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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 88677 times)
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Carl WA1KPD
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« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2005, 02:24:44 PM »

In 1963 our family moved to a new house in south central CT where the only TV stations one could get were 3 CBS and 8 ABC. So I grew up deprived of any NBC shows.

Anyway we had a TVI issue with a ham next door and being a precocious 10 year old I went to check it out. It was Bill Wolf W1ERM (SK by now I am pretty sure). I was ushered into the shack. As I recall he had all Heath gear of the Apache vintage. Green with chrome knobs. There were strange voices, all sorts of knobs to turn and meters bouncing around. I was in love.. (With the radios, not Bill)

Poor guy.  I invited myself over almost any night I saw the light on in the shack, but he was very patient about it. Ron, K1VYU lived about a mile away and became my mentor until he took off for Uncle Sam. I continued to be interested and pulled apart radios, listened on my Lafayette KT-320 that Santa brought me in 1965 but I was never focused enough to learn the code.

Ron and I still live about 5 miles from each other and he got me into boatanchors. However I have eavened the score by intorducing him about 9 years ago to Hosstraders. We set together each Spring and Fall hitting the Portsmouth Brewpub for dinner Sat night.


Stayed home from school one day in the fall of 1967 with a mild cold and memorized the code. Within about three weeks  I had my speed up to 8 wpm and my electronics teacher at school gave me the test. I then waited for the license. In the meantime I put up 80 and 40 meter dipoles and purchased a used Johnson Adventurer and a crystal or two. For Christmas I got two more crystals.

I would check the mail every day for a large official 8” x 11” official looking envelope as clearly anything as important as an AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE had to have an official certificate, most likely signed by the President himself. I was so focused on that that envelope I missed the dinky little white envelope that came from the FCC. What a bummer when I saw it. However I fast overcame it and called CQ. I got a response from WA5TOR/1 (Don Hutchkins (SP?)) in Fort Devens, MA. who was in his teens. As I recall we had an uneventful QSO. About a week later, I got a big envelope in the mail from him with a long two page typed letter. It welcomed me to ham radio, gave me some constructive feedback, and included a copy of the ARRL “Operating an Amateur Radio Station.” I always thought that was a real class act from a first contact. I often wonder if he is still licensed.

In October of 68 I took the train to Boston with WA1LCP (KB5PFG) and WA1JJF to take our higher class licenses. It was a warm day and just outside of the old Custom House Building they were driving piles as we sweated through the code and tried to concentrate on the theory. On a whim I took the Advanced class also and probably got one of the last tube theory based ones. It sounded like everyone else had a transistor based one. At any rate we were just studying tube theory in electronics class that year so I lucked out and past the Advanced.

Been active on and off over the years and into restoration and boat anchors since around 97.
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Carl

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« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2005, 02:31:47 PM »

My interest was kindled listening to AM BC band DX in the late 60s and early 70's as a young pup. Sometime in the early 70's my parents bought me a cheap portable SW radio for Xmas and that's where I first discovered SW AM broadcast and later on 75-meter AM phone.

I spent much time SWL-ing 75-meter AM in the early to mid-70's while studying for my license. I joined my local high school ham club in Hackensack, NJ and the advisor proctored my Novice exam in those pre-VEC days. I passed and was was issued Novice callsign WN2AJM in 1975 at age 15 back when the license was a two year non-renewable ticket with a 75 watt dc input limit, but with VFO control by then allowed. My first station was a Heath DX-60B/HG-10B and Hammarlund HQ-110 receiver. I operated a lot of CW that year while continuing to SWL 75-meter AM phone including the likes of WA1HLR, WA1QIX, WA1SOV, WA1EKV, WA1OAT, Bob K1AJL (SK), Russ WA2RII and his Johnson Desk killowatt in Bernardsville, NJ, W2WME (SK), Byron W2JTP (SK), W2VJZ, WA3PUN, Jeff WA3UAN (SK), Larry W3CIC (SK), WB4AIO, K4KYV, W8VYZ and many others long gone. AM phone back then was quite maverick, and seemed to be confined to two major pockets of operation in New England, and in NY/NJ/PA, mostly on 75, but with a little activity on 160 and slightly more on 40 and 10 meters. I never heard anything AM wise on 20 or 15 in those days. There were a relatively few people scattered elsewhere, principally K4KYV and W8VYZ, but I can't remember ever hearing of AM activity from west of the Mississippi back then.

