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home QRZCQ - The database for radio hams 
2019-05-24 22:03:51 UTC









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David E. Cullen Vidal

Oak Park 60302
United States, IL

united states
image of w9bv

Call data

Previous call:KD9JKU
Last update:2019-03-07 18:27:39
QTH:near Chicago
Main prefix:K
Federal state:IL
US county:Cook
DXCC Zone:291
ITU Zone:8
CQ Zone:4
ULS record:4130098

QSL data

Last update:2017-11-29 19:26:40
Bureau QSL:no
Direct QSL:no
Extra QSL Info:Still trying to get Log4OM (eLogger) to automatically update


Sometimes one takes a long detour full of unexpected stops and turns before reaching one's destination. Such was my experience in becoming a (new) amateur radio operator after Hurricane María overran my homeland on September 20, 2017. Allow me to explain...

I became involved in two-way radio, as it was then called, in the 1970's as a kid growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Starting out with a nice but basic 23-channel, 4 Watt, AM mode Hy-Gain mobile transceiver for the the Citizen's Band with a short mobile antenna mounted indoors as my first (and thankfully temporary) base station, I upgraded my location when we moved to an apartment building on a hill overlooking most of metropolitan San Juan, with a view of the ocean to the north, the airport nearby, and the mountains of the tropical rainforest 25 miles to the east. There I set up a real base station with a 40-channel, 4 Watt, AM + SSB Hy-Gain transceiver (marketed as having "120 channels" and 12 Watts PEP), a trusty Hy-Gain 5/8 wave groundplane "omnidirectional" antenna and a Radio Shack three element beam mounted vertically with rotor control. At the time, Hy-Gain manufactured their electronics in Puerto Rico, so my rigs were 'domestic'.

Operating as KAHH-3775, I enjoyed QSOs with other operators from various walks of life and with diverse experiences. Most were considerate of others but there were a number of bad operators we called "gusanos" (or 'worms') who were inconsiderate, operated illegally, off frequency and with intrusive and sloppy amplification and were just rude, keeping others from fully enjoying the hobby.

Among my favorite 'exotic' activities was DXing around the peak of the solar cycle in the late 1970's. With my QRP setup, I was able to contact stations throughout North America (USA and Canada) and in South America (mostly in Brasil). I ended up with a few QSL cards in my collection.

My proudest moments were handling emergency traffic in two special cases. One was a pleasure boat adrift in the Atlantic with no working engine for which I got the Coast Guard to aid them. Another was handling traffic relayed through another station in the southeast USA (Florida, I believe) from an inbound commercial plane that had lost it's communications over land but was able to commision a CB rig and contact a ground station in the mainland before heading out over water. That station contacted me and I forwarded the news about the "missing" flight directly to the airport control tower through their 'secret' landline number provided to me. I'm sure glad they didn't hang up on me when they heard a kid calling the control tower about that plane.

I wanted to become an amateur radio operator. Hams were the real deal. They sounded knowledgable and competent ("CQ 11 meters"). They knew what they were doing. They were courteous and cool. I began studying up on electronics and learning Morse code in order to prepare for the Novice exam. However, I found practicing Morse code on my own rather tedious after a while and the thought that even if I passed the Novice examination, I would still be limited to CW until I obtained the Technician license was a deal breaker for me since I already had phone privileges on the Citizen's Band. And that was that!

Once I went to college in the 1980's, my radio hobby and I grew apart. I introduced my then girlfriend (and now my wife) to two-way mobile communications before the cellular phone took over but eventually I left the hobby, just using my shortwave radios to listen to broadcasts from around the world from time to time.

And then Hurricane María happened!

I was unable to communicate with part of my family who live in a somewhat remote and mountainous area of the island on a ridge overlooking the valley which the eye of María tore through passing less than a kilometer from their home. For an agonizing number of days, I had no news from them nor from that part of the island. Bridges were down and the roads that did not collapse were impassable; blocked by trees, utility poles and debris. Many areas had flooded as streams and rivers had overrun their banks. Of course, electrical service was down, most cell towers were out of commision and there was no running water. There were no working utilities at all and no propspect of any service coming back anytime soon. Your trusty old battery radio was mostly useless because most commercial radio stations lost their antennas and/or did not have working power generators. And of course, no TV and no Internet... A 21st century society joined the Stone Age.

In countless sleep-deprived nights after the hurricane struck while searching futilely for any information on my missing relatives on social media, one thing was crystal clear: communications is key.

News that your relatives are OK makes all the difference in your life. Thankfully, that news came, After a long and painful wait.

That is the power of amateur radio. And in moments like these, amidst a major crisis which disrupted the lives of millions of people is when you can clearly appreciate this vital power.

Thus began my second life in two-way radio. I resolved to become an amateur radio operator so I could perhaps help others in some way in a future crisis.

In the meantime I will be honing my skills and enjoying this hobby (or pursuit) of ours as I build up my station.

I look forward to making contact with my fellow hams on the airwaves and making good use of this power that still seems magical in the way it can bring together people everywhere.



Icom IC-7610
Buckmaster OCF 7-band dipole 80/75, 40, 20, 17, 12, 10, 6 meters
K1JEK Cobra UltraLite 80-10 meters

Icom IC-7300
20m dipole (in attic)
15m dipole (in attic)

Kenwood TH-D74A
Comet CX-333 2m/1.25m/70cm
Arrow 2m/70cm handheld beam w. duplexer

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