My interest in radio began when my best friend in high school received a Lafayette CB base radio as a gift from his mother. He installed a ground plane vertical on the roof of their house. I have no idea if anyone knew about checking SWR. He used to stay up late at night, working stations from all over the country. This really intrigued me. I didn't pursue this interest until a few years later, during the CB craze of the 70's. My dad had some friends who were truckers. They got him involved in CB radio in a big way. I set up a station at my house in an effort to communicate with him. We lived just far enough apart to make this effort unreliable. I knew about Amateur (ham) Radio, but didn't think I would be able to pass the test, especially the Morse code test. In late 1982 my wife noticed a small ad in the newspaper for a ham radio class the local club was starting up. She encouraged me to attend the classes, and in March 1983 I received my novice callsign of KA9PGD. I don't think my poor wife had any idea what she was in for! I acquired a Tempo One HF rig from my father, who had been using it on the CB band. I put up a home-made 40 meter dipole, and was on the air on 40 meter and 15 meter CW (Morse code). I tried to make at least one contact per day. I know that doesn't sound like much, but at 5 words per minute, it was a chore. It was not unusual for one contact to last an hour.
In December of 1984, I upgraded to General Class, using the newly implemented Volunteer Examiner Program. By now I had installed a 135 foot long dipole, fed with 450 ohm twinlead. I could now operate all the bands. I began to work more DX (foreign countries). I still operated a lot of CW, but could now also operate voice modes.
In December 1987, I upgraded to Advanced Class, and one month later, to Extra Class. I was then issued the call NY9B. In October 1997, I utilized the Vanity Call System to change my call to N9RG. Finally, in April 2010, after moving to Florida, I changed my call to KW4G. I was also issued, but never used, the call NY9B/C6A for a trip to the Bahamas in 1996.
Equipment has varied over the years, from the Tempo One to a Yaesu FT-757, to an Alinco DX-77 (I think it was), to an Icom 706 MKIIG, to a list of Kenwoods. I currently operate a Kenwood TS-2000, Ameritron ALS-600 amplifier, and LDG AT-1000Pro Autotuner to either a Cushcraft R-6000 vertical or a G5RV Jr. I also have a Kenwood TS-480 for use portable and from the campground. I have a bunch of Hamsticks and wires that I use for portable operation.
I have operated VHF/UHF weak signal modes on 6 meters, 2 meters and 70 cm. I have operated several digital modes, including RTTY, packet, Amtor, PACTor, PSK, and I currently enjoy JT65. I am not very active on the air any more, but do enjoy sporadic bursts of activity.
This is a picture of my 'shack' from, probably some time in the 90's.On the top shelf is a Bird Model 43P watt meter, a memory keyer that I built from a kit, and the controller for an Alliance HD73 rotor. Middle shelf is a 6 meter 100 watt amp, Yaesu FT-726, an MFJ antenna tuner, and a QSY'er, built from a kit for use with the 757. Bottom row is a Mirage B108, 2 meter amp, an MFJ keyer, a Bencher paddle, and the Yaesu FT-757 GXII, with desk mic. Outside on a 40 foot tower were a Mosley TA-33Jr. tri-bander, a home-brew 4 element 6 meter yagi, a Cushcraft 215WB for 2 meters and a K1FO 22 element yagi for 432.
This is my current shack. It is built in a yard shed. Up top is the Ameritron ALS-600 amplifier. On the left is the Kenwood TS-2000, microHAM DigiKeyer II, and the LDG AT-1000Pro Autotuner. Not visible in this picture are the Kenwood TS-480 SAT, microHAM USB III, Kenwood TM-281 and Icom ID-880H.
Here is a shot of me operating the IC-706MKIIG from the Koreshan State Historic Site Campground in Estero, Florida.
March 2016 update:
The wife and I are approaching retirement age. That is going to involve at least one more move, since our housing is currently provided by her employer. In preparation for that, I have started liquidating the shack. Gone are the TS-2000, the ALS-600, the LDG AT-1000Pro, and some other miscellaneous pieces. I have also become more interested in DSTAR, and (more recently) DMR. I still have the TS-480SAT. I have changed antennas to a GAP Titan DX vertical. I have the Icom ID-880H in the shack for both DSTAR and analog FM work. I have an Icom ID-5100A in the truck for mobile DSTAR and analog. My HT is an Icom ID-51A+. I have a DVAP and DVMega for DSTAR, both connected to Raspberrypi 2 computers. I recently purchased a DV4Mini device for DMR, along with a Tytera MD-380 radio. The DV4Mini is attached to a Raspberrypi 3 computer. I'm not quite sure that I'm sold on DMR.
[23 July 2018] Lot's of changes in the last two years. My wife retired in October, 2016. I retired from Collier County Public Schools at the end of April, 2018. We bought a house in Sebring, Florida in April, 2018. We had a lot of painting and updating work to do on the house. We are finally settled in and starting to relax. My hamshack here is nicer than anything I have had in the past (actually more of a man cave). The equipment list is an Icom IC-7300 for HF and 6 meters, an MFJ 941E tuner to supplement the built-in tuner in the 7300, the ID-5100A now resides in the shack, and the ID-880H is in the truck. I still have the TYT MD380 for DMR and the Iom ID 51A for HT's. I still have the DVAP and DVMega hotspots for D-STAR and DMR. I also have a SharkRF OpenSpot in the truck for mobile D-STAR or DMR. I am still not quite sold on DMR, but enjoy D-STAR operation. I listen more than I talk.