My interest in radio goes back to my childhood days, when I would listen
to a shortwave radio. I have always been fascinated by the
technology that allowed wireless communications.
When I was very young I was impressed by my Uncle John's room that was in the attic of my Grandparents' house in Connecticut. He no longer lived there but his room was still intact with various radio gear, and the wall was covered with strange QSL cards and maps that sparked my imagination. I didn't know it at the time but this room was a look back in history, and if it were still in existence today would probably be quite valuable.
During the "CB Craze" around our nation's bicentennial, I set up a CB rig in my bedroom with an antenna mounted to the chimney. My Dad applied for an FCC license (required in those days even on 11 meters) and we received the call sign KAOC 2291, which I pronounced "KAOC double 2 niner one". The call sign was for the whole family so it really was my call, since nobody else in my family used a radio. My "handle" was "Buccaneer" and I would stay up late at night by the glow of the 40 channel radio, listening and whispering into the mic so that my parents wouldn't know I was still awake.
My friends and I also used walkie-talkies (usually from Radio Shack, ones that required plug-in crystals) and also strung wires between our houses to establish those important comm links that kids always need in order to pass their secret messages. Paper-route earnings provided enough money to buy some of these toys. Although I always dreamed of getting a ham license, the higher cost of equipment and the fact that I never met an "elmer" to get me started kept me on the listening end only.
I did have use of a very special shortwave radio though. The RCA Victor "Portable Strato-World II" was a tube-type superheterodyne receiver that performed magic for my young ears. I was able to pick up broadcast as well as amateur stations all over the world with this radio. My Grandfather had purchased this radio on November 21, 1964 for the princely sum of $175.05 - I still have the radio and the receipt! It was this radio that really gave me my first taste of the wonders available as I tuned through the megacycles.
I didn't do much with radio once I hit college age, and it was not until the early 1990's that I decided to get involved in ham radio. The CB band had deteriorated into a horrible mess but I found the ham bands to be very enjoyable. My first license was a Novice class and I was issued the call sign KB5UEV in June, 1992. I studied for the exam using Gordon West's morse code tapes and exam books. Very shortly after passing the Novice class I upgraded to Technician class. It was not long before the FCC changed the rules so my Tech license became a "Tech Plus" license, since I had passed the 5 wpm morse code exam. In those days I lived in Rio Rancho, NM, which is why my call sign was a "5th Call Area" call. I purchased an Icom 735 HF radio from Jun's Electronics in California during a family visit (since it covered all the HF bands, I thought it would be the only transceiver I'd ever need - little did I know!) and used it with a Butternut vertical to really have some serious radio fun.
I was hooked on radio and by November 1992, I had upgraded to a General class license, which required a 13 wpm code test along with the written element. After moving back to Tucson, AZ, I upgraded again to Advanced class, and received a new call sign from the 7th Call Area, KI7RK. I used this call for a while but found that the "KI" caused confusion for hams copying my call, and also got plenty of strange comments from non-hams who saw my license plate (for example about Captain Kirk). So I decided to apply for a "vanity" call sign and modified my call to KR7RK, which I continue to hold at present. After obtaining that call I upgraded to Amateur Extra class.
Although I'm not an engineer by trade, I enjoy learning about radio and electronics. I've taken a few electronics courses at the local community college, and read plenty of books. In addition to my ham radio licenses, I have also obtained commercial FCC licenses including the GROL (General Radiotelephone Operator) and GMDSS/O and GMDSS/M (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Operator and Maintainer) licenses. I maintain memberships in various radio clubs such as the American Radio Relay League and 10-10 International Net (I have been the Treasurer of 10-10 since 1994), and I am an accredited Volunteer Examiner. I have been a speaker at numerous ham radio conventions including the Dayton Hamvention and the ARRL Southwest Division Convention. I am presently the President of the Southern Arizona DX Association, and at times I have served as an officer for the various local ham clubs in Tucson. Prior to a family reunion in the Bahamas, I obtained the Bahamian call sign C6AKI, and was able to make numerous contacts from a porch overlooking the ocean. I still hold that call and hope to return soon for some DX operating. During a trip to Turkey in 2000, I was very fortunate to meet with a local ham and operate as TA3/KR7RK under CEPT licensing rules.
My oldest son Ryan is KR7YAN, my middle son Brad is KB7RAD, and my youngest son Jason is KR7JAS (all Technician Class licensees). In 1997 my father obtained a Technician class license, KC7UNA, and my oldest brother is an Extra class licensee, N2IAF. None of them are very active in the ham radio hobby.