- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio

from Edwin van Mierlo, EI2HEB on May 10, 2013
View comments about this article!

How I got introduced to Amateur Radio

Let me start by introducing me, my name is Edwin van Mierlo, not really an Irish name you may notice. I am Dutch by birth, and moved to Ireland in 1997. I lived in county Cork since; first in Cork city, then Ballingcollig, and current QTH is Macroom. You could say I am slowly moving west every 5 years or so, but it seems that I have found my spot in Macroom for the moment.

I first got introduced to Amateur Radio by my uncle Pete, PD0FFS(sk). This was in the late 1970’s; I was only a young boy. From the very beginning when entering the shack and seeing all these magical boxes, making noise, weird tones; machines which looks like giant typewriters, spitting out paper ribbons with little holes in them, I was immediately interested and curious. It was a wonderful world in front of my eyes.

It was fantastic to watch and observe my uncle making QSO's. I learned about FM, AM, and SSB. He showed me antennas, rotators, coax patch panels. Incredible! I was hooked; these noisy boxes were going to play a role in my life. I didn't know it was going to take more than 30 years to actually get there, but hooked I was.

I made my first supervised 2m/FM QSO during a weekend in 1979 with some good propagation: Holland to Jersey! Some Dutch operators were on Jersey for a DXpedition. How proud I was! I spoke to another country without a telephone! I was introduced to the fantastic world of Amateur Radio!

I guess this was the time, around the 1980's, when my own father, who is an 'old sparky', gave me my first 'Phillips EE2003 Electronics Experimenting Kit'. This kit was a wonderful tool, which allowed me to build simple electronic circuits, and to learn about Ohms Law, resistors, capacitors, and transistors. I build my first radio (RX) with this kit! Loved it! I continued building circuits, but more permanent on PCB's, well into my teens.

I must say that my father did all to support me to continue this hobby. His guidance, patience, support, and help throughout the years really formed me as a "technology hobbyist". Even to present day, we still enjoy tackling various projects together, from building antennas, to building flight-cases to hold radio equipment, and making power supplies.

It was my father who thought me about antennas. When I was in my teens, I found out that he used to have, what many would call; "a weird hobby". He used to chase DX-TV. I found various boxes in the attic, which contained VHF and UHF yagi antenna components. Obviously, I had to rebuild them. It was a true miracle, to watch foreign stations on the TV, before the era of cable, satellite, internet, Netflix and sky-boxes. He taught me the basic formulas, what a wave length is, and how a dipole/yagi worked. He thought me the difference between ribbon feed line versus 75-Ohm coax. I still have some of the "Electronic Yearbooks" from the 1960's which he used to teach me all of this.

I guess at a certain point in time, I was in my late teens and the electronics, radio, DX-TV; all faded as I discovered girls, disco, and beer. Not necessarily in that order. My electronic hobby took a pause for longer than I would have imagined at the time. Fast forward through this period, while I still did some small work on electronics throughout the years, I really did not think about any radio or electronics in any way seriously. You could say; 'life took over'.

Suddenly I found myself in the 21st century, 2010, and while browsing on the internet I found a website selling scanners and other radio accessories. I decided to buy a scanner, a Uniden Bearcat 3500XLT, and a broadband RX antenna with magmount. This purchase was the restart of my radio enthusiasm after such a long time being dormant.

I programmed the various services, taxi’s, busses, aviation, marine frequencies, and off course the Amateur Radio repeaters which I found on the IRTS website, into this small little handheld scanner. I started listening. It was fantastic to listen to all the radio traffic, and conversations. The old ‘bug’, the memories from when I was younger, the time spend in my uncle’s radio shack, surfaced again. Probably not surprisingly, I started to read about Amateur Radio on the internet, a fast collection of public material, and not in the least on the IRTS website itself. It was shortly after all this, maybe weeks after the purchase of the scanner that I made the decision to study. I am not sure if it was a conscious decision, or that it was a natural progression. Books were bought, and I started my studies.

