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When were you first on the air, how old were you, and your first call?




 
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Author Topic: When were you first on the air, how old were you, and your first call?  (Read 82615 times)
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W8EJO
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« Reply #100 on: June 21, 2007, 02:53:13 PM »

I first

My fascination with the AM side of radio began quite early. My first real radio was old RCA tube console that had been abandoned in the basement. I managed to get this into my bedroom, and with some tinkering get it working. I would wait until my parents were asleep and then listen in to the early hours of the morning. I especially recall listening to WBZ in Boston. For some reason this AM station fascinated me, for I was amazed that I could get the news and local information for a someplace as far away as Boston, MA.

73 Bruce W1UJR


Bruce

Your recollections call to mind my own. (I'm a bit older than you but
 don't hold that against me.)

My pre-ham days were spent (back in 1957, 1958) DXing the MW broradcast band from our home near Cleveland, OH.

My most vivid memories are those of late night listening to WLAC, Nashville, TN and the famous John R.

John R was a white man who sounded like a black man & played real blues (then known as R&B). I loved  listening to the likes of BB King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, Lightning Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, and many, many others. I still love that music today. Somehow my 11 year old brain knew it was listning to great original American music because I sure preferred it to top 40 radio of the day.

[WLAC is an old AM station from back in the day when stations could choose their own call letters. WLS in Chicago was owned by Sears Roebuck & stood for Worlds's Largest Store. WLAC was a commercial enterprise of The Life And Casualty Insurace Company.]

Terry
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Terry, W8EJO

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« Reply #101 on: June 21, 2007, 03:27:42 PM »

Quote
I especially recall listening to WBZ in Boston. For some reason this AM station fascinated me, for I was amazed that I could get the news and local information for a someplace as far away as Boston, MA. Many late nights were spent listening to Larry Glick and his call in program on WBZ.

'BZ was a great station with a kickass signal. For a while it was the #1 Top40 rock and roll station in New England.
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« Reply #102 on: June 21, 2007, 03:43:00 PM »

I used to really enjoy listening to WBZ clear out here in "fly-over" country.  Also loved WLS, CKLW, and XERF with Wolfman Jack.  Who could forget those great AM signals that really sounded super on the car radio and played all the great old Mo-Town and Doo-Wop stuff, as well as the Beach Boys and the surf scene tunes.  Ah....the summer of '63....remember it well! I was all of 18 and an old-timer ham of 4 years by that time.

73,  Jack, W9GT
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« Reply #103 on: April 04, 2011, 11:47:15 PM »

I was licensed in 1967 in Northern Upper Michigan as WN8DFQ,  at the age of 14.
My first rig was a Heathkit DX60B transmitter & HR10B receiver.
Several years later,  I moved to Washington State and became WN7NTF.
I upgraded to General Class and became WA7NTF. I've change callsigns several times
since then (from WA7NTF to W7NTF, and then from W7NTF to K7EK).

Best regards,

Gary, K7EK
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« Reply #104 on: April 05, 2011, 01:02:40 AM »

I was first licensed in August 1975 at age 17 as WN8WAH. I was living in Canton, Ohio.  I became interested in ham radio at about age 7 when my neighbor W8ACR, Cecil Lamb, let me talk to someone in Nogales Ariz. The QSO was on ten meter AM using a Ranger 1 barefoot. I was dumbfounded and utterly fascinated. Got my general ticket in 1978. I have held the following calls at various times: WN8WAH, WB8WAH, KA7BFF, KF8DL, AA8AD. When Cecil became a SK, I applied for his call sign through the vanity callsign program. I have also operated as TZ5RS from Bamako, Mali in 1995. My first station was a DX-60B and an HQ-110A-VHF. I currently work AM exclusively although I also enjoy CW. I do not currently own a sideband rig, and have not really worked much sideband, although I did kinda enjoy SSB when I had my KWS-1.

Ron W8ACR
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« Reply #105 on: April 05, 2011, 09:27:23 AM »

I received my novice ticket (WN5NSC) at the age of 14 in February of 1975 while living in Gulfport, MS.  I took the test before Christmas but this was during the peak of the CB craze when the FCC was still issuing paper for CB so licensing was slow.  I got my novice transmitter for Christmas 1974 and spent a lot of time tuning it up into a two bulb dummy load while awaiting the envelope from Gettysburg.

I became aware of the Morse code several years earlier while playing with a Sharp table radio that my brother had sent home from Vietnam during his time there in 1967/68.  For my 11'th birthday I received a Radio Shack Science Fair Globe Patrol 3 transistor regen kit.  For my next birthday I received a Knightkit Star Roamer.  I still have both so early on someone could have predicted I would be a collector of vintage gear.

My novice transmitter was a Johnson Valiant and for the first week a Hallicrafters SX-62A.  After the first week I changed to a much more usable SX-101 receiver.  Shortly thereafter I upgraded to a General ticket and a Heathkit SB-102.  The Valiant was traded for the RF deck out of a Desk KW which was later traded for my first Rohn 25 tower.  I think I only operated AM once with the Valiant since there was little AM activity then and I mostly used the SB-102 for CW.

