About Me

I have been active in amateur radio since getting my first license in 1973 at the age of 13. It was love at first sight after reading a fiction book that featured amateur radio (Walker A Tompkins – DX Brings Danger). I taught myself the code using a tape recorder, an old organ (I made my own code practice tapes), and listening on an old AM shortwave receiver.

I moved a lot growing up so ham radio allowed me to always keep in touch with my friends. I was glad to get K5ZD in 1977 to put an end to the callsign parade:

1973 WN5JWT Houston, TX
1974 WN3VWJ, WA3VWJ Pittsburgh, PA
1975 JA1YZK (club) Tokyo, Japan
1976 AB5QDW Houston, TX
1977 WA4ZHU, K5ZD Miami, FL

1977 was a good year.  I had the great honor to join FOC (First Class CW Operator’s Club), received my two-letter call, and went off to college at the University of Texas.

While studying Electrical Engineering at school, I was also learning the contest game from Tom Morrison, K5TM. Tom taught me how to climb towers and how to operate from a competitive station. He also introduced me to multi-multi operations at WB5OOE (aka N5AU) and WA5LES (now K5RC).

I almost flunked my senior year because I was doing too much radio. I joined the NP4A multi-multi operation for CQ WW CW in 1980. I was also editor of the National Contest Journal. When I picked it up, there were 6 paid subscribers. By the end of the year it had been revived. I use many of the editing and business lessons I learned from the NCJ in my every day business life today.

When I started looking for a real job I found my way to Dallas and became a regular at N5AU. Gordon was mainly interested in winning the CQ WW Phone contest, so he let me single op many of the others. It was a great opportunity to work from a station with 27 towers! I won the Sweepstakes CW contest 4 years in a row and had some good DX contest finishes. If I knew then what I know now, I think I might have won a DX contest from there. I also managed five NA Sprint CW victories during this time.

I met my wife in Dallas. Being originally from New York, she was unhappy with Texas being too hot, too flat, and with not enough trees. We compromised and she convinced me to move to New England. I wasn’t thrilled to leave Texas, but figured it would be a good chance to check out DX contesting!

My first CQ WW Phone contest from New England was a humbling experience.  K1KI loaned me his station while he went to the Caribbean. I did not do well.  A week later I operated SS CW from K1GQ and finished way back in the pack. I realized I had a lot to learn about the difference between Sweepstakes in W5 and DX Contests from W1.

I lived in Wrentham, MA for two years.  Real estate in the Boston area was extremely expensive at the time (still is!) and I was only able to get a house in a valley behind a hill from Europe.  Not the best QTH for making high scores.

My employer offered me the chance to move to Pittsburgh, PA in 1985 and I took it. House prices were much more reasonable there and I was able to find 7 acres in the country.  With the help of K3LR, I put together two towers and was able to be competitive from my own station.  A wonderful thing after years of guest operating. I made the top ten in SS CW twice from WPA and could get in the USA top ten of ARRL and CQ WW.

I was also back to being the editor and publisher of the National Contest Journal. K8CC helped with the editing for a few years and then we had the great fortune to have the magazine be adopted by ARRL.

For the big CW contests, I was driving up to Erie, PA to operate at K3TUP.  John put together a fantastic station.  When I first visited, it was the station of a serious DXer – capable of being really loud at any single point on the globe at any given time. But a contest station must have much more flexibility and he was willing to add it. I achieved my first CQ WW CW victory from there in 1989 with a new USA record.

Our son Andrew was born in March 1990 and completely changed our lives.  I did many contests with him sitting in a car seat on the side of the operating table. Hard to believe he is now fully grown and over 6 feet tall!

A casual conversation about returning to Boston resulted in a move back in the winter of 1992. In an incredible piece of luck, we found a dream location that we could actually afford to buy. It is 7 heavily wooded acres on top of a granite hill sitting in the middle of the Blackstone River valley. The trees make the towers invisible from the house (and from all the close neighbors), which my wife loves. The hill has very steep slopes away from the towers in all directions.  There is very little power line noise, no TVI complaints, and it seems to be loud.

Since moving here I have fulfilled almost all of my operating goals. I have won CQ WW CW (10 times SOAB + 2 times Assisted!), CQ WW Phone, CQ 160m CW, ARRL DX CW (single op and multi-single), WPX CW (2 times), WPX Phone multi-single, and IARU CW. Guest ops have stepped in to win CQ WW and ARRL DX. I never dreamed that I would be able to do this from my own station.

In 1996, I joined 3 engineering guys to start a new company.  We achieved some success and were acquired by an Israeli company in 1998.  From there the company has grown and changed to become Axeda Corporation. I spent 12 years managing the sales engineering team before moving over to work on Customer Success. Axeda was acquired by PTC in 2015 and I moved on.

I had the privilege of participating in WRTC-96 in San Francisco with team mate Dave Patton, WX3N (now NN1N). We finished 6th and enjoyed the chance to meet contesters from around the world that had only been callsigns before. In 2000, I attended WRTC in Slovenia with partner K6LA, where we finished 12th.  Also a memorable event.

I ventured into RTTY contesting to recapture the excitement of being a ‘novice’ contester again.  I won the single operator high power category in the 2001 ARRL RTTY Roundup.  I found RTTY contesting to be one of the best ways to practice the art of SO2R operating.

In May 2002, our daughter Jenelle was born.  She never seems to stop talking or demanding attention!

For WRTC-2002 in Helsinki, I selected K1KI as my teammate and we had a great time in finishing 7th.

In May 2004, I completed my MBA at Bryant College. It took one night per week for 3-1/2 years and was something I had always wanted to do. It was a great to learn some theory behind the things I had learned from my work experience.

At WRTC-2006 in Brazil, I was the partner for W2SC and we finished 10th. I was also able to bring my son Andrew along on the trip.  I think it gave him a whole new insight into what radio and contesting is all about.  When we returned home, he cracked the books and obtained his technician license and the call KB1NXJ!

In May 2008 I was offered the opportunity to become Director of the CQ WPX Contest.  This is one of my favorite contests and I had always wanted to see what it was like to manage a contest.

At the Dayton Hamvention that same month, I was honored to be inducted into the CQ Magazine Contest Hall of Fame.  It was a very emotional moment for me and a real thrill to be acknowledged by my contesting peers.

W2SC and I again were partners for WRTC-2010 in Moscow, where we finished 5th. Visiting Russia was a dream of mine and it was even better to have Andrew come along.

Not sure who talked who into what, but in 2010, Doug K1DG and I worked together to obtain rights to conduct WRTC2014 in New England. We were joined by an excellent group of world class operators and people who get things done.

While in the midst of WRTC preparations, I was asked to take on being Director of the CQ WW DX Contest after Bob, K3EST, stepped down. It really is more ham radio jobs than I can handle, but I had to give it a try.  A really great group of volunteers in the CQ WW Contest Committee help process and check the logs.

WRTC2014 was held in July 2014. It was a success in every way we could imagine.  Doug K1DG did a great job leading a fantastic team and we had incredible support from volunteers. See all the details at www.wrtc2014.org.

I have continued to lead the CQ WW DX Contest.  It has been very rewarding to work on the contest and develop some new innovations in web-based score reporting and log submissions. I also enjoy welcoming the new Contest Hall of Fame members each year at the Contest Dinner in Dayton.

I now have a very busy life working for a division of Intel on the Internet of Things. While not as active as I once was, you can still find me in all of the major contests. I hope to see you on the bands!


Randy, K5ZD