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Thursday, April 17, 2014

In The Beginning

I've been a  ham, now, for over 46 years. Hams sort of relate to their calls, their shacks and their radios. I'm no different. 

In the beginning...

I was 15 and a sophomore in high school when I passed my Novice test. The FCC  issued me the call WN6ULH. No one else in the world had that call. It was mine and mine alone. Anyone world wide hearing "WN6ULH" would know it was me at the radio, quite a trip for a 15 year old.

 We lived in Santa Rosa, California and had recently moved across town to a new home. My grandfather, a retired building contractor, remodeled the kitchen for us. He then partitioned off part of the garage for me to use as a shack. He even included the old kitchen counter recovered with plyboard. I had my own work bench and even a built in 3' x 4' table for my station. 

Vance, W6ZZL, helped me find the radios I would use for that first station. In 1967 most ham gear, especially those a 15 year old could afford, had tubes rather than transistors and many were WWII military surplus. Mine were no different. My first receiver, a BC-342, had a "function before beauty"  blockish sort of look that fit the battle field it was designed for but it worked fine for me in that northern California ham shack. The Eico 720 transmitter Vance and I found had great 1960 style with its black low slung cabinet, copper trim and satin finished  front panel.  Used together those two allowed me to work hams all over the US at a time when long distance telephone calls were always expensive.

Some 15 year old boys might have dreamt of getting their first car. I already had my radios. I guess I was, without knowing it, firmly establishing myself as a nerd.

1 comment:

Bob Mayo said...

Hi Niel,
I always enjoy your blog. I got my first call (WN2VUB) in 1966. An Eico 720 was my transmitter. I was QRT for over 40 years and got back in almost 2 years ago. Fortunately, heard about the KX3 before I bought any equipment (I had sold off everything years ago). I can't say the things are as magical as they were in the sixties, but CW fun with the KX3 has brought me back to those times.
Bob - W2TAC
Grafton, New York