How did you first get attracted to ham radio, as a kid?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N7ZAL, Jan 3, 2018.

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  1. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another thread has some comments about how to get kids interested in ham radio. Thought about how I first got interested and it required a little thinking.

    My Dad got me a Knight Ocean Hopper Kit (Regen) at age 9 and that was probably my first introduction. A little later he got his license, so I had someone to watch and teach me.

    However, even earlier I had parents that saw nothing wrong with me taking apart radios/TV, playing with high voltage, shooting TV CRTs with a gun, and building various home brew "things." They really freed up my imagination and talent. They were great parents.

    We didn't have much, but neighbors and relatives gave me their old radios/TVs and I'd strip them down, categorize the parts in cigar boxes, and learned all about the parts. I kept everything down to wire and terminal strips. All became parts for my projects, including my electric mousetrap. :rolleyes:

    So the seed for my fascination with electronics and communications was actually before age 9. In my case, it was a combination of very early interest in electronics and encouraging parents. I was a self starter and never had an outside influence to get me involved with electronics/ham radio. Electronics and ham radio have been great to me, and I was involved with it through out my life, from military, through college, and beyond.

    Curious how others got started in ham radio as a kid? What were the major influences?

    Please, no comments about old hams should be dead, they are out of touch, old hams are know the stuff.
    N3AB, K5ITM and KD2ACO like this.
  2. KO6WB

    KO6WB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    While in the Boy Scouts, I wanted to make walkie-talkies for communications on our hikes.
    Ran into a book, at the local library, that had the construction details of two different sets.
    One was for 6 meters and the other was for 2 meters. Both used the smallest tubes I had ever seen.
    I hadn't a clue what the terms 6 and 2 meters meant. When asked by a junior high school classmate what that was, the only answer I could give was that it must be the distance those could cover. He said that wasn't very far and like I've posted, I hadn't a clue.
    That was the beginning of my self education in the world of amateur radio.
    I never did make those walkie-talkies but the memory of what amateur radio was, made it possible, a few years later, for me to obtain the license I've had since 1976. Just seemed like yesterday (and perhaps it was;)). Those were the days of wonderment.

    Have fun
    KJ4VTH, K5ITM and N7ZAL like this.
  3. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Started playing with a shortwave radio my parents had no use for anymore. It was an unwanted Stromberg Carlson console radio they stored outside in the garage which was pretty much identical to this one.

    I was 11 years old at that time. I would go out to the garage and spent many hours in the evening after school, turn it on and after it warmed up I started messing around with all the knobs and was listening to all kinds of strange things booming through that big 12" speaker inside. While fiddling around with everything, I was trying to learn how to carefully tune the signals in on that magic tuning eye.

    I also remember hearing that weird beat signal from WWV and sat there wondering what the heck is it was for? Was it some kind of rocket launch countdown? Hey, I was only a kid ok? :p

    Then there was the SW broadcasters from all over the world. Many different languages reporting the news and stuff. When I found one with a strange foreign accent I could understand, I remember waiting for them to say what country they were broadcasting from because I knew they always did at some point. So I would tune the radio around to see what different places I could get. So I started to make it a challenge for myself like I was DX listening but keep in mind, I had absolutely no idea what DX or anything else was all about yet.

    I also remember hams talking on 75 meter AM every night too, although I didn't really know they were "hams" or even what "ham radio" was yet, so in my 11 year old mind I was thinking they were boats at sea like the Titanic, who were talking to one another or something. I was thinking they were at sea because their signals would rise and fall like they are riding on the ocean waves.

    So this is how the "seed was planted" and I was hooked after that. I started becoming more curious and was learning more just by listening to hams talking about radios, antennas and everything else in-between night after night..., and boy they sure could talk a whole lot ! :D

    You know, now that I think about it, I should try to find that particular radio model I enjoyed so much in my youth. :)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    K9ASE, N3AB, W7DCM and 3 others like this.
  4. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    For me it was CHU, "Dominion of Canada" (?) blasting through the spectrum and used it to set my clunky old spring controlled clock. Within a few seconds and that was considered accurate at the time. I did tune around for WWVB to check the "accuracy" of the receiver.

