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Author Topic: Your story: How did you get into Amateur Radio?  (Read 154732 times)

Posts: 145

« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2011, 07:53:58 PM »

As a former boy scout ( about 2 years ago) i went to get my radio merit badge, figuring id't be a fun day, and i got to go to the David Sarnoff radio museum.

Anyway, I went there, stayed the whole day, and walked out of there with a piece of paper that held my future to radio. a local ham was holding classes. i convinced my dad to take me, and after a week, he wanted his license! i passed the tech test with flying colors and couldn't wait for my license. i bought the ic-t7h with an advance on my allowance, and me and my dad were on the air. we soon found the pepper net, on the W2ZQ repeater, and my dad goes on there every night. i dont go every night, but once in a while.

that was VHF...

then came the glorious day, A close friend from the net gave me and my dad an FT-101ZD. my life changed after that. Ive been up to 3:AM messing around with that thing. now i'm studying for my general class ticket, and learning Morse code!

on a final statement, i'm proud to be the ONLY eighth grader at my school to carry a ham radio.

A special thanks to Frank Palecek, for getting me and my dad on HF!

Posts: 168

« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2011, 05:25:34 AM »

 :-XMy path to amateur radio started about 1948-1954 when I was exposed to it as a very young lad, through my neighbor W2LUC (SK) when we lived on the fifth floor of a apartment building in the lower east side of Manhattan...He had all kind of fascinating gear, and an open wire fed doublet antenna on the roof (boy you could never get away with that today). His wife and my mom we're best friends, so I spent a lot of time in his apartment, and heard many QSO's, AM & CW...Well time marched on and our family moved in 1954 to a house in an outer borough of NYC, and I never gave amateur radio much thought, until 1957 when I purchased an HQ-100, started listening around, and got my novice license KN2LGO...never changed the call.  I know for sure that it was my exposure to him that planted the seed of amateur radio, which sprouted some years later...

Posts: 3203


« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2011, 05:55:16 AM »

I am Dennis KG4RUL, licensed as an Extra. 

I have had electronic/electrical things around me (often in a cloud of smoke) since I was a kid (my Father was an electrician and a bit of a pack rat so I had lot's of stuff to play with).  I first started to learn about electronics in the boy Scouts and got most of the related merit badges.  However, I never could get Morse Code.  I was great at signaling with semaphore,flags and lights but, morse by ear eluded me.

As I got older, I started to fix things like toasters and radios for my family and neighbors.  In Junior High at age 14, I managed to get into an adult education course on TV repair.  I got the best grades in the class!  When I tried to sign up for the next level course, Color TV repair at the time, I was told that I was too young.  However, the instructor came to my aid by making me his "Lab Assistant" so I took the course but was not officially enrolled.

Then I discovered Heathkits.  I soon had a reputation as the one to go to if you bought the Heathkit and were overwhelmed when you opened the box or actually assembled it and couldn't get it to work.  A great way to pick up pocket money.  I also took correspondence courses from the Cleveland Institute of Electronics.

So, as I went out into the working world, my knowledge of electronics served me well.  Engineering Laboratory Technician - Field Service Engineer - Electronic Design - Computer Programmer/Analyst

When I realized that I could get a Technician License without passing a Morse Code test, I got the ARRL book, studied it for a week and passed the test first time in 2002.  I spent many hours on 6M, 2M and 70CM phone and learned proper operating techniques.  In the interim, I tried just about EVERY way to learn Morse Code, again, with no success.

When the FCC dropped the Morse Code requirement entirely, I studied for and passed the General exam the month before and on the first Saturday after the requirement was dropped, passed the Extra exam.

I now teach Technician Licensing classes.  Really teach, not a weekend quicky course!  I am active in a radio club, our county ARES group and occasionally drop in to teach something new to the kids in a local Middle School's radio club.

So, here I am at age 64, retired and enjoying a GREAT hobby.

Posts: 236


« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 04:39:09 AM »

Here's mine.




Posts: 0

« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2011, 09:27:08 AM »

I wish I had some amazing story to tell but the truth of it is that I just thought it was really neat.

I grew up on a farm back when cell phones were the size of cinder blocks; every truck and tractor had a CB radio and we even had some portable CBs my friends and I played with on weekends.  We also lived within about a mile of the highway so I talked to truckers for about a minute at a time.  Mostly just "how's it going?" before they were out of range, but it was a blast.

Then one day I saw Contact and thought "hey, you can actually do that?!"  It seemed so complicated that I never really did much with it until I decided to get back into electronics.  In 2009, I wrote the Basic exam and passed with honors (96%! Woohoo!) which meant full access to the bands.  I studied everything (manuals, regulations, circuit design, etc. etc.) for about six months straight so it was great to see it pay off like that.  The fellow who did my exam showed me a QSL card from the ISS, which naturally left me even more excited to get into this, so six months later I almost aced the Advanced exam.  During field day I managed to get as far south as LA and established contact with a special Canadian station, CF3NAVY, which cemented my love of DX specifically.

