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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Excitement of Radio

Dennis Jones (KK0DJ) on August 26, 2013
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The Excitement of Radio…

It was driving that was my focus at 16. I loved it. Driving that is. Anything that had to do with an automobile I was nearly consumed by from my earliest recollection. I didn’t own a car until well into my 17th year, but had an enormous imagination and would picture myself out and cruising the beaches, mountains and valleys of California free as free can be. I was so captivated by vehicles that I can still to this day recall most all makes, models and other bits of information for foreign and domestic cars from the decades of 1950 until about 1970.

It was in 1970 that I graduated from high school and shortly after gave my allegiance to Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club. The U.S. Navy received my signature to serve my country for the next 7 years. Just prior to making that agreement with the Navy, I had an experience that did more than captivate me as I had mentioned that cars did. This new experience embedded within my cerebral matter the excitement of glimmering electrons piercing the darkness of a neighbors amateur radio shack. Heathkit, Hammarlund, Hallicrafters and Collins. My neighbor’s ham shack was home to behemoth glistening metallic panels of fluted knobs, large loud switches and dials he called ‘cranks.’ All of these stylized mechanical manipulators were skillfully played by my neighbor so that voices from places I hadn’t even heard of would come in clearly through his large magnificent sounding speakers. Those sounds were voices of others from around the world who would actually converse with my neighbor. When Lou, that was his name, would allow me time to sit and watch as he would extract from his desk mounted telegraph key, sounds that would sound as though they were music and he the maestro. Those same sounds would magically begin when he was done playing his brass instrument of code. However, these were sounds from the same speaker and they were coming from stations in places I had not yet known. During my early high school years, I visited many times and so the whisper of voices, dits and dahs and RTTY in the air established a heavy rock mooring within my heart. This captivated me.

The term of service with the Navy was as a Radioman. They allowed me to earn the rank of 2nd class Petty Officer during those years while also training me to lead an orchestra of receivers, transmitters, teletype machines, microphones, antennas and Morse code keys. One instrument I used daily was the ‘mill.’ It was the tool of choice to register the information that would emanate from the radio shack speakers, headphones and such. The ‘mill’ was an old, but entirely overbuilt and stout typewriter that would only provide characters of the capital variety to be placed on its dull black platen surrounded with carefully inserted and properly positioned message blanks. Messages would be recorded on the mill as they were captured by knowledgeable ears that understood the language created by Samuel F.B. himself.

That Morse code I learned through the double-basic method in a echoing room full of sailors, mills and fans all marching to the tune of the code characters being played on the tape machine up on the instructor desk. Those signals bounced like super balls around the stark room with the linoleum floor, steel walls and glass covering one whole wall. It was there that I was trained in Morse code in a place called the “International Morse Code Operators School” at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. It was a two-week course. Yes, only two weeks. From zero to 18 WPM send and receive. From never having heard the letters QWERTY together to touch-typing at 18 WPM as well. In those two arduous weeks I paid dearly for not taking typing lessons in high school! Learning the code was hard enough, but having been relegated to using the ‘mill’ to register what I was learning to ‘copy’ was nearly overwhelming. Many late nights and many long days – no weekend in-between, brought about 20 some odd new U.S. Navy sailors with a certification to have the coveted 2304 designation – a certified Morse code operator. That course was a pre-requisite to my being able to go on and attend Nuclear Submarine School. That experience was as much fun as it was overwhelming as well. But I graduated and became a Submarine Service Radioman in the U.S. Navy Submarine Fleet.

