(formerly WN4HCJ, 1974)
In the fall of 1973, I lived at home with my parents in Coats, NC. I began college at Wake Technical Institute near Raleigh, NC. I had enrolled in the Computer Technology which at that time involved component level repair. Courses included Advanced Algebra, Calculus, Electronics theory, Electronics Lab, and Physics. One hour each Tuesday and Thursday, we attended a study hall/guidance session with one of the electronics instructors. The instructor provided counseling, mentoring, and was there to answer any questions that we had pertaining to our courses.
In the student lounge, I had noticed a sign on a door WB4TOP, but I never gave it much thought. Our counselor was Bert Bailey, W4FMN. Mr. Bailey was very helpful. On the first day, he asked if any of us were amateur radio operators? Since I had been a CB radio user, I raised my hand. I was the only person in the class who did so. At the end of the class I stopped by his desk and I asked him if he was referring to CB radio? He stood and asked me to follow him. We ended up at the room that had the WB4TOP sign on it. He opened the door and I stood with my mouth open. I suddenly realized that he must be talking about Ham Radio. Now, I already knew a ham in my home town K4JFI, Godfrey Beasley (silent key).
I asked Mr. Bailey how to get licensed and he provided me with the necessary information including a worn out rules and regulations booklet by the ARRL. That night, I visited Godfrey. At the time, he was making some antenna changes and his equipment was not working. He told me to call to Jerry Tyndall, WB4TFX (now NC4JT). Jerry was an engineer with a large electronics manufacturer. He invited me over and Jerry made a contact with a ham in Pennsylvania that night and from that point the bug bit me. Jerry and Godfrey became my Elmers from that day forward. Mr. Bailey kept an eye on my progress, but also made sure that my schooling did not suffer.
Jerry and Godfrey worked with me on learning the Morse code as well as the rules and regulations. Mr. Bailey worked with me on the Basic Electronics needed. Fortunately, the electronics portion was easy due to school. I learned the code from a practice tape from Radio Shack. Jerry mentioned to me in the beginning that I need to put one hour of operation in per day in order for all of this work to be worth while. I tried to live by this as much as possible. It took me two months of studying to prepare.
Jerry administered my Novice test in November, 1973 and I received my license WN4HCJ in January, 1974. The CB was sold and I bought a Realistic DX-50 receiver and a Heathkit DX-60B transmitter from an ex-Novice who had recently joined the Air Force. Jerry loaned me a tuner that he had built and I hung a 120 foot long wire and grounded the station.
I remember nervously sending that first CQ and I received a call almost immediately.
That feeling was both frightening and exciting. It was a proud moment for me. I tried to get involved in contests, but enjoyed ragchews. The Novice roundup was fun, as was field day, although I really did not know what I was doing that first year. My parents gave me a matching Heathkit VFO for Christmas in 1974. Jerry let me use his basement to build it since he had all of the needed test equipment. I learned so much from him.In 1975, a local ham club that was forming, the Johnston County Amateur Radio Society (JARS) in Benson, NC. I became a charter member and that opened the door for more fun. Being the only Novice there, I was assigned to the CW team during contests. This increased my code proficiency and helped prepare me for my move to the next license level.
Becoming a Novice was a proud moment for me. I had become an Eagle Scout in 1969, and up until this time, becoming a ham was probably my second major achievement. It opened several doors for me. I was already involved with the local rescue squad, but later, I became more involved in public service as a police officer and later spent 20 years in the US Air Force. I upgraded to General in 1975 and recently to Extra class, but I consider my Novice days to be the most fun and exciting times that I remember having as a Ham. The people I met, and the things I learned during my two years as a Novice have done much to enhance my life and career.