(Left to right: K7JYE (seated) in 1961; homebrew QRP transmitter/receiver; boat anchor station)
Starting Out in 1959
I had just become a teenager in Oakridge, Oregon, when a neighbor gave me an old receiver that had broadcast and shortwave bands. I would listen to foreign broadcasts for hours every night. My dad noticed this interest in radio and inroduced me to a local ham who let me visit his station. I was hooked! He could actually talk to hams in foreign countries. Within a year I had my first radio license as KN7JYE in 1959.
The first rig was a Knight Kit Ocean Hopper receiver, which was built from a kit and worked the very first time! The transmitter was a military ARC-5 given to me by W7AZK. I didn't realize it at the time, but the nice blue "glow" of the 1625 tubes meant most of the power was actually being reflected back into the transmitter. This was the result of using bad 75 ohm coax that the local TV cable company had thrown away. Still, I managed to work DX with what was probably 10 watts output into a dipole at 15'.
(Left, Oakridge in 1968; Right, operating W6BA in 1995)
The Current Operation
The current station is a "minimalist" approach, with a Yaesu FT-950 at 100 watts. The antenna "farm" consists of a lonely HF6V vertical facing stucco to the east and a 12' berm to the west. Logging is done with Win-test. The key paddle is a bronze piece, a beautiful design by K8RA. Mostly operate CW on the low bands.
Previous stations have included: Drake TR-3, Drake C Line, Collins S Line, Icom 735, TS930sat, TS-850sat, various homebrew transmitters and receivers, and several ampllifiers. The current radio, FT-950, is the best radio I've ever used.
(Left: Restored Grunow Tele-Dial; Right: First Place in JIDX (Japan) DX Contest, 1997)
I operate QRP during Field Day using a Heathkit HW-8. There's also a "boat anchor" station comprised of an Eico 720 transmitter and Knight Kit R-100 receiver. A sideline is restoring old wood-case radios, the favorite being a trio of Grunow Tele-dials that are beautiful to look at, and fun to listen to.
The biggest thrills (in radio at least) have been building big antennas and operating in DX contests at the Multi-Multi station of W6BA (sk) several years ago, and the recent achievement of getting on the DXCC Honor Roll with 340 total countries.
(Left to right: K6CU QSL card; Collins S Line; Ocean Hopper receiver)
Mentors and Friends
It's been my pleasure to meet and become friends with many interesting people through amateur radio. Sadly, many of them are now silent keys (sk).
W7FXZ - Charlie (sk) was an early "Elmer" and helped many get their ham radio ticket, including my brother Bob, K7MDS (no longer licensed).
W7AZK - Don (sk) gave me my first transmitter, an ARC-5, and was my very first QSO. He had a big transmitter that was 6 feet tall, had all kinds of knobs and meters, and rolled around on wheels.
W7ULC - Jerry (sk) helped me get my general license. He had a Valiant and SX-101, a big deal in those days. I spent many hours at his station, learning how to work dx. He was one of the best DX'ers around and showed this novice why CW could be more fun than phone.
W6BA - Bill (sk), a ham from the early days, was active from his big station on 40 acres in 29 Palms. He would sit in his easy chair and tell me the callsigns of DX that I couldn't quite make out. It was easy to run European pile-ups on 40 meters using a 3-element yagi at 120'.
N6AW - Jan, as the leader of W6BA's multi-multi contest station, took me under his wing. We spent many weekends out in the desert building 100' towers and installing big antennas. I learned a lot from this great contest operator, as did many other hams who were part of the operating team.
My favorite gal, Robbin
On a personal note, my wife and I have 5 children (2 hers, 2 mine and 1 "ours"). We've both enjoyed successful careers in the newspaper advertising business (in northern and southern California) in sales and management positions. I'm currently an independent advertising representative for several national magazines.
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