K9OQ Amateur Radio Station


My other hobby is writing.  I have written four novels.  The last one was during the pandemic and in it I used all my old ham calls.  I have decided to give it away free just for downloading.  Visit my website containing the books I have written as well as download the free 2022 novel by Clicking Here. 


I find it fascinating now only to talk to people but also to get to know them.  

Find out more about me personally by Clicking Here. 

The Ham Radio Inspiration

During the 1950s ham radio was different from what it is today.  The equipment was huge and imposing.   The letters SSB did not go together to form a way of transmitting voice.  AM was the way it was accomplished.   Mars was something hams flocked to because they could receive ex-military equipment for participating.

I had an older friend who had a corner store uptown in Lake City, Iowa.  Lake City was a  town of approximately 800 people this corner store was where everyone gathered on Saturday night.  They would not gather in the store but on the front steps.  I would pier in the window and see all the fantastic electronic equipment inside.  One day I mustered the courage to walk into that store to take a closer look.  That is when I met Ralph Osborn.  I was probably 14 at the time.

He showed me around and mentioned that he was a Ham Radio Operator.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  He invited me to his home to see his “set up.”  I was excited to see this radio station in a home.  I would sit and listen to him talk to people on AM miles from where he was with only a wire strung between two poles outside his house.

As I watched him talk to people on his radio I became hooked.  Unfortunately, however, I was distracted by many other things including building a phonograph recording business and taking a DeVry Electronic Course while in high school, but the bug was planted and years later it became a major part of my life which it still is today.

The Beginnings

 Finally, in 1969, I made it happen.  I received my Novice ticket with the call WNØVNJ.  By this time I was teaching electronics at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Since I was teaching a program in Communications Electronics I realized the concept of sharing this new hobby with my students would provide a positive example.   

My first equipment as a Novice included a Drake 2B receiver and an Eico 720  transmitter.  

Drake 2b

Eico 720






My first contact was WN2HUD – Sean Quirke from New York.  I still have the QSL card from that contact.  As I look at the QSL cards it makes me think how much we are missing with all the electronic “QSL Cards.”  There is something about having this QSL card in my hands that makes that contact from so long ago seem real.

General Class

A year later,  I passed the code and written test to become a General Class Amateur with the call WBØFFE.  My first radio with my General Class was a Heathkit SB 102.

SB 102

I  drove from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the Heathkit factory to pick up the kit.  I remember the excitement not just of building the kit but of putting it on the air.  I made many contacts with that rig.

SB 220

Later I acquired an SB-220 to go along with the SB102.  I installed a TH7dx on an HDX 55 crank-up tower.





Becoming an Advanced Class

I upgraded my license to the Advanced Class. and my call became a 2X2 – KEØPV.  In St. Louis, I operated with the SB 102 and SB 220 with an antenna mounted at 35 feet.  




When we moved to Davenport in 1991, the house we selected had antenna restrictions.  I found and purchased two acres of land in Dewitt Iowa.  I had a double garage built on the land and converted it into a ham shack.

I was afraid the neighbors would be upset by my antenna farm.  Instead, they seemed excited that I was going to put the large antennas on top of tall towers.  They expressed willingness to watch the place when I was not there and even mow the grass.  I just couldn’t understand why this group of people was so excited about my antennas.  Finally, I asked one of them why they were not upset with my antennas.  He said, “you must not know who else was bidding on the property.”  I explained that I didn’t even know there was someone else.  He said, “A guy wanted to buy it to raise pigs.”  That was a revelation.  Now I know what ham radio antennas are better than – a pig farm!  But actually, they traded one ham for another!

I sold the Dewitt property when we moved to Atlanta in 1999.  I went for several years without a ham radio setup. In 2003, we had the opportunity to move back to Davenport.  We selected a home where once again covenants made antennas impossible.  But we were fortunate to find not only a perfect ham home but a perfect retirement home at a wonderful place in Illinois called Little Swan Lake.


In October of 1994, my wife and I attend a hamfest in Peoria, Illinois.  My wife was not excited about sitting around waiting for me to get through all the activities but she usually persevered having brought reading material.

Having watched me for many years as well as helping me from time to time study for my upgrade, she decided that rather than just sitting in a hot spot outside while she waited,  she would to inside the only airconditioned building where they were giving the exam.  She indicated that she might even take the exam.  I thought maybe she might squeak through with a Technician class ticket.  She came out with a General Class!   She has always been supportive of my ham radio adventure!  She would, however, still rather be behind the sewing machine than the radio!  I don’t understand how something with so few knobs can be so exciting!