Those years in the Navy saw many a night when I would twist the unused receiver knobs to listen around for the amateurs who were traveling amongst the invisible routes of communications wrapping around our planet. At the end of my ‘hitch,’ I was handed an honorable discharge. In the years following, I took care to begin a new life outside of the military. It was during this time that I met up with an old high school chum. He invited me up to his place in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. His home had a utility pole proudly installed nearby. His home was on a hill, and had an advantageous view for the eyes, but even better I learned later for signals to flow easily into our atmosphere. That utility pole he had was not cluttered up with utility wires. No, it was decorated with large lengths of aluminum tubing assembled in a dazzling array. Below that was a small electric engine that would direct the masses of aluminum where the operator desired. It would then be ‘lit up’ with radio frequency power that would ionize the atmosphere. Directed where the antenna farm operator wanted it of course! That old utility pole had a double-coat of creosote on it. It was driven down into the ground far enough that if a 747 hit it that the plane would have more damage than the pole. It was decorated every so many feet with big steel pegs so that my friend could trek up the pole and work on his antenna farm. This was heaven. I had died and I must be in heaven. It was then that I was notified that drooling wasn’t a characteristic of most hams-to-be.

Inside my friends ‘pleasant home, he had built a small room that took up a portion of his spacious garage. In that room was a rough-hewn table that seemed to go on for a mile. Upon that table were shiny captivating boxes of knobs, switches and dials. His menagerie of metal radio muscle-boxes were from various manufacturers and eras, but they were all very capable of either generating or receiving radio signals. Some would even amplify the signals both incoming and outgoing. Lesser amongst the tribe of tune-ables were the rigs that aided in the modes of communication known as RTTY and Slow-Scan TV. Taking center stage was his blindingly shiny chrome lollipop microphone. This bastion of electronic heaven focused my attention on the idea that I too could have some such installation – maybe of less substance – at my own home. License training and testing for me was now in order.

Over the next few years I traversed the ham license coursework. Starting with the prescribed Novice class material I was able to pass that first exam. Once licensed, I was blessed to have my old high school chum come to my home and help me set up my first station. Small, but very functional I had a solid state transceiver – the venerable Atlas 210x. That was fed to a dipole that had been draped over a telescoping TV antenna mast on my garage. I quickly studied and passed the Technician test and was off communicating with 2 meters. My friend and I would frequently ‘chat’ on 2 meter simplex, even though he was many miles away. As I had said, his home site was radio-advantageous! Soon after this, I obtained my General class license. The timeframe for this occurred at a point on the backside of a solar cycle, but provided many, many hours of enjoyable DXing, chatting and learning. That General license was not enough for someone like me who was used to having the whole 2-30 MHz band available when I was serving in the Navy. I realized the way to get that and worked hard for more privileges. Soon I earned my Advanced ticket. It came at a price though. It was won in a war of three battles fought valiantly at the marble and linoleum structures that housed the San Francisco office of the Federal Communications Commission. Hard won, but it opened even more areas to explore and further enjoy the hobby.

I practiced CW more and more to make sure that I could send and receive the 20 words per minute for the Extra class and studied hard to understand the theory I would be tested on to obtain it. One shot at that target was all I needed to win it. For this I was grateful. I was now able to carouse around in the atmosphere with my signals wherever in the approved bands I wanted to go. It was bliss. DXCC, WAS, contesting… all of it was so exciting. I wanted to do it all and in fact did get to at least taste each one. As a member of the Northern California DX Club (NCDXC), the Northern California Contest Club (NCCC), my local radio club and the ARRL, I was plugged in and learning to be a good fellow ham. Though I didn’t operate with the NCCC in a contest, I was able to go out and experience the wonderful contest station N6RO. I was also thankful to have known both W6GO and K6HHD who both worked tirelessly to provide a bulletin of DX information over many years.

Those years were fantastic and fed my radio addiction. I thought the addiction at times would overwhelm my life, my marriage and my work but I was careful to make every attempt at achieving balance that I could. Not long into our marriage, my bride was with child. It was then that I made the decision along with my wife put the radios away or sell them all. That done, soon afterwards another child came to bless our home. Many years would pass where there were no signals at our home either entering or leaving. Most importantly though, there were two youngsters who were able to enjoy their Daddy and Mommy time.

