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Author Topic: Fond memories of your old Novice station?  (Read 17358 times)
NK6Q
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« on: January 17, 2010, 09:05:43 PM »

After recently returning to Ham Radio after a 40-year hiatus, and discovering all these "boat-anchor" discussion groups, it causes me to think back to my first "real" ham station as a Novice back in '67.  Much to my surprise, that gear I had in the 60's is still in circulation.

I was fortunate enough to get a used National NC-183D from a Radio-TV shop  in my neighborhood that was in pretty good condition. It was ENORMOUS! It weighed a TON! But it was oh so COOL!  The twin illuminated dials, the countless vacuum tubes under the hood: Wow!

My transmitter was a used Eico 720 that I vaguely remember buying from one of the stores on Radio Row in NYC. It had a bum multi-position switch that I eventually swapped out.  Stupid me: I was rummaging around in the guts of the transmitter toying with the switch while it was still plugged in.  A few seconds later, I woke up on the other side of the room with a burn-mark the size of a quarter on the back of my hand!

But did I love that set-up. I remember desperately trying to answer CQ's using my meager crystal collection, hoping the other ham might tune way up the dial and hear my signal.  What I lacked in knowlege and technique, I made up for with enthusiasm. I wouldn't say I worked the world, but I did rack up a few solid DX confirmations as a Novice with that rig: France, Germany, and Russia!  When the Russian station responded, I was so nervous I could barely send code.

Old memories die hard, I guess.  Which is why my "new" station is a 70's Drake TR-4Cw.  There's nothing like the smell of those vacuum tubes percolating!

So let's hear from you fellow old farts, and maybe not-so-old farts, and share your memories of ancient much-loved gear from the foggy past.
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AD5X
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 05:21:09 AM »

Knight-Kit T60 transmitter/R100A receiver.  I thought it was normal to hear both sides of zero-beat and to keep one hand on the dial as the receiver drifted.  Antenna was a 14AVQ with only an 8-foot ground rod at the base (didn't know about radials then).  And I had a ball - mostly 40M CW before school in the morning, and 20M CW (after graduating to General) after school.  Had that set-up for almost three years, and then graduated to a Heathkit SB-line senior year in high school - but still no radials on the vertical!

Phil - AD5X
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K9LJH
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 07:53:24 AM »

Late 50's as K9RDS (a vanity call now, sigh)  DX 20 and 35 and an HQ 1 something or other that drifted so badly it gave chasing DX a whole new meaning. Smiley.  It was fun but I had a dipole strung between the back door and the living room in our 3rd floor Chicago Apt.  The RF burns really made my mother cranky.

The only things I regret not keeping were my D104 and my chrome bug.  

Just getting back after 50 years and just got KC9RFL.  Working on refurbing a Drake C line.

LeeH
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K6LO
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 09:29:14 AM »

I had a Heathkit DX-35 and a couple of crystals (7115 and 7121?) scrounged from my jr high school electronics class, and a Realistic DX-160 receiver. Those 160's were way ahead of their time.  You could monitor all the band activity at once.  Often times even more than one band at once. My antenna was a 30 foot length of wire from my Dentron tuner (grounded to a sliding glass door frame) than ran across the ceiling of our third floor apartment and terminated in an unused kitchen cabinet above the fridge.  I lined that cabinet with a bunch of tin foil and hooked it to the end of the antenna.  Forty was a nightmare after dusk with all the broadcasters. Damn it was fun. I remember the Russian CW sigs from back then - 1978 - Chirpy! You knew when the band was open to europe. When I upgraded to general in high school I got a TS-520S and hung out on 20 CW a lot.  What a difference!  Still have it and my old Speed-X key.  I just used the key last night.  The '520 is on 20 CW now keeping me company here in my office.  I have land and antennas now, but I still miss the old days.
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 11:04:29 AM »

Back in the late 80's is when I got my ticket. I was in eighth grade and my science teacher Joe, K2JAO taught a ham radio class. In the station there he had an SB-303 and SB-401. He handed out HW-16's so that we could listen to CW practice at home. I remember listening to 3580 and copying down the ARRL code practice at night after my homework was done. I would also tune around on 40m and listen to Radio Moscow! Once we got our novice ticket we got the HG-10B vfo. I remember making QSO's on that for several months before I saved up enough to buy my own radio. My first rig was a Ten-Tec 540.

I've since picked up an HW-16 and usually put that on the air for SKN and at other times when I need a change from my 746pro.
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WB4IUY
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2010, 06:03:21 PM »

I remember my novice station from 1974 like it was yesterday... I had a Hallicrafters SX-42 receiver & a homebrew open chassis 25 watt crystal controlled transmitter built from a 1959 ARRL handbook with parts from scrap TV sets. My first commercial TX was an Eico 720. Didn't make a lot of contacts but I sure do miss those days :-)

I remember sitting in the "shack" (an old building behind mom & dad's home) at night, making an occassional contact and watching the constellations being projected onto the ceiling by dial lamp and tube light shining through the perforated cover of the old SX-42.

