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Author Topic: Your story: How did you get into Amateur Radio?  (Read 154563 times)

Posts: 564


« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2011, 09:11:15 PM »

I had an interest in radio since I was about 8 years old “1964”. I knew nothing about amateur radio at the time.

I would DX AM broadcast stations at night from all over the country. I thought it was so cool to listen to radio stations half way across the country. Later I got some walkie talkies for Christmas. It must have been at a solar peak, we herd CB’ers talking all over the country. I remember a guy specifically called Arkansas Fats. By the time I was 13 I would DX shortwave. By 14/15 “Summer 1972” a friend and I saved up $79.95 and each of us bought a Midland 13.874 “8” channel CB base unit.  What a bummer only CH 14 & CH 9 couldent talk on 9 so that gave us only 1 channel. One evening while on ch 14 I said lets reverse the CH 9 crystals in the transmit and receive, and it worked. (First experiment).
A year later I worked up to a Midland 13-880B SSB rig with a 100 watt amplifier, and the best ground plain antenna offerd by Radio Shack.

Big time CB with Ham Equipment.
 From their I got a Johnson Viking Valliant for $105, a Lafayette HB-800 receiver and Dow-Key relay.   This is about 1974.
( I had a complete ham station and used it on CB, I knew of no hams to guide me in the right direction). From 1976 to 1983 I was completely out of radio.

I am now a Novice Amateur Radio Operator. (1983)

I saw a Tri-Band antenna at a house about 2 miles from me. I stopped by and he showed me his shack. Mr. Vest WD5GMA /sk became my Elmer. I was a Novice for about a year and upgraded to the Technician. A few years later passed my 13 WPM got the General. “1992”. In January 2010 I earned my Amateur Extra.


I was a CB’er from the 70”s. and many Hams got their start the same way; that were from the 70’s era. The 1970’s ere CB’ers were unique and in a time of great radio growth. Never to be equaled again. Many of us eventually got our ham license and left CB to the dogs.
 Today we respect our license and comply to the laws and regulations 100%. I am being 100% honest on how I got my start, not many will.

But I can assure you at least 80% of hams from the 70’s ran radios with extra channels and amplifiers. But they wanted more and earned their ham radio license.

Posts: 127

« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2012, 07:44:23 AM »

Started on CB at age 6.I have been active since & became a Ham in 1994 & still do CB as well.


Posts: 1

« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2012, 12:02:17 PM »

Hi there! I am still a new Ham so I guess my story of "how" is really the story of "now".

         I started to get interested in Ham Radio around July, 2011. My best friend and neighbor, Caleb had a study guide book for the technician licensee that his dad had for about a year.Caleb didn't really have the time, and his dad never really got interested in it. So Caleb loaned me the book. I read it and started to discuss some of the stuff with Caleb. After a little while of me talking about it, he found some time and got interested in it. Then, once we finished the book Caleb's dad wanted to get licensed with us. He read the book, we all took about a month of practice tests, and found a test site. Going to the test site was one of the scariest things I ever did. Of course I could not sit near to Caleb, so that added to the nervousness factor. The test took about 45min to an hour for me, Caleb and his dad finished before me. I really didn't have anything to worry about though. I passed! Got at least one question wrong, but could not get my actual score. That was on Dec 3, 2011. My callsign, KD8RJY, took a week or two to come in. The cool thing was that since the three of us took the test at the same time are calls are: KD8RJW(Caleb's dad aka Uncle Mark), KD8RJX(Caleb), KD8RJY(Me).

            About the time I took the tech exam, my brother Jake, who is not a Ham(I still have yet to get him into the hobby), met Dave Umbaugh, WA8JNM, who was to become my Elmer. Dave was excited to here about a young ham and gave Jake his email address to give to me. I got the email address and soon scheduled a time to meet. He helped me choose my first radio, setup a 10 meter half wave length dipole, and I have been over to this house a few times to play radio. Even helped him put up a vertical 5-band antenna. So that's where I am now, fifteen years old and enjoying Amateur radio!

Micah, KD8RJY

Posts: 1256

« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2012, 08:01:47 PM »

If it hadn`t of been for my mother,I may have never entered the hobby. I always liked listening to broadcast radio. My parents had an old am radio/phonograph from about 1950,a Zenith. Man I loved that,to this day I miss that thing. Nobody else in our family liked radio. One day when I was about 13/14,my mother said that the local YMCA had a "radio club" there,and that I should check it out. I knew absolutely nothing about ham radio. She said something about having my own radio station. I became a member and in 1975 got my novice. I was 14. I made my first qso on 80m,a station in Lancaster,PA using the Drake twins. I was nervous but it was fun! At the time I wanted to upgrade to general so I could use the mic. Little did I know that someday I`d end up liking cw more!