Nearly a decade past, upon us was a move from the state we had all been born in, that my wife and I had been raised in. We moved to the Midwest where life was much different than in California. It was pleasingly different in ways we hadn’t imagined. Family was important here in Iowa, more so than we had experienced before. The neighbors here were not separated by fencing, but rather by honor. The interaction with others was a bit like enjoying an ice cold bowl of Rocky Road ice cream after a hard day’s work in the heat. Tension was missing but not missed. Relationships were formed quickly by our children which was paramount in our list of important things to deal with in a family move.

Sometime after our arrival to Pella, Iowa, and a time after our family was settled, those visions of again plying the trades of knobology, switchmaster, buttonology and dial spinology were surfacing like a ballistic missile leaving a nuclear ballistic missile sub. My old passion for radiating the earth and the sky with spindly little strips and tubes of metal and wires were coming forth like Coke and Mentos.

In my new quest to quell my radio passion, I obtained an old straight-bar triangular tower from a local ham who was moving away. Once home, it went up quickly and soon had an off-center-fed dipole cut for 160 meters dangling from it. I had visions the ‘new’ shack was ablaze in the glow of L.E.D.’s. Though not much like those old ‘glass FETs’ that my old ham neighbor had, but so much as exciting for me.

A soft but discernible click brought my station back on the air. Like my old high school friend, I had found an Atlas 350XL. A rig much before it’s time. A receiver so quiet you actually would leave it on not knowing it until someone happened by that frequency and began sending. Using that rig, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that unlike my stations back on the West Coast, there was no local noise coming into the cans over my ears. My signals, though not of incredible power, seemed to penetrate through pileups like never before. Could it possibly be that the body of water 300 yards away was providing a good reflection path for my ionization of the air? Possibly.

Now as the years have gone by, our children are grown and gone. My son followed my Dad and me and joined the Navy. He found the bride we had prayed for and married her. My daughter graduated from University of Northern Iowa and has begun a career in the care of the elderly which was her passion from childhood. She’s betrothed to a young man who has waited over eight years to take her hand in marriage. Our home is quieter now. Even the ham shack was lonely without that little boy coming in excitedly telling me about something new he had experienced or learned about. No more were the times where my daughter would come in just to spend time talking. Unlike some folks I dreaded the day that my children were grown and gone. My bride consoled me and I have learned to live from visit to visit with our kids. Some say that’s the best time of life, but I miss my children terribly. I love them so much.

But… there’s that radio thing. I’d go for weeks without even turning on the light in the shack. My excitement was quelled temporarily. Months would go by without any time in the shack at all. There would be short spurts of time where I would walk in to the haven of signals and drive my signals among the heavens with my cloud warmers. The excitement was coming back. Oh! Remember that driving thing at the beginning of this story? Well throughout my life that passion has been fed with what really has been unintentional, but occurred through several decades time and time again. I would in fact find myself needing to commute to and from work somewhere south or north of an hour each way to work. Though sometimes I would get all growly and think my commute was too long and that it wasted my valuable time, it did afford time on the air to either listen or join in while feeding the passion to drive at the same time.

My small selection of radio gear has shrunk down to sizes that make some rigs hard to find at times. For me, in my need to conserve fuel in my two hours on the road each day, I drive small vehicles. Those little tiny rigs become a blessing in this case. In my current commute-mobile is a Kenwood TH-D72A that uses a dual-band mag mount on the roof. With this little wonder of technology I can track my wanderings on the earth. Further, I can chat with folks around the world using the plethora of communication modes now available to the handie-talkie crowd.

