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Ham Member Lookups: 992

 

I got interested in radio at 11 years-old when my dad, a long-haul truck driver, came home one day in 1974 with something called a "CB radio" installed in his new truck. I could hear stations from all over the country, even California, like they were next door! A very strong station identifying as the "Apache Gal" turned out to be Betty, the wife of another trucker 6 miles away, and our families became friends.

I loved to watch the glow of the tubes in her Johnson Messenger 223 CB transceiver. But there was another large box under Betty's operating desk with an even brighter glow, which she called her 'foot warmer'? !!! The antenna was a vertical on the top of a 60 foot tall grain silo behind their house. A few months later Betty and husband Tom put up a new antenna called a 'Moon-raker' on a tall wooden telephone pole behind the house. A wall full of QSO cards and stories of 'QSO's' with stations in Alaska had me hooked! My dad's mobile station couldn't do that, but I had to know more.

Dad picked up on my interest in radio right away. On day in '74 when I stayed home from school sick, he brought me some electronics kits from a store in Dallas called 'Radio Shack.' The first one was a kit to build an AM radio. I put it together while lying in bed coughing and hacking. When I was well a few days leter, I strung a 50 foot wire antenna between 2 pine trees in the front yard and could hear KHYM, a 10 KW station in Gilmer, Texas, all of 15 miles away. Wow! and I built it myself! The next kit was a 20-in-1 electronics kit that let me build a crystal set, another AM radio, a burglar alarm, a code practice oscillator, and other neat gadgets.

The next kit was the Radio Shack "Archer P-box" AM wireless mic. This one was different: instead of sticking the wire leads from parts in to spring connectors, I had to twist the wires togther and then "solder" them togther. Dad showed me how to use something called a soldering iron. It got really hot and I couldn't use it by myself until I was 12! I figured out how to boost the range by increasing the number of batteries in series, but the darn transistor kept going up in smoke! Its a good thing that 2N2222s came in 50-packs back then!

I did a lot of home-brew construction during my high school years, mostly low-power AM transmitters to make, ummmmm, broadcasts. Let's just leave it at that ;-) The Morse code was a barrier to getting the ham license back then.

Fast forward to 1984. I was a college senior at Baylor and just accepted to Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and ready to relax a bit my last semester. So I sat down and learned the code! Mike Sims, WD5KAL, gave me the Novice test. I made my first contact at the Baylor club station in the old Police station on the Baylor campus with my friend Kent Johnson there to steady my nerves - and help me tune up the tube finals in the old Drake twins.

 

6629958 Last modified: 2015-08-10 02:37:42, 3217 bytes

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