Once started, the urge to “get on the air” was growing. The only two real options to get on the air as a non-licensed radio enthusiast is either CB or PMR446. I found myself involved in an online forum discussion about PMR446, and after the purchase of two Binatone hand sets, I was on the air. Well, in theory, as for those frequencies, and with the maximum power of only 500mW, there was not much traffic, if at all. It wasn’t long into 2011 when I organized an “All Ireland PMR446 Hilltop day”; by using various online forums and media, enough publicity was made, and a large group from all over the island participated. It was that day when I made my first QSO since I was in my uncle’s shack in the 1970/80’s. I made a contact from Bandon to the Galtee Mountains, according to Google maps a distance of about 72km. A remarkable result for a standard PMR set with rubber-duck antenna! The reports on the internet came in the next day, and many people made QSO’s ranging from local-only to over 100km! Throughout 2011 various, very enjoyable, PMR446 contacts were made.

I have to admit that I have not used PMR446 much since my license. Although I have given one of the PMR sets to my Parents, as they live in range. My Mother gets a great kick out of using the little handset, and talking to me over the air! After all, it was her brother who introduced me to Amateur Radio in the first place. She has fascinating stories from when she was younger and used to watch him operate. My Mother is very supportive, and very proud that I am continuing what really is a family tradition. I need to thank her for all the times that my Father and I were working on projects, thank her for her patience and support, and not in the least for the tea & biscuits, and all the dinners she cooked, while we were mucking around, trying to finish an antenna or power supply!

The studies continued and while I had some excellent books, aided with an arsenal of online references, I had questions about various topics. I needed some help. I became a member of the North Cork Radio Group, and started to attend their frequent meetings. This was a great opportunity to learn, not only by asking questions, but also to listen to the stories from the members of the Group. This was the much needed help and I learned a lot from this group of amateur operators. Despite all the jokes and slagging they threw at me at various times, my studies progressed to a point where I was confident to sit the exam.

After some email exchanges with Sean Nolan, the date for the next exam was set for October-2011. The day of the exam had arrived. Nervous as can be expected; I made my way to the ComReg offices in Dublin. I was finished after 40 minutes, nothing more I could do. I handed in my paper to Sean, and made my way back to Cork. “The wait” had begun, waiting for the post man, looking out for that envelope. The results came; 93% score, PASSED! The license application was mailed back to ComReg office that same day. It was on the 1st of November 2011, after some emails with Derek O’Reilly from ComReg, that I got my license. Derek was very kind to send me the license documentation and my call sign by email.

I became a licensed Amateur Radio Operator.
From that moment onwards; I am known as EI2HEB!
I am convinced that my uncle Pete would have been very proud of this moment.

It was that same day, in the evening of the 1st of November 2011 that I had my first licensed QSO. My first contact was Lisa reading the news as EI0RTS, and after the news as EI9GSB. Since that first log entry, many more EI stations and international stations followed and will, I am sure, follow in the future.

It is a very enjoyable hobby; and I hope to talk to many of you on the air soon.


Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by KE8EC on May 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story, I think many amateur radio operators were positively influenced by their family members. I had two brothers who were also ham radio guys.
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by W7KKK on May 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I knew a friend that had an all CW station (he was a general) when I was a kid but never thought much about it when we lived in N. CA.
When the Alaska earthquake of 1964 hit he was very active in taking messages and passing them on during the days following and he had me take notes based on what he was copying.
I thought it was interesting that he was able to help in a time of need.
A few years later I got drafted and just because I had seen a ham radio station they decided to make me a radio operator as that was considered a critical MOS at the time (05B intermediate speed CW.
I was an instructor for in the Army in addition to being an operator.
In 1974 (I think it was) right after radio school training for the US Navy as a Civilian electronics mechanic I decided to get my Novice ticket.
I operated for a time but never did upgrade as I just did not have the time for the hobby or the place for a decent HF antenna.
I returned to the air after retirement about 11 years or so ago.
RE: How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by N6AJR on May 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I too followed a rather round a bout path my self. As a kid in okinawa, my sister's boyfriend was in electronics in the air force and he got me started on making things electrical.