Now, about this driving and this radio addiction thing… I always thought as I reached my 60s that I would be stodgy, uninterested in such silliness as ham radio and I would be relegated to a beer on Sunday afternoon watching either NASCAR or the Green Bay Packers. Yes, as a matter of fact I did kick the 49ers to the curb! (As well as the Giants… go Cards!) However, another one of those sweet moments like the hours spent with old Lou Glaser and his Hallicrafters, Hammarlunds, Heathkits and Collins rigs occurred just the other day. Traveling home from Des Moines to our home near Lake Red Rock, I had decided to do what I had seen suggested in one of the recent ham publications I read. Maybe it was Gordo, Bob, George, Peter or Tommy I don’t recall though. The suggestion was to monitor 146.52 and throw out a CQ once in a while. I tuned up the HT and left it on 5-2 while commuting home one day last week. Fasten your seatbelts you who are died-in-the-wool hams!

“This is Kilo Charlie Four Victor Bravo Echo monitoring 5-2” came clearly out of my rig’s speaker port and into my Scion XB audio system. (Isn’t it cool how you can mash-up technology like that?) Regarding the station I had just heard on 5-2, I thought to myself, well, this must either be another transplant to the beautiful Midwest like me, or a sojourner through Iowa. In any case, I was contemplating a response when a local station responded to KC4VBE’s call. I could hear both of them Q5 and became excited beyond all sanity when Steve, KC4VBE stated that he was aeronautical mobile. Now that in itself is pretty cool isn’t it? I remember how excited I was years ago when Owen Garriot, W5LFL spoke into the mic on the Shuttle Columbia… and I heard him!! – not on my beam out on the tower that was pointed at the spot in space where he would traverse, but on my HT with its rubber ducky antenna next to me in the shack! THAT was exciting.

Ok, so you want to know what was the big deal with Steve. Aero-mobile. Big Deal. …. Wait! There’s more! (Sorry, I get carried away) It just so happened that Steve is a Navy pilot and the aircraft he was piloting happened to be a Navy EA-18B Fighter jet which is set up for ELINT or Electronic Intelligence. Steve further let us know that he was traveling at Mach .85 at an altitude of 27,000 feet over Kansas City, Missouri. Ok, um… well, hearing that I came a bit unglued, so I pulled over. (Many of you are saying your thanks at this point that some knucklehead like me wasn’t swerving all over the interstate whooping about working a Navy Fighter jock.) Yes, there is more Mathilda… Did I tell you that I first received Steve in his EA-18 and the other station was that I heard them both on my mag-mount dual band antenna? Boring I suppose eh? Well now lookie here folks! That antenna was in the back seat on the floor! No I’m not kidding. I jumped out of the car after I pulled over (seems you get in trouble if you get those things out of order) and planted that mag mount dead center on my xB’s roof and as soon as Steve’s first QSO was over I called him. KC4VBE this is Kilo Kilo Zero Delta Juliet, Kilo Kilo Zero Delta Juliet near Pleasantville, Iowa. Over. Steve came back on and said that there were so many stations calling that it was hard to discern aHe then said that he wanted to work the ‘Zero Delta Juliet’ station. WOW… my puny little 5 watts out through 15 year old coax that has spent most of its life in either Iowa winters or summers while being pinched between door gaskets! I hoped then that my battery would hold out! I came back to Steve and gave my name, location and rig/power etc. and handed it back to him. Apparently other stations were trying to work him over the top of me since they couldn’t hear me, but Steve showed great operator prowess in asking them to stand-by while he worked me. We finished our QSO just fine then. It was like I was back in high school again. I was more excited than I thought I could ever get with ham radio again. I was so excited I called my wife on her cell to tell her all about it, but got her voicemail. I’m thinking that the message was rather humorous to her… even after being married to me for more than 35 years! I was like a little kid getting their first bicycle. The magic was still there. I had a wonderful rest of my commute home just reveling in what had just transpired. In Ham Radio, seemingly simple things cause such enjoyment for me.

Yes, wait! There is more! It doesn’t end there. I am filling out a QSL card this afternoon to send to Steve since he told me during our QSO that he would be honored to swap cards with me. An officer and a gentleman he is. I hope and pray there are others of you who still get giddy when you get to do something special with our wonderful hobby. I encourage all hams to just enjoy it all. There is a magic in using radio that just isn’t like any other pastime or hobby. If you can, let go a little and enjoy it. I did and I am still grinning as I write this for y’all.