In 1994 I decided to recreate my novice setup and the Valiant/SX-101 was my return to vintage gear.  I had picked up a NC-183D when the Lafayette chain went out of business many years before and the local owner also sold off some of his ham gear.  Now most of my operation is on AM and CW using mostly vintage gear.  I spend more time restoring than operating but lately I have had little time for either.  Our 7 year old daughter continues to be interested in all things scientific including radio so I have a very good reason to start spending a little more time restoring gear.
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Rodger WQ9E
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« Reply #106 on: April 05, 2011, 10:03:27 AM »

My introduction to ham radio was via Frank Gropen, WB2SJJ. He is the ham that gave me my very first on-air demonstration of amateur radio, back in the summer of 1967. I was 13 years old at the time, and he was about 16 as I recall. That singular event made an enormous lasting impression on me, although I did not obtain my Novice class license until May of 1970. I rode my bike the 4 mile distance from my folks house to his QTH; my Mom and his parents were good friends, and the invitation was extended by his Mom for "Bruce to come over and see Frank's ham radio set-up. He would probably enjoy it, and Frank would like to show it to him".

Things were never the same for me since that day, which I can still see like it was yesterday. Talk about a life-changing event. All I had wanted to do since visiting his shack that one time was to become a ham.

I remember him running a Viking Ranger, and an older National HRO receiver. The QSO I had witnessed at his QTH was most probably on either 75 or 40 meter AM, and he contacted a station in New Jersey, whom he obviously was friendly with. Even now, nearly 44 years later, I can recall the quality and clarity of the audio from the other station; I thought it was like listening to an AM broadcast station. For some preconceived reason, I had assumed amateur radio audio would sound like "walkie-talkie" quality, as that was really the only communications equipment I had been exposed to previously.

Frank generously  loaned a Knight Kit R-55A receiver to me, along with an Ameco Novice Class Licence Study Guide.

In May of 1970, at the age of 16, I received my Novice class license, with the call of WN2OGS (WN2 Oily, Greasy, and Slimey). The rig I was running at the time was a Heath RX-1 Mohawk receiver, and an Apache transmitter. I still have that same Apache to this day. A few months later I made the trip to the FCC field office in New York City, and passed my General, and became WA2OGS. Once I upgraded to General, I picked up an SB-10 SSB adaptor for the Apache.

73,

Bruce
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« Reply #107 on: April 05, 2011, 10:44:27 AM »

KN2QJM, 1955, Valley Stream, LI, NY.

Got interested by listening to hams on my grandparents old Zenith and Silvertones from about 11 or 12, built a regen in 1954 and learned CW with that.

Joined the Navy in 59, became an ET, went to National Radio in 63 and the rest is history Roll Eyes

Carl
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Don
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« Reply #108 on: April 05, 2011, 01:28:14 PM »

I was first licensed the summer of 1959, at age 17 between grades 11 and 12. Given my Novice test in June, my ticket arrived in August. Upgraded to General in November that year, and to Extra in 1963. Always held the same call sign, except for the "N" in novice days.

I first became interested in amateur radio at age 11, when I began listening to short wave on our ancient broadcast radio that had one extra band for "foreign stations". I discovered that amateur radio still existed, after having read a poorly written encyclopaedia article that misled me to believe that amateur radio had been eliminated for good during WW2.  I had no mentors; no nearby acquaintances had a clue about ham radio, so I gleaned all my knowledge from books and magazines. I was inadvertently introduced to "vintage" radio from the outset, since most of what literature I could get my hands on was long outdated. My first attempt to build a transmitter used a Model T Ford spark coil purchased from Montgomery Wards, powered by an electric train transformer. My best DX was about 250 feet, but I got knocked flat on my arse plenty of times tinkering with that thing.

When I became aware that to become licensed one needed to learn the code, I tried to teach myself using a dot/dash chart, key and buzzer, but it simply didn't work.  At first my receiver had no BFO, so I couldn't decipher any CW heard over the air. Finally, I built a BFO for the receiver and the high school physics teacher let me borrow over the summer some old WW2 Signal Corps code training records (78 rpm) that I had stumbled across while helping him tidy up the storage room, and within weeks I was ready to take my Novice test. For the previous 5 or 6 years I had been an avid SWL, only rarely listening to the regular broadcast band, and I never had a lot of interest in what was on TV after my parents finally bought one.

My first receiver was a 1938 vintage four-band American Bosch floor model broadcast receiver with longwave and short wave, complete with a single RF stage and separate set of shielded coils for each band. I ripped the power supply off the chassis and rebuilt it as an external unit, and used the vacant space to install my home brew BFO for CW. The transmitter was a single 807 driven by a 6AG7 crystal oscillator, running about 30 watts input using the power supply salvaged from another old broadcast receiver. Inspired by the depression-era radio books and magazines I had managed to acquire before they went to the trash, I always built my own stuff, and couldn't really see the point to running store-bought equipment even if I could have afforded it. My first attempt at AM was in the winter of 1960, when I cathode modulated my CW rig, running about 10 watts output with maybe 20% highly distorted modulation.

