I purchased a Heathkit HR-10B from the local ham radio store. I would listen in for hours. I attended a club meeting and met Gene Hubbell W7DI. He became my mentor and introduced me to Leon Fabor W7EH, Rod O'Conner W7EKV and Al Koblinski W7XA.
Al got the honor of giving me my novice test. I'll never forget that test. Al started by having a QSO with me using the straight key just to warm up before he gave me the real code test. Before I knew it the QSO was over and he said I had just passed the code test. With that I passed the written test quite easily. Every day I waited for my license to arrive. It took so long but then it arrived. I was the proud owner of WB7NXH.
Al and Gene would help me with parts for a homebrew DX-60 transmitter with a 6146 as a final. Rod helped me with antennas that were strung around the house everywhere. When the radio was finished I listened for a CQ. I was so nervous that I forgot to hook up the antenna and I answered using a light bulb as an antenna. My report was a clean signal but the ham thought I was QRP since I was rather weak. Not bad for a first contact.
Leon introduced me to the ARRL and to Barry Goldwater and his MARS staff. What a experience.
It surely set the stage for my electrical engineering career and all of my success in ham radio.
Tom Fagan K7DF
ARRL Section Manager Arizona