I've been interested in electronics since I vaporized my dad's electric razor cord with a paper clip at 5 years old. Flash-poof! Wow!
When I was in first grade, my dad and I built a Radio Shack "Two-Transistor Radio" P-Box kit. Well, really, he and my uncle built it, and I watched. I can't remember for sure if it actually worked.
Later, my parents bought me a Radio Shack "Science Fair" 100-in-1 kit. I bet I was 10 or 11. This was the coolest thing ever. You could wire up all kinds of interesting circuits with it, literally, 100 different ones. Or make your own. I wish I still had that thing.
I also built some other kits and projects, including the "Progressive Edu-Kit", which was certainly dated in the early 70s when I convinced my Dad that I had to borrow against future allowance to buy the thing. When I say dated, I mean 1950s technology: selenium rectifiers and those hollow things full of vacuum. But I did build every project, they all worked, it did not electrocute me, and I worked off the loan from my dad.
Dad and I also built a Heathkit GD-600 photoelectic lamp control. At the time, I thought this was a very, very complicated project, but looking at the schematic, there were less than 15 electronic parts to this kit. We soldered it together with a 100 watt Craftsman soldering gun.
I played with a lot of audio stuff in the 70s, made my own stereo amplifier from Radio Shack data sheets and parts, made a LED bargraph display from then-state-of-the-art LM3915 ICs, and other varied audio electronic projects.
I also was lucky enough to be given a huge box of Fairchild TTL ICs and datasheets in about 1975 (when I was 13) and I made some interesting projects with those, including a 10-LED chaser.
I got into CB radio in the middle 70s, all my 8th grade buddies all had radios at home (since none of us were old enough to drive). I had a Royce 23 channel rig, which I actually made contacts from bicycle mobile. My dad helped me (really, he did it) erect a large aluminum ground-plane antenna, so I could work all my friends on CB.
The early 80s found me doing some broadcasting stuff, on-air, production, and engineering at the University of Lowell radio station WJUL. That was a lot of fun. Too much fun, really, as I seriously neglected my schoolwork.
I got the DX bug in the early 80s, 40 channel SSB style. I worked Gander, Newfoundland from my parents' place, and lots of mobile DX with a Cobra 146 GT SSB rig. Good fun.
In 1990, I met up with my ham radio "Elmer", Paul Andrews, WB1EWS, who worked up the row of cubes from me at Digital Equipment Corporation in Nashua NH. Paul convinced me to go for a lunchtime ride with him over to Ham Radio Outlet in Salem, NH. He had a Icom 901 in his truck, 6/2/1.25M and 70 cm and he demonstrated that radio,using repeaters built by him, W1OJ, and KA1OKQ. I had no idea about VHF mobile operation and repeaters, I had only seen one amateur radio station once before, and never had a demo. "Lookit! I'm transmitting on 6 Meters through Concord, NH, and coming out on 440 from Mount Wachusett in Massachusetts." This was fascinating, I got hooked.
Paul and I became friends, and he convinced me to study for the Technician, which I took in 1991. He helped me set up the antenna for my first mobile radio installation in the DEC Spit Brook parking lot with his Bird wattmeter.
Paul also reactivated my interested in microcontrollers, which led to me starting to build repeater controllers, but that's another story.
Since the 90s, I've upgraded to Amateur Extra, have become a VE, and I continue to have a lot of fun with my electronics and amateur radio hobby.
There's a lot of people to thank for this -- the people who helped me find with love for electronics, computers, and radio, but the most thanks go to my dad, Bernard Otterson, who always found a way to help me buy electronic parts, my elmer Paul Andrews, WB1EWS, who showed me radio and took me to the candy store, and my uncle, Bert Armstrong, who showed me not to be afraid to hook alligator clips to the telephone line. Thanks, guys!
More at http://www.n1kdo.com.
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