I also got my code certification sometime last year.  I know it's no longer required in Canada but I wanted to prove to myself that I could.  I'm still kind of terrified of making too many mistakes and getting kicked off the air though, so I haven't made any CW contacts yet, but I'm practicing for the next field day!

Anyway, I think this is a great hobby if you like meeting people and challenging yourself to go just a little further than the last time.  There's never something you can't improve and it's very rare that you don't learn something. 

Posts: 397

« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2011, 01:23:00 PM »

I got into Amateur radio by sending in 24 boxtops from Apple Jacks. Just like everyone else since multiple guess tests came along!!  LOL!!

Posts: 180


« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2011, 06:24:07 AM »

There was a lost child in the woods. The local Ham Club was working hand in hand with the FD & PD to find the boy. The night time temps were in the low 30's. I was a C.B'r and was not able to participate using my radios. There was no C.B. Club in our area. The search Command wanted only hams with H.T.'s that could communicate to the control center, via the ham Club's portable base station. This motivated me to get my ham ticket. Since I was on Active duty in the Army with years of experience in the woods, I felt I could be of help but was not allowed. The boy and his dog were found after two days, curled up at the base of a tree, alive but cold and hungry.

Posts: 159

« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2011, 04:54:19 AM »

"Well, for me, it was a part of boy scouts. I am only 12 years old, so this story happened about 1 year ago. I had seen one of our ASMs (Assistant Scoutmasters) fiddling around on a mobile HF radio on one campout. The next troop meeting, he offered a liscensing class for the troop, I took it and got my Tech. My interest then wandered to HF, and now tomorrow, at the troop meeting where the Ham radio liscensing class for this year starts (kind of cool, I think), I will be receiving the Icom IC-718 that I purchased through that ASM, and also the accessories that he is loaning or giving to me. I'm extremely excited!!!!!"

Come on your not 12. Or unless you are how much did you pay to have someone write that? Don't just 'fiddle' around with the radio, learn some theory!


Posts: 87

« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2011, 09:58:59 PM »

Started out as a BCB/SWL in the late 50's . My folks had a big Airline AM/FM/SW/record player ( sold by Montgomery Ward ) in the living room and I spent a lot of time listening to BCB dx through the static crashes and later on ,  those weird noises on the SW band ........ I was hooked for life .  I got my novice license in 1963 and went on the air using a Hallicrafters rcvr and a Heathkit DX-35 xmtr .  It was all fresh ,  new , and exciting to me and some of the most fun I have had in ham radio . 


Posts: 9

« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2011, 12:08:27 PM »

My amateur radio adventure started in 1963 when I was first licensed as WN3CRE. I was encouraged to get my Novice ticket by a Boy Scout leader. College, children and a career put the radio gear in hibernation for many years but my interest in Ham Radio never left me. After retiring in 2005, I began the process of re-activating my license including taking and passing the exam for my Extra Class ticket. Once I passed my "extra" I got back on the air.  I spend most of my time on 40, 20 and 17 meters where I enjoy a good "Ragchew" and working the nets.

Posts: 369

« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2011, 09:22:14 PM »

Shamed into getting my ticket by a friend I lost contact with for 20 years that got his and I didn't think he was even interested in ham radio. I was into electronics and he was into automobiles/mechanics when we lost contact.

Posts: 28

« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2011, 08:34:25 AM »

Well, I wish I had a really awe inspiring story, concerning my road to being an amateur radio operator, but all in all it's pretty basic. I started working for Radio Shack back in 1991, and one of the things they told us as salemen was that it was beneficial to get your ticket. keep in mind this was when hams still shopped RS on a regular basis. Well I started reading Now Your Talking, and some of the other books we had at the time, but just never got around to taking the exam. Then almost 15 years later, I was listening to a local repeater, and I heard a guy talking about someone he had ran into that asked him about his HT and during the conversation he asked the guy since he was so knowledgeable, if he too was a ham, and the guy said in 20 years he had never made the time. So i decided then and there I was not going to be that guy. So within 2 mths after that I had passed my Tech 100% and then 1 month after that passed my General and missed 1 question, it's been 3 years now as a ham, and I am hoping to get my Extra done this year. I really wish I had done it sooner, but in my case better late than never.

William K5WCF

Posts: 2645


« Reply #27 on: July 13, 2011, 09:58:33 AM »

I first learned about amateur radio when I was in 8th grade back in fall of 1987. My eigth grade science teacher told us about it early in the school year and as an incentive, offered a way to get out of marking period projects. Get your 5wpm - exempt. Get your novice license - exempt. Upgrade - exempt. I managed to get three exemptions with only having to do one project - which I did on radio! I was licensed in feb 1988. Within a few months I passed my 20wpm code test and my general. Within a year of that I had my extra! I've been basically hooked since then.