    You jogged some more old memories there, Charles. :) Good.
    KC8VWM likes this.
  5. KC0MIS

    KC0MIS Ham Member QRZ Page

    My grandad (9FX/W9FX) introduced me when I was about 8 or 9. I used to go to hamfests and field day outings with him every chance that I got.
    K5ITM, N7ZAL and KC8VWM like this.
  6. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Life Member Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The ham ticket didn't meet me until I was in my mid 40's almost 10 years ago, but I've always loved electronics, SWL, and playing guitar since early childhood. I come from a big family and all the kid's friends loved my parents because they were so much fun and supportive of all of our various adventures.

    I did the usual stripping of chassis, building kits, and fixing neighbor's stereos and TVs and always wanted to become a recording engineer (which is a career better performed in LA, NYC or Nashville than Anchorage, Alaska... so New York it was).

    I loved the idea of transmitting but didn't have a chance during my busy career working for others until starting my own company and settling down to married life and parenthood. Then I had some spare time! :p
    W5KUL, K5ITM, N7ZAL and 1 other person like this.
  7. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    When I was in my early teens I bought a Yaesu FT-101EE from a CB shop who bought from estate sales, and connected a basic out door listening antenna and started SWL. I was fascinated by the distance that people could communicate with relative ease. I loved international broadcast stations as well. A few years later I remember hearing on BBC that we had begun air strikes in the first Gulf war about a half hour before it came on TV news. My parents thought someone was playing a joke on me until it came on the network news lol. When I tuned around and heard morse code on the air for the first time, I was also fascinated. I thought "how do they understand all those beeps" ?

    Well not too long after that the internet became popular, affordable, and practical. That drew me away from radio and years later I re-discovered it. I didn't know where to start so I contacted two local hams I found on the internet. NC4VA and K4BWC who guided me through everything I needed to do, including study, testing, and basic starter equipment. NC4VA (Virginia) was a great help and I got involved early on with Skywarn because of her. Soon after talking more with Bill Edwards K4BWC (now silent key) I upgraded to general. My first HF contact was CW and with Bill K4BWC who I miss terribly. I still have that qsl card and will always cherish it.

    I don't have that old FT101EE any more. I sold it long ago. I think I'll pick up another some day just for the memories.
    K5ITM, N7ZAL and KC8VWM like this.
  8. KB3LIX

    KB3LIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a Drake SSR-1 receiver and often listened to amataurs.
    I especially remember "Big, Quick & Ugly" from Texas.
    And I was 'into' 11 meters in the mid-late 60's, 70's
    That is all it took.

    Looked into getting a license in my teens,
    but did not want to devote the time
    to learn CW. (Yes, I have made a bunch of dumb decisions
    over the years)

    The idea that I could string a wire from my receiver to a limb
    in the tree outside, then literally LISTEN to the globe
    fascinated the heck outta me.

    Been fascinated ever since then.
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  9. KK4ZYM

    KK4ZYM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I listened to short wave when I was a teenager and enjoyed it. I also liked setting my watch using WWV. :)

    We received the Heathkit catalogs and I used to drool over the ham radio equipment, but we really didn’t have the money to buy any of it. I did build some of the inexpensive kits, one of which was the code oscillator.


    I did practice my code, but with no prospect of getting on the air, I lost interest. I didn’t know any hams at the time, so I didn’t know that there was less expensive radio equipment available that I likely could have afforded. Life happened and I didn’t give ham radio any more thought.

    Fast forward 40 years and my youngest son and I were talking one day and he expressed an interest in getting a license and that resparked my interest. We studied and tested at the same time and we are both Generals.
    KD2ACO, W7DCM, K5ITM and 3 others like this.
  10. AA7QQ

    AA7QQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    At 9 years old, I wanted a CB to talk to my Dad. He found a Griefkit CB, unbuilt & he supervised & taught me how to solder properly. Started grabbing all the old TVs & radios from the local dump & testing/swapping tubes. Within 3 months, all 22 kids in the neighborhood had a TV & I got $25 each. Of course, my personal TV was an old RCA Victrola B&W with a flaky HH tube. Every 4-5 minutes & would whack the TV with a hockey stick to "Fix" it.

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