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I was first licenced in 1970 a as a Novice. I was mentored by a local ham in Steubenville, Ohio,  Bill Leist, WA8DRL who tested me for the 5wpm code test and written exam  that I passed the first time! I appeared in "The CallBook" in 1971 as WN8JSF which I still have a copy of that precious printing. What a thrill to be able to someday communicate wordwide. I later attempted to upgraded to the general exam with a road trip to Pittsburgh, PA with my Father, Peter to take the general exam...passing the 13WPM code test, but I flunked the written...OMG what a long ride home back to Steubenville, in defeat. 

From all of my paper route, lawn cutting and snow shoveling money, I set up my first station using a Heathkit 4 band SWL receiver that my Brother Tom built but rarely used and later purchased a used Lafayette 5 band SWL receiver and received one tube Omeco CW transceiver as a Christms present...with plenty of harmonics-1st contact with an Official Observer way out of band, but some encouraging DX into upstate NY!

I kept telling my Uncles and Aunts that I did not want school clothes, and gave them catalog cutouts of equipment that I wanted.  Mom and Dad were woried about electrocution, but I reassured them of the low amperage and proper grounding.

I did manage to throw up an  80 meter dipole antenna to the neighbors apple tree next door and bought a brand new International 3525 MHz Crystal and retuned the Omeco correctly with a used field strenght meter and the help of local high school hams checking my signal.  Contacts were beginning to filling out the logbook. Code speed was ramping up to 15+ WPM.  I also built a Heathkit 100KC crystal calibrator which helped me on the receive end. What a great/simple kit.

As a high schooler, my Dad was persistent that I go back and retake the exam 6 months later, in which I passed the written and 13WPM code with flying colors!. Kudos to a non-Dad ham, who was very supportive to my efforts.  What a moment to pass the exam!  Dad was happy that I didn"t quit, little did he know, there was now way that I was going to fail that written portion of the test this time.

Santa next year brought a Heathkit DX 60B transmitter which I built over Christmas school break, and began to make numerous contacts via CW all over the US/Canada/South America with using 2 crystals one 80 meters the other on 40 meters with a long wire antenna to the apple tree next door and the other end grounded to the copper plumbing of the house with a QST designed tuner..  Wow, what a difference in the transmitters.  Pages and pages of CW contacts began filling up the log using now 5-6 crystal controlled frequencies on the novice and general bands on 80 and 40 meters.  I never persued the AM phone portion of the DX-60B transmitter, for I had my dreams set to build a Heathkit HW-101 transceiver and operate single sideband phone and 200 watts of CW...WOW! 

At this point I was in my later years High School, now working after school and weekends at our local Holiday Inn in Steubenville, as a busboy,  room service duty, and banquet services.  Although I was working to save money for college, my parents did allow me to keep some of the money and sold my Heathkit DX-60B to buy the Heathkit "Hot Water-101" which I purchaced and built my summer vacation after my junior year of High School. What a kit...It was huge. Parts everywhere on an old kitchen table in our basement in Steubenville.  I checked each step off painstakingly following the detailed Heath instruction manual, soldering everything in place.  What a beauty, it looked awesome...ready to plug in for the first time for the infamous first time "smoke test"...IT DIDN'T WORK.  I couldn't believe it...Half of my summer vacation down the tubes, several hundred dollars for the radio...nothing. Some things "came to life", so to speak, but I was afraid to troubleshoot the radio for fear of making it worse.  I checked and checked each step...no go.

My Father saw my hard work and subsequent complete disappointment, and again came to my rescue this time driving me out to the closest Heathkit service center in Monroeville, PA East of Pittsburgh and dropped it off for repair.  Weeks went by, and finally we got the call that it was ready and working great!  We drove out to pick it up, paid for the repair (Well, Dad did...a few cold solder joints and some reverse polarity of parts, but the man at the Heathkit store commented on an absolute beautiful assembly job for a 17 year old), and I took it home to "fire it up for the first time...What a thrill: All bands 80-10 meters, CW, AM, SSB...200 watts.  I was besides myself.  A local ham gave me a push to talk microphone and I made my first ever voice contact!  What a memory...I was absolutely inconceivable at the time that a radio plugged into a wall socket connected to a wire running to an apple tree next door grounded to a cold water pipe enable me to talk to people all over the world! I made hundreds of contacts in all modes and frequencies all over the world at about 1973-74, and not only did it amaze me to no end, but my Father and Mother both could not believe the technology coming from their era of crystal radio sets and early tube radios from the 30's and 40's. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8284915 Last modified: 2017-08-21 02:48:09, 5543 bytes

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