N0NB at 21

Posted by Nate Bargmann on Tue, Dec 17, 2019

Me? No, I’m somewhat older than 21.  Dearie me!

It was 21 years ago today that N0NB became an active callsign in the FCC database assigned to me.  My callsign for the prior 15 years of KA0RNY was thus retired and returned back to the FCC.

About six weeks earlier over the first weekend of November 1998 I had spent the night at the home of my former neighbor John, KA7GLA (SK) in Enid, OK, to attend the annual Enid hamfest.  He had a callsign plaque in his shack (radio room) of W5ACW that had been held by a ham he’d known in years gone by.  He was considering changing his callsign to it at that time, but never did.  Well, that put a bug in my ear and when I returned home I started researching available callsigns to apply for through the FCC’s Vanity Callsign System.

I actually applied for three, as I recall (up to 25 could be listed on the form), N0NB, K0RNY, and W0RN in that order.  As a holder of an Amateur Extra operator’s license, I could request a so-called 1×2 callsign which was most attractive to me.

N0NB wouldn’t have been high on my list of preferences in years prior as callsigns with an N0 prefix were considered (by me, at least) to be johnny come lately callsigns.   Still, I made it my first choice on the form as I had gotten to know a (now) prior holder of N5FF in Oklahoma and we had used that call in some club activities so I had warmed up to the N prefix considerably.  Its suffix had my first and last initials which I liked and which has proven to be a good combination.

K0RNY removed the troublesome A from my original callsign’s prefix.  I had to repeat that darned A more times than I could count for other stations to get my callsign correct.

W0RN was an old time callsign that had two letters of my original callsign’s suffix.   That made it attractive, but I was apparently unsure that it would be available so I listed it third.

I submitted the application just before Thanksgiving that year.  As it turned out, W0RN was assigned to someone the day after I submitted my application so that one was out!  The FCC imposed an 18 day wait and finally, the morning of 16 December 1998 N0NB was assigned to me.

Funny thing is that once used to using a callsign nearly every day for fifteen years, it tends to stick into one’s brain matter rather tenaciously.  Through ‘99 and the first half of 2000 I operated a number of radio sport events and even lent it to multi-operator efforts of our local club including Field Day 2000.  You might think by that point any vestige of the old callsign remaining in my head had been exorcised.  You’d be wrong!  Sometime in the summer of 2000 I was in Oklahoma City and chatting with another ham who I’d not talked to since changing my callsign over a year and a half earlier.  We had chatted quite often and as I signed off I said his callsign and then, “K A ze” came out before I stopped myself.  The ol’ gray matter had reflexively gone back to a routine I’d done quite a number of times years earlier.  Fortunately, those reflexes have ceased and N0NB is firmly cemented in the gray matter these days.

I became active in radio sport activities a couple of years before the vanity system came to be.  When I started there were many participants with 2×3 calls like my old KA0RNY.  By ‘97 and ‘98 there were many 1×2 and 2×1 callsigns in my log reflecting the popularity of the vanity system among Amateur Extra operators.  When the bug bit me in early November ‘98 few “preferred” W0 and K0 1×2 callsigns were available but quite a number of N0 1×2 callsigns remained.  I settled on my initials and it had good rhythm for Morse Code (CW) and the phonetics were decent for voice operations.  The callsign has served me well and I’ve no plans to change it.