How I Became Interested in Ham Radio …

Some have asked what triggered my interest in my radio hobby. Well, this is the culprit …

Before television, this was a familiar object in many 1940’s homes. I’m not sure if this is the actually the model we had in my childhood home, but if not, it was similar. You see, in addition to the normal AM broadcast band, it also included shortwave bands.

I would spend hours listening to the BBC, or Radio Deutsch Welle, or any of a large selection of foreign broadcast stations.

But it wasn’t only those stations to be found … there were also amateur radio stations to listen to. Those were the days before SSB, so there were lots of AM ham radio QSOs going on. I was listening to hams from all over the world. CW was also there, but with no BFO, pretty rough copy … if I had understood CW 🙂 .

Just as an aside, there was also a 78 RPM turntable connected to the audio input of the radio, and a big selection of my Dad’s vinyl records. All of the big bands, some classical, and lots of artists of the 40’s and 50’s. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Gershwin … they were all there. I think that ensured that I would have a continuing interest in good music.

73 de Dick N4BC

Silent Key – W4QM, Dale Streiter

I was saddened to read of the passing of another old friend recently …

ARLX002 Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director H. Dale Strieter,

Special Bulletin 2 ARLX002
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 28, 2020
To all radio amateurs

ARLX002 Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director H. Dale Strieter,

Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director Harmon “Dale” Strieter,
W4QM (ex-W4DQS), of Cocoa Beach, died on January 6. An ARRL Life
Member, he was 92 and a founding member of the Maxim Society.

Strieter was ARRL Southeastern Division Director from 1970 until

During World War II, he served as US Maritime Service radio officer
in the Pacific. After the war, he received a bachelor’s degree in
electrical engineering from Michigan State. He got his amateur radio
license in 1947. Strieter later earned an MSEE from Michigan State,
and then worked as an audio engineer.

In 1958, Strieter moved to Cocoa Beach to work for General Electric,
a NASA contractor, and he served as the guidance engineer on the
Mercury and Gemini manned spaceflight missions.

Strieter was a prolific DXpeditioner. After 20 years with GE, he
returned to sea in 1979 as a radio officer in the US Merchant Marine
on a ship generally anchored at Chagos. As VQ9QM, Strieter logged
more than 200,000 contacts from nearby Diego Garcia, between 1986
and 2001. He retired in 2002.

I first met Dale when I worked as a contractor for Ford Aerospace on Diego Garcia. He was one of a diverse group of hams there. Some were Navy personnel, some Merchant Marine like himself, and others were contractor personnel, like me. Over time, he became a close friend, and we shared many hours together, operating from the club station there on the island, sharing meals and drinks, or just sitting and talking. He was an interesting person! I was in awe of his CW prowess!

One morning, we woke up and the lagoon was empty of ships, and the normally deserted airfield was full of B-52s and KC-10s. Desert Storm was underway.

I eventually left the island and returned to the States, and like many good friendships, distance caused this one to lapse. Still, I thought about Dale and all the others every now and then, and reminisced about the “good old days.”

Rest in peace, old friend!

73 de Dick N4BC

Field Day

I spent the morning on Saturday at our club Field Day site. I had a good time renewing friendships with folks I only see once a year at this event.

PARC/SPARK Field Day 2019

Pretty much everything had been set up on Friday evening, and groups were just putting the finishing touches on things. I sort of felt like a fifth wheel … sitting there schmoozing with the rest of the old timers. And what’s with all the yellow vests?

I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance to operate due to other commitments. I had to leave before actual operations got under way. I had my grandkid’s birthday party to be at that evening and then Sunday morning I had to see my Scout Troop off to summer camp for a week. Also, I don’t do 2am shifts anymore … I need my beauty sleep!

I guess Field Day has sort of lost its attraction for me. Everything is so organized and regimented … it just doesn’t seem as much FUN as it used to. Parks on the Air operations seem more like what Field Day used to be … set things up quickly in the middle of nowhere and get on the air.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If it’s YOUR thing, go right ahead. I realize that for some people, it’s the only chance they have to operate HF with decent rigs and antennas. Others really enjoy the competition. For them, it’s fun!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great time at my granddaughter’s birthday party. Lots of excitement with all the kids running around and a good chance to catch up with less-often seen family members. Lots of action, since it was a pool party. A good time was had by all!

73 de Dick N4BC


Yesterday evening, I was home alone, sitting in the living room, and outside it was nasty … almost dark, a chilly drizzle, foggy … nasty! As so often happens in circumstances like that, my mind drifted back to earlier times … reminiscing about friends no longer with us.

For some reason, my mind dredged up Max DeHenseler, HB9RS. Max passed away in 2014 after a 50-year “career” in ham radio. He was 80 when he left us.

