David A. Antler

My Yaesu VX-5RS handy talkie

My mom got into ham radio when I was a kid, around 2001. Back in those days cell phones were uncommon, but she got this really neat looking handheld radio and started exploring local repeaters and talking to people on simplex. To me, these handheld radios seemed like a really slick way of communicating while out and about. She told me if I got my license, she’d get me a radio just like hers!

This turned out to be a good motivator to a 12-year-old me. I imagined having a hand-held radio would work just like this: while my classmates were searching for a payphone to start punching in calling card codes, I’d key up a frequency my mom scanned and she’d come pick me up after school or whatever. Of course nothing like this would ever happen, but the possibility was intriguing!

So I hit the books. I was 12 or 13 when I passed the Technician class test, and as promised my mom rewarded me with a Yaesu VX-5RS!

Photo of VX-5R

I played with it, figured out what some of the functions did, joined a local repeater club, and mostly had 5-10 minute conversations with older people in unexotic places like Schaumburg and Palatine. This was not the future I had imagined, but it was okay and went on for a while.

Time moved on. I got my first cell phone a few years later. When I moved out for college, I forgot about this radio entirely. Then I grew up, moved to the mountains, and got back into hiking, backpacking, and snowboarding. Now that I’m outdoorsy I finally have a practical use for a radio.

My parents both kept up with ham radio the whole time. For Christmas they dusted off my VX-5RS for me, found all the old parts, and got me some new essentials (such as a new Li-Ion battery). They even found some pocket-sized user manuals!

This is my favorite gift I’ve received in a long time! This little radio was apparently built to last, and I’ve made several contacts already. The world of ham radio hasn’t really changed and I’m grateful.