked RF and telecommunications voluntarily as their specialization in electronics. So I guess it’s safe to assume they had at least a minor interest in RF. I know I had.