73
Dennis
KK0DJ

Member Comments:
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The Excitement of Radio  
by K1CJS on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story, Dennis. Thanks for sharing. 73!
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by N1HOS on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I enjoyed this. Thanks
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by N6AJR on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, well written and something close to my own heart. I remember in Okinawa (1960 - 1963) as a kid one of my dads friends was a ham and had this whole wall of great transmitters and recievers.

My service of choice was the air forve in electronic countermeasures repair.



I got my first ticket ( tech) in 1978 and was active for a few years then got off the air in 1984 or so. I kept the license current, but did not use it again till 2001. Then I went crazy with radio again.

Ham radio is so much more fun when you are able to have enough "extra " money to be able to buy stuff. SO now I too am a member of the NCCC, and donate every year to the NCDXF and such. I have tried rtty, television, psk 31, cw ssb, am, fm , hf, uhf, vhf, 900 and 1.2 g, and much more. I have my little tower up at 40 feet and a 3 element steppir on top and am having a ball.

as a old disbled dude, I have had a ton of help from my friends and have a very nice station set up. I some times go a month or two with out turning on a radio, then I will be on every dsy for a couple of months, what ever suits my old retired body.

Welcome back to all of you old "re treads" back to ham radio.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KK0DJ on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for the kind words... I will look for you on the bands...
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by AB4O on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great Story!
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by VE3TMT on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story Dennis, enjoyed reading.
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by K7RNO on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice read! Thank you for sharing.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by K9MHZ on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'll admit to being most interested in the latest/most modern tech side of the hobby today. But, 37 years ago when I first started, I think I was most captivated by the big mechanicals of the tube rigs of the day, or maybe what was becoming vintage gear even then. It was so unlike anything else in life at the time, and to hear DX stations come out of those was just too cool. I couldn't agree more with you Dennis.
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by N6EZS on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Cheers for the great story. One question: You mention the double-basic method of learning code. Can you explain what this is? (A quick Google search yielded nothing.) Thanks.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by N4KC on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Dennis, your love and continuing excitement for our hobby came through 5-by-9. Sometimes it's difficult for us to explain exactly what it is that makes us so passionate for amateur radio, but you did a fine job telling your story.

Thanks for doing so.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
The Excitement of Radio  
by JOHNZ on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@KK0DJ
Please tell me more about the "Double-Basic" method of learning code, particularly how a trainee is taken from zero knowledge of Morse to 18 WPM proficiency, sending and receiving, in two weeks time? Incidentally, don't know if you are aware of it, but the RM rating was abolished in 1997.
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by N0QJA on August 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
KK0DJ... My Elmer is an old radio engineer who's call was W9TQV. I've worked a lot of commercial radio in Iowa but, no matter what station I'm with, That Elmer is still with me. He taught me a lot about radio.. I thought I had learned it all in Tech School... I didn't...And I am still doing it years later....
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by K9ZF on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great story,

Hope to hear you on the bands!

73
Dan

--
K9ZF
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
former K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
<http://www.qsl.net/n9rla>
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KK0DJ on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Peter... here's how the double-basic method worked. An instructor or a tape of an instructor would lead the room of sailors sitting at their 'mills' in this fashion:

Instructor states LOUDLY... "DI-DAH"

Class responds LOUDLY .... "ALPHA" while at the same time hammering home the "A" key on their mill

Instructor states LOUDLY "DI-DI-DI-DAH"

Class responds "VICTOR" ... again typing the letter on their 'mill'

This made me recall there was one other thing we had cemented in our brains was the phonetic alphabet. It was taught in the basic Radioman classes, but really was made permanent in this class.

I am assuming, but I think the 'double-basic' moniker came from the fact that you were doing double duty in that you were training your brain to recognize first the morse code character while also training your hands to punch the correct key, plus the added ability to know instantaneously the correct phonetic response.

