Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Year In Review, 2014

Massachusetts Setup
I figured it was as good of a time as any to address my year in review. As with any year, there have been ups and downs professionally, personally and hamally (Okay, just keeping with the theme). Since this blog is mainly about ham radio, I'll focus on that. My personal life has a direct effect on what I would consider the most rewarding hobby I have ever participated in, that being ham radio. Working in Boston for well over a year was a great experience. Leaving Alaska for Boston was (for me) going from one extreme to another. Something like working the HF bands (or trying) with ½ watt and an indoor basement antenna and then being able to work the HF bands at one of the many contest super stations across the country with stacked beams nearly reaching the flight paths of most 737's. Even though my job was essentially the same, that was the only similarity between the two locations. My radio (or shack time) was cut dramatically and I found little time to play radio when we headed east.

857D & My Navy Flamerproof
In looking at my logbook, I made approximately 298 QSO's in 2014 from my old QTH in Massachusetts, most QRP. The highlights were working the ARRL January VHF Contest, something I had not done in many years. Now mind you, I was working with an indoor antenna but it was fun to once again operate on 6, 2 and 432. Another highlight was playing in the ARRL DX Contest as a QRP entry. I've blogged about both of these so I won't go into details here but even with a limited station, it was fun. I got on as often as I could and I think I did pretty well considering my setup. I found the propagation on the east coast much better for QRP operation so that also made the experience much more enjoyable. As many contest stations will tell you, it's about location, location and location. 

When my wife and I relocated to Oregon, it has allowed me a bit more free time to play radio, for now. Oregon is a beautiful place but I find my current QTH is not as QRP friendly as my last. Being surrounded by mountains and operating QRP with my same indoor setup has been much more challenging here. To date, I've made a whopping 28 QSO's from my new 7'land QTH. A mix of digital (JT65A) and Morse Code (CW) contacts. But, I'm thankful for those 28 contacts and my goal is to make many more as we enter into 2015. Plans can change but maybe I can put up an external antenna and get a bit more serious about operating as I once did from Alaska. I miss contesting.

Afternoon Commute
Having experienced life in the city, I'm excited about my new western adventures. I don't miss the traffic, the commute or the expense of Boston, but it's a very neat city. I experienced several firsts for me there having grown up in a small town community in the Midwest. I no longer need to use my WAZE app on my cell phone to find the least congested way home. People actually stop at red lights here and there does not appear to be a 5 second rule (increased from 3 seconds in the Boston area I believe in 2012). This year certainly has ended much differently than it began on all aspects for me. When opportunity knocks, sometimes what lies on the other side of the door is just what you're looking for. That door took me (us) 3,000 miles west. And of course I leave Massachusetts when I finally learn how to spell it. 

Probably the biggest highlight of 2014 for me was being able to finally attend the Dayton Hamvention. I won't dwell on the details as they are found elsewhere in this blog but hitting Dayton with my long time bestest of friends Sean, KL1SF was at the top. We have talked about it for many years and it finally happened. I don't see myself going back anytime soon but it was great to put faces with callsigns of other hams I talked to on the radio over the years.

Our Family Beagle 1999-2014
In life, we often times take things for granted and I'm guilty of that. My wife and I decided on getting a family pet many years ago. I just happened to be traveling down a back road (which I normally did not use) and I saw a sign that read "Beagles For Sale." I've had a love for this breed since I was very young. I stopped and spoke with the owner. A few days later, I stopped back with my wife and this one little tri-colored female won our hearts. We laid claim to her and it was not long before I was picking her up and taking her home. Like any young puppy, it took her awhile to get used to her surroundings but soon she ruled the house. When we began camping, she loved to go along and experience new surroundings. When we moved to Alaska, she toughed it out (her outside potty times were shortened dramatically during the winter months) but she loved to sniff and play in her new environment. When we moved to Boston, it was obvious her age was catching up to her. 2014 was the year that she would leave us and I think of her often with a tear in my eye. That was by far, the lowlight for me in 2014 and just writing about it leaves a lump in my throat. 

With the New Year nearly upon us, there is plenty of "New" for me in 2015! New friends, new coworkers, new QTH, new surroundings, new places to enjoy the great outdoors, new...well, the list goes on. These new things may take away from my operating time but I believe I can achieve balance and harmony when it comes to ham radio and the rest of my humanly obligations. At least for me, living out here on the western side of country makes it more possible. Life already seems so much slower and I'm enjoying every second of it. 

So, what else is new for me in 2015? After much thought, there was at least one more "New" for me to do. That is pictured below. The New Year really does symbolize "New" for me and in many ways. I'm looking forward to flipping that calendar over and jumping feet first into 2015. I see myself being a 7'lander for a long while. Just like AK2MA (Alaska 2 Massachusetts) had a meaning, this next vanity callsign has a more personal meaning. Dedicated to two things I miss greatly, Alaska and our family beagle. Enjoy today because you don't know what tomorrow will bring. Where does this winding road of life take me next and where do I go from here? Chapter 4 of course and it would be great to have you along for the ride.    


  1. Hello Phil, nice to read you and yours are settled now in Oregon. It's sad to read about the dog. I've lost a couple of pets over the years and still have a lot of photos to remember them. I did like your video, nice pictures and video and good to remember her that way. Well I see that AK2MA is over now. I'm very curious what the new callsign will be. Wishing you and your family a very healthy and properous 2015. 73, Bas

  2. Hi Bas! I traded it for AK7DD. A good CW call I think. Now I need to forget the old and remember the new. 73 my friend and thanks for following and commenting! Happy New Year!

  3. Good morning Phil, it sure has been a busy year of moving and then moving again for you and your family. I am still adjusting to just the one move we did just over a year ago. Very sorry to read about your dog we have had many dogs (golden's) and it's always difficult thinking about them. It seems with your new location a new adventure is starting so all the best to you and your family in the new year.

  4. Hello Phil,

    Wow...didn't realize you had moved back to the West coast. Sorry to hear about the dog. Our's is a true family member also and will also be sadly missed (when the time comes). It seems I've been away from blogging too long and hope to write more this year.