Posts: 68

« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2012, 04:54:12 PM »

Just was licensed in 2010 after a life long love affair with radios and propagation. In the late 80's, a ham came into our class to show us what he could do. He was talking to someone in California all the way from the school in New Jersey. After the demo, he mentioned that to become licensed, you needed to know code. That scared me away as sad as that is to say.

Fast forward to high school, I was very interested in weather radios. Additionally, while getting my pilots license, the favorite part was being on VHF.

College got in the way, then work, but finally got my license. Funny enough, have been studying CW for the past month and kicking myself that I did not learn it when I was younger. Oh well.

After having my ticket, my parents told me that my since passed grandfather who was my idol loved to play with radios and supervised the Bendix engineers that developed them. Must be in the blood!

My 2 year old son now sits with me as I learn CW and can't wait for him to get his ticket. When he leaves our nest, I plan on having many nets with him!

Posts: 28

« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2012, 02:53:13 PM »

In 1965, my older sister thought I would like to see her boyfriend's radios.  So I went for a visit.  The op was K7MHE(SK), and his shack was the stereotype shack of that day:  Attic floor of the house; sloped ceiling; ham gear piled everywhere; that wonderful hot vacuum tube smell; radio on in the background; one small cleared area at the operating position with a D-104 and a telegraph key.  I was totally hooked, but with a slight delay, since I didn't have any money and I didn't take advantage of him as an Elmer.  In 1967 I purchased the ARRL Handbook (I still have that copy) and on page 9 I saw a photo of the ARRL lab, where they fabricated all sorts of items to show in the Handbook and QST.  I finally got a decent job in 1972 and got my Novice license.  The rest is history.  So I guess I can say that my sister really got me into ham radio!

Posts: 62


« Reply #36 on: July 22, 2012, 08:17:20 PM »

When I was a Boy Scout, my Grandfather, a Scoutmaster,  brought two oscillators and I began learning Morse Code with my friend next door.  We strung wires between the two houses.

A few years later, I took Electricity Shop in Jr. High.  The instructor announced that students could satisfy the course by doing projects or by getting a Ham Radio license.  I began studying and brushing up on my code and passed the Novice exam in 1969.

I got lots of contacts using WA6VUA, the school station.  Then I graduated and my next school didn't have a station, so my license expired two years later.  I always regretted losing that license.

Fast forward to 2005.  I received a visit from one of my religious leaders.  He handed me an ICV8 HT and a Technician book and asked if I wanted to be part of the local emergency response team and if I would attend the  Ham Radio class scheduled to begin the following Saturday.  I took the class and got my Technician license with grandfathered code since I still possessed my original Novice license.

I got my General a few months later, the same day my wife passed her Technician exam.

Posts: 4

« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2012, 02:59:07 PM »

I really started to get into ham radio about February of this year, I had given it some thought before but nothing major. Then my mother told me that my grandfather ( on her side ) who was a welder and welded a large number of buildings in LA/Redondo Beach area, was a ham radio operator before he died. I mostly got my licence as a tribute to him, though I wanted to get it anyway, but that was what really gave me the motivation to do so. I might build a tube rig for the exact same reason, though...I have been wanting to do that since I got into this hobby. I mean, what else do I have to do at 14 besides yakking on the radio and listening to music ( Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years after...etc), I guess all my father's friends were right when they said that I was born in the wrong generation, haha.

Anyway, Dylan Gray, KJ6UPZ, Signing off, Keep those tubes glowing and antennas up.

Posts: 242

« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2012, 08:58:49 PM »

It seems that I've always been interested in radio since about age six.  My parents got me one of the typical small transistor radios, and I remember laying in bed late at night, listening to AM stations until I fell asleep. It amazed me that invisible signals could travel long distances and penetrate through my bedroom walls.  My uncle was a Ham in WVa, and when I was 9 we visited him and I was stunned by his beautiful shack.  At 15 I started plaing electric guitar, so I became fascinated by amps of every kind.  At age 40, I was reunited with a boyhood friend and we started a band together.  His Dad was a TV repairman, and had many radio receivers.  He gave me a 1936 Stromberg-Carlson radio, and I became an avid SWL.  In 1995, a new Doc came to the clinic I worked at...One day we didn't have a lot of patients and so we started chatting.  I asked him about improving the reception of my SWL gear, and I soon found that he had a 2nd major at Cal Tech and it was in Electrical Engeering.  About 3 days later he brought me in a Technician study guide, and I was off and running.  Imagine having an EE for an Elmer.  In about 14 months, I had my Extra.  He never tired of explaning and re-explaning theory to me.  I am so happy to read the posts of young people here. The intelligence, freshness, and obvious passion are so refreshing to me.  Keep up the good work!  Rick, n5xm
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 09:03:54 PM by N5XM » Logged

Posts: 4

« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2012, 08:54:34 AM »

I was 16 when I got my Technician's license, in May 2012. I got into HAM radio so I could be part of my county's ARES team. I am already a volunteer firefighter and I wanted another way to help my community and have fun! I am working my way into the hobby and so far it is amazing!

