A Visit To Headquarters (Where The Nerdy Kids Play)

As it turns out the headquarters for ham radio’s largest organization, the American Radio Relay League, is here in Connecticut. Visiting the league is like visiting a shrine… well it is to me.

I became a ham radio operator while I was a teenager. As a high school junior I took a morning off from school and went to the FCC to take my Advanced Class license test. It was one of my most stress-filled days of my life! I was shaking so much I had trouble passing the Morse Code test.

As it turns out the headquarters for ham radio’s largest organization, the American Radio Relay League, is here in Connecticut. Visiting the league is like visiting a shrine… well it is to me. I was there earlier today.

The ARRL has asked me to host a video they’re producing. My pleasure.

Meanwhile while I was there I sat down in the league’s station, W1AW, and with their amazing array of equipment and spoke to Tony in Gent, Belgium… in Morse.

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a certain sense of accomplishment to ‘work’ another station using paddles and a keyer.

I’m out of practice, but it was fun. Click below for a little video of my keyer technique.

[jwplayer mediaid=”9924″]

17 thoughts on “A Visit To Headquarters (Where The Nerdy Kids Play)”

  1. So nice to hear that someone else has the HAM radio addiction. I don’t but my Dad sure did. I grew up to the sounds of rapid fire tapping until the wee hours of the night, not to mention the 50 foot tower out in the back yard that he put up complete with rotor much to our neighbors horror. I can also recall the neighbors knocking on our door when their TV pic went on the fritz, or their washing machines hiccuped (not possible), the signal on my fathers set was so strong it seemed to interfere with everything, which made us giggle. I remember sitting with him while he chatted to other operators all over the world and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My father used to be the president of the MARS network,if you’ve been part of that organization for awhile you may remember him, Warren Wright. Enjoy Geoff and I sure hope your daughter has the same happy memories of hearing Morse code deep into the night.

  2. For some reason, the video isn’t showing up for me. Is this happening for anyone else? I’ve never had this problem with your site.

  3. One of the more interesting side effects of the removal of Morse code from the license testing is that there is a LOT more interest in Morse code by new licensees. CW traffic and interest is actually up a lot.

    Personally, I’m not worth a darn at CW, but its interesting that all the gloom and doom predictions about the “Death of Ham Radio As We Know It” never came to fruition.

    And yes, it’s one heck of an interesting hobby–I’m into emergency communications and digital modes, and that was because I used to live in Huntsville, Alabama–learned to communicate under conditions like they are seeing right now–no power, no infrastructure.

    My middle son still lives there, and when I got through on a cell phone, he noted that the ham radio was out and set up–and he was OK.

  4. Yeah for hams. I’m KB7MFM and my husband John is W1RT. We have really enjoyed the ham community over the years. Thanks for helping ARRL.

  5. I was aboard an aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf,during the mid sixties. There were no cell phones then of course, but the ship had a ham radio station and a couple of licensed operators. We stood in line for our five minute allotment as the operator hooked up with a stateside operator to patch a call to home. Sure was nice of them to do it and I will always be thankful for their generosity.

    1. Wow – by mistake obviously. Allen Pitts who shot it did so vertically. I thought all I was doing was a 90 degree flip. Oh well.

  6. Awesome keying technique, Geoff. I didn’t know you’d learned CW. Very impressive that you’ve retained it for so long! Some well known radio engineers who are ham operators have had lifelong difficulty learning Morse code.

  7. You still have it Geoff. My father, W1JVM, was a ham radio operator. I have fond memories as a child, listening to Morse code in the quiet of the night while drifting off to sleep. To this day, I have kept his transmission log books filled with family news and dates. I also have his American steel Morse key dating from the 1920s. I loved going to the ‘radio store’ with him on Saturday mornings. There was a unique smell of tubes and little boxes filled with parts. He always related to you as a fellow ham. I actually believe he is responsible for the entire family watching you and becoming fans. I have never met a ham radio operator I didn’t like. They are the most upstanding, respectable citizens. I hope you can find some time to enjoy your hobby.

  8. I still have some of my brothers equipment. National HRO5 tube type receiver. I can still hear the thing warming up as it drifted up frequency. I don’t know if I turned it on if it would work or the caps would short. I have heard you can do it slowly by bringing up the voltage slowly and forming the caps. But, this has been off for over 40 years. I think I’ll leave that for someone else to do.
    That would be a nice segment for you on the technology moment on FOX Mr Fox.

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