A little background here.
I was first involved in amateur radio in 1978 when a friend of mine that was a General Class Amateur Radio operator exposed me to amateur radio.
The bug bit me hard - since we were making contacts - 3rd party to people all over the world on 10 meters with just a couple of watts and a end fed dipole attached to the roof of his grandmothers 3 story mansion.
When I went back to school in the fall I had my mind set that I was going to join the school amateur radio club and get my license and become a real ham.
The club only had a limited amount of seats and I was not chose to be a member of the club.. Too bad, because I think I would have made a pretty good ham.
I delegated myself to SWL - a friend of mine had a ICOM radio and we would sit and listen to the hams and to the foreign broadcast stations.. My friend Chris did get his ticket but let it run out when there was no one to encourage him to upgrade.. The days of the incentive license - upgrade in a year or loose your license...
I spent many years just listening, not hearing much on the 2 meter repeaters. It wasn't worth my while to get a license when there was no local activity.
My first HF transceiver was a borrowed Ranger 2950 that had been modified to work on the chicken band. It was so out of alignment that I had my work cut out for me since it did not have a RIT / XIT and the clarifier was broke.
Not knowing any better, I took it all apart, put it back to factory spec's and aligned it and made a bunch of contacts in the spring, summer and fall of 2011.
The contact I was most proud of was on the morning of Field Days when I heard someone calling CQ and went back to him and he was in a mobile, at the waters edge in Gibraltar Spain - on a 9 foot whip and 25 watts, talking to my Solorcon A99 antenna about 20' off the ground - using 25 watts SSB...
I don't think that any of my Field Days contacts compared to this since the one club I operated a Icom 746 Pro - also owned by the ham that loaned me his 2950 and then went to a second ham radio club - 50 miles away, where I was delegated to a old Radio Shack 10 meter mobile and a 100 watt Knight Kit tube type amplifier with sticky relays and a dipole antenna stuck up between two trees.. It was like going from the penthouse to the outhouse.
When I went home I found out that the second club threw away the log sheet from the GOTA station because they used the wrong call sign.
It was like all my hard work was for nothing..
I went home, got a job, worked really hard, bought myself a Kenwood TS 590 and put up a Barker and Williamson BWD 90 folded dipole antenna.
Since then I have had a Ten TEc Orion, a Kenwood TS 990, A Ten Tech 6/2..
With over 110 countries worked so far, a couple of thousand look up's on QRZ.com - since my vanity call sign, and 3 field days under my belt - I'm starting to feel like a real ham again...
Always looking for that new DX or someone to talk to on 6 meters.
Can usually be found on 50.125 Mhz USB or 7.0725 USB Olivia 8-500, 28.400 USB or lurking on the 2 meters - mostly simplex...
The neatest thing is to go on the spotting network and spot someone that no one else has heard or worked.
My 6 meter contacts are my proudest achievement.
I work some contests - but I never send in a log sheet - I have never been proud of my score, at least not enough to be able to compete with the big guns.
I don't use amplifiers - barefoot here - 100 watts or less.
I do have a Ameritron ALS 600 and a Dentron GLA 1000B.....
They mess up my computers in the shack - so I don't use them...
I don't use a antenna tuner either.
Recommended antenna for everything - www.hypowerantenna.com
Off-Center Fed 80m dipole antenna.
I can work everything from 440mhz to 80 meters - except 15 and 30 meters with it...