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The Thrill of Having Your First Amateur Radio Station...

Created by Trippy, AC8S on 2023-06-10


Saturday, February 4, 1978. What a day this was, WHAT, A, DAY!


In October 1977, we moved back up north to Sage Lake, Mi. After I got the license, in July of that year, I couldn't get on the air, because I had no station, for seven long months, but on Saturday, February 4, 1978, a miracle happened, and what a surprise I got!!!


It was the middle of the afternoon. and we were having a snowstorm. and I was bored. I was very depressed, I had nothing to do at home, and I had a novice license, but could not get on the air! All of the sudden, about 3:00 that Saturday afternoon, I got a call from Lloyd, WB8ENT, and he said, "Trippy, what are you up to?" I said, "nothing, I have nothing to do, as you know, I have no radio, and I'm depressed, I have a license but cannot use it, I'm bored out of my mind." Because there was a snowstorm going on, the country roads were a mess.


Then he said, "well, I want to come over, and bring you something, is it okay? Are you going to be home?"


I said "yes, I'll be here."


It was a sure thing I would be there because we were having a snowstorm, and I could not go anywhere.


He said, "ok, we'll see you as soon as we can!"


I didn't know what was coming, but it was a day that I would soon NEVER, EVER, forget!


In 15 minutes, there's a knock at my outside door. Lloyd, WB8ENT, Bob, who is now KB8EV, and Marty, WD8MRB, were standing in my door, and Lloyd said, "Trippy, we've got to go in your bedroom, we got something we want to put in your bedroom, can we do that?"


I had no idea what was about to happen, so, I said, "Sure, go for it!"


So we walk into the bedroom, of our half log cabin/house, up in Sage Lake, Michigan and he puts on my desk, a little Heath Kit HW8, 3 watt, QRP radio, and he also puts on my desk a little power supply, a 4 amper, just what the HW-8 needed, both the radio, and the power supply, for me!!!


He then said, "Trippy, you're getting on the air, today, how do you like that?"


I was amazed, absolutely surprised to the max!


What could I say, but ABSOLUTELY I would love to get on the air!


Then, the antenna, oh yes, the antenna. One thing, it was still snowing outside.


Then, after he hooks that up, him, Bob, and Marty, go outside, in a snowstorm, and, put up, in the snowstorm, for me, a 15-meter dipole, that's right, a coaxial, 15-meter dipole, I kid you not!!! I'm so angry at myself that I never went outside to feel how they made it. I've only seen copper wire dipoles, and insulated wire dipoles.


Then, they came back in the house, and they turned it on, and Lloyd said, Trippy, slip these headphones on, and 15 meters was ALIVE!!! Back then, the novice round-up contest was on, and N6LK, was calling CQ novice roundup. Now I had my code key, still, that I practiced with back in ‘76, that Howard gave me, and Lloyd hooked up the key to the HW-8, and I called him, and he got me on the 1st call! I logged him, on my tape recorder log, and my first contact from my station, I worked? N6LK! The adrenaline rush was amazing.


When I was talking on the tape recorder, logging that first contact, my heart was beating, like it's never beaten before, it was the most incredible feeling I have ever felt in my life!!! To this day, NOTHING in my life has ever felt as good as that first contact, using my call, on my station!!! Before that day, I would often sit around thinking "man, what it would be like to have my own station, and I could sit there, and make contacts in a contest, and operate for hours, if I wanted to, and not have to leave someone's station, and go back home to no radio." And now, I was doing it!!!


I was off and running!!! I worked 15 that night till the band died about 9PM!


Needless to say, I woke up early Sunday morning, about 7:30, and turned on the radio, and worked more stations on 15 meters!!! So, there's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


That Saturday, February 4th, 1978, was truly, for me, up to that point, the GREATEST DAY of my life!!!



The Thrill of Having Your First Amateur Radio Station...
What a wonderful memory. You took me back to my Novice days. My first rig was a borrowed HW-16 w/HG-10 VFO, and my antenna was a broomstick supported 1/2 wave 15m dipole set-up as an inverted V on my back patio. Like you, my station was in my bedroom. And luckily my bedroom faced the back patio so running the coax through the window was easy. But I lived in Southern California, so...I didn't have the snow issue.

My first QSO was with a KA7 who responded to my first CQ. When I heard that station return my call I thought I had hit the DX jackpot because I was a KA6. But I later found out that the KA7 was the son of the Ham who loaned me the HW-16, and he lived less than 15 miles away. Felt somewhat deflated when I first found out but I've since recovered from that.

Yeah, our first stations and first QSOs are never forgotten. And today whenever I operate 15m CW, I snap back into my Novice self. Every time. The thrill is never gone.

Thanks for sharing.
de Jason, NF6E/4
The Thrill of Having Your First Amateur Radio Station...
My first QSO was as a high school kid on the south side of Chicago in the spring of 1961. I had a DX-60 and a Heath AR-2 but my antenna wasn't up yet. Dad was putting up a pole and going to string a fan dipole from it in the back yard to a tee in the front yard. He would get it finished "when he could". I got home from school and there was an envelope from the FCC. I was super charged. I took an extension cord, measured it to 33 feet, cut the plugs off, twisted the strands together, tinned one end, and put an insulator on the other. Stuck the tinned end into the center of the coax connector on the DX-60, ran it out the window, and threw it up on the roof of the back porch. Used a short piece of wire on the antenna of the AR-2. I didn't know about SWR or receiver overload so those things weren't a problem. Ignorance is indeed bliss! Called K9ZAT on 40 meters. Worked him. Had about a 20 minute QSO. A kid "talking" (CW was talking to me at that time) to an adult who worked at Caterpillar in Peoria -- about 150 miles away! Can it possibly get any better than that when you're 14?