I then tried to learn the code and get my merit badge in the boy scouts and started one of many Failed attempts to learn CW.

I did learn electronics in the Air force ( electronic counter measures repair). Later on in life ( in my 30's) I got my first ticket, ( a tech, I never had a novice) after I managed to mangle my way through the code test in San Francisco.

So in 1978 I became a ham. I was active until the mid 1980's and then kind of drifted away for many years, but always kept my license current.In 2001 I dropped into a Ham Radio Outlet and bought a 3 band HT.

Since then I have been through many setups and currently my HF setup is an Orion and an Alpha 87 A for an amp. I have a small tower up and lots of toys.

It is much more fun to play radio now with more time ( retired) and more $$$..

I am glad to hear of more "retreaded hams" coming back home.

How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by K1FPV on May 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story! I know many of us got interested in Amateur Radio under many different circumstances. As a youngster, I was given a Crystal Radio kit that had a cat whisker and coil wound on what looked like a toilet paper roll. I couldn't figure out how it actually worked, though it received local AM stations fine, so I went to the local public library to get as much info as I could.

While getting the info, the library had a copy of the "ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook" and that only made me more curious. Ultimately I modified the crystal radio set and occasionally got an AM ham QSO or two on it. I got more and more excited! I ultimately saved money from my paper route to get a super fabulous short-wave receiver. An old Knight Kit Span Master which I built and still have working today. It was able to copy SSB and CW too!

After time of SWLing, with the old SWL call issued by the old "Popular Electronics" magazine of WPE1EJL, I heard a local ham on AM and sent him an SWL card. One evening, my phone rang and my father answered it. It was the local ham I had sent my SWL card to. He then informed me that if I wanted his QSL card to verify my reception report, I'd have to go there to his QTH and get it!

I went to his QTH on my bicycle as I didn't drive yet. I rang his doorbell, my knees were quivering. He answered the door, invited me in, introduced me to his wife and kids. He then brought me into his shack. He must have had to clean it off after I left as I had to have drooled all over it! I thought I died and went to Heaven! He offered to help me to learn Morse Code and to study to get my own Ham license.

I ultimately passed my Novice License exam and on June 19, 1963 the FCC issued me the call sign KN1FPV. Next month will cap 50 years of history. I'm sure we all have our own stories of how we first got into this hobby. I know I have K1JOB(SK) to thank for my entrance into the hobby.

It's been a terrific 50 years, and I hope to have many more years of enjoyment. It is fun hearing about how each of us got into the hobby!

73 all,

How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by KI4WGI on May 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When I was in 3d grade, my dad helped me build a crystal radio. I was the typical nerdy bookworm and I purchased a Shortwave (Heathkit GR-64) using paper route money. I got the Shortwave with the help of a Ham that was on my paper route, and would go over once in awhile and he would let me speak. I also listened to the local repeater on a FM public band radio.

I later signed up for electronics at our local vo-tech high school where I passed the 2d class FCC license while in 11th grade. Got a job my senior year fixing CB radios and car stereos. Purchased a used DX-150A from a friend.

Joined the Air Force, picked Electronic Warfare as it had the longest school available for a 4-year enlistment. Built my first PC from a kit (Sinclair ZX-81) soon after tech school. Got my college degree (plus a wife and 2 kids while in the service)Took my shortwave with me to both the Philippines and Germany. Left the Air Force in 1990 after serving 10 years. Working with the Virginia State Police in their communication division for several years took care of my radio "fix". Both in the military & with the state I had ham friends, so the interest continued (more as a "groupie", as I sometimes listened in).

I left State employment for a engineering job. I got my Ham License immediately when the no-code version came in effect.

Long part. But here i am.

By the way, I used the Ham Exams on eham to practice for my General exam.
RE: How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by KJ6SBW on May 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I was introduced to the topic of electricity at a young age. One of my first "toys" was a train set mounted on a piece of 4x8 foot plywood.I had lights under all the houses. It was quite a site for kid my age. BTW I still like trains :)

Over the years I became exposed to Heathkit and managed to build several of their projects including a CB transceiver, two stereos, an analog multimeter, a nixi-tube alarm clock - which still works - as well as a few other projects.

