(formerly KA6KBC, 1980)
I started building radios with my dad (WB6CGN SK), when I was in 5th Grade. I was interested in Ham Radio even before that. I must have been in 2nd grade and I wanted a Ham Radio for Christmas I ended up getting a windup Radio instead (I was very disappointed at the time). I received my first HAM ticket, when I was attending Fontana High School in 1979. I got my Novice Call KA6KBC after two tries on the written test. I did not have much trouble with the 5 WPM Code, but of some reason could not pass the theory part. It was part of the Com Lab Program headed up by Lou Malory (WA6DVK). Club call was WB6HJJ (see QSL, below). Everyday we practiced Code and studied theory. Every 3 months or so Mr. Malory would administer the Novice Test. After three years of study I received a Vocational Electronics Communications certificate. This lead me later in life to a Career in Electronics as an Engineer.
For me my first Rig was a Homebrew 6L6 Transmitter that my Dad (WB6CGN SK) and I built. I remember that I had to order Crystals from a company in Florida (CW Crystals ?) and it took about 6 Weeks to get them. So I had a transmitter that I could not test for weeks after building. I ended up with two crystals that worked - one at 7.125MHZ and one at 7.118MHZ. I put out a blistering 10 watts. My dad was a really "Old School" Ham - Even back then not many people Homebrewed, but he thought it was the best way to learned. It was a great way to start out in the hobby.
For my receiver my Dad loaned me his old Collins 75A Receiver. It was as big as a barn. I still have the thing in the garage. For my Antenna I had a Dipole over the top of the house and into the Trees. At the time I did not realize that most of my power was going into the trees :)
As a Novice none of us really knew what we were doing, but it was lots of fun. It took me weeks to make my first CW contact. Back then you got really good at sending "CQ CQ CQ DE KA6KBC" over and over again. I did start making a few contacts then started getting QSL cards, which was a rush. I upgraded from Novice to General to Advanced, but still only had a CW Rig :(
I later upgraded to an Old Collins Transmitter (1950's - 32V) with a VFO, which at the time was a major upgrade, but still used the Collins 75A Receiver. I later upgraded again to an old HeathKit SB101 Transceiver. Wow - major upgrade as I could operate more than 40 Meters CW. Now I had SSB and more bands. My final upgrade was a Kenwood TS520S, which I got back in 1982 and is still my only HF Rig, but might upgrade again in a few years :)
Those were the days - Fun stuff.
- Bill - KA6KBC