Over the years I kept on improving my homebrew transmitters, and to this day have always run AM and a little CW, having never even owned a SSB rig, unless you count the little Radio Shack 10m AM/FM/SSB transceiver, essentially a modified CB rig, I picked up on sale 10 years ago and I have used fewer than a dozen times.
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Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

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« Reply #109 on: April 05, 2011, 03:38:30 PM »

I was birthed on the 2nd of December, of 1958... about 3 weeks late.  I wasn't around yet, but I'm told I was the most talked about non-born child by my Dad/W5OMR and his friends on 40m, at the time ;-).  Sometime shortly thereafter, I'm sure some "goo-goo gah-gah's" emanated from my vocal chords and made it out over the air.  Over the years, unintentional (as well as intentional) sounds were also uttered by me.  Along about 8 years old, for a merit-badge in Cub Scouts, I learned the Morse Code.  Dad was the teacher, of course, and he built up a code practice oscillator with a J-38 key on a piece of 1x6" plank.  Got the merit badge in what was called a record amount of time. CW was instilled at a young age.

In 1983, I made my way back to The Republic of Texas from the hell that is Southern California, and very soon after that started "Ham Radio" classes, paid for by Dad.  I dug out the old J-38, built up another little oscillator (with help) and started learning the code, again.  Also, we re-built (with newer pieces) another 'Crystal" set, with a coil of wire wound around a paper-towel roll, detected by a galena diode and amplified by a small transistor, driving a pair of headphones.  That 9v battery to amplify the audio must have lasted some 5 years.

The classes started 2 weeks later and I'd been practicing on CW again.  After the end of the second session, I told the Instructor I wanted to take the novice test.  All I had to learn was the frequency range on the different bands that allowed novices.  The test was multiple guess, and not like the "Write an essay, and draw a schematic diagram" tests that Dad took in the mid/late 1930's.

The 5wpm CW test was aced, 2 questions were missed on the written, and 6 weeks after the 16th of February, 1984, Novice class license KA5THB was issued to me.  I went to one more class after that, but the purpose was to get licensed and I had.  No more time for classes... there were CONTACTS to be made!  ;-)

The initial rig was a hand-me-down National NCX-3.  That thing had Zero CW off-set.  So, we set up a separate receiver, and a Dow-key T/R relay.  The receiver?  Heathkit Comanche, one of the mobile Heathkit twins.  The transmitter was the Cheyenne. First contact was, of course, W5OMR/Ed (my Dad) on his 'new' (at the time) TS-120S.

After a week or so of not-so-successful CW operation, the best CW advice I'd ever been given was imparted by Dad... he said "do you listen to how you sound?"  I stared back with a blank stare as if to say "...what do you mean?"  He said, "you're losing contacts because no one can understand what you're saying.  Send code into a tape recorder and listen to yourself".  Holy Crap, I was horrible!  Worked on that for a week, got "clean" and sure enough, the contacts were numerous.  I graduated to a Speed-X bug.  Took a while to get -that- thing tamed down, but the Speed sure increased! It was about a month later, some guy in East Texas mailed me a computer print-out from his Vic-20, or Commodore-64 with a CW program on it... reading out perfect CW as sent by me on the Speed-X bug.  By Field Day of 1984, I had built my speed up to around 15~18wpm.  Working Corn-tester style CW had me up to 25wpm by the end of Field Day! 

September of 1984 was the last time the FCC came to San Antonio.  Brooks Air Force Base had a huge auditorium that had absolutely HORRIBLE acoustics!  An I sounded like a 5, with the echo.  That, plus I 'froze'.  Only passed 5 questions on the test!  I FAILED the 13wpm test!  Shocked  After that, I settled down, and for the written test, aced the General exam and walked out with an upgrade from Novice to Technician.  6 months later, at a Hamfest in Austin, TX, I signed up for the testing session at their first Volunteer Examination effort.  I hadn't studied for the Advanced class, but my main goal was to get my General class ticket.  The testers started with the 20wpm code test, and of course, I aced it, wearing headphones.  No crappy acoustics, THERE!  I had my General Class!

I got involved in the traffic nets, still working mostly CW, started a 40m daytime Slow-speed net, in the novice band and was having a ball.  Later, I got a 'loaner' rig, a Swan 350C from Randy/(then)WA1GZV (now N5RL) and was tuning around 75m and heard K5SWK/Otis, W5FAP/Alton, W5FAO/Noel and W5HQJ/Gene.  I called Dad in.  Said "don't you know these guys?" and the reunion was on. :-)  These were the folks who knew me on 40m back before I was born!  The AM bug bit, and bit hard!

In 1986, with the assistance of John/W5MEU, John/WA5BXO and I traveled together to Ft. Worth, TX to visit Dan/W5BU and that's when and where I got "The Titanic" (later named so by Otis/K5SWK because of the many "learning lessons" that had the rig down more than it was up).  When John and I were setting the transmitter up (originally a pair of 250TH's modulated by a pair of 811A's), and had it on the air, Dad poked his head in the shack and said "that thing's got TVI".   Roll Eyes  we neutralized the final and it was 'better', but there were still issues.  Keeping the thing down to only 500w DC input made it better.  I was 'on the air'!