Little Swan Lake

In 2005, we purchased a home in Illinois with 2 acres of land for antennas.  It was on Little Swan Lake in Avon, Illinois.  we thought this would be the place we would retire so we added an addition to the home designed just for my ham radio.  I put up a number of antennas.  

While at this location, I passed my Extra Class License and my call became K9OQ.  I still hold that call today.

On April 3, 2010, I suffered a heart attack.  I was one of the lucky ones who survived.  However, my cardiologist indicated that living three hours from the nearest cardiac hospital was not wise.  Based on that concern, we sold our dream home by the lake and moved back to Davenport Iowa.  I must admit it was a hard pill to swallow.  This was our dream home for retirement and now it was gone.

I had retired as Chancellor of Palmer University in 2oo9 and since the kids were gone, we decided to downsize.  We found a home with one acre of land inside the city!  I put up my TH11Dx on a new 55-foot crank-up US Tower along with a SteppIR vertical.

Moving Back to Atlanta

In 2012, after going through several Iowa winters, we decided to move back to the Atlanta area.  We previously lived there from 1999 to 2003 and found the area very attractive both because of the location as well as the weather.

After a long search, we found a new home that allowed us to have an antenna.  The problem was, it had a great number of trees and on top of that a  septic tank system whose field spread through most of the backyard.  Even though there was no HOA, I was not sure there would be room to have the base for the antenna.

After many measurements, I found one spot that would work given the trees and the septic tank.  I acquired a 55-foot crank-up tower as well as a Steppir 4 element with a 40 and six-meter antenna along with a tilt plate!  I had someone dig the hole and erected the tower. 

While I loved my TH 11 antenna, I find the Steppir outperforms anything I have used before.  Having the 40-meter element during poor band conditions has been great.    I installed an 80 meters inverted V antenna from the peak of the tower.  It works great on 75 and 80 meters.  The tuner in the 5000 and the VL 1000 both allow me to work across the band.

I had at one time a number of new and old radios that I loved.  But now at 78, I felt it was time to scale back. 

In the last year, I have sold almost all of my equipment and acquired what I use now. 


Currently, I use an FTdx5000MP with a VL 1000 amplifier.  I also have a Yaesu FTdx101d with an Elecraft ALS 1300.  I have the remote band switching connected between the 101 and 1300 which is great.  The Ameritron feeds an AF-Auto tuner.  The amp and tuner combination is great in that it makes everything automatic. 

I also have a Yaesu 991d that feeds an SB 200 with an LDG 1000 pro antenna tuner.   I operate on D-Star using an IC 5100. I use the Yaesu 991a that I use for Fusion as well as VHF and HF. 

I still have my Steppir antenna but have added a Hustler 6btv with 62 radials.  I have a long wire for 80 and another trap dipole for 40, 80, and 160.  The Steppir does an outstanding job on 40 through 6 meters so the vertical and dipole are rarely used except for 80 and 160 meters.

It is so great to have the SteppIR that lets me to have the antenna at resonance on any frequency.  As I am sure you all know, being resonant is not just about SWR, but also about received signal quality.  

I have a switch system that allows any antenna to put on any radio for HF.  I can also switch the J Pole and a 6-element 2-meter beam on the Icom 5100 or the 991a.  

 I have used HRD software since Simon offered it for free.  It is great software.  I also like Logic Software and often use N3FJP for contests.  N3FJP’s contest software is the best!  Scott is so helpful in providing support for his software.  

I have enjoyed this wonderful hobby for over 50 years.  There are just so many things to do that it never runs out.  I am one of those people who love trying new things so FT8 and FT4 have been fun to conquer so to speak as have other digital modes.  However, in my world, nothing takes the place of a great rag chew with what will certainly be a new friend.


I plan on producing a video of my operations – and maybe yours.  I am in the process of setting up www.hamradioshacks.com where I hope I can highlight some of the hams around the world including their stations.  It is just getting started but take a look and see what you think.  I would love to have your comments.  Let me know if you would like to have your shack on the site.

73 and I hope I will meet you later down the log.

My Books:

I have written seventeen books including three novels which can be found by clicking here.  Take a look especially if you like sci-fi!  My latest novel 2022 is now available for free download on the same page.


Larry G. Patten