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Author Topic: Your story: How did you get into Amateur Radio?  (Read 161485 times)

Posts: 169

« on: December 08, 2009, 03:43:23 PM »

This survey-like question is intended for young & older alike... Please tell us your story, ie, ...

Who / how / why / when / where (etc.) YOU got [you] into Ham Radio.

(A while ago, a similar thread was one of the
most popular one on the Packet Network; I hope
this thread will be at least as popular. ;-)

PS Not only can your stories make good reading... they can also inspire "Amateur Radio Advocates" to design
new & effective ways to help to persuade other non-Ham's
to join us. :-)

Posts: 805

« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2009, 12:24:34 PM »

Well, I'm a third generation Ham. (My great-grandfather had to settle for starting out as a telegrapher, there being no radio in his youth.) My father operated regularly. My grandfather did little amateur radio operating after young adulthood. He was very active in radio, just not as an amateur operator. Shortwave listening at a young age was a large factor. The ability to reach out around the world meant a lot. In my early childhood, my father wasn't as active as he had been before and later, so the old Hallicrafters SX-28 in my bedroom kept radio alive. (And taught me many new words, listening to shrimp boat captains feud on their radios.) I was in my 20's before I got around to being licensed. So it was a combination of spending many nights listening years earlier and my father's renewed activity that got me to go ahead.

Posts: 213

« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2010, 10:25:21 AM »

When I was 12 I was visiting my grandfather's farm in Michigan. Like most pre teens I wanted to be away from the adults and skip chores; so I found the stairway to the attic above his garage thinking I could hang out/hide up there. He had a desk and a 4 tube short wave receiver up there and a hundred or so feet of wire out the window and thrown into the fruit trees near by. I had no idea what short wave radio was; but in a couple minutes of fiddeling with the dial and controls I began to hear strange stuff and in a few more minutes I decided it was interesting. Some foreign languages that were worthless to me -- but I hit upon the BBC and Radio Moscow. They both had English language news. They were talking about stuff in the world I was semi familiar with --- but the thing that caught my atttention was how they were describing things in the USA as if it were a foreign country. DUH! The USA is a foreign country to them. But after having too listen to US newscasters of my parent's choice I now had choices of my own with a different slant.

A few weeks later I was telling a buddy about the "short wave thing" ....... how cool it was --- and he told me his dad had that and was able to talk to people too. Sometimes even foreign people. So I went there and met his dad and saw ham radio for the firt time. The guy told me I could get a license and could afford a station on the $11 a month I made from my paper route because hams were helpful to beginners and especially to kids. He would get a few guys together to help me; give me some stuff; help me buy some simple stuff that was useable. That was 49 years ago next month.

Posts: 16

« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2010, 06:32:45 PM »

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!!!!!

Posts: 30

« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2010, 02:15:56 PM »

"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: 16

« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2010, 01:51:27 PM »

I am 12, and I did not pay someone to write that. At that campout, I had absolutely no clue what Ham Radio was, so it just looked like him fiddling around on a radio.


Posts: 39

« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 10:59:05 AM »

I am also kinda new and I got into ham radio last year and finaly got my ticket almost 2 months ago on the 16 th it will be 2 months I have enjoyed it very much and I have a Yaesu 1900r and a home made antenna ( j-pole someone build it for me and I build one yesterday (ground plain) and the one I build it works better than the one that was given to me hihi) and I have one of the worlds GREATEST Elmer (Carl Smith N4AA) He gives me stuff all the time I have gotten a mfj super menu driven keyer and a packet machine and a 2m amplifier and a BIG box of old QST and CQ mags and a old antenna book (thats where I got the plans for the ground plain antenna) I took the radio MB in Boy Scouts and thats what made me want my tech I plain to go and get my general soon GO SCOUTS Troop 101 I walked up to his door right after I got my ticket the day before and we talk for about a hour and I walked out of his door with a 300$ radio HT Yaesu VX-7R and mag mount and rubber duck its now back at his house now that I have my own rig he is THE BEST

Posts: 2626

« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2010, 07:00:48 AM »

Congratulations on finding an Elmer who could help you through the process. I hope you can make the jump to a General class license so you may expand your voice privileges into the HF bands, then the challenges will really begin.

There are hams today who bring along QRP rigs on hiking and camping trips all over the country. With a small radio and a string of wire you could be working other countries while stuck in a tent during the rainy days at camp.

My father was a scoutmaster and he would take his gear along to camp during the summer and set up a station in the dining hall. Many boys from other troops would come by to learn about ham radio.

Being a girl I did not have a chance to participate in those events (and my brothers did not become hams) but he taught me ham radio when operating from his home station. I took this knowledge and went to college for an electrical engineering degree.

Encourage your friends to get involved.... Encourage your girlfriends to get involved,some of us like radio too!

