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Back in the days of telegraphy when operators transmitted dots and dashes to form letters and words, they came up with a shorthand for different terms. CQ means “I am calling.” QTH means location. QSO means, “I am in contact.” In modern ham speak QSO means an on-air interaction between stations. Today I had my first QSO in the high frequency bands under my new General Class ham license.

I was on the radio today with Bill a more senior ham with whom I worked the drill yesterday. I reported I had my new ticket and he commented that he wanted to learn to use the high frequency bands that allowed long-distance communication. The every day band we use is strictly local, line of sight or within the range of a repeater. DXing – long distance radio work, is sort of the stereotype of the ham. Bill did not have his own “shack” but had access to other radio rooms. He offered to show me around the Red Cross communications center. In 45 minutes we were in front of an impressive array of electronic gadgetry in the basement of the Red Cross headquarters courtesy of his volunteer badge.

I read the stuff on the bulletin board, pressed the power button on a radio with about a hundred buttons and started spinning the dial paying close attention to staying within my band privileges. I heard a guy from Florida, but did not connect with him. I talked to a guy from Seattle, no big deal, but a few more spins of the dial and I was talking to Japan! He is Masa JE1LET and felt most privileged to be my first overseas QSO. He wanted to introduce me to his friend Robot (not Robert) in Barbados, but the antenna was pointed in the wrong direction. I didn’t want to fool with the Red Cross antennas and took Masa’s word for it.

So within 24 hours of my ticket upgrade I was talking to Japan. Pretty cool.

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