One kit was a short-wave receiver from Heathkit. A neighbor down the street from me was a Ham and got me interested in short-wave radio. When the earthquake occurred in Yellowstone back in the late 50's he was involved in helping with communications. I was very impressed.

He worked as an engineer at a nearby AM radio broadcast transmitter site. So when the receiver was finished and needed to have the I.F. stages tuned, he invited me out to his work to do the tuning and see what kind of work he was doing. The visit was very impressive but neither of us considered the problems involved in trying to tune a 455 I.F. frequency while sitting between two 50kw AM transmitting antennas. All we could pick up was the AM station. We managed to get it close enough to work, but any fine tuning had to wait until we were away from his antennas.

Since that time, a few decades ago, I've met other hams who became close friends. But my stumbling block was always the code. I did manage to get my novice back in the late 60's but I got interested in other things and my novice fell by the wayside.

Then in 2011 a friend (N6ER) kept encouraging me to give it another shot. I worked and studied for the Tech exam and passed it 100%. I was thrilled. So with my new-found enthusiasm it was back to the books for the General, which I now hold.

I can now proudly say that I've joined the ranks of a truly interesting hobby. I'm still learning and have a long ways to go. I say "Thanks" to those Elmers I met along the way who have kept me interested and in particular N6ER and K0NW both whom have helped me in getting things going. Perhaps I'll meet you on the air. 73's
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by KB2DHG on May 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story... Well, no matter how we all got intorduced into this wonderful hobby I am just glad we did!
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by K6CRC on May 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story!

My intro was in High School. There was a full shack with a tri-beam set up on the roof in electronics lab. The teacher, an old tenured guy, refused to help us who wanted to be hams. He left the room exactly at the end of school, and we had to wake him up even then. OK, so what now? Found some local hams, older guys. All they could do was to talk down to me because my hair was long 'stupid kids'. OK, so that didn't work. Found another local club, but it was for guys who just wanted to get away from their wives. Ignored any kids interested in the hobby.

Fast forward 40 years. I got my license after some time with local community preparedness group. I found the people in the hobby are generally very nice and have no complaints.

The issue with the hobby seems to always have been the corner case sociopaths on the air, at meetings, and especially at swaps. I hear them all the time on the air (20M and 80M at night). I don't care about that any more, but when I was 16, it mattered.
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by W2GUU on May 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
i believe it was around 77 there was a man who lived about a mile from me in the heldeberg mountains of ny used to see his tower so decide to stop in very nice man he invited me in to his shack. we talked and he taught me taught me morse code and the rest is history. he passed away and someone had gotten his old call sign, years went by and i found out his call letters were available again and i always like it i applied for his numbers and know have them peter a george jr W2GUU
How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by K7NSW on May 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
In the 1950s. I was in grade school. Went to my friends house. His Dad had a home-brew vertical antenna in their back yard. He was an EE working for Sylvania Electronics in SFO Bay Area. I was allowed to peek into his radio room but could not enter. He had a wonderful Hallicrafters receiver and homebrew transmitter - black crackle paint and panel meters with yellow back-lights. Lots of tubes glowing. His Dad would operate CW and let me sit in the room and watch - but I had to remain silent, just sit and watch. He wore headphones so I never heard a thing. He loaned me a set of WW II Signal Corps 331/3 rpm LP records to learn Morse Code. Received my Novice License in 1961. 52 years later now and I am still on the air pounding brass. From grade school through grad school and now retired I was WN6PQN, WA6PQN, WA7YPH, WB7NSW, and now K7NSW in Idaho. His name was Ed Dole in Los Altos, California. Ham radio has been, and still is, a very positive influence in my life.
RE: How I Got Introduced to Amateur Radio  
by W2GUU on May 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
i am replying to my own message just wondering if any of the older hams remember the original w2guu his mane was henry boyle is nick name was the the mountain goat would appreciate if anyone remembers him
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Editorial Articles
My Oscilloscope Affair: A Love Story
To Amp or Not to Amp