Max, HB9RS

First licensed at twelve, he went on to make a name for himself in ham radio circles. Look him up on as HB9RS for a full description of his activities and honors. He operated all over the world, thanks to his job at the United Nations as their Chief Cartographer. He was instrumental in establishing 4U1UN, the United Nations HQ station.

I first ran into Max on the air when he was ET3RS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was living in the Seychelles Islands, operating as VQ9D. Almost every day, Max could be found on the air, and we sort of made it a habit to listen out for each other and chat about the things that hams chat about 🙂 . It was usually a pleasant interlude from the huge pileups we both used to generate. Being fairly close (geographically), we could override the QRM. Max left ET3-land eventually, and returned to UN HQ at New York.

Max’s QSL Card at ET3RS

One year, George, VQ9GP and I flew back to the US on vacation at the same time and Max graciously invited us to stop by UN HQ in New York City for a reunion and tour. George and I showed up and we had a great time and a great tour.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw Max … our paths just never crossed again. That happens a lot in our hobby. We’re so far-flung and distant from each other, we develop friendships without ever meeting physically.

Max was such a gentleman and great ham, I consider myself privileged to not only have been his friend, but to actually have met him. I wasn’t disappointed when that happened. He was the same great guy on the air or in person.

73 de Dick N4BC

Good Times …

This past weekend was a holiday weekend … Martin Luther King Day … and offered lots of opportunities for operating. Several contests tempted me, but alas, family obligations were the rule for the weekend.

I did run into a ham buddy, though, and, as usually happens, we talked about radio … equipment, antennas, operating … it really caused me to shift into “old-timer mode” and start reminiscing about times past. Being a reasonably recent operator (5-10 years now), he asked about my most enjoyable time operating. I would have to say it’s a tossup between the times I was in the Seychelles Islands and when I was in the Chagos Islands.

Both were thoroughly enjoyable. Neither were short-term operations … both were extended stay. I lived in both places for years, working on USAF contracts … first as a Precision Measurement Equipment Lab Tech and then as a Quality Assurance Supervisor. What made them so enjoyable were the friendships I made there … both hams and others … some of which have endured.

Both venues allowed for a LOT of operating time! Once you’ve done the beaches, the local entertainment spots, and so forth, you find yourself with lots of time on your hands … perfect for our hobby. I was pretty much on the air every day during my time in the Indian Ocean. And … it was at the height of a legendary sunspot cycle … solid SSB QSOs to the States daily with 5 watts was common.

In the Seychelles (first as VQ9D and then S79D), my primary mode was SSB, but I did also operate some CW. Lots of wonderful friends made worldwide, especially on SEANET in the afternoons, but the local hams were really special. It was a wonderful, friendly bunch of locals, and we all got together at any excuse to swap stories and just have a good time. I can’t name all of them, but Di, VQ9DC, John, Di’s husband (whose call I can’t remember, sorry), Bill, VQ9BP, Carl, VQ9R, Ron, VQ9M, George, VQ9GP, Bob, VQ9B … these pop to the top of my memory queue. There were many others, of course … either permanent of transient.

I did make a significant side trip while in the Seychelles … a DXPedition to Desroches Island in the Amirantes. It was a separate DXCC country … part of the British Indian Ocean Territory … before Seychelles independence, and a day-and-a-half boat trip from the main island, Mahe, where I lived. Myself, VQ9BP, VQ9M, and VQ9DC set off and spent a week there, operating pretty much around the clock on SSB and CW. What a wonderful experience!

I left the Seychelles and moved to the island of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Archipelago, south of India and Sri Lanka. This was a joint British-American naval base and was a major staging point for B-52s during Desert Storm, when I was there. I was there to help open a brand new satellite tracking station for the Air Force. There was even less leisure activity, but there was a base-sponsored Amateur Radio Club. There was a core of really good CW operators there … mostly Merchant Marine radiomen (back before satellites, the bulk of ship-to-shore communications was CW) and US Navy CTs, who listened to CW a lot! I remember Dale, VQ9QM (now a SK), Joe, VQ9JT, and Rob, VQ9YA … they all shamed me into becoming an almost exclusive CW operator!! I did operate other modes there, too … I remember doing RTTY and even dabbled in 6 Meter SSB to Japan and satellite ops. We had a TH6 at 100 feet, and could use up to 400 watts, so we were heard on HF pretty well.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I moved back to the USA in 1993 to begin a new phase of my life. I know the “good old days” always look rosier in retrospect, but those WERE some of the best days of my life (until I met my wife, of course … better put that in there 😀 Love you, Dear!! )

73 de Dick N4BC