Why I Changed My Call Sign After 28 Years
Up until last month, I’ve used my original Novice-class call sign since it came in the mail in 1988.
When I upgraded to Technician, I didn’t change it because the FCC had run out of 1-by-3 call signs in the South and were issuing 2-by-3 call signs.
I would have moved from KC4 to KD4, which didn’t make any sense to me.
I also left my call alone when I passed Advance because I didn’t like the AC-series 2-by-2 calls at the time. Since the Commission had long run out of 2-by-1 call signs for Extra Class, I decided that KC4LMD would be my radio nom de plume.
At least you could roughly date how long I have been licensed, in the world before Vanity Call Signs.
The straw finally broke the camel’s back came last year when I was in the middle of a pile-up trying to work a station in the Yukon Territory. I was already out-gunned by stations with kilowatt amplifiers and multi-element Yagi antennas. But it was the length of my call sign in Morse code that kept me from getting a VY1 in my log book.
With a Morse code weight of 72, it takes about 4 seconds to send KC4LMD at 20 words per minute. Even then, the fellow in the Yukon was already in the middle of sending his signal report by the time I sent my call sign once. The guys with shorter calls were killing me.
That’s when I started to consider a change.
If I did make a change by applying for a Vanity Call Sign, I set some criteria.
- Any new call sign had to be in the 1-by-2 format,
- It had to be in the Four call district (because I am sentimental that way), and
- It had to have a Morse code weight lower than 42.
Not as critical, I wanted a “W” call sign because that was the letter on the first Amateur Radio call signs. My grandfather, uncle, and dad all held W4 calls.
It took me about a year. I applied for about ten call signs before finally winning N4AE in the lottery.
My favorite call sign that I did not get was N4TT. I just loved the way it sounded on Morse code.
Dah-dit Di-di-di-di-dah Daaaah Daaaah.
I also like the phonetics: November Four Tango Tango.
Unfortunately, someone renewed the call sign a week before it went to the lottery.
I think the most challenging aspect of having a new call sign after almost 30 years, it using it. My old call sign was like my name; I didn’t have to think about it. Now, I do.
I’m sure in a few months, N4AE will roll off my tongue (and my key) like second nature.
Until then, I’m looking forward to the next All Canada contest so I can nab a YV1.