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Author Topic: Remember the first Ham you heard on a radio?  (Read 7423 times)

Posts: 215

« on: September 06, 2004, 01:58:20 AM »

Going back a few years, but that's OK, because I'm almost an OT.

In 1951 my father bought me my first radio. A Philmore "Little Wonder" crystal radio set. It was a classic set with a "cat's whisker" and slider on the tuning coil instead of a tuning condenser (capacitor). Also a new pair of Trimm 2000 ohm headphones to use with it.

I was 7 years old at the time and lived in Raleigh, NC. As I recall, I could hear only one local AM station (WRAL in town) as a rule, but by adjusting the slider, I could hear a weak mix of several other stations.

One day, while playing with the coil slider, I heard a man talking. He got louder as I slid the control all the way to one end. In those days, he was probably transmitting on 75 meter AM.

It was W4ANU. We had a 1950 Call Book and my father showed me how to look up his call letters and address. He was only a couple blocks away. A guy named Harry Wiggs.

Been well over 50 years, but I still remember that he lived at 1625 Sunrise Avenue in Raleigh.



Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2004, 04:59:03 PM »

First ham I ever heard was W2JZD in Union, NJ, about 3-4 miles from my parents' home, where I grew up.

I'll never forget him telling about his "160 meter" rig (it was AM, or course), and my trying to figure out how he could have one hundred sixty meters on a'd he fit them all in?

My little radio at the time didn't even have a meter!

Two years later when I wanted to become a Novice and was looking for somebody to give the test (remember how it was back then?), I looked up Ben, W2JZD and called him on the telephone.  I was sad to find out (from his XYL) that Ben had passed on a couple of months earlier, so he could not give me the test.  Wish I had started a few months earlier, so he could have, and I'm sure he would have.


Posts: 3746

« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2004, 09:10:30 PM »

About forty years ago, the man who lived next to my grandparents was a pilot for pan am and was very active operator.  He had his station in the garage behind the house.  You could tell he was on the air because of the glow of all the equipment lamps that was visible from the window.

I don't remember his callsign but his name was edgar canivan from brooklyn ny.

Posts: 158

« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2004, 01:26:19 PM »

First amateur heard was K2ORI, Ed Johnson; first QSO was on 2M with WA2IFY, Jim Condon.

Posts: 4

« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2014, 07:11:40 PM »

The first Ham I recall hearing was just after WW2, probably 1946. I was in the 6th grade.

At my Grandparents home in Northern Iowa was a large new Philco floor console radio. It had many different bands, including several short wave. One day I was playing with it and heard a loud station where someone said he was at his cabin on a lake in Minnesota. He had taken his ham radio station there for the weekend and had an antenna hooked to a tree. I think he was on 75 Meters, AM of course.

He loved his cabin and ham radio, and I immediately wanted to be ham also.

Posts: 2166

« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2014, 08:11:24 PM »

First one I remember was listening to some guy on 75 cussing and swearing because an OO sent him a pink slip for cussing and swearing. It was like 10 more years before I tried for my ticket after that.

But what I remember the most was being at Field Day and working South Cook Island on 10 meters. That was my first contact. That's when I caught the bug and finally went for my ticket.

73, Stan
Walk a mile in my shoes BEFORE you tell me how bad they are.

Posts: 156

« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2014, 08:29:42 AM »

Not sure if this counts, but my first Ham I heard on the radio was via an SDR on a web site linked from   It was really neat seeing the watching the spectrum display and waterfall to see where the transmissions were.  You could eventually could tell the CW vs. SSB vs. AM vs. digital data vs. SSTV.  You could even tell when a Ham was transmitting with excessive bandwidth because the waterfall showed how wide it was splattering all over the place.   

Then I got my first radio which was an HT for 2m/1.25m/70cm with a wide receiver.  I drove up to Ham Radio Outlet in March 2013 to get it.  When I tried the Band A for the transceiver bands, nobody was on the repeaters nor the National simplex calling frequency of 146.52.  So, I tuned to various places on Band B which was the wide receiver.  There was a SSB contest that weekend.  So, I was able to hear people on 40m, 20m, and surprisingly 10 meters too.   I may not be enthusiastic about contests, but they are good for checking your reception of the band.   I discovered that SSB was much harder to tune than AM.  Heard my first live CW dit dahhing on 40 meters.  I liked the sound of those dits and dahs.  I wanted to learn how to do that too.