When we are all long gone it will be up many of the folks in the youth forum to carry the hobby onwards. Have fun with it and try not to become a jerk like DISCONE.

Now it is funny, a discone is a type of broadband antenna with no gain. We sometimes describe it as "an antenna that performs equally poorly on all bands". DISCONE chose his name well as he never has a good thing to say about anyone or anything. One way he could have improved his name would be to call himself DUMMY LOAD as it performs the same across all bands, it just does not radiate it's nonsense.

The ignore icon with the red X under is name is the perfect way to deal with a fool.

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 07:11:55 AM by Tisha Hayes » Logged

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama

Posts: 43

« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 05:25:26 PM »

My 8th grade science teacher (which was in 1988) was a pilot and had an aviation band radio (distributed by Sporty's Pilot Shop) that he listened to between classes.  I loved aviation and was curious.  So he introduced me to radio and I purchased the same radio as he did (and which I still own to this day). 

I listened to that for two years when I discovered an old am/fm/shortwave radio my parents had bought in the 1970's.  My first SWL experience came upon discovering the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service broadcasts followed by shortwave station KUSW in Utah (for which I have a QSL card).  I found SWL'ing to be fascinating and my self-taught knowledge of radio was rapidly expanding.

In 1990, I was in high school and had some extra money from some jobs and so I expanded my hobby and purchased an Icom R7000 communications receiver.  The world of vhf/uhf was opened up to me; which was really interesting since I lived on an air force base.

That same year, my high school history teacher spoke about amateur radio in class.  He was a Ham.  It was the first time I had heard of it and was an opportunity to take SWL'ing and graduate to actually transmitting.

To shorten the story a bit, in the spring of 1991, I asked him to help me get my license.  He elmered me and helped me learn Morse code.  In June 1991, I passed my Novice test.  In November 1991, I upgraded to Technician and in later years then upgraded to General. 

So I credit my hobby back to two school teachers.

Posts: 8


« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2010, 06:35:59 PM »

Originally licensed at age fourteen on March 7, 1956 as KN6RAH in San Diego, CA. My Elmer back then, Howard French, K6EDA, was a great help and he was the person who proctored my novice code and technical exam. Howard's entire garage was his ham shack, including a Collins 75A4 and a kilowatt transmitter. When I first saw his shack, my mouth fell open and I was hooked on the hobby! Howard continued to correspond and encourage me to get my General license after I moved away. I still have several of his letters. He and my dad also became friends during my licensing process. Howard's grandson now has the K6EDA call sign.

General Class effective January 31, 1957 (K6RAH) and soon moved to Whittier, CA, then to La Habra, CA, where I operated for several years (during solar cycle 19) running phone patches for service families and missionaries in the Far East, Antarctica, South America, etc.
I also chased DX using my Viking Valiant and HQ129X, with a Gonset Two Element Bantam beam. Here is a small sample of my old DX QSL collection from those happy days when that solar cycle was near its peak.
Marriage, college, work, then kids got in the way of ham radio for almost the next fifty years! Now, in 2009, I've been bitten by the ham bug again! I am enjoying learning all that has changed and improved during the ensuing years.

Passed Technician and General Class in August 2009 (KF5CMF). Applied to the FCC for my old call, K6RAH, and it was granted on September 26, 2009. Passed the Extra Class exam on November 1, 2009. It is a satisfying feeling to be an 'Amateur Extra Class' and have my original call sign again, even though I am now in "5 Land."

Thanks to the VEs at the McKinney and Plano ham clubs for providing exam opportunities! Both clubs have very professional exam operations.

I am now a member of ARRL, QCWA, and I edit the monthly newsletter, "The Chawed Rag," for the Richardson (TX) Wireless Klub.

A new Elmer, W5SU, helped me design the antenna and set up the new rig. He even loaned me his SGC230 antenna coupler until I could check out my antenna and obtain my own coupler. Thanks, Carl!

Current rig is a Yaesu FT-450AT transceiver running 100W to a random 110' long wire antenna @ 25-30', through a SGC237 automatic coupler at the base of the antenna. Grounding consists of four interconnected ground rods with additional radial wires running into the yard and along the length of the foundation. The antenna is generally broadside to 140 degrees and 320 degrees for a NW-SE orientation, but the system seems to be fairly omnidirectional on 80, 40, 20, 17, 15, and 10 meters. I also have a Yaesu FT60R HT for local QSO's on 2 meters and 70 cm. VHF and UHF as still quite new to me. I also have a DX-302 that I use for SWL forays when the bands aren't open.

Once a ham...always a ham, I think!


Posts: 302

« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2010, 05:20:12 PM »

I had fiddled with electronics when I was younger. When I was 14, I got into SWL. I then started to get into studying for the Technician class around 1974, but never finished. Sigh, many other distractions at that age. Morse code was a problem for me. I did some listening to HF ham bands, and a local ham helped me identify WHY I had trouble with SSB copying. It turned out that I needed to attenuate the incoming signal.

