Stephen T. 'Steve' Duffy
Overland Park, KS
QCWA # 36487
The summer of '61 was noteworthy for two very special reasons: Roger Maris (with Mickey Mantle hot on his heals) hit 61 homers, breaking the Babe's single season record, and Steve Duffy (who loves baseball, but has no talent whatsoever) got his first ham radio ticket. I was between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, and with no summer job to help while away the hours I became bitten by the amateur radio bug and was licensed as WN9AMR and, before the summer was out, upgraded to General Class WA9AMR. My dad, although not a ham himself, had put that bug in my ear and was delighted that I had followed through. One of his closest friends, Bill Craig, W9ZZS (SK) was my Elmer, and there was never a better mentor. At his suggestion, I spent my entire life savings to that point (about $1,000 from years of mowing lawns, shoveling sidewalks/driveways, delivering newspapers and raking leaves) on a brand new Collins KWM-2. Dad even drove me from Park Forest IL to the factory in Cedar Rapids IA to take delivery. Can't even begin to describe my excitement.
What an amazing rig, and I was only a Novice at the time. My other transciever was an old Motorola taxi-cab unit that I used to work the Tritown Amateur Radio Club 2m FM net. I ran the KWM-2 barefoot through a Johnson Matchbox (that was THE antenna tuner of its day, but there was certainly nothing automatic about it!) to a Hygain 40-10 vertical strapped stealthily to the side of our chimney. (Yes, there were HOA restrictions even back then.) The set-up served me well through high school and college, and I even took it with me when I enlisted in the Navy in '68 (shortly after having relocated to Iowa and receiving the call sign WB0AHT). It was then, when I was stationed in Washington DC in '71/72, that my apartment in Alexandria VA was burglarized, and they took everything -- even my Vibroplex bug. That essentially spelled the end of my ham radio sojurn, as I was recently married and could not think beyond finishing college after my discharge and starting a career. There was certainly no money to reinvest in radio equipment, but it was always in the back of my mind.
A lifetime later, in November 2013, I was a semi-retired CPA and full professor of corporate finance, teaching a graduate level class for Webster University at the Army's Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth KS. One of my students, a Lt. Colonel from New York, happened to mention that he was a ham. He'd been stationed all over the world, let alone all over the US, and expressed his belief that Associated Radio in Overland Park KS (only 10 minutes from my QTH) was absolutely the best amateur radio supply store in the country. That was all it took. The next day I walked into Associated and began the current stage of my ham radio experience. Two months later I took both the Technician and the General Class exams and became KD0YWR. Two months after that, I applied for and received my current vanity call sign W0STD. Those letters in the suffix are my initials, by the way, regardless of what the Centers for Disease Control think they stand for.
My current HF rig is an ICOM IC-718 running barefoot through an LDG antenna tuner to a Windom 80-10 m dipole skillfully draped around the rafters defining the roof-line of my attic (HOA restrictions once again), and there might be an Ameritron amp in my future once I crack the Extra Class exam. I also have a Kenwood TM-281 for 2 meters and an Alinco DR-435 for 70 cm, both fed to a dual-band vertical suspended from one of those same attic rafters. There's also a little Yaesu FT60 that I use as a mobile unit around town in my truck. Most recently I added a Kenwood TS-2000 to the mix, so I can remote my entire station when I am on the road (which is virtually full-time from September through April).
I am a member of ARRL, SKCC, and QCWA and am trying to be an active member of the Johnson County Radio Amateurs Club. If you hear me on, please give me a call. I'm not a DXer or a contester, but if you've made it this far, you know I can bs, and there's nothing I enjoy better than a good ragchew.
October 25, 2014