Sorry for not posting earlier, but I been kinda busy working on computers - got 2 out of the 6 done
Back in 92 when I was forced to retire is when I decided to get active in Ham again. I operated VE8RCS for 6 months in 1977 and became very, very addicted to Phone Patching and DXing. In 1982 when I went to Alert for my second tour, I again was very active with VE8RCS although the phone patches lessened in quantity as we got telephone service via microwave repeaters all the way down Ellesemere Island. DXing became an even larger part of my Ham experience.
BTW, VE8RCS (Candadian Forces Station Alert at the North Pole)and KC4AAA (US Forces Station ast Scott Base Antarctica)were # 2 and #3 respectively amongst the most famous Amateur Radio Stations in the world with the King of Jordan - JY1A being #1. His wife Queen Noor was JY1B and his son the current King of Jordan was JY1C.
In 92, I bought an older Yaesu FT-101 for $250.00 Cdn, a couple co-ax connectors - a bullet type junction and some #12 guage wire and made myself a 40 meter antenna. This could be tuned loosely for 15,20 and 40 meters although the SWR was a little high on 15 and 20 meters, but still useable.
The beauty of Ham Radio is that it IS NOT an expensive hobby. Most everything used to be built (home-brew as it was known) by individual hams and commercial equipment was reserved for the very rich. After the 2nd WW and the explosion of jobs and increased incomes, commercial equipment started to become viable for Joe Everyday Ham.
Even today though, many people still build a lot of their own equipment, although it is specialized and requires some pretty in-depth knowledge on electronic engineering.
I have an on HW-12 80m rig that cost me I thing $20.00 about 15 years ago that will still beat the pants off some of the newer gear and a coat-hanger almost can be tuned to be an effective antenna. Well for 2 meters anyways.
Many area Ham Radio Clubs have a yearly swap shop, usually around the ARRL yearly jamboree I guess you could call it. Here in Canada, we have RAC days in July. All the Ham Clubs set up in a public area, are open to the public and try to make contact with as many Ham Clubs/Ham Ops as possible during a 24 hour period. Anyways, the swap shops usually have gear for sale, much of it very, very reasonable. This is how I got my first radio and subsequent purchases over the years aside from the regular new equipment and used equipment purchases through Radio Dealers and friends who were upgrading.
Much like playing with our Cubs. Parts can come from many places.... and just like Cubs, Hams become adept at finding parts for their very old gear
So, you do not have to wait till the nest empites to become a Ham. It really is not very expensive unless you get specialized in Moon Bounce, and some of the other esoteric stuff.
I am also CIW828 - Canadian version of the MARS system and have been since 1993. Phone patches are no longer required, so I am less active. Cell phones and sat comms have sort of spelled the death knell for phone patches, just like politicians and bureaucrats killed CW
I personally love CW. It was a major component of my Military Occupation Code -- Comm Rsch 291 (intercept operator - hence the spook291 nick). I copy CW at 60 and send at about 30. I failed the morse section on my Ham test in 82 - they were sending at 5, 10 and 15 wpm. All I could hear was E's and T's. Me and about 12 others aside from 1 tech all failed the morse. We had to demand that the RI get faster tapes. He went to the ed dept in OPS and got the 25 and 30 wpm tapes, thought he would beat us -- we all aced it
The next year or 84, can't remember, but Industry Canada which was the dept that regulated Amateur Radio, made an exception for the Morse test - Any 291er who was field qualified (basic op) could get their ticket without writing the morse portion as the minimum trade qualification was 25wpm which was 10 wpm faster than what was required for Advanced Ops.....
As for not letting you know about Em, well, wanted that to be a surprise. Guess what? Our son Duane is VE9DNS, he is also a basic ham. BTW, they are ALL - initial calls.... neat eh?