In 1976 I upgraded to General by sitting for the exam at the FCC field office at Varick Street in NYC. My callsign was changed by the FCC to my present WA2AJM. I had been collecting AM equipment for some time and I got on-air with a bastardized BC-610H which I converted to 1 KW using a pair of 833A's modulated by another pair, and SP-600. I operated on a somewhat limited basis after the FCC changed the 75-meter phone privileges for Generals down to 3850 sometime around 1980. My parents small suburban lot didn't allow for many antenna possibilities, but I used to chat on 75 with people like Joe W2WAS (SK), Mike WA2VNI, and several other NYC area hams. I always enjoyed the restoration and rebuilding aspect of radio more so than the operating, but I also spent more than half my time on 20 and 15 meter CW and logging commercial CW traffic on the maritime bands and other SWL activities.

My activities waned when I left college in 1983. I was then focused on getting my commercial licenses. I started working in broadcast engineering and hauled around my ham gear from city to city as I changed jobs every few years, but had sold off everything by the late-80s as my interests changed. Some rigs I used to own: BC-610H, Globe King 400, Globe King 500, Valiant, Ranger, Desk Kilowatt (still kicking myself for selling it in 1987), SP-600JX17, a beautiful Collins R-390A, HQ-170A, HQ-110C, & others

I used to occassionally SWL AM phone on 160 and 75 meters during the late 80s, but I lost touch with this hobby around 1990. The bug bit again last year, and I've been collecting equipment again. Bought back almost everything I used to own at 3x the price! I never upgraded past General, but lately I've gotten the urge to upgrade to Extra which I will do sometime next year.

My current lineup of equipment that I am restoring:

BC-610F (working, but still restoring the BC-614 sppech amp)
813 modulated by (2) 211's (old home brew rig from Los Alamos Natl Labs, has DeForest Radio meters...nice looking rig, probably late-40s, but needs some work)

Johnson Valiant bought from K4QS with ER audio mods (working)
SP-600JX11 (working, plan to recap it next summer)
SX-100 (currently non-functional with some shorted caps)
HQ-180AC (working)
HQ-170A (working)
HQ-110 (pristine and looks brand new)

I also own a pair of Kenwood R-5000 receivers and an Icom 728 ricebox.


73, Jim
WA2AJM
Germantown, MD
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wa2zdy
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« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2005, 02:57:43 PM »

AJM, you must have gotten your ticket right after I got mine.  And yep, I remember Varick St all too well.  Got my General there, my Extra and the T2.  Miss Thomas was a very nice lady who ended up helping me when Gettysburg lost my Extra paperwork.  I passed that Extra in Nov 77 but my license didn't get issued until May 78.  Long story for another time . . .

Phil, I'm glad you mentioned TBS.  I haven't thought of Jim in many years.  Tender Beef Steaks - he was a butcher as I recall.  How appropriate for a call for him.  Jim was the guy who introduced me to 2m FM. 

He was visiting Mike Adelman one morning when I stopped over.  I had heard of 2m because Mike had a Gooney box but I'd never heard of repeaters.  Jim had a one channel Motorola in his trunk and it was on Greenbrook.  As he told me about the repeaters, he explained how it transmitted and received on different frequencies (obvious now  but not to a 13 yr old Novice!)  I went home that day wondering "how the repeater knew where to listen."   (Remember, I was rockbound on 40cw, I called CQ then tuned the band.  That was all I knew about differnet frequencies!)

Fun times had by all.  TBS was a good guy.
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« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2005, 03:26:10 PM »


I would check the mail every day for a large official 8” x 11” official looking envelope as clearly anything as important as an AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE had to have an official certificate, most likely signed buy the President himself. I was so focused on that that I messed the dinky little white envelope that came from the FCC. What a bummer when I saw it.



