My first homebrew receiver was a Regen, built on a cookie tin with a 6SL7-GT twin triode [as opposed to the 6SN7s always being used by retro-builders in such discussion groups as "RegenRX: (Yahoo) and others]. My antenna was about 100 feet of wire, end fed from the basement window to a pine tree in the backyard. I don't remember having a ground connection, but may have used a cold water pipe.
My grandmother funded my first transmitter kit, an Ameco AC-1, which set her back all of $24.95. My homemade QSL cards proclaimed my "15 Glorious Watts" although I'll bet I put out less, since we used to talk about "input power to the final stage" back then, as opposed to measured output power. The Ameco AC-1 manual recommended that I tune up using a 15W light bulb; later, I discovered that I could tap a small amount of RF off of the outgoing antenna lead (no coax!) and light up a small flashlight bulb; I tuned and loaded for maximum brightness. The inside of the 6V6 power tube would glow purple and make faint "tinkling" noises if the rig was not tuned to resonance! (I was pretty rough on that tube!) For a better receiver, W2OQI lent me an old Navy surplus "ARC-5" that tuned the longwave band (190-500 KHz) and I built a crystal converter to shift the 80 meter band down into the ARC-5's tuning range. Worked like a charm. To this day I regret that I never did return that receiver to Mr. Field, but left it in a shed in NY when I moved to Pennsylvania in 1989.
One of my school chums, Mark Schlein, became WN2PZV in 1972 also, and built the Heathkit HR-10 and DX-60B shown in your photo.... I lusted after his station and had a hard time paying any attention to HIM whenever my brother and I would visit his house! The Drake 2-B shown in the photo is familiar because I have one as a backup receiver in my present (2007) shack.
After my 2-year Novice license expired (I was not about to travel to NYC to take the General test, although I might have qualified under the "Conditional" class because I lived more than 75 miles from the test site), I forgot about the hobby until the early 1990's when I was living in PA.
In 1993, my new Elmer, Bill Fuller, NZ3U (formerly WA3MWT), urged me to get back into the Hobby since I was playing around with an old 23-channel CB that someone had given me.... and soon the Bug had bitten me again. I went to the National Guard Armory in Middletown, PA, and took my tests "cold"-- I wanted to see if I would pass and, if so, how far I could go. After a few hours and a nervous tension headache, I was told I had passed the Advanced Class test! I became KE3IJ, and you can visit my webpage at http://www.tricountyi.net/~randerse/radios.htm .
A few years back I was "grandfathered" into the Extra Class license when the Advanced Class went away.
My main rig is an old Kenwood TS-520S, and when I'm on the air, it's either on CW or SSB-- never did get into any of the digital modes. But nowadays I spend more time playing with homebrew QRP rigs and especially my first love, Regen receivers. My webpage has several schematics for variations of these simple radios that I've come up with. I'm 50 now, and have taught Electronics at a local ITT Technical Institute-- and watched the "Cell-Phone/I-Pod Generation" display absolutely no interest, for the most part, in the magic of Ham Radio. They are unimpressed with the idea that our 2 Meter HT's and repeaters were the ancestors of their cell phones, and they can't imagine why anyone would want to listen to crackling static over CD-quality communications and music. I pity them; yet, in a sense, our generation created them. The better our technology gets, the more "spoiled" we become, and the less awed we are that this stuff works at all! Yet a century ago, we didn't even know how to send a voice over the air.
Just today, 2/24/07, I received a news item in my email saying that the very last Code test had been given-- after that test, the FCC no longer requires Amateur Radio license applicants to know Morse Code. Time marches on, but I feel a certain melancholy. We've lost something special, and when the present generation of CW lovers and QRPers pass on, maybe the Code will become another piece of past history. Let's hope that the Hobby itself lives on.
-- Rick Andersen, KE3IJ