Amateur Radio W5ALT
How I got Started
My QSL Cards
DX QSL Cards
Field Strength Meter
W. B. Fair, Jr.
Since I was working in Maracaibo, Venezuela, I got interested in operating from there and in late 2000 I found out about the International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP). Basically, with the IARP a ham licensed in one of the partcipating countries can operate in any of the other participating countries without obtaining a reciprocal license. Fortunately, both the US and Venezuela participate in the IARP. For more information and details, see the ARRL web site.
Once I had the IARP permit as KE5WJ, I got some radio gear shipped down and was on the air from inside the apartment. The apartment was near Lake Maracaibo and we were on the 9th floor. The view wasn't too bad. Click here for a picture.
After January 2001, when the rigs finally arrived, I used a Kenwood TS-50S, then a Kenwood TS-850SAT. Neither of those rigs held up very long. I'm no longer a fan of Kenwood. Later I used Yaesu FT-100D and FT-817 rigs, which both served me well and I still have and use them when I'm away from home. I later brought a Icom 756 Pro II, which is a much nicer rig. I have operated on all bands from 40 meters to 6 meters. In March 2002, I was issued the vanity call sign W5ALT and have operated as YV1/W5ALT since then. From Maracaibo I Worked All States and also worked DXCC and VUCC using simple antennas.
My antennas were not very exciting, but they seemed to work. I had a 30m dipole strung just outside the window that is loaded with an MFJ-941E tuner on all the bands. I also built a homebrew vertical consisting of a 2 meter piece of aluminum tubing, a coil wound on a plastic trash container, and 2 radials run along the baseboards. The vertical sat in a corner of the room, which is where my XYL tolerated it.
We had a wonderful time in Maracaibo, but finally in January 2009 it was time to go back home. It was with sadness we bade farewell to many friends and a most wonderful country. Given another opportunity to live and work there again, we would seriously consider returning. We can truly say that some of our most memorable years were spent in Maracaibo and I truly enjoyed operating from there.