Sometime about August of 1988, a young man that befriended Dad when I was in SoCal, Danny (then N5CED) and I went to the San Antonio Radio Club testing session at the San Antonio Library and we upgraded to Advanced class.
I had reached the same level of license class that Dad held.  He never went higher, because he was around back in the day of radio silence.  He was there when 40m was -only- CW, after WWII.  He was there when 11m was a Ham Band, and said of it "they gave away the best DX band the hams ever had, and gave it to the citizens who've polluted it beyond repair!"  That was my dad, alright ;-)

30 September of 1988, my Dad, W5OMR became a silent key.  I kinda lost my mind for a while.
(in the style of Forrest Gump) ...and that's all I have to say about that.

It was September of 1992 when Randy/(still)WA1GV (now N5RL), Jerry/KG5KJ(?)(now s/k) and I went to the Red Cross building where the San Antonio Radio Club had setup a Testing session, and we all earned our extra Class licenses.

In November of 1999, utilizing the "Vanity Callsign Program" and after much deliberation and discussion with some of Dad's old friends, permission was granted by mom for me to go ahead and get W5OMR as a callsign, with the proviso that 'while you are your dad's son, "Ol' Man River" was your dad's phonetics.  Phonetics personify the person, and you're not him."  To date, I still don't use those phonetics.  41 years prior, everyone on 40m knew me as the son of Ol' Man River.

I've now had W5OMR as my callsign for almost 12 years.  My licensed ham career started in 1984, but I've been around this stuff since before I was born!

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! ;-)

73 = Best RegardS
-Geoff/W5OMR (ex-KA5THB)

(ps:  it was under KA5THB that I first worked WA1HLR, some many, MANY years ago!)
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« Reply #110 on: April 05, 2011, 05:21:23 PM »

I was 15 years old when I was first licensed. My call was WN2HMH, later WA2HMH. I used a one tube wonder, a 65 watt DC input transmitter built from plans in Popular Electronics magazine. That transmitter took FT-243 crystals (the HC-6/U crystals would heat up too much in that rig), used a 6HB5 sweep tube, and chirped like a canary. It was horrible...but I made quite a few contacts on 40 meters with that thing. I probably still have it buried under a pile of stuff somewhere at my place in New Jersey.

I remember pestering my father to take me to Lafayette Radio in Plainfield, NJ, where I got some of the parts for that transmitter. The guy behind the counter was a royal pain in the ass...he always insisted on a customer having an exact stock number before he would get what you needed. Once I put the transmitter together, I remember loading it into a dummy load...a 75 watt light bulb. It used cathode keying and a relay inside the chassis kept a very dangerous 600 volts off the key terminals. The transmitter sounded like an old-fashioned mechanical typewriter when I keyed it on CW.
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K1DEU
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« Reply #111 on: April 05, 2011, 05:38:07 PM »

   What memories Phil. Well my mom kept asking me why I kept those FT-243 xtals in (HER) freezer. Until I cleaned the old WW2 Mold off them internally and mudifyed my DX-35 Oskilator running a lot less xtal I. Some I had to discard for excessive chirp   73 John K1DEU
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« Reply #112 on: April 05, 2011, 07:56:42 PM »

When I was 10 in 1967 I got a pair of toy 35 mw cb channel 14 walkie talkies for either my birthday or Christmas, I can't remember which.  They came from Marshall Field's and my mom made a point of telling me they were not cheap but I don't know how much they cost.  Field's probably marked them up.  They had an on-off switch and spring loaded push to talk button switch on the side but no squelch, just AF gain pot.  Telescoping antenna.   Within 24 hours I think they were broken, but I clearly remember pulling the plastic back off one and looking at the component side of the phenolic pc board and wondering how all those odd looking things inside sent and received radio voice.   This was in Park Forest IL.  The public library had QST and ARRL books but they were all incomprehensible to me, however the photos of shacks, antennas, and the article titles seemed very impressive.   I had some friends who messed around with CB radios so I did that too but back then everyone lived in continual fear of the FCC because they actually went out and canned people.  So that got old, and a few friends of mine got novice licenses.  Well, I had to get one too.  This was a few years later, around 1970 or 1971 because there had been a model rocketry interlude in there that lasted a few years. 

It seemed every ham in those days was fat, bald and scary with some kind of tobacco going, usually a cigar or cigarette.   One of the guys who helped me get started smoked hand rolled cigarettes made with Half and Half.  Maybe that was a Chicago thing.   The cigar might be unlit but that did not matter, the owner of it would chew on it.   I tried teaching myself the code but I went at it all wrong.   I remember going to this one guy I somehow knew was a ham, who ran a TV repair shop.   He was one of the cigar smokers.  "Sure kid, I'll give ya a ham test, but ya gotta know the code.  I need to find out if you're ready to take the test."   He pulled a practice key and phone book out from under the counter.  "Okay, send some code to me out of the phone book.  Start here."  I was completely unprepared for this and I guess I blew it, because he stopped me right away.  "Okay, spend a few more months working on the code.  Come back then."   