One of the few things I still have from those magical days. Remember the name: C.B. Plummer??
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---Dave  W3NP
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« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2005, 03:40:11 PM »

AJM, you must have gotten your ticket right after I got mine.  And yep, I remember Varick St all too well.  Got my General there, my Extra and the T2.  Miss Thomas was a very nice lady who ended up helping me when Gettysburg lost my Extra paperwork. 

Chris ZDY, I sat for exams at Varick Street for my General, my 3rd phone, later my PG and my T2 and the radar endorsement. Was Miss Johnson the young black lady who used to shuffle the paperwork and administer the exams?  I remember her very well too because she could send morse and once warmed us up before running the code exam for my T2.

73, Jim
WA2AJM



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Ed Nesselroad
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« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2005, 03:43:37 PM »

1958, I think, as KN0VDD.  I was 10 at the time.  Most of our 5th grade class got tickets with the help of civilian and Air Force elmers. We had a MARS surplus station in 5th grade and a Globe Scout/SX-101 in 6th grade.  

My first personal station was a DX-35 and HQ-110.  A knife switch served to direct the 40-metro bazooka in the attic to either XMIT or RCV.  I still have the transmitter, but the receiver got traded for something else along the way.  

As often happens, other things came along and ham radio went by the wayside.  I did radio stuff in the Army -- back when we still used Morse.  Later, a ham friend with cancer asked if I'd get re-licensed to talk to him in his hospital room.  So, in 1980 I became KA0DBA and communicated nightly via repeater between Fort Collins and Denver.  My current call, N0AUB, came along when I upgraded and forgot to check the box that kept the old call.

Anyway, I got into the hobby before most folks made the transition to SSB, and have remained an AMer at heart.  Valiant/R-390 and 32V-1/R-388 are the current stations.  

Some of my greatest ham radio adventures were with a group of guys in the Denver area known as the Dummy Load Society.  Boatanchors, fests, AM, and mayhem were the rule.  I moved to Montana in 2000 and have looked for the kind of radio kinship I knew in Colorado. I'm envious of the closeness many of you still seem to share on the East Coast.

An old buzzard who still likes to keep it concise...
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wa2zdy
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« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2005, 03:59:53 PM »

Yes Jim, that was Miss Thomas.  A very nice lady.  I had first gone for my General expecting to see Mr Finklestein (Finkleman?) from the horror stories my brother had from ten years eariler. 

Someone emailed me in the past few years that he had run into her a few years later, after the VEC system was in place, and that Miss Thomas was as nice as we remembered her and that she was working for the State Dept in NYC.

Yes indeed, fond memories.
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« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2005, 04:30:34 PM »

I got my "C.B. Plummer" license in 1958, age 13 and the call was KN3EZS, the same year my parents bought the green Impala ragtop shown in my avatar.  This was in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  My elmer was John Llopes, W3GJF at the A.G. Radio store in the Jenkinstown area.  They had novice classes weekly.  John cleaned out his basement and gave all the parts to me.  I still have some of it.   At the same age I went to the Philadelphia customs house, with two other novice friends to try out the General exam.  We never expected to pass, but I was the only one of us who actually passed, much to my surprise I became K3EZS.  11 meters was still a ham band at the time.   10M AM was the local band, with many hams running homebrew 5 to 10W mobiles powered from the car radios vibrator power supplies and simple receiving converters powered the same way.  Because of the hams success with mobile 10M AM, I believe that is why 11 meters became CB.  I built and installed my 10M mobile when I was 14 into my dad's 1955 Ponitiac.  It became the car I used when I started driving.  The mobile transmitter circuit was described to me over the air on 10M AM and I drew the schematic on the back page of the log book.  I have no idea where the circuit came from.