Posts: 6755

« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2011, 10:28:56 AM »

I'm going to add my two cents to this post because the way I got into ham radio is somewhat different than the others here.

I first listened to 'hams' on my dad's AM/SW Grundig radio.  The hams I listened to lived only a few miles from me and so they came in very loud. 

I guess the one thing that makes my story somewhat different is that I didn't have anyone to direct me or really take any interest in MY interests.  I was able to visit 3 local hams, by walking.... one 2 miles away, the second 5 miles.  However, in each case, although they were friendly they also intimidated me to the point that I was afraid to ask them for any kind of help.  I think I was perhaps 11 or 12 years old at the time.  Quite shy.

I was able to save a few dollars and ordered a few magazines and building pamplets which I spent hundreds of hours reading and rereading.  Mostly dreaming of being able to build some of the simple receivers in them. 

I had been looking at a circuit for a two tube regenerative receiver that used plug-in coils for various frequency "bands."  It took me a long time to save the money for the parts but I finally put in an order to a radio parts outlet.

When the parts arrived I used to practice laying them out so they would somewhat duplicate the schematic but couldn't put them together because I couldn't afford a soldering iron.

In the meantime, I had made friends with a guy who used to work on radios when he wasn't drunk.  I told him about the receiver and he got all excited  and told me to bring the stuff over to his house and we would build it.  This guy had a personality that made me comfortable and we hit it off.

He asked me to leave the stuff there and the construction book and come back tomorrow.  Well, tomorrow became a few days because he was on a bender.  When I finally found him sober he had already put the receiver together, in the large cardboard "dollhouse" that was all I could find at the time.....with a car antenna attached the to side.

I was pretty disappointed because I didn't get to be involved with the building but I was tickled to death because I had my very own receiver.  It worked great and I used to rewind the coil forms constantly to find out what else I could hear.

At that time the entry level to ham radio was the General Class license and was very difficult. And I would have to drive 120 miles to an examining point.  Plus I had no idea what to even study let alone who could teach me code.  I did buy an oscillator and key and used to send myself code by the hour.  However, I couldn't understand the code when I heard it on the receiver. It's easier to undersand code when you know what you are sending!

I later got a Hallicrafter S-38C receiver which was OK but still didn't get me any closer to getting a license.  It's really difficult for a kid to figure all of this out alone.

I finally became old enough to join the Army and to make a long story short, the Army taught me code, 44 hours a week for 6 months!  At the same time I was surrounded by hams and during my schooling I bought a Heath AT-1 transmitter.  I got very little experience in building this either because the other guys, the real hams, all got involved and I spent most of my time watching them.  I was shipped to Germany and have no idea whatever became of the AT-1. It was used on the air once.

During my stay in Germany, I was again surrounded by many hams and they helped me get my ham ticket.  I finally became a ham!  I've enjoyed this hobby now for 55 years!

The main point I want to convey with this is, whatever your problem, if you can't do it yourself, seek help.  You might have to look around for awhile, but help is out there.  The second thing I would like to convey is to be persistent!  Don't give up because it's difficult.  We live in a day and age where information and help is available instantly at the tip of your fingers.  Take advantage of it.

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 134


« Reply #29 on: July 20, 2011, 02:49:56 AM »

I think my story is about the same as most of the others. In the late 50's I started listening to BCB DX and some Shortwave broadcasts on old Radios my father would find and bring home. We would try to repair them and if we couldn't, we would Part them for other repairs. The sound of short CW transmissions that I heard fascinated me and I found myself studying Morse code just to decipher what I was hearing. My Father, who was never even close to becoming a Ham, told me about Amateur Radio and where I might find them on the radio.
I became a SWL (WPE2LPQ) while listening to Ham radio transmissions on 40 meters. In the 60's I got involved with CB radio when a friend of mine gave me an old hand held that we used to communicate nightly.

Of course all that went away in the later 60's as Girls, fun and Uncle Sam began to intrude on my radio activities. Fortunately I befriended a Sailor while serving in Uncle Sam's Yacht Club, who was a ham and ran Phone Patches from the ship while we were in the "Med". It kept the spark alive.

I can't remember when I took and passed the Novice Exam but I made my first contact in April of 1978. Like some other Hams here, I taught myself. I had nobody else at the time. Looking back i think I can honestly say that my year as a Novice operator was the absolute Best year of my entire Amateur experience. The friends I made and the things I learned were priceless.

It's been 34 years now and though I don't operate near as much as I did then, I still find the magic of radio irresistible. I am a "Know Code" ham and proud of it but I don't let it prejudice me. Of course I only work CW so maybe it already has........ 73,

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