CQ Field Day

WA7AZ, Field Day 2011

Not many people who read this blog know that one of my hobbies is amateur (“ham”) radio.  I’ve been a ham radio operator for almost 19 years.  My interest in ham radio began when I was a kid.

In 1986, a couple named Marvin and Regina Goodfellow stayed a week with us in our home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During the 1st night of their stay, Marvin asked me and my siblings if we would help him put up a large antenna in our backyard.

Later that night, Marvin (WA2FMD) set up a transceiver radio on our dining room table. He showed us how the radio worked. We listened to him talk to friends across the United States.  He even let us talk on the radio. I remember having a conversation with someone from Los Angeles who worked at Disneyland.

When Marvin turned the dial on the radio, sounds became distorted and new sounds emerged.  I heard people talking in Spanish and English, and I listened in wonder about the “dit” and “dah” sounds coming from the radio.  Marvin told us that the sounds were called Morse code.

He showed us how to say our names in this new language, and we practiced that night on his Morse code key.

I was fascinated with everything having to do with amateur radio.

Six years later in the summer of 1992, I took the Federal Communication Commission written exam and 5 words per-minute Morse code competency test to receive the Novice class Amateur radio license.  My first call sign was KB7QAW. After I upgraded my radio license, I chose the call sign WA7AZ.

Throughout my sophomore, junior, and senior year in high school, I spent hundreds of hours talking and “pounding brass” (sending Morse code) on my radio, which was a Kenwood TS-511s.

While many of my peers spent their free time playing video games, I was on the radio talking to people in the U.S., or places such as Hawaii, Colombia, New Zealand, Sweden, Mexico, and the Island of Aruba.

Today, I dusted off (literally) my Morse code key and brought out the radios to participate in the Amateur Radio Relay League Field Day event.  Field Day is an annual contest where people operate their equipment from batteries charged by a solar panel or a gas generator. Some people simply use the power that comes from the outlets in their homes.

The idea behind the contest is to make contact and exchange information with as many operators within a specified 24 hour period.

At about 2:00 this afternoon, I “fired up” the radio on our backyard patio, pressed down on the mic, and called “CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day, this is Whiskey, Alpha, Seven, Alpha Zulu, Whiskey, Alpha, Seven, Alpha, Zulu, Field Day”

I waited a few seconds and then I heard a strong signal reply saying: “WA7AZ, this is Whiskey, Zero, Romeo, Romeo, Whiskey, Zero, Romeo, Romeo (W0RR).”  The station was from Missouri, and within a matter of minutes I had made contact with people in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Maine, Colorado, and Ohio.

The above picture is of me talking to KT5J in Austin, Texas. My wife, Kylene, took this photograph for the blog. Nearly 10 years ago, I convinced her to get the Technician class amateur radio license.

Marvin passed away in 1998 at the age of 91.  Just prior to his passing, I had my only QSO (radio conversation) with him. The QSO took place as I drove to Albuquerque from Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t recall specific details about the conversation, but I know he was glad that I continued my interest in ham radio.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, WA7AZ

5 thoughts on “CQ Field Day

  1. Dawn Goodfellow Jordan

    I don’t know if you will get this comment as the blog post is so old, but I read it with great interest as Marvin Goodfellow was my uncle. Some of my fondest memories of him were watching him in his radio room at his house in Schenectady, NY. It was a converted pantry I think – off the kitchen and that’s where we had to watch from because there was only room for one chair. My brother was also bitten by the ham bug and became a radio operator. Now I wish I had also. Maybe it’s still not to late to learn. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to reply! It’s been a while since I last logged into my WordPress account and I’m just now making my way through comments I missed from 2016. Marvin and his wife were so kind. They watched us kids when my parents went on a vacation to Hawaii. If I recall correctly, Marvin drove a station wagon…or something similar. It had to be big (long) enough to haul his radio equipment and antenna masts! Such a wonderful couple. Thanks for the comment, and again my apologies!


  2. Ken Kanne

    To Matt: I found your blog when looking for information on the Kenwood TS-511S I just bought. I collect and use old “boat anchor” tube rigs and hybrid rigs, mostly Kenwoods. The example I got is in rough shape, but salvageable. You were smart getting started in the hobby early. Having an “elmer” to start you out was a blessing, I’m sure. I was very happy to know you were able to have a QSO with Marvin before he became a silent key. I waited 50 years to get my amateur license, but I finally did it, all the way to Amateur Extra. 73 from Ken, KO4AXN

    To Dawn: Go for it! Get study material and work on getting your ham license. It’s never too late! I’m almost 70 and did it, you can too!
    Best wishes from Ken in Alabama!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ken! The TS-511s is a very nice radio. I wish I had kept it. As I mentioned in the post, I was first licensed as a Novice in the early 1990s. Back then, 10 meters was wide open. I talked with people all over the U.S., Canada, South America, Japan…it was amazing. Today’s cell phones and iPads do not compare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s