My first rig was a Globe Chiief 90 and a Hallicrafters Sky Buddy.  After getting the General I added the WRL screen modulator and Heath VF-1 VFO.  Later traded the Sky Buddy for an NC-183.  I still have the NC-183, but gave away all the AM transmitters I have had over the years.  I I wIsh I still had them.  I changed the call a few years ago when the license requirements were made much easier and the the orginal K calls lost their uniquness.
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K1MVP
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« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2005, 07:36:36 PM »



Hope this "pix" comes out ok,--this is urs truly as a much younger cw op
back about 1963, with a DX-35, VF-1 vfo, and a halliscrathcers S-40B
working some "rare dx".
                               73`s, and Merry Christmas to all
 
P.S, the first contact I ever made, as I recall was KN1LEW in Massachusetts
       on 40 cw with my homebrew 6V6 xtal controlled and my "fist"
       was shaking like a leaf when he came back to my CQ.
       that was 46 years ago today,12/19/59,--time DOES fly by.   
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« Reply #34 on: December 20, 2005, 12:28:20 AM »

     at age 12 in 1968 i started to operate 80CW under dad's supervision with a DX60 and HR10B. his call was W2GOW. when he was not looking i would switch on the "HIFI" BC348, plug in an Argonne AR-54 mic, go up to 3870 or 3885 AM and work WA1HLR, W3DUQ and WB2YPE. Timtron was not impressed with my audio, Bill was cool and Bacon made fun of me (ok- i deserved it!) after two years some local hams eventually heard this and tipped off my father. it was hard to tell though, because i had my 3rd BA voice at 13. this resulted in my being issued WN2OMH in June 1970. i upgraded to general and WA2OMH in 1971. then one night in 1986 somebody informed me i was not listed in the callbook. a quick check of my license showed it was expired, YIKES! a hasty renewall was mailed and i landed KD2XA for better or worse. 
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Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2005, 12:08:08 PM »

My bio is available here.

http://www.qrz.com/callsign/WB3HUZ
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w1guh
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« Reply #36 on: December 20, 2005, 12:13:49 PM »

"He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology "

What course? (number)
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« Reply #37 on: December 20, 2005, 12:31:21 PM »

.--  -. .---- --.  ..-  ....  -.. .  .--  -. .---- --. ..-. --..  Bet we worked back in '66 
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wb1aij
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« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2005, 12:59:06 PM »

  My Ham career started out as a bootleg operation. I learned Morse Code by looking at the characters on paper and sounding them on a buzzer. Then I started listening to the 40 meter band and copying QSOs. I did not know any Hams or of any clubs and did not how to go about getting a license. I built a 15 watt xmitter  (CW only) with a sweep tube on an inverted bread pan and put up an invisible dipole at my parents house, made up a set of novice call letters and was on the air. I stayed with CW thinking it would be harder to be detected. My first QSO was on 40 meters to New Haven from Plainville , Ct. and that was a thrill. My next contact was Corbin Kentuckey and I was in Heaven.My original call was WN2ACW until someone questioned why I had a "2" call and lived in Connecticut. I did not know the answer to this so I did a little digging and found I needed a "1" call. So I switched to WN1ACW. I didn't know about call books so I was surprised when someone told me my call belonged to someone in New Hampshire or Maine. This all happened in the middle sixties. After school and Marine Corp service and a few years chasing skirts I looked back to radio getting my general license in 1976. I will never forget my bootleg days; they were the most exciting, going down to the cold cellar in my parents house late at night and sending my mysterious invisible signals out into the cold, dark night over great distances undetected and making a long distance contact. Those were the best days & I wish I could recapture that feeling of excitement today.

Bob
WB1AIJ
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wa2zdy
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« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2005, 02:49:32 PM »

My bio is available here.

http://www.qrz.com/callsign/WB3HUZ

Oh my goodness, I just about choked . . .
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Carl WA1KPD
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« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2005, 06:56:06 PM »

My bio is available here.

http://www.qrz.com/callsign/WB3HUZ


Ahh I think he is a slacker!
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Carl

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« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2005, 08:20:14 AM »

Neat thread, Chris!
Great to read all the various stories!
Yes, the thrill of old time radio, the aroma of the woodstove, the smell of cooking, op temp genuine 'murrican condensers, the glow of the #47's.........

I was 13 crossing the Atlantic on an English ship when I wandered up to the radio shack, and the R.O. took kindly to this kid, instead of  chasing me out - the sound of CW blasting out of the shack onto the deck, 1500 miles from any land, was mind blowing! He let me in, sat me down at a spare (Marconi!) receiver and let me tune around - first time I heard hams, from both side of the pond!

