K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Dick - AC4NW

My first experience with short wave radio came when I was 10 years old. I met another young boy who took me to his home and showed me a breadboard transmitter he was building. I was immediately enthralled, to say the least. He loaned me a magazine with a pictorial of a one or two-tube radio in it, and showed me how to go the radio shops in town, and scrounge thru their trash baskets, in search of old tubes and other parts with which to build the radio. We removed the bases from the large tubes and wound our coils on them. Somehow I acquired enough parts to build the thing, and when completed, I connected the antenna lead to my bedspring.

What a thrill when I heard Big Ben for the first time, and a loud voice saying: "London Calling! This is BBC, the British Broadcasting Company."

You might think my career as a ham began then and there, but it was not to be. My interest turned to gardening, then in 1939 after High School I joined the Marines. After World War II, I started my own business and worked at that for 12-14 years.

All this time I had a subdued interest in radio, particularly the Morse Code. Whenever I heard Morse in the old war movies, I always wondered what they could be saying. One day I determined to find out, and had a relative tell me where to buy a book on ham radio, and also bought a record by Farnsworth and quickly learned the code. I devised my own way of learning the difficult characters (using visualization) and learned the code in one week. In a month I was sending and receiving at 15 wpm.

While awaiting the arrival of my Novice license, I sent for a Heath DX-40 kit and had it all assembled when it did come. The radio had two crystals for 40 meters, and that was plenty for me, and I had lots of fun with it. I also bought a HQ-110 receiver, and with that I had myself quite a rig, I thought. I put up a 40-Meter dipole, and I was on the air!

After a few weeks of working the novices, I became bored with the 3 to 5 wpm sending, so I went to the FCC office in Boston and passed my General Class tests on the first try. Happy Day! I had already built the VFO for the DX-40, and was on the General Class bands the day my license arrived. However, with the pressures of making a living, and family obligations, I wasn't as busy on the air as I should have been. So after being a ham for about ten years, I sold my equipment. Afterwards, I was forever sorry I had sold it.

Twenty years later in Florida, I remember going to the Charlotte ARS meeting and asking where I could take an exam to become a ham, my old license having long expired. I was told there was a VE session in Venice the following Saturday. I asked where I could get a book to study and my now good friend Jim Hope, AA4RV told me about "Now You're Talking" available at Radio Shack. Jim also told me I should go for Extra Class while I was at it. I couldn't think of anything more impossible!! So I bought the book and made a tape from my old CW record and 3 days later I was off to Venice for the test. I expected to take the Novice theory and the 5-wpm code test.

The examiner was giving the 13 wpm test first and asked me if I wanted to try it, so I did, and passed! Then he said to me, "Why not try the 20 wpm test?" This is after being QRT for 20 years! Anyway, I tried it and lo and behold, I passed that too.

Then I took the Novice and Tech exams, and passed those also. The examiners wanted me to go for my Extra Class that day, but I explained that I hadn't seen a manual for 20 years. But, I said, I'll buy a General Class manual and I'll be back next month to take the test, which I did with the usual success. Then it was on to Advanced and finally the Extra. Amazingly, there I was an Extra Class ham! Oh, I was determined that this time I would continue studying Ham Radio and learning all I possibly could about it, but the pressures of living seemed to crowd out most of my good intentions. One good thing I did 3 years ago was to join the FISTS CW Club, and that has renewed my interest in radio. I've always been 100% CW so that didn't require any change. I quickly acquired my Century Award, but haven't pursued it any further. I do get on the air now as much as possible, and I do enjoy the articles in the Fists magazine, The Keynote. Dick Allaire, AC4NW, Fists #3108.

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