That intimidated me for about a year but I finally got a copy of Learning the Radiotelegraph Code, the ARRL book (which I still have) and discovered you firstly learn all the dit characters, then all the dahs, and so on.  You don't learn them from A to Z.   Revelation!   I had a code practice oscillator and key and I would spend an hour or two every night at our dining room table with a tape recorder sending, recording and playing back the code the next day.   It took a month to get through A to Z and 0 to 9.    I forget what I read to learn about radio, but I think it might have been a combination of the License Manual, an Ameco book, and the ARRL book How to Become a Radio Amateur.   I finally took the novice test from another guy, K9RPX (SK) and passed it.  I think it was in two separate examinations.  You had to pass the 5 wpm cw test and then the FCC would send the 25 or 50 multiple guess test and you'd take that.   That was in June 1972.  I was WN9JTC.   My first QSO was with a ham in Sedalia MO.  That's all I remember about it.  It was on either 40 or 80.   I was so excited (I think it only lasted about 5 minutes) that I ran outside afterwards.  All I ever operated were those two bands because my gear was so crappy it did not work well higher up.   My first rig was either a busted DX35 or a homebrew 15 w. cw rig that someone else built and I got at a flea market.   There is now this novice nostalgia movement, but why anyone wants to fondly remember their novice days is beyond me.

For around the first 8 years I was licensed I only operated the low bands and cw because of my gear, and I still pretty much stick with the low bands today.   Everything just seems to work better and be easier on the low bands.   You don't need a tower and a beam to work a bunch of guys.  So while I could not afford very good gear, I could afford to get better licenses because studying and books and the $8 exam fee were not that expensive.  So every year I upgraded and by 1975 I was an Extra.    I operated 100% CW back then, and it was a lot of fun because times were slower compared to now, and CW did not seem so "low tech" like it does today.  Also, there were a hell of a lot more CW ops. I was an Official Bulletin Station, an Official Relay Station, and something else (not an OO), and regularly ran traffic between the Fifth Region Net and Mississippi in the NTS.  By then my family had moved to Mississippi and I was WB5KUJ.   I asked for and received K5UJ in 1977. 

This all may sound nice and nostalgic but there was a lot back then that sucked.   There is something new hams have to understand--there was no internet back then.   There were hams with connections and grapevines who were in the know, and there were kids like me in the sticks working in a vacuum.    Your information conduits were books, club meetings, and sending letters to the ARRL TIS and hoping for a reply.   I got a Knight Kit T-60 at a hamfest in Memphis and somewhere got a HA-5 VFO.  I ran the T-60 driven by the HA-5.   I got a CMOS code keyer cheap somewhere, they were new in the 70s, and connected it to the T-60.  PHFFFFSH!  there went the key.  I had no idea the T-60 was cathode keyed with around 90 volts on the key jack!   Who knew the T-60 was a buzz saw of spurs?  I got a very scary formal FCC warning notice of a second harmonic on 7 MHz from the T-60.  Yikes!   I was using a coax fed inverted V. and knife switch TR switch.   ARRL TIS tells me make a matching network and put it between the rig and antenna.   Somewhere, maybe via Army MARS I get an ARC5 and use the inductor and one of the caps to make a L network, my first one, and use it to tune a random wire all of 10 feet off the ground, (what, it's supposed to be higher up?) but no more FCC warnings!   No knob on the cap either; i adjust it by puttting my hand on the shaft to move it, and use the V for rx antenna for QSK.   Ant. wire is transformer wire.  At one point, Army MARS gave me a BEE CEE  SIX TEN.    It is gigantic!  I was so in the dark, I had no idea what to do with it.   Eventually someone came and took it off my hands, I think for nothing.  How do you find out what to do with a BC610 when you are a kid in high school somewhere in Mississippi on an 8 party line?   And we had just gotten land line service a few years earlier.   So, today, in one day, I can learn more from resources on the internet, than I could learn in five years back then.   If you want to learn about radio, now is way better than then.

Rob   
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« Reply #113 on: April 06, 2011, 08:52:33 AM »

My first encounter with amateur radio was in the basement of a neighbor, Mac McLeod W2CIT (SK). He let me talk to someone, can't remember who or where they were, but I still remember the racks and racks of equipment he had, way back in about 1956 or so, up on Long Island.

Then in about 1960 or so, I ran into a couple of competing newspaper delivery kids in my town, John Miller WA2MUA and Rick Harrison WA2ODI (SK) and one of their friends John Larmon (can't remember his call)  They were all novices or generals then and Dave Larmon, John's dad, had administered the novice test to all of them.  If they could do it, so could I.  I studied, listened to other hams on a borrowed on a Philmore CR5-AC and passed my novice easily.  I was WV2ROC. 

Dave also had a beautiful Heathkit Apache and Mohawk that he built, and I said to my self, "I just gotta have equipment like that someday".

Dave lent me a Johnson Adventurer and a few crystals and I got a National NC-60 "Special" for my first novice station.  Had a ball on 7.062 and studied for the General.  Went into NYC to 641 Washington Street, put up with the cigar smoke and passed the general on the first try.  I was then WA2ROC.

Did some more hamming at home, built a Lafayette KT-390 Starflite transmitter and traded the NC-60 for a new-in-the crate BC-342.  Did some 10 meter AM on my bike with a Lafayette HE-50 in a trailer with an 8' whip.  Graduated high school in 1964, attended State U. Farmingdale and went to work at IBM in NYC.  Built a Heath 80 meter monobander and HP-23 supply and then got drafted.

