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My NOVICE days.

I grew up in Romulus, Michigan…
When I was 15, in 1957, I started playing around with a couple of old wooden floor radios.
One at my buddy’s house at the end of the street, the other at a friends aunt and uncle’s house in Detroit. 
I listened to foreign AM SW Broadcast stations and heard weird on and off tones.
My buddy’s father said “that’s Morse code!” I showed my interest in amateur radio to the family and
found out my uncle Bob, an electrician at Ford Motor Co., tinkered with electronic DIY projects.
Whenever I visited his electronics hobby room upstairs I would usually spend time looking through a few
of his Popular Electronics magazines.

In PE there were two columns that I enjoyed reading “Among the Novice Hams” by Herb Brier, W9EGQ (SK)
and “Carl and Jerry” by John Frye, W9EGV (SK).

Those two columns heightened my interest in ham radio even more!
Christmas of 1957 my uncle Bob bought me a Hallicrafters S-53A receiver from a Sears store
in Lincoln Park, Michigan…which is still there.
I set it up in my parent’s basement on a tool bench the previous owner had built.

One evening I heard two hams having a QSO.  One of them was Ed, W8JDZ (SK).
When I started driving, I went into Detroit to M.N. Duffy’s, one of several ham radio stores in the area and
bought a Flying Horse “paper” Callbook. In the callbook I found that Ed lived not too far from Romulus High School.
One day, after school I knocked on his door.
Up the steps I went into his shack, which was an enclosed back porch.
Directly across from the door was a wooden desk with a Hallicrafters SX-71 receiver and VFO.
To the left of that sitting against the wall was an 8 foot tall 19 inch wide rack mounted transmitter.

I don’t remember the tubes in the transmitter but he said its output was 350 Watt’s. 
At the bottom was the power supply, then modulator, driver/final and finally at the top, an antenna tuner.
It had been the AM Broadcast transmitter at Michigan State University which he won in an auction and
modified to work AM and CW for 80, 40, 20 and 15 Meters.
Ed had a basement work-shop where he also kept his QSL card collection!
He had several shoe boxes full of them, many were DX cards.

I can remember seeing 3 and 5 cent stamps on the 1940’s Cards.
Anyway, I started studying for my Novice test and at one point Ed asked me to find an old discarded B&W TV.
I found one. Then he asked if I could get a chassis and front panel.
Back to M.N. Duffy’s where I bought a large 2 inch chassis and a black crinkle finish front panel.
After a couple of months of him showing me how to use his tools, including an ole Greenlee punch,
teaching me how to wind coils and solder we ended up with my first rig.
A 35 Watt crystal controlled 80/40 Meter transmitter with a 6V6 oscillator and 807 final.   
I took down the long wire receive antenna I had up for the S-53A RCVR and put up a 40 Meter Dipole.
I almost passed out when a guy answered my first CQ.

Back then the Novice band was from 7150 Kc to 7200 Kc.
For my first CQ and QSO with K2OVF in New York I was using a ‘JAN’ XTAL cut for 7150 Kc.
Yup, got a yellow slip from the Allegan, Michigan FCC monitoring station.
They said I was on 7149.4 Kc
I have been keeping at least 1 KHz from the band edge ever since.

As a friend of mine always says “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”

73, Rick – N8XI  

formerly KN8RHM [1959] – WN8RXI [1964] & WA8RXI [1966]



6164620 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:20:33, 3799 bytes

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