Greetings and Thanks for Visiting

Mike, K9ACM

My name is Mike (K9ACM). I’m a relatively new ham, but I think the seed of interest was planted many years ago in my childhood. I remember my father N9BKT (SK) down in his basement shack pounding out CW, which he used exclusively. My childhood self didn’t take much interest at the time (but I wish I had and had asked more questions). Unfortunately, my dad passed before we could ever really share the hobby. My interest emerged years later. Funny how things work. I earned my ticket in August 2016, but didn’t get on the air until about February 2017. Then, in June 2017, I upgraded to General. I pushed forward and eventually upgraded to Amateur Extra in March 2019.

VHF/UHF Base and Mobile Ops

Currently I’ve got a Kenwood TM-V71 dual bander (2m/70cm) and a 1.25m Alinco DR-235 MkIII that I’m using as a base station with the Comet CX 333 tri-bander mounted to the side of the house above the roofline—about 35 feet up total. I’m also running a Yaesu FT-7900R (2m/70cm) mobile and a Bridgecom BCM-220 mobile (1.25m) in my car both with Larson 5/8 wave mag mount antennas. For 6 meters, in addition to my OCFD described below, I am using the Par Electronics stressed moxon set at a fixed bearing of 326° NW (for a local net and whatever else I might catch).

Local Chicagoland Nets

So, I’m having fun checking in on Chicagoland nets, jumping in on round tables when I can, and keying up for the occasional QSO. I am a regular on the Night Patrol Net, which meets every night at 10:30p Central on the W9ANL repeater at 145.19 MHz (-) with a PL Tone of 114.8 Hz; in fact, I’ve been bestowed the honor of being the Monday night net control operator on the net. (You might also hear me on Wednesday.) So please check in to say hi. Everyone is welcome to one of the friendliest nets around.

In addition to running the Monday night edition of the Night Patrol, you can hear me at the controls of DARC Lunch Bunch Net on Fridays at noon on the W9DUP repeater at 145.43 MHz (-) (PL 107.2 Hz).

I’m also a big fan of the Night Crawlers Net at 12:00a, which is run by the 220 Mhz Guys Club on the W9MW repeater at 224.52 MHz (-) (PL 110.9) every morning/night. It’s a fun net and good bunch of hams. I check in if I’m not sleeping and had a run as Thursday night / Friday morning NCS there for a while (but am currently taking a break).

As long as we’re promoting some of my favorite nets, when my mornings allow, I love checking into the “Grumpies” on the K9ONA repeater at 146.97 Mhz (-) (PL 107.2 Hz). You don’t have to be grumpy to check in, but it’s okay if you are. This net meets every weekday morning at 8:45a Central (but goes to a MWF schedule during the summer). I am Grumpy #134.

Digital Voice Ops

I’ve also ventured slightly into digital voice modes. I’m interested in giving it all a try. I’m running an Anytone 878 UV through a RuggedSpot hot spot, which is built on the Jumbo Spot MMDVM board running Pi-Star. While it may not be as technically challenging to make contacts as HF is, it sure is interesting socially and culturally to make world wide contacts and carry on a noise free QSO with a push of a button. I’ve also been playing with Yaesu system fusion, using a Yaesu FT 70D and a Yaesu FTM-7250D with my hotspot. It’s all good fun, and I enjoy it.

HF Operations

As far as HF goes, I’m currently running a Kenwood TS-890S (recently upgraded from the TS-590 SG which I keep as a second receiver) with an off center fed dipole cut to 80 meters. It zig zags about the yard and is approximately 30 feet at its highest point. It works pretty well. I’ve worked all U.S. states and have a growing handful of DX, as well. Most recently, I’ve added a 10-meter monoband vertical, the Hustler G-2537, to enjoy the magic of 10 meters now that it’s opening up again. It’s all been so much fun. I’m powering the station—both HF and VHF/UHF with an Astron RS-50.

Wondering if we worked? Check my master log → K9ACM LogBook

I enjoy making SSB contacts when I can, answering a CQ or checking into the occasional HF net. I’ve dabbled in digital modes such as FT8, RTTY, and a little PSK31. And I would consider myself a “casual contester.” I like it and enjoy the quick contacts, but am not running frequencies or logging many points at the end of the day. Having said that, though, I have been wading deeper into CW operations where I am growing bolder with my HF work.

CW/Morse Code

Most recently, I’ve been trying my hand at CW, which I am really enjoying. I’ve completed the CW Academy series of courses, which were incredibly helpful; the program is excellent and I am humbled by the experienced hams who offer so generously and patiently their knowledge and skills so that hams like me can find their way into the art of Morse code. Upon completing of the program, I was nominated and sponsored for membership to CWops. I am proud to be member #2915. While I still feel much like a beginner to CW, I have made great progress since I began in 2020. It’s a lot of fun and has opened a whole new area of ham radio which I expect to enjoy for many years to come.

Portable HF Work

I also run a Yaesu FT891 for portable use and at our the cabin retreat we have in the UP of Michigan. The RFI is so low out there in the woods, SSB 20 meters sounds like an FM repeater. It’s amazing. So far, I’ve used the FT891 with a variety of wire antennas mounted from a portable telescoping mast at 30 feet or tossed in a tree. It’s simple, but it really works well once you get away from the noise of the city. I’ve activated a handful of parks through POTA and look forward to doing more portable work in the future.

More recently, I’ve also discovered the joy of QRP and have acquired a MTR4b V2.3 Mountain Topper for portable use in the parks and maybe even on summit one of these days. What an absolute joy to use. The radio is simple to operate. It’s minimal, low power, and just works. I’ve put together a little knee-board QRP station with the MTR4b and my MiniMITE N3ZN paddle. It all straps on the knee quite securely complete with Rite in the Rain notebook and pencil. I can operate easily from the trail or park, and what fun it is. One contact I’m very proud of is with LW2DO who I worked while sitting on a log next to Lake Superior on the North Country Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: 5,914 miles on 3 watts and a simple wire antenna. I think I’m hooked on QRP.

Family Ham Life

My XYL (Christine) has her Technician Class (KD9KGG), so I’ve outfitted her vehicle with a Yaesu FTM-7250D, also with a Larson 5/8 wave on a mag mount. (With any luck she’ll talk with me on the radio 🙂 And while we’re at it, we’re making this ham thing a family affair. My son (Aidan, 20) is also a Tech (KD9LGI). He seems to be taking to the hobby nicely, but as an incredibly busy and high-achieving college student, he doesn’t have a lot of time for it. We have had a lot of fun together with it, though. He’s a third generation ham, so that’s pretty cool, as I think about it. I hope he keeps the tradition going.

Ham Club Memberships

I belong to a couple of clubs around Chicagoland, and enjoy eyeball QSOs with fellow hams. Currently, I am a member of The Hamfesters Club (out of Orland Park, IL), the 220 MHz Good Guys Club (out of Chicago), and the MetroDX Club (out of Tinley Park, IL). Of course, I am also a CWops member and a member of the ARRL through which I serve as a volunteer examiner, as I also do with the W5YI and the Laurel VEC.

If you hear me out there, please give me a call. I’d love to meet you. Also, check me out on QRZ.

73 de Mike, K9ACM
HamShack Hotline #861854
HOIP #100704