Amateur Radio has been an important part of my life for over 50 years. I first learned of this great hobby by reading SOS Radio Patrol while in grade school. Later I was building and flying model airplanes when I consulted my neighbor, a ham, about radio control. He basically said that I should study to be a ham first. Then it clicked. He demonstrated his home brew,10M, AM mobile transmitter and converter on the car radio. He then took me inside and introduced me to morse code. To make sure I stuck with it he gave me an old 78 code practice record and a license manual. Rusty was an engineer with RCA and on assignment to our local Air Force base. In March 1958 he administered the Novice class exam.
In May of 1958 my Novice ticket arrived with the call sign KN7EAM. I fired up my 6L6, 3 watt rig built on a cigar box. Great fun for a 9th grader. The FCC traveled to Spokane from Seattle to administerd exams twice a year. Our high school math and physics teacher, H.Tex Clark K7ASO, was also the radio club advisor. In October of 1958 he rounded up several of us novice hams attending the brand new Shadle Park High School including Alan Kaul W6RCL, Bob Stone K7ELG, Mike Vaughn K7BTR, Craig Jungers K7EXJ and (I believe) Rick Smith K7GDN (now KT7G) and hauled us to the Federal Court House to take the General Class exam. We had been studying and I believe all passed. I barely made it through the 13 WPM code test. I looked at my scribbled page and tried to make heads or tales of it. Something about an airplane. What a mess. The examiner leaned over my shoulder, scratched a few lines and gave me a passing grade. Whew!
Ten years later a few of us challenged each other to get our Amateur Extra Class ticket although there was no real incentive for upgrading. For sure I had to get my code speed up to pass the 20 WPM test. Listening to ARRL code practice became a daily ritual. I also recorded several sessions so I could practice when time allowed. Five of us joined many others at the local Community College to take the Advanced and Extra exams in front of the FCC. I used a bug and then a keyer on the air so I packed along my Eico electronic (tubes) keyer which still works great. The FCC welcomed it and others used it as well. I passed the exam. My Extra class ticket was dated May 24,1968. In 1977 the FCC allowed Extra class licensees to chose a 1X2 call sign. I requested W7GS and others but in their great wisdom the FCC gave me K7GS which I didn't ask for since it had previously been issued to a Girl Scout jamboree. I got used to it.
Now that I am retired I am on the air almost daily chasing DX. CW and RTTY contesting are a lot of fun but I find that I don't like to sit in the chair for hours on end. Four to 8 hours made up of 1 to 2 hour stints is long enough for me. For seveal years I ran QRP in the CW contests. I was always amazed by the number of dx qso's made with my 5 watts. I live on a postage stamp for a lot but am lucky enough to have a 3 element SteppIR and an inverted "L" with a homebrew remote tuner. These antennas allowed me to be listed on the Honor Roll and achieve 8BDXCC.
73 and DX,
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