I think I'm a bit biased, but I saw this as the best way to learn morse code. I'm not sure it would 'play' outside of a military environment as it would require dedication that typically isn't seen in someone that is pursuing a hobby... well, I guess unless they are tightly focussed on winning the CQ WW CW contest! ;-)
73
Dennis
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KK0DJ on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am sadly aware that the RM rate is now actually an Information Technology rate. I found it interesting and was pleased to see however that they retained the 'sparks' on the "Crow" patch for the Petty Officers and seaman rates.

In regards to the double-basic, look for my response here to N6EZS for an explanation on that.
73
Dennis
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by JOHNZ on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
TO: KK0DJ
INFO: N6EZS

Ok, now I know what method of learning Morse you were attempting to describe, but in no way is a trainee with zero knowledge of Morse taken from no knowledge of Morse to proficiency in sending and receiving Morse at 18 WPM in only two weeks. That just never happened, based on my experience. What you are describing is a method of teaching Morse that the military and other government agencies used in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, just prior to the arrival of computer generated individual training. As you described, students would initially learn the Morse alphabet by hearing the Morse, then shouting out the letter, Di Dah, Alfa! Dah dit dit dit, Bravo! Also, the instructor would yell Alfa! and the students would respond Di Dah! and so on, etc. Students would then move on to hitting the appropriate key on the typewriter (mill), in order to associate the individual letters with the correct key on the mill. By the second week, students were doing "DOUBLES," and this is where you recalled that term from. Doubles were two letters at a time. Students would hear and type two letters (doubles) at a time. HOWEVER, at the end of two weeks, students were doing doubles at somewhere around 3 WPM, not even close to 18 WPM. During the third week, students would begin attempting to copy 3 letter groups and begin to gain speed. Fourth week on to 4 letter groups. After the fifth week, students were copying 5 letter groups at about 5 to 7 WPM. During the sixth and seventh week, numbers and punctuation were introduced, and in the following weeks, students increased their speed each week or were put into remedial training or set back to an earlier class. Morse lessons were often mixed with theory classes as well. Sending proficiency was also introduced during later weeks. I am not sure about RM school, but the cryptology ratings and government agencies such as NSA and CIA had basic Morse schools that lasted up to a year, but they also taught many other subjects, in addition to Morse, during that one year. The average student would reach 18 WPM somewhere around the 16th week of training. Navy cryptology students had to copy and send at 24 WPM, in order to graduate, but their basic school was almost a year long and included theory classes. Oh, as a sidebar, the RM rating in 1997 was merged with DP to form a new IT (Information Systems Technician) rating. The IT rating is now part of the Information Dominance Warfare community of ratings.
 
COOL ARTICLE  
by WB9QEL on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
THIS IS JOHNZ:


TO: KK0DJ
INFO: N6EZS

Ok, now I know what method of learning Morse you were attempting to describe.

_________________________________________


THIS IS W9ZXT:

This man wrote a very cool article and really spoke from his heart. In my book that is Fine Business!!

JOHNZ picked it apart and told him what he was "attempting" to describe.

Chill a little JOHNZ this is just a hobby.


 
RE: COOL ARTICLE  
by JOHNZ on August 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@W9ZXT
Let's assume for conversation sake that you are not trolling...then it would follow that mixing facts with feelings is self-defeating and actually degrades the writer, versus supporting him.
 
RE: COOL ARTICLE  
by KK0DJ on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
To all... for the record: I have a copy of my navy record and I have a graduation certificate from the RM-2304 course taken at USNTC San Diego that proves the length of the course I took. The insulting manner in which I have been addressed nothwithstanding, those are the facts. If I had written fiction I would have labeled it so, but this was an accounting of my life experiences that I hoped would give a smile to someone who might need one... so JohnZ I am hoping you can smile and just enjoy the words I have written.
73
Dennis
KK0DJ
P.S. John, what is your callsign?
 
