When we passed our code test, they ordered the written exams near the end of October. We got the tests in about the middle of November. The license arrived in the mail in January 1976. My call was WN0RXE. Today I have remnants of the old call letters.In junior high, I had built transistor radio kits from Radio Shack where I could tune short wave radio stations. The radio was not very sensitive, but I could get foreign stations with it and I was surprised I could build a radio that worked. Then, a few years later, a high school buddy was getting out of the hobby at the time. He sold me his station for about $175. It was the whole setup with a Johnson Viking Ranger, Hallicrafters SX-111 receiver, and an antenna switch, dipoles for 40M and 80M and a light bulb for tuning the transmitter for maximum power output. I worked in the fields picking up corn that the combine would leave behind and pulled weeds out of the soy bean rows for money. That was the best way to spend my money I could ever imagine.
I strung the 40M dipole up along side the house. Now I know my signal was going straight up, but that was okay because there were a lot of stations to work on the novice bands. I hung out a lot on 80M novice and that was 3.70 to 3.75 MHz. I felt like I had the world handed to me on a silver platter. I was working other states.
Later that summer, I put up an inverted vee for 15m. I worked my first “exotic” DX. Grand Caymen Islands, ZF2AU. I remember I had that card up for a long time.
To be honest, I hated having to learn the code from the start. It was not easy for me and I feel like I am not proficient at it today. But forcing me to use code with a novice license was the best thing to ever happen to me. I enjoy CW contesting and the excitement of a DX station returning my call in CW never gets old. While I think the best thing they ever did was doing away with the code requirement for technician, I feel the worst thing they ever did was do away with the novice license. I had upgraded to extra three years after getting my novice in the mail and several years before I had ever heard of Bash books. As a novice, I would ragchew to see what other people were doing. It was my internet of the mid 70’s. I met people I would never see and I met people I actually met in person later.
I will forever be grateful to Mel, WB0GKG and Pete, W0JYJ for teaching the class and giving me the best hobby ever. Five months after getting the novice license in the mail, I went to Kansas City and passed my general exam. I became WB0RXE at that point and within a few months, I received that new callsign. About the same time, all novices were switched over to the WB calls. I got me a brand new Kenwood TR-2200A for 2M. HF went to the side while I went to college.
In college, I majored in electronics. This was fully influenced by my ham radio experiences. I have designed products such as oven controlled crystal oscillators, high isolation distribution buffer/amplifiers, clock recovery, high speed switches, and clock generators. Everything has its roots in my novice experiences.