Basic training at Ft Gordon GA, and went to school as a 35L avionics equipment specialist.  Changed my call to WB4WCO since I lived in GA.  Took the new Advanced test and was able to get a 2X2 call, KJ4IN.  Taught at the school for another year and sent to Viet Nam and those crazy Army folks actually made me do the job for which I was trained.  What were they thinking?  I used a Collins 618-T to work hams in the South Pacific, which was highly illegal.

Came home, worked 22 years for IBM in RTP, NC and did a lot of hamming on 40 CW.  Got into RC airplanes, changed jobs to Unitrode Integrated Circuits that got bought by TI and 5 years ago decided to get my old call back as a vanity.  I was back to WA2ROC.  I wanted to get back with the guys I grew up with and bought that same Apache-Mohawk combo that my Elmer had.  None of the other guys took any interest in getting back together, so I set out collecting a few more vintage radios.  I have one of the KT-390 transmitters, a nice KWM2-A and a Hallicrafters SX-111.

75 meter AM, 20 meter SSB, and 40 AM on the Starflite. 

And now you know the rest of the story!
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Dick Pettit WA2ROC 
Vintage Heathkit Equipment
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« Reply #114 on: April 06, 2011, 01:57:20 PM »

I was born in 1919, and my Dad was building radios for family and friends beginning in 1922 when I was three. I was fascinated watching him build them, and at six I built my first one-tube radio using a UV-200 detector, with the inductor wound on a Mother's Oats box. At seven I wound another coil, smaller than the first, and began hearing 'thump', 'thump'. My Dad said those thumps were code signals transmitted by radio amateurs. So he showed me how to make the receiver regenerative so I could actually hear the tones of the code. Dad gave me a copy of the code, which I memorized. He then got me a buzzer so I could learn to send. I kept on with the code, listening to hams on cw for days on end until I could understand what they were saying. That sparked my desire to respond to them, so I studied for the exam, and was ready to take it when I was nine in 1928, the first year I became an ARRL member.

The problem was that the nearest FCC office was in Detroit, 150 miles away, and my Mother didn't feel able to drive that far. I wasn't then aware of the conditional license that could be obtained without needing to go to an FCC office, so my desire to become a ham had to be sidelined.

However, 1n 1933, when I was 14, an article in the paper said an FCC examiner would be at the Bay City Post Office, 40 miles away. My Mother drove me there, and as I was sitting in the back of the room wearing pants buckled at the knee, the FCC examiner came back to where I was sitting and told me I should wait outside the room while my Dad took the exam. When I told him it was I who was going to take the exam, and that my Dad wasn't even here, he gave me a pessimistic look and returned to his desk.

Of course the code test came first, after which the examiner checked them over, saying so and so passed, so and so failed, etc. After a few of these he said, "Who is Walter Maxwell?" I sheepishly raised my hand, for I didn't know what error I might have committed. He then displayed an incredulous look, and then said, "This is the only perfect code copy in the entire group." This of course, was because I had spent the previous seven years working on it.

I then took and passed the written portion, which at that time required writing essay answers to the questions and drawing diagrams of various rx and tx circuits, Hartley and Colpitts osc circuits, etc., which I passed. and received the call W8KHK, which son Rick now has.

My first rig was a '210 osc feeding an open-wire line to a 40m dipole. My receiver was a two-tube, 201A regen detector and a 201A audio amp. Had lot's of fun  working 40 cw. There's lots more to tell, but at some later time.

Walt, W2DU
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W2DU, ex W8KHK, W4GWZ, W8VJR, W2FCY, PJ7DU. Son Rick now W8KHK.
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« Reply #115 on: April 06, 2011, 03:10:12 PM »

Howdy All,

This has been very interesting reading, and my story will be recognized as bits and pieces of lots of others.

I was born in 1941, and during 1949, my dad brought a BC224 receiver with him during a move. We set it up in a garage with a dirt floor about 1952 and with headphones on, and a piece of wire strung around the rafters, I logged whatever I could hear and decipher.

My teenage years found me fixing radios and televisions, but with no one to tutor me, I didn't get my license until 1960 at the age of 19. This was during a period when the FCC was giving re-issues for General Class, and I received W5COA.

I built my first transmitter using a pair of 813's push-pull-link-coupled in the final modulated by a pair of 810's in class B. Heck, if I was going to build something, I might as well go all the way to begin with. Unfortunately, I gave this station away prior to a move later on.

With family and job, my operating over the years was spotty, but I maintained my call sign, upgrading to Extra in the early 1970's.

Several years ago, while staying at my farm and feeling lonesome, I realized that ham radio would provide some company on those long, dark winter nights. So, now, I am back on the air, and enjoying operating some radio gear that I could only drool over way back in the 1950's, including a Globe King 500B/C and a Hallicrafters SX101A.

So, look for me on 75 and 40, and hope meet up with you.