RE: COOL ARTICLE  
by JOHNZ on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@KK0DJ
Dennis, you are free to believe whatever you wish. It does not make any difference to me. RM-2304 was a NEC that was likely earned by you, after successful graduation from RM "A' school. At the time you were in "A" school, RM "A" school was a three month course, and graduates did, in fact, graduate with a mastery of Morse at 18 WPM. I hear "sea stories" all the time down at the VFW, so I am well aware of how memories of our military service years evolve over time.
 
RE: COOL ARTICLE  
by KK0DJ on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
To JohnZ... you are entitled to your opinion. Everyone has one.
73
Dennis
KK0DJ
 
RE: COOL ARTICLE  
by KK0DJ on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
John Zinc... if you need proof, I have it and can send it to you. My graduation from RM "A" school was in 1971. My graduation from RM-2304 school was in 1972. The RM "A" school I attended did not provide any training at all in morse code. Can you tell me your call sign so I can look you up and send you the documented proof? Or maybe you could provide your address or phone number so we can talk? You are questioning my integrity without proof and only by what you have experienced. I am stating fact that I can back up with documentation. So please refrain from your insulting tone. I'd sure appreciate that.
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by K1FPV on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice job Dennis! I've been licensed over 50 years now myself. Over the years, I've spoken with many hams both old long times and new hams. We all have our stories about our experiences, many of them are memorable.

Congrats on the nice job you did with yours! Thanks for sharing it with us.

73,
Bill
K1FPV
 
BEST ARTICLE YET  
by WB9QEL on August 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is the most uplifting Article I have ever seen here! Dennis please don't get discouraged by some of the posts here like JOHNZ. I called him on what he said to you and he back pedaled and said I was a troll. Anyway, your Article is GREAT and I really have never seen someone speak so much from their heart than you did. That's BADASS in my book.

Hope to work you sometime in the future.

Thanks for your service Dennis!!

Semper-Fi

Nick
W9ZXT

 
RE: BEST ARTICLE YET  
by KK0DJ on August 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Nick... hope to see you too!
73
Dennis
KK0DJ
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KK0DJ on August 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
N4KC de KK0DJ...
Thank you for your kind words. I value your assessment a bit more since I have many of your books and know that you can write a good thread! Thank you for the hours of enjoyment you have provided for me Don.
73
Dennis
KK0DJ
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KK0DJ on August 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
N0QJA de KK0DJ... how true my friend, how true. I believe that those who stop learning stop living really... there is always something new even about something old that you can learn!
73 John....
maybe catch you on VHF or UHF sometime?
I work in DSM during the day and retreat to the Pella area at night....
Dennis
KK0DJ
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by WD9FUM on August 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sadly, RM's are also no more in the Coast Guard. They were known as TC's for a while and them were merged with RD's to become OS's.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by JOHNZ on August 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@WD9FUM
If memory serves me correctly, it was July 31, 1995 that the USCG sent its last c.w. message, an end of long historical era in CG history.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by WD9FUM on August 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It was just recently that 2182 kHz is no longer used.
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by KK4INT on September 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice personal history. Thank you for posting it.
73
Mitchell Bober
KK4INT
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by N2FBV on September 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for such a good article, I enjoyed reading it immensely. I have myself been licensed since the 70's and have been on again off again with ham radio as things change in my life. However the bug always returns and that smile crosses my face as I remember the joy of electrons flying across the ether as it were. Since you are reading this post it is evident that I have experienced yet another rebirth of interest....