Posts: 397

« Reply #40 on: September 02, 2012, 07:44:01 AM »

i guess I came late to the game. I was a Childerns Band user from abt 16 til I was 21. One day I happened to find the local SKYWARN net on my scanner and I was hooked. Dumped the CB nonsense and havent looked back. I am now 54. Have enjoyed evenry minute of it. Sure there have been ups and downs but its all good.


Posts: 3

« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2012, 06:30:55 PM »

Well, mine is as normal or as abnormal as you want to make it.

For me, it started when I was young, I just didn't know it. My parents were not hams or CB'ers or any sort of radio listeners other than local FM music, which is not so fascinating really. I had alway had a deep interest in electronic 'things,' how they worked, how to fix (read: break) them, etc. It was this interest that led me to join the ham radio club when I was in Jr. High (late 2002.) The club wasn't really nothing fancy, it was a charter school with a small student body to begin with, therefore the club only had like six members.

Anyway, the club really still only had me interested in the electronics side of RF and not really in getting my license. However, about that time, my uncle, a ham in SoCal (KE6WWK) came out, we lived in Arizona and didn't see the California family too often. He brought out his radios and scanners, a slew of about six handheld devices and I messed around a lot with them, all with him being very sure that I didn't screw around too much on the ham radios hehe.

It was something about all that the made me desire to get my license, so sometime soon after that I got a tech study guide and studied with the QRZ tests and went in right after my 13th birthday and got my tech license. Now, being young and without work, I had no way to get a radio and christmas was a ways off. My uncle got a ham in his club in California to give me a Yaesu VX-5R (that I have to this day) for free because he didn't like it. So, that was it, I was off and on the air and enjoying every minute of it. Every day after school I was on the local repeaters chatting away.

I soon decided that I wanted to upgrade and get me some HF privileges, so I went to a ham radio swapmeet and found general and extra study guides plus QRZ again and went in and passed both in one day as well as 5 wpm code, 87% on general and 100% on extra. My dad also went with me to get his tech license as well, though he didn't really do anything with it for a few years.

So, there I was, a 13 year old extra, and there is where it all started for me.

Posts: 820

« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2012, 12:20:10 AM »

This is gonna sound weird, but two separate events in 1986 got me interested. First, Boys' Life, a Scouting magazine, published an article on shortwave radio. I read it and thought it was cool. At around the same time, NBC News TV ran a story on how drug dealers were using SW radio to communicate with one another. I was DEEPLY into Miami Vice (anybody remember that TV show?) and had a Garfield poster saying "Vice is my life" on my wall, and played my 45 record of Glenn Frey's Smuggler's Blues until it screamed, lol. The idea of listening to REAL honest to god drug dealers deeply intrigued me. Did I know Spanish? Of course not, but so what? The whole concept of SW radio stuck with me, and I started bugging my parents for a radio for Christmas. Problem was, they couldn't afford the $150 price tag. Finally my mom connected with a member of her church congregation who agreed to play Elmer and give me an old Hallicrafters S-40 he had sitting around. That was 26 years ago. I wanted to be a ham, but couldn't fathom morse code. That stopped me from getting licensed. So that's my story.

Posts: 2

« Reply #43 on: December 24, 2017, 01:43:01 PM »

I'm a relatively new amateur radio licensee.  Started when I was a Boy Scout.  Earned the Signaling Merit badge which required learning 2 methods.  I chose Morse Code and Semaphore.  The merit badge required the Scout to send and receive messages at somewhere about 30 wpm.  My father made an oscillator and bought some Morse Code training LP records - I'm dating myself.  When 33 rpm became easy, I sped it up to 45 and later 78.  The merit badge started my interest in amateur radio, but it took 40 years to eventually obtain my license.  I'm working to upgrade to General and renewing my CW skills.

Posts: 1159

« Reply #44 on: December 26, 2017, 07:38:30 AM »

A ham friend a few blocks away had a rig, probably a Hallicrafters rx if memory serves. He could rx the signals from Sputnik which was a very big news item at the time [1957]. I'd always been fascinated with the insides of radios but listening to that put my interest over the top. I had electric shop in the 7th grade and word was that if we got licensed, the teacher, a licensed ham, would give you an A grade so I was not only interested but real-world motivated. I studied on the bus rides to and from school, got my Novice license and started working CW on the 40 meter novice band with surplus rx and borrowed tx.

Novice 1958, 20WPM Extra now... (and get off my lawn)
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