Kevin H. Miller - KI4DEF - NAQCC # 0247
I first found out about ham radio as a young boy in the '60s, by way of a family friend. From that exposure I developed a picture of a ham as someone who made their own gear and improved on it regularly as their skills grew (and used Morse code, of course; which I regarded as "way cool"). Further exposure to radio came in Boy Scouts, but I was unable to learn Morse code at the time. Unfortunately, they taught me code visually, which I later learned is fraught with problems. During college, one of my best friends was a ham, which rekindled my interest. But the old bugaboo again kept me from earning my Novice ticket. Finally, several years ago, my son, then 12, became interested in radio and we took a tech course together from a local ARC. His reaction was lukewarm, but I loved it from the first. What is even better, I found an elmer who recognized my problem with Morse code and set me to rights, having me re-learn it from scratch aurally. So although I am fast approaching the half-century mark, and have been a licensed ham only for the past two-and-a-half years, I've been a ham at heart for much longer.
Since I am also a minimalist at heart, and my original image of a ham was someone who built their own gear, I found a home from the start as a QRPer. I really enjoy homebrewing QRP gear and experimenting with wire antennas. I operate all CW, all QRP, plus some milliwatting (partly for the challenge, partly in defiance of those who said I was crazy even to try during a sunspot low - my first rig was a RockMite-maybe I was crazy!). I like portable operations from hiking/camping trips and the North Carolina Outer Banks beaches. Because of my somewhat old-fashioned beliefs about hams, I started out with a straight key, and stuck with it exclusively for almost two years until several friends convinced me I should really learn to use paddles (maybe they were tired of listening to my fist-hi!). I started to do so about six months ago, and although I have developed fair proficiency (thanks to regular rag chews with tolerant friends), I still love to go back to the straight key. I saw the May NAQCC challenge as an excuse to use nothing but the straight key for an entire month (it makes keeping track much easier, don't you know).
I won't describe my station here; for all the gory details check out my QRZ.com bio. My favorite on-air activity is rag chewing; I am not much of a contester although I have come to enjoy the occasional low-key, short contest such as those sponsored by NAQCC, FISTS, QRP ARCI and ARS. I love NAQCC challenges, especially the ones that give me an excuse to prolong a QSO (as if I need one!). I am active in both NAQCC and FISTS, having been a member of both almost since my first QSO. You will often hear me operating the FISTS USA National club call, KN0WCW, as well as local FISTS club calls W4FFF (FISTS Club of North Carolina) and newly-organized N4ENC (Eastern NC CW Club, for which I am trustee).
On a personal note, I am married and have two teenage children. We live in a small town in rural eastern North Carolina. I grew up in SE PA (suburban Philly) and overseas in Jordan and Turkey. I went to high school outside DC (Fairfax County, VA). Originally trained as a chemist at the University of Delaware, I have always worked in environmental science, mostly for various state and local government agencies. Over the years I have become an ecologist (through more schooling and practical experience), and now work in restoration ecology for an NC state agency where I coordinate research and grants. The photo was taken mostly during a trip to AK in late summer 2004, where I was helping some university colleagues with their research (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it-even though it gets pretty hard to sell when folks see the photo!).
Hope to meet you on the air sometime, OM! I am working on the NAQCC Worked Club Members award (and others). I hope to catch John K3WWP someday, even though it may be a lost cause <g>. But I have a reputation for tilting at windmills, so give me a hand, Sancho, by giving me a shout if you hear me on the bands!