The next day, I got on a repeater and put out my call sign based on feedback from other Hams - particularly   A ham replied.  I don't have my log book handy right now, but I numbered my contacts who I made contact, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc...   After the ham cleared, another ham got on and contacted me...  I was nervous, but I eventually got over the nervousness.  My 5th contact later became a great Elmer for me.  I met this ham at a local ham radio club simply because I recognized his voice.

I actually got into ham radio for building simple little radios, and I thought at first I would not spend a lot of time transmitting - I would mostly  listen.  Yet, these days, I do spend a lot of time getting on the air.  I like rag chewing.  I like talking to Elmers.  I like talking to new hams.   I like getting on Nets when I remember them.

Went to my first Field Day which was in June 2014.  I had a really good time.  I thought I would stop by for about an hour to see how it is.  I stayed there over 4 hours.  I met some hams I knew from talking on the air.  There were even hams who knew me simply by listening to the conversations I had on the air.   There are a LOT of hams out there who do a lot of listening who may not even respond.  I've done that sometimes too where I just listen.  Such as, when cleaning or building or fixing something; I do not want to stop what I am doing to talk.  Yet, I do like to listen to the conversation.  I spent more time talking to other hams then getting on the air at Field Day.

First time I was aware of ham radio was my brother got licensed in the 1990s.  Ham radio has been something I was aware of and I liked, but I did not jump into it until August 2012.   Yet, for some reason, I do not remember him using his radios which is why I cannot say it was the first time I heard a Ham on a radio.

Posts: 157

« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2014, 11:44:56 AM »

Definitely not - I was too young. My first Field Day was at the age of 13 months, but I don't remember it. I can remember going to Field Day with father (G8ON) in 1951 (4 years old) . G3HKQ had a commercial tx, a Panda cub, and he lived in mining village where the mains was 180 volts. The generator, I always remember, belonged to G3BTU, and  was on a plank of wood mounted on pram (stroller) wheels with two 110 volt generators and transformers to get it up to 230 volts. The connections were all in ex WW2 coax - live and grounded neutral. So they were working away when there was a 'BANG' and foul smell from the tx as an electrolytic went. Now G3BTU ran a radio/TV servicing business, so a trip to his van and new electrolytic and off they went again. After about 30 minutes, another 'BANG' and foul smell, and another electrolytic from Harold's van. After it happened the third time, I got unpopular when, as they replaced it, I asked 'Daddy, Daddy, Will it do it again?'

In January 1953, I was sitting with my father when I was 5 years old, listening to the ships in the North Sea calling 'Mayday' as the Humber Radio (GKZ) coast station (where 10 years later I took my Morse Test) went off the air as it was flooded by the storm surge. G3ELZ, Fred Petersen,  tuned his top band tx up to 2182 and answered the distress traffic: then he got the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve amateur radio club in Hull to come up and help take traffic.

Six months earlier, the authorities, when it was suggested that amateurs could help in emergencies responded that 'Existing systems are adequate to cope without external assistance'........In the UK and the Netherlands, over 2000 lives were lost in that storm surge. It led to the creation of the UK Radio Amateur Emergency Network.........

So I don't really know when I first heard a ham on the radio......My XYL (G4FNC) claims she had a deprived childhood, as there was not a communications receiver in the house until she was 11 years old....
« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 11:48:16 AM by G3RZP » Logged

Posts: 1256

« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2014, 10:28:43 AM »

I couldn`t say who I first heard,only my first qso. Had just got my Novice May 14,1975. Shortly after had my first qso. Nervous as heck,I barely made it through the qso. I used our club station equipment,and Novices could use vfo`s by then. Our General station was quite nice,we had the Drake Twins. Worked some guy in Lancaster,PA. A very typical "local" 80m contact.

Posts: 38

« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2014, 12:45:49 PM »

My grand Pa had a big old Zenith radio in his living room and I would love to tune in the AM ham bands and listen on it.
I looked forward to visiting him and doing that.
This was when I was in grade school many years ago.
By High School I had a CB radio and was learning a lot about electronics.
It was not until 1988 that I passed the 13wpm code test and qualified for my own ham call.
It was not quite as easy to get a ticket then as there was no internet to help.

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