73
ken N2FBV
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by W8IFI on September 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great story! Thanks!
When I was about 8 yrs. old in the late 40's my mom brought me to a electric motor repair shop where they rebuilt armatures and the like. Her sewing machine motor needed rebuilding so we walked over to the shop. We didn't have a car and my mom was a seamstress so not much money. We got our first telephone about a year before and my mom could talk long distance to her sisters 12 miles away! Different exchanges so it was charged long distance and used very sparingly. When we got to the shop I started looking around and noticed a large half completed cabinet with a chassis and large tubes and meters. The owner said he was building a radio for a friend so he could talk to Europe!I was stunned!! talking to England, France etc. with that seemed impossible. Then the owner showed me his own setup. Johnson transmitter and National receiver. He used to be a radio op on B17's during the war. Could he send cw! Clean and crisp with perfect spacing.
After about a year my mom let me go over to the shop on Saturday mornings to tune around on the shopkeepers radio. There was always a collection of local men there chatting about business, the Korean war and the like. Sometimes I would hear things I wouldn't dare tell my mother. Just like the old blacksmiths shops from years ago. I tried to build a couple of kits I bought with money from shoveling snow. Just and old soldering iron so my solder joints looked like welds on a tank hull. I did get my novice license in 1957 and my ticket is my most valued possession to this day.
Again thank you Den for bringing back memories!
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by N8IBZ on September 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
What a great article. I have to say that it brought a tear to my eye about the love for your children and how you miss them so. I feel the same way and can't stand the thought of not ever seeing my children as much. We get so busy and these kids have to work so hard and seem to never find the time to get away from the everyday life events.
73 to all and thanks for the great true story.

 
The Excitement of Radio  
by NJ2X on September 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for the enjoyable narrative.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by KJ4DGE on September 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great Story, That is what makes this hobby so special, the little things. Mine was my first DX on 6 meters 938 miles to LA with 5 watts! it does not take much to put a grin on a hams face if they are really into radio.

Again I enjoyed the recollection very much, hoping to work Air mobile or ISS with 5 watts as well!
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by KB0LFL on October 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Enjoyed the story. Thanks
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by W8IFI on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Before satellites came into common use I found a lot of exciting talk on the HF frequencies. You could always tell when there was some special tension apparent during the cold war by listening to SAC and MATS frequencies. I heard Bush Seniors plane, Air Force two, on it's way to Syracuse for Bush to give a speech. He was Vice President for awhile before his becoming President. I heard Air Force One when Reagan was leaving Iceland. Around 11 Mcs. I heard Copenhagen Air move there frequency right between SAC And MATS frequencies so from hearing the bleed over you could tell there was traffic and switch to whatever frequency the messages were originating from. That was when the Russian subs were poking around the Swedish sub pens. Ship to shore was always entertaining. Passengers didn't seem to realize their voices were going over the air waves and not over telephone lines. They would get pretty personal at times. Sometimes the overseas operators would cut them off when their talk got too warm. I listened to a major drug bust on the high seas by the Coast Guard, minute by minute action reporting there. One night I heard an unusual type of music I wasn't familiar with. It sounded a little Eastern and very somber. Intriguing! Shortly an announcer broke in with a message followed by the same message in English. It was Tel Aviv and they were undergoing a Scud missle attack and he was telling people to tape windows, put on gas masks etc. It is still fun listening to airliners over the ocean and look up their coordinates on a wall map. I guess those are going to go via satellite too. With most of the major national radio stations going off the air an to satellite even over the ocean air will be disappearing too. I wonder what will happen if we get another sunspot explosion like happened in 1872? Telegraph poles caught fire and telegraphers didn't have to charge their batteries for several days. If it happened today not a modern car could run or computer, banking, grocery stores would all be inoperable. It would lock this country down tight.
Jim
 
The Excitement of Radio  
by N2QQE on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for posting it.
 
RE: The Excitement of Radio  
by W6DDC on October 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well, gee, Dennis. I kind of remember those days. No more utility poles, cut them down when we sold the house. However, still have a house on a hill in El Dorado County, CA and continue to have antennas in the air. Very well written article, I enjoyed reading it and, by the way, just finished repairing a Atlas 210X. Go figure..

Dick
W6DDC
 
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