I learned about Ham Radio from borrowed library books, and since I only earned about $5 per week on my paper route, I saved for months to amass the $60 I needed for a Knightkit R-55A. That was by far the most complicated project I had attempted so far, but the one tube receiver had prepared my soldering skills. The R-55A didn't work at first due to a open IF transformer, but somehow I figured it out and got it working, and reasonably aligned by ear. I never did think the 6 meter band worked properly, although I was probably not listening at the right time.
I learned the code by listening to W1AW and on air QSOs, studied the ARRL license manual, and since I still didn't know another ham, I wrote to the ARRL for a contact to give me the Novice test. They supplied me with the name Hank Mary, WB2FMM, who lived about a half mile away. It was about this time I was at high school track practice with my best friend, Bob, and I told him I was about to take my Novice test, assuming I'd have to explain the whole ham radio thing to him. He practically floored me by responding that he had just taken his Novice test several weeks before. We had been best friends for several years through high school, and never talked about this common interest in radio.The first time I went to Hank's home, he took me down to his ham shack in the basement, and I'll never forget the sight of the HRO-7 and DX-100, the sound of the code coming over the speaker, or the first QSO I had ever witnessed with some guy in Bear Creek, PA. I passed the code test that night in March 1967, and came back for the written test shortly thereafter.
It was a day to celebrate when I received my ticket in the mail in May 1967, receiving the call WN2BAO. However, I did not have a transmitter yet, so my first few QSOs were at my friend Bob's shack....WN2AKN. Within days I bought a used Knight T-60 from Bob to compliment the R-55A. Ilocated my shack in our unfinished attic, and started out with a 40 meter dipole in the attic peak. I could afford one crystal for the T-60, on 7160 kHz, and worked many stations there, including my first DX station in Cuba, CM5AP. It was pretty hot and humid in the attic, and quite cold the following winter, but I didn't care because I was on the air with my own station. That summer I studied relentlessly for my General, which I passed in September 1967, becoming WA2BAO. Now that I had my general, I needed to QSY, so I used Ajax cleanser to grind that crystal up to the phone portion of 40 meters, and then pencil lead to move down to the General CW portion.
During our junior year, Bob and I started a Ham Radio Club at our high school, Bishop Turner High in Buffalo, NY, and I served as President my junior and senior years. My interest in radio propelled me to study Electrical Engineering at Syracuse University, which prepared me for a career as an RF DesignEngineer, working for IBM and Lockheed Martin, designing receivers for the military from HF through microwave. I eventually changed my call to N2NW after passing my Amateur Extra exam in 1977.