Dave WB4IUY
www.WB4IUY.net
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WB5JEO
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2010, 10:23:54 AM »

Heath DX-40 and an HRO-50T1 receiver. Great old receiver that always reminded you with a loud arc when you forgot to switch off the B+ before changing coil boxes. Followed, upon upgrading, by an SBE-33, last seen smoking on the lawn after accidental high voltage on the electrical service spontaneously moded it into a fulminating RF flesh burning device in mid QSO.
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WA8UEG
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2010, 11:35:00 AM »

Started out with a Globe Scout and a BC454 (I think, it only covered 3 to 6 Mhz) back in 1965. Thanks to local hamfests and Dayton I was able to upgrade. By the end of my novice days I had a DX60B and a Mohawk, didn't think it could get better than that!! My General station was the Mohawk with the XC6 and XC2 converters, Appache/SB10 & Seneca, I upgraded the Appache to the Maurder and added the Warrior amp. What a desk full!!!! I sold the whole station and purchased the "New" Drake line. Didn't think it could ever get better than that!!
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WW3QB
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2010, 01:00:55 PM »

In 1973 I had a DX-100B and a BC-342. The BC-342 was just awful. When I upgraded from Novice, I used the DX-100B on AM for a little while, but soon got a SB-10 SSB adapter. The SB-10 was difficult to operate.

In 1973 the DX-100B was already 14 years old and the BC-342 was WW2 surplus.

I still have the DX-100B and SB-10. I'll ignore the SB-10, but I hope to get the DX-100B back in the air in AM mode someday. I'll pair it with a Drake 2-B, which is thousands of times better than the BC-342 was.

The DX-100B is here on the floor. It may be the heaviest piece of ham gear ever made.
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K6LO
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2010, 01:29:29 PM »

...watching the constellations being projected onto the ceiling by dial lamp and tube light...

Oh Dave, that descriptive prose deserves some sort of ham radio Pulitzer.


73 Luke
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K9FON
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2010, 09:32:55 AM »

There is nothing like the glow of tube rigs.
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W8JI
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2010, 02:17:17 AM »

We were a very poor family. I had to piece stuff together out of old radios and TV sets from the local dump and other trash heaps. My first transmitter was a single tube using an audio output tube, probably a 6V6 or similar. My first receiver was a thing I pieced together using a 5 tube AC/DC radio as an "IF" following an old Zenith round dial SW radio I used as a front end. The BFO was a gimmick capacitor across the IF stage in the AC/DC radio. I just twisted it up until it made the last IF stage oscillate.

A few months later I built a dual conversion receiver out of 85 kHz command receiver transformers and other old parts, and I added an 807 PA to my transmitter to get it up to a full legal 75 watts.
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WA1YIH
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2010, 06:29:24 AM »

I was in the army from 1974-1978. I got my novice license WN1YIH in June 1976. Got transfered to Miami, Fla.(!) in August 1976. Went to the local ham store and bought a used HW-16 as my first rig and a new Hygain 18AVT vertical. Ordered cyrstals, FT 243's, 4 for $5 from JAN Crystals out of Ft. Myers, Fla. After a few months of fighting 40m shortwave, I went to the Heathkit store in Hialeah, 5 miles away and purchased an HG-10B VFO kit for $79.95. It was the last new one they had. They had an SB303 in kit form on sale for $279. If only I had know then what I know now... Built the VFO over Thanksgiving weekend and it worked the first time. In the summer of 1977 I upgraded my license to General and equipment to a used DX-60 with my vfo and a new Drake R4C, filters, MS-4 speaker and MN-2000 matcher. My straight key was a military flameproof CTE-26003 I picked up in high school.
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K7QQH
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2010, 06:32:09 PM »

Wow! Reading some of the descriptions of the early novice stations, all of you guys except W8JI were living high on the hog.

My first station was a borrowed homebrew 6L6 transmitter using an upside square cake pan as chassis, and a brand new National NC-60 bought from Montgomery Wards with paper route money. Had a few borrowed crystals and key, and the antenna was a dipole like thing strung up in the back yard. I was age 12 and lived in the little town of Hermiston, Oregon - famous for excellent watermelons and desert heat. The year was 1959.

Roger C.
K7QQH
Seattle
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K4IQT
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2010, 07:22:38 AM »

Like W8JI, I could not afford any commercial gear when I first got licensed, but the back door of TV repair shops and a visit or two to Fair Radio Sales helped immensely.  My first transmitter was a 6L6 Colpitts on 7187 kc (I had only one xtal), and the receiver was the old family Zenith tabletop radio.  After a succession of homebrew and WW2 surplus transmitters and receivers, my first decent receiver was an HBR-16 built from a QST article by W6TC.  My first commercial receiver was a Knight R-100 - I've got one today, too, and am quite happy that technology and my finances have improved tremendously since those days (don't buy one unless you like to chase signals up the band).  But it is true that boatanchors will keep you warm in a cold Ohio basement shack.  In 1961-65 I had an old freebie Bogen 250 watt PA system amp that was used for just that - a space heater.
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