That fall my uncle gave me his old Crosley All-Wave receiver (no cabinet), I set it up with a hunk o'wire and started copying hams on 75 and 40 - so I "borrowed" a small  spark gap from my JHS physics lab, hooked it up with an old key, and started teaching myself the code. Man, that spark sounded super in the old Crosley, covered the whole HF spectrum!!! This was in an NYC apartment building, and sho'nuff, it was taking out all the radios and TV's, so I got found out pretty soon! One guy in particular steered me onto getting my ticket, so after a couple of months of sparking it, I put together a xtal controlled 6V6, got an NC57, threw a wire out of the 15th floor window, and started bootin' on 40! It was FUN!

I went for my novice at 14 and it's been downhill ever since!   Cheesy

74
Al UX
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Al "Al" (Al)  W1UX..... over, OVER!!! anyone OUT THERE? hi hi ha ha hee hee ho ho haw haw DAMMIT! Where'd that FLY come from?!?!?
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« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2005, 12:44:13 PM »

Ah the fear of the man that first boot transmission shaking like your first hot date.

"just like running a red light"  J.G.
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"Let's go kayaking, Tommy!" - Yaz


« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2005, 01:08:37 PM »

Various Ham Events - some important and some not so.... Grin


Sept 1962: Saw a Tribander on a house roof and thought I will have one someday, whatever it was for.

Nov 1963: Built HB one tube SW receiver with 67 1/2 V battery. It never worked.

Nov 1964: Put $1 deposit on Globe Scout at local ham store.  Brought in $3 per week from paper route.

Dec 1964: Received novice WN1DGK, age 12.

Dec 1964: Called CQ 3716 kc on Gotham Vertical for 3 days - no answers.

Mar 1965:  Failed Conditional test - remember that license ?

June 1965: Passed General in Boston with Ed Hare, W1RFI. Now WA1DGK.

June 1965: Bought Apache with SB-10. Got beat up on ssb. Met the JN AMers on 3885.

July 1965: Chuck, WA1EKV [with his father] shows up at my house for a friendly visit.

May, 1966: Bought 170' of telescoping mast at ham store. Tried to put up -  collapsed.

June 1972: License expired - Passed  Novice > Extra in one sitting -  issued WA1SEJ.

Aug 1972:  Got back WA1DGK

June 1978:  Issued K1JJ in first gate - 13th choice.

Dec 2005: Put up Gotham vertical and called CQ for 3 days - no answers.

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There's nothing like an old dog.
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« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2005, 01:41:55 PM »


Dec 2005: Put up Gotham vertical and called CQ for 3 days - no answers.

I wonder how many young JN's spent their hard earned paper route money or talked their father's into buying them a Gotham vertical after reading those inpressive (to a JN) ad's in the ham mags?
....and then were sorely disappointed when the thing didn't work for crap with the 4' foot ground rod ground. If I recall, the ad didn't go into much detail about a ground system.

My friend back then (and still is), Gary K3OMI bought a Gotham V80 vertical and mounted it in the inside corner of his parents house when the flue joined the house....all brick by the way. The antenna was about 4 inches from the brick. Then he attached the feedline to the little base loading coil with the little clip and the shield to a 4' ground rod and fired up his DX-20 for some real DX!!!  Grin

You can imagine how impressed he was with the perfomance of his new multiband wonder antenna, surrounded by brick on 2 sides and no ground!!

On the other hand, my elmer sold me a WW2 tank antenna base insulator and enough screw together antenna sections to make a FB ground plane for 20 meters with 4 guy/radials up on my father's roof at about 30'. Did great on 20 CW with my DX-40 and even worked a CN8 in Morroco on fone with it.
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« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2005, 02:04:25 PM »

My friend back then (and still is), Gary K3OMI bought a Gotham V80 vertical and mounted it in the inside corner of his parents house when the flue joined the house....all brick by the way. The antenna was about 4 inches from the brick. Then he attached the feedline to the little base loading coil with the little clip and the shield to a 4' ground rod and fired up his DX-20 for some real DX!!!  Grin
You can imagine how impressed he was with the perfomance of his new multiband wonder antenna, surrounded by brick on 2 sides and no ground!!

