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My first Morse Code Contact
by: Andrea Hartlage, KG4IUM  Age 12
I had a very exciting weekend! My name is Andrea Hartlage, KG4IUM.My QTH (location) is Lawrenceville, GA. I am 12 years old and just passed my 5-wpm code test about a month ago. On Sunday, June 10, 2001, Bill KG4FXG, and Sharon KG4HKO invited us over to their house. So, my dad Scott KF4PWI, Sister Laura, and I decided we would. Then we went up to Bill’s ham shack. Bill asked me if I wanted to call CQ in Morse code. I decided that I wanted to try it and see how it went. before even calling CQ, I wrote out everything I was going to say. By the time I was ready, after writing it all out and practicing, it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I practiced some more and was finally ready for the QSO. I put my hand on the straight key and sent, “QRL?” (Is the frequency in use?). When I didn’t get a reply, I started calling CQ. After the first time, I heard nothing. I waited a few seconds and tried again. A faint station, KBØETU, answered my call. I was so excited as I copied down the callsign. I told the station thanks for the call and that his signal report was 459. Then, he came back to me and told me his name is Phil, he is in Lillian, Al, and that my signal report was 459. He also told me that he was putting out five watts to a vertical antenna. Then, I told him that my name is Andrea, I just passed my code, am studying for my general. He is my first CW contact, and asked him his license class.

he told me congratulations for moving to general, he is a general, He is honored to be my first CW contact, that he really likes CW, and asked me my location. (He must have misunderstood that I was studying for my general, not a general already. Also, my code may have been hard to understand since it was my first QSO.. I just let that go.) I told him that my location is Lawrenceville, GA. near Atlanta. That I am only 12, going into the seventh grade,

and am used to people being able to tell my age when I operate voice on VHF and UHF. He told me that Atlanta is great, he is 57, a truck driver, but home for one week, and will spend the next three weeks traveling. He also said that he hopes I stay with CW, and that I will get better with practice.

Then he let me know that he had to go, and that he would send me a QSL card. I told him 73 and that I would send him a QSL card I had done it, had my first CW QSO! After it was over, I couldn’t believe it! I had just talked to another state in a “secret language”! I was most amazed that it took a whole hour! I had never been so nervous before. I was even more nervous than when I was net control on 2-meters for the first time! I wonder how I’m going to have CW QSOs on my own, because the station was pretty faint and hard to copy. I am thankful that Phil went very slowly for me! If he hadn’t gone that slowly, I wouldn’t have copied as much as I did! I probably went faster than he came back to me, but he could probably tell I was new, and knew to go slow. At times during the QSO, I got very excited, started speeding up and sometimes ran my letters together. Then I would realize it and slow down.

When I finished, everyone at Bill and Sharon’s house clapped for me! They were all very excited and proud. It was a very exciting day for me! The next day, I came back and checked into GTN (Georgia Training Net). The net meets every night at 21:00 hours Eastern. It is a slow code net on the frequency of 3.702 MHz. Bill KG4FXG is net manager for the net, and was net control the night I checked in. He told me exactly what to send, so it was very easy to check-in. He even let me close the net! I only messed up one letter when I closed the net! That was a blast as well!

As if this weren’t enough excitement, I went the very next day, Tuesday to take my general written exam. I had literally studied all day, passing the practice test every time except one and I only missed that one by one question. So, I decided that I was ready to pass the general written. I took the general written while my dad took the 5-wpm code. I guess all that studying and practicing paid off, because we both passed! I missed only three on my general written, and my dad got approximately 49 characters solid copy on his CW test. Then, my dad decided to try the general, and I decided to try the extra.

We hadn’t studied at all, but we figured it couldn’t do any harm to try, as we needn’t pay any more! My dad was one question away from passing the general written, and I only got three correct on the extra! That just shows how good studying is for you! I asked the V.E.s about the VE test and study guide, hoping to soon become a VE, but I then found out that you must be 18 years or older to become a VE. I’ve got to go now. My dad and I are setting up a 40-year-old HF station and HF antenna so we can start sending code to the whole world! 73 everyone,

Andrea, KG4IUM

Andrea, KG4IUM   Age 12
Making her very first CW contact

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