I heard about the new (at that time) no code Technician license in 1992. So, I studied up, and got my license.

Shortly after this, I changed jobs & moved. In recent months, I upgraded to a General class, & purchased my first rig.

Posts: 6

« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2010, 12:21:10 AM »

When I was about 13, I spent the summer at my grandparent's house and my grandpa had a AM/FM/SW radio. I started listening to BBC, VOA and AFRTS. My grandpa said that if I was going to listen to shortwave that I should have an actual shortwave radio, so we went to the swapmeet and found a Hallicrafters S-38C that worked for about a year before the transformer burned up. Then, for Christmas I got a AM/FM/SW/AIR/VHF radio and discovered the repeaters on 2m, it was so cool, when they talked about where they were, some of them were 50 miles apart and they were just talking away to each other. I wanted to do that too, so I signed up for a class but couldn't get CW down and I gave up, but I also discovered CB and scanners and started having some radio fun anyway. Later on, I took an electronics class and the teacher, Ron W6STO, offered many times to help me get licensed, but after my past experience trying to learn code, I didn't even try. But I thank him for giving me a firm foundation in basic electronics. About 6 years later, two friends, Mark KD6ERB and Ray KC6SVF, told me that you didn't need code for VHF anymore and I should at least try the test and that there was a session starting in about an hour. So after about 20 years, I got my 1st license, KE6JZR.

One of my first experiences with SW was listening to AFRTS and now, 30+ years later, I'm a DoD contractor, working at AFRTS!

Posts: 37

« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2010, 08:03:35 PM »

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!

As a 12-year-old he probably knows enough to write "you're not 12", instead of "your not 12".  Perhaps you should have paid someone to write your comments for you.

Stop fiddling with your radio and learn some grammar.

Posts: 14

« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 01:18:07 AM »

My dad got me into radio when I was 9... He gave me a set of Radio Shack CB HTs. They were one channel w/ no squelch.

Later, he got us a mobile GE AM only radio and a power supply to use as a base station. There are many members of my family who are CBers, but I eventually got into SW receive and crystal radio kits, and I was hooked.

Fast forward to 1996... I had been into computers and got online w/ AOHell, and through general surfing, familiarized myself with the Tech level licensing material. Went and took the test and passed it.

I am still a CBer, as well as a user of FRS, MURS, etc.

I am the only ham in my family.

Posts: 44

« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2010, 05:00:11 PM »

A couple of years ago I was asked to help on a search-and-rescue for one of my neighbors (I grew up with a search-and-rescue dog and so I had the required skills). He had gone hiking in remote mountains and had been missing for over 24 hours. To complicate things, he was diabetic and only had enough insulin for a single day.

I live in a great neighborhood where everyone knows each other and so several of my neighbors were out there aiding in the search. When I got there, the official search-and-rescue team was effectively done and were giving up. I quickly found my neighbor's car and quickly climbed the trail where it was assumed my neighbor had gone. All I had with me was a Camelbak (100 oz of water) with some first aid supplies and a bit of food. My buddy his climbing equipment and so I threw 100 feet of climbing rope over my shoulder and we went searching (never go hiking alone, always have a buddy). A couple thousand vertical feet later, we were at the top of a mountain looking for any sign of the missing neighbor. We found some tracks that led down the other side of the mountain and started following them.

Eventually we came to a 200-foot cliff and it was getting dark. We had the option of climbing back up the mountain to the other side or spending the night where we were. It was too dark to use the climbing equipment to get down the cliff. We opted to spend the night on the mountain with little more the the clothes on our back. Neighbors knew we were on the mountain but had no way of contacting us because we were well out of range of cell phone service.

That night my wife was called by countless neighbors who expressed serious concern for my safety. When she called my Dad, he just laughed and said I would be more than able to take care of myself (I am an Eagle Scout and was the local Scoutmaster at the time . . . needless to say, I know how to camp). He was right and I had a very peaceful night under the stars engaged in an effort more important than anything else I had to do that night.

The next morning, my buddy and I walked down the back side of the mountain and ran into another search party who were able to give us a ride around to the base camp where the rest of the searchers were based. That morning we found the body of my neighbor who had stumbled off a cliff shortly after starting his hike.

I realized that if we had had a 2m radio with a repeater at the top of that mountain, all of us searchers could have remained in contact and my wife would not have had to worry about me. I passed my tech and general tickets in the same night with a little studying (I am an electrical engineer and so it was mostly review).

Not that I plan on it happening, but the next time I have to go look for a lost neighbor, I want to be in constant communication with everyone in the search and Ham radio is the best way to do that.
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