73,

Jim W5COA

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« Reply #116 on: April 06, 2011, 11:05:58 PM »

Original call, WN4AUX, summer of 1972(age 19) Athens, Alabama. Transmitter Ameco AC-1 (lost about 5 years later) and a Drake 2-A receiver. Was portable 4 at technical college with rig I built (6AG7 driving an 807) with the instructor's SP-600-JX6. Dipoles at both stations. Got my General and changed from WN to WA in 1973 until I got the vanity call in 1999. First exposure to ham radio was listening to a transistor SW receiver at my cousin's house Christmas 1968. Heard W4ZWE and several others on 7295(BTW, Boyd is back in north Alabama after 13 years in the Panhandle of TX).I heard Don K4KYV on my Aiwa SW radio in 1971.Great memories!!
                                                                Joe W4AAB
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« Reply #117 on: April 06, 2011, 11:13:07 PM »

   Ant. wire is transformer wire. 

When I was a kid just starting to play with  radio, I used to bug the guys at filling stations for the crapped out automobile  ignition coils they had thrown in the trash barrel.  To me, each one of those things was almost as good as a pot of gold. I had discovered that they contained a piece of enamelled wire, about 100 ft. long, that made up the primary.  I would take a hammer and bust open the hard rubber case, then remove the shielding and tar, and unwind the wire off the coil then discard the rest.  That wire was good for antennas and winding coils.  I didn't use the traditional Quaker's or Mother's Oats boxes, but the core from a toilet paper roll made a good coil form.
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Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

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This message was typed using the DVORAK keyboard layout.
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« Reply #118 on: April 07, 2011, 02:39:41 PM »

This is always an interesting topic to revive.   I first saw and talked on a ham station sometime around 1956.    I can't remember the name or call but I think he had a desktop KW and a Collins receiver.   The antenna was a cubical quad and I think it was for 15M only.    A friend was a neighbor and we went to check out ham radio.   I remember he was on SSB and he contacted a ham in Africa who was working on a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor.    Later in 1958 I went to Novice classes at the AG Radio store in Jenkintown PA, run by my mentor (they weren't called elmers then), John Llopes W3GJF.   A few months later I passed my General at age 13 at the Federal Customs house in Phildadelphia.    My call was KN3EZS, then K3EZS and the first rig was a 1930's Hallicrafters Sky Buddy (S-19?) and a Globe Chief.   Shortly after getting the General, the receiver was changed to a used NC-183, a screen modulator and Heath VF-1 VFO added to the Globe Chief.  Most phone activity for me was local on 10M AM, our High School and several hams among the students and teachers.  I remained active on CW until the 1970's when I got an SSB transceiver.
I still have the NC-183 and have recently added a plate modulated Globe Chief back to my AM station.
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« Reply #119 on: April 07, 2011, 03:33:15 PM »

Gosh, does that bring back memories!  My aunt Martha got me interested.  I would go from high school to her house to wait for a ride home after my dad got through work. She was quite the amateur radio socialite.  She had a Harvey Wells TBS 50D for a TX and a Hallicrafters SX-28 RX. As a novice, she used to do a lot of SWL'ing on the AM 75 meter band and used to correspond with her friends via mail.  I used to listen to her listening to her "friends" on 75 meters and was finally hooked.

So we both went to Boston and I got my novice in the spring of 1952 at the tender age of 15 and at the same time aunt Martha got tested for her general.  Later on that year I took my General at a hamfest and passed the test.  I started out with a Hallicrafters S38B RX and a homebrewed TX using wooden sticks and getting parts out of old radios - with the exception of the 150 mmfd variable cap that I actually bought for the tank circuit. ( http://www.pastimeprojects.com/transmitterkits.html )   The S38B really stunk as a RX so I bought a Hammarlund SP-100 - what a difference!  I continued with that combo until I bought the Eldico TR-1 and had that transmitter well into my ham experience. It later was rebuilt into my home brewed PP 813 transmitter.

Here are some shots of Station Activities from 1952 QST. I really miss that section in todays QST's. The first one was where my aunt Martha WN1UET is mentioned. She is again mentioned in the July QST and finally I'm mentioned in the December '52 QST as passing my General.

It's a great hobby. In my case, I got my current job of almost 50 years because I have my Ham ticket.

Al


* WN1UET FEB 52.jpg (485.89 KB, 1000x548 - viewed 865 times.)

* WN1UET JUL 52.jpg (443.68 KB, 1000x556 - viewed 858 times.)

* W1VTP DEC 52 QST.jpg (594.17 KB, 1000x675 - viewed 856 times.)
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« Reply #120 on: April 07, 2011, 05:46:41 PM »

KN9PNP in 1958 at age 13.  W9AVO (SK) gave me the Novice exam at his shack.  Remember he had a mint Super Pro.  Got into radio because my dad was a commo chief in a AAA batallion in WWII and had some of his old references.  Also listened to 'short wave' on an Philco 40-165 floor model receiver which belonged to my grandparents and which I still have.  Original rig DX-40 and S-85.  Been a long time.
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73,  Mitch

Since 1958. There still is nothing like tubes to keep your coffee warm in the shack.