 Grin Grin Grin

You've basically described my first antenna, Dave.

I could only afford 3' of RG/8 coax [didn't know about 58/u]  so the vertical stood 6" away from the house. The coax went thru my bedroom window to the back of the DX-20. It sat on a galvanized pipe, no radials. No swr bridge to adj the match. Could have been 10:1 for all I knew.  If that wasn't enuff, I had attached a bare wire to the very top of the 18' whip and ran it to the ice covered roof as support in case of a hurricane. Direct short to ground at a high impedance point.

After calling CQ for three days, I stopped putting them in my log, as it was filling up. A local General class listened for me while on the telephone and couldn't even hear me the next town over... gawd.

I took it back to the ham store and the guy who sold it axed me what I was doing with that piece of crap. [He forgot the sale]   He showed me how to make a coax pigtail and dipole. I climbed up the trees the next day in a snow storm and was working WN8's, WN9's that same winter night on 80M CW. I was blown away. The OM kept telling me to go to bed. He finally came in and pulled the plug outa the wall. I got scared thinking the FCC would cite me for not signing off correctly.

I then calculated I'd need about 200+ crystals to cover the whole 80/40M/15M novice bands. Figgered that was a bad idea. So I convinced the ham store to sell me a Ranger. My Novice buddies couldn't figure out where I suddenly got all the new crystals.

Magic days, indeed.  Always think of those days when the wx gets cold.

T
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Use an "AM Courtesy Filter" to limit transmit audio bandwidth  +-4.5 KHz, +-6.0 KHz or +-8.0 KHz when needed.  Easily done in DSP.

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There's nothing like an old dog.
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« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2005, 03:44:25 PM »

My first antenna was the Hy Gain 18V vertical ground mounted. No radials at first, coil taped for 40 meters.
Griefkit SWR bridge said 2:1. Worked OK but not much outside Ohio. Then my mentor from a few doors down (WA8MXU: sk) came over one day and tutored me on the art of radials.
The thing actually started working FB but the S38C couldn't handle the mass of stations answering my CQ.
After more tutoring I added a Q multiplier to the old Hellasmashers and its been uphill ever since.

Course there's the time one of the neighborhood kids grabbed hold of the vertical while I was transmitting !!!!!  Grin Grin Shocked Shocked
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Ian VK3KRI
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« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2005, 05:40:14 PM »


As a lad I remember tuning backwards and forwards across the SW bands with the Hitachi portable my dad bought back from Japan. Once I workd out that hams were only on certain bit of the dial, and they were using this SSB stuff I  built an external bfo and I could actually here them talking!

Eventually in '78 I realised that I had read the '77 ARRL HB from front to back enough times that I might actually pass the theory test. So after waiting for the twice yearly examinations to roll arround , in 1979 at the age of 17 I sat and passed the written exam  (none of that multiple choice stuff back then) and after some weeks wait for the result got my 'Z' call - VK3YRR. 
'Z' calls had a suffix starting with Z, until they ran out and started allocating 'Y' and 'X'. Z calls or 'Limited licencees' had same priveleges as full calls , but only above 50 Mhz due to no CW.

I only had that call for 3 or 4 years before I upgraded , but I have considered trying to get it back as I always think of it as my 'real' call, probably because it was what I had in my formulative years of Radio. I was almost a celebrity back then, the only kid in school with a ham licence ... 

                                                        Ian VK3KRI
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Tom WA3KLR
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« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2005, 05:58:16 PM »

First licensed as WN3KLR, June 1968 - 16 years old.
 
Upgraded to General one year later.

Upgraded to Advanced one year after that.

Bought a Newtronics 4BTV 40 - 10 meter vertical in 1972 from Stan Burghardt while stationed in North Dakota.  Still in use today on 20, 15 and 10 meters.
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« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2005, 06:53:09 PM »

That reminds me.... who was that guy... "Joe the boot" or was it "john the boot" ? or something like that?

Anyone know what I'm talking about??  Huh



My Ham career started out as a bootleg operation.Bob
WB1AIJ
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