My first personal rig was a pair of command sets - a BC-457 transmitter (nominally covered 4 to 5.3 MHz, so I padded it down to cover 3.5 to 4 MHz just tweaked the capacitors in the thing). I converted the VFO to a crystal oscillator (got $15 for a writeup in CQ in 1952, a big sum for a HS student.) The receiver was a BC-454, wide as a barn door, but both were cheep - one of them was donated by a ham friend of my father. the only thing in the power supply which had to be purchased outright was a 24 volt transformer to power the filament supply. The power transformer came from a defunct receiver, produced about 350 volts, which gave about 50 watts input. No one measured power output in those daze....
First antenna was a random wire about 130' long, between two outbuildings, one which I converted to a hamshack. I "tuned" with the roller inductor inside the command transmitter and a neon bulb with a loop next to the antenna. I tuned for maximum brilliance with the neon bulb. Later I scrounged up a surplus RF ammeter, and tuned for max RF current in the antenna.
I worked 40+ states on 80 meters with that rig while a novice - WN0FVD. One of the weirdest things of that era was a fellow ham who was erroneously issued WN0SOS and then W0SOS, which he used for over a year before the FCC caught their error and issued him another call!
72/73 de n8xx Hg