Vulcan Theory of Troubleshooting:  Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
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« Reply #121 on: April 07, 2011, 08:57:44 PM »

Some pictures of my General shack in '67. GR64 on the right was novice RX with HB preselector and Q multiplier. Rig screen modulated 6146. GE Clock on VF1 sits next to my bed today. I got my novice call WN1GFZ in 'early '66. Got my first bad shock on that oil tank. Leaning on it and adjusting the volume control of an all american 5 outside the case with no knobs.
I used Morton Salt for my first coil form. I was into LSI at an early age.


* GFZ_General_ Class.jpg (700.53 KB, 1427x1446 - viewed 914 times.)
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« Reply #122 on: April 07, 2011, 09:43:13 PM »

Some pictures of my General shack in '67. GR64 on the right was novice RX with HB preselector and Q multiplier. Rig screen modulated 6146. GE Clock on VF1 sits next to my bed today. I got my novice call WN1GFZ in 'early '66. Got my first bad shock on that oil tank. Leaning on it and adjusting the volume control of an all american 5 outside the case with no knobs.
I used Morton Salt for my first coil form. I was into LSI at an early age.

Hey Frank!

Those are some great photos of your earliest days in the hobby. I sure wish I had some similar photographs of me operating my first station as WN2OGS in 1970, but alas, they were never taken. Surprising too, as my Dad was a pretty avid photographer (with his Rolleicord camera) and he chronicled nearly all of the our family's activities since day one. I suspect that although he was a strong advocate and proponent of my getting involved with amateur radio, to the point of loaning me the cash so I could buy my first rig (the used Apache and the Mohawk I acquired in late 1969), he was also more than mildly annoyed at times with my obsession with the hobby.

And the TVI complaints didn't exactly endear it to him either.

73,

Bruce
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Real transmitters are homebrewed with a ratchet wrench, and you have to stand up to tune them!

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« Reply #123 on: April 08, 2011, 06:19:21 AM »

I must have been 19 or 20, never changed my call. 1993.

 When I was still in grade school, my brother brought home an old Air Chief shortwave receiver that he got from his high school teacher along with a ton of old Electronic Illustrated magazines.They were going to end up in the dump. The radio had no cabinet, but it still worked! He didn't show much interest in it, but I did. My dad didn't like it because all the wiring lost its insulation, he said it was going to burn down the house, but I still used it. With no BFO sometimes I would hear an AMer or two, mostly SSB and CW, and reading the EI magazines I knew I needed a BFO.
 About the same time I talked mom into buying me a CB, I must have been around 12. Also had a 100mw walkie which was fun to talk around the farm on. I sent in one of those postcards for free catalogs to Heathkit, from Electronics Illustrated 1965 year , I bet the folks at Heath got a laugh over that one. But the catalogs came! I talked mom in to buying a CW kit on closeout from Heath, she finally cut the check, but they sent it back, they had sold out. Mom tore it up and I didn't get anything. I did get a CPO from Heath my freshman year and learned CW. It was the only Heathkit I got to build.
 My parents did let me join the Electronics Book Club, which I still have tons of those books today. I also bought lots of books from Lindsay Publications. I had the most fun  reading about those old radio projects. Thats when I found an old radio with a tube laying in a ditch in a field, must have been my grandpas old receiver. It was a triode and it worked in a crude regen I built in my bedroom. I used my sisters old wooden shoebox for a workbench, everything was just tacked together. I got it working on the BCB, and about jumped for joy when I removed some turns and heard 80 meter SSB clear as a bell.
 I made my first ever transmissions on a two transistor homebrew CW rig, but that was a bootleg session which I wont go into any more detail. Lets just say you get more proficient with CW rather quickly when you are in an actual QSO!
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« Reply #124 on: April 08, 2011, 07:25:43 AM »

Hi!

I was born in may -67, ever since that technical stuff has always been in focus. Got my licence in early -83, before that I had already been on the air for at least a year, from our clubstation. My first TX was a classic 6AG7 osc with a 807 as PA. With 560 V on the plate it wasn't too bad.  Smiley   RX was a BC-312-D, antenna was a dipole for 40 meters. Operated 80 and 40 cw. Then, after some time, another 807 was added to boost the output.

Later I bought an ICOM IC-740 and a used 3 element Yagi for 20-15-10, worked mostly 15 m CW and some 10 SSB, later also 40 m and 160 m CW.

For a period of time a had a CW transmitter for 20 m, three tubes, 6AG7 OSC + buffer + 813 PA, worked nice until the plate transformer started to smell bad....

Currently I operate a UK/RT-320 (use google) it's a Brittish shortwave manpack transciver 2-30 MHz, AM, USB and CW, output is 3 or 30 W PEP into crappy wire antennas and a lot of local noise.

Looking for a house to buy, then I will start "The PA Project" using one QBL5/3500, hopefully 5 kV on the plate and drawing at least 1 Amp...   Grin  We will see, have to find a nice transformer, the one I had is gone.
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RADIO: 51J-4, R-390A, SP-600 JX-21, BRT-400, Set No 19, T-47/ART-13, RF-590, SRT CR91, BC-312D, BC-348Q, HF-8020/8030/8010A/8090,  and much more...

ENGINE: Zvezda M50 F6L (V12), Rolls-Royce Meteor mk4B/2 (V12), Rolls-Royce B80 (inline 8 ) and much more
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