My name is Mike Garske,callsign K7SKE, and I have been a licensed ham since 1994. My first callsign was KC7DPD, starting out as a Tech “No-Code”. My fascination with radio started around 5 or 6 years old when my Dad installed a CB in our family car. My Dad and I would listen to all the “skip” coming in from all over the country and I was mesmerized by the magic of radio. Then later around age 9 or 10, an old neighbor dropped off a Hallicrafters S-22 shortwave radio that weighed at least 50 pounds and was full of glowing tubes! I hooked up a random piece of wire and tuned around listening to signals coming in from around the world! That was seriously cool!
After high school, I joined the U.S Army and had a communications MOS for the 4 years I served. Near the end of my enlistment was when I found out from a fellow soldier that happened to be carrying a Radio Shack HTX-202 2 meter HT. I asked him what it was and he explained the Technician license to me. I had known about Amateur radio before that, but he was the first Ham I ever met in person. I immediately bought the Gordon West Technician book, studied for a week and took my test in April of 1994 in Maple Valley, WA. 13 weeks later my ticket showed up! By then I had bought an HTX-202 and was on the air as soon as I opened that letter from the FCC with my call letters!
Until 2011, I was a Technician, and for years I participated in multiple Field Days, and also played up in Baker City with Joe Rudi’s superstation, NK7U, on multiple contests. If 4 100′ towers with antennas pointing to all directions of the compass and top of the line Kenwood HF radios don’t spoil you, nothing will…!
In that same timeframe, I was involved with Paul Verhage KD4STH with High Altitude Balloon launches all over the Treasure Valley for several years. We would launch, chase and recover them using APRS, that was really fun! Several of the balloons went well over 100,000 feet.
I have had to use my radio in an emergency situation once as well, Memorial Day 1998, myself and several friends went hiking in the Silver Creek Plunge area northeast of Boise. The weather was great until it snowed on us and one member of the group got hypothermic and then another hurt their knee. I called back to Boise thru the 146.840 repeater with my HT and initially got ahold of 2 different hams. When I explained the situation and where we were, they both didn’t believe that I could reach the repeater from where we were, and promptly stopped talking to me. A third ham got on the air, and called SAR to help us out. We ended up meeting the SAR team halfway out, and they took us out by 4 wheeler the rest of the way. The entire story is featured in the October 1998 QST.
In 2011, I finally upgraded to General, then to Extra 3 months later. I got on HF after I won an Icom IC-718 at the 2013 Idaho Convention in the raffle. After that, I was hooked on HF! I now have WAS in 4 different modes – SSB, JT65, JT9 and now FT8. Its been a serious blast working from my backyard on a small antenna, and now a G5RV Jr. Looking to try different modes out in the future as well.
Lately I am starting to try out the VHF/UHF digital voice modes, DMR for now and soon D-STAR.
I look forward to serving as President of the ISRA, thanks for giving me this opportunity!