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What Interested You Enough That You Got Into Radio?

Discussion in 'Videos and Podcasts' started by NW7US, Jan 20, 2018.

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  1. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I’ve been asked this, many times: “What got you interested in radio, space weather, and the science of radio-wave propagation?"

    What got you interested in radio? What hooked you?

    What is your story?


    The following picture is of my first shortwave radio, discovered in my home sometime between 1991 and 1973: a Sony portable transistorized four-band radio receiver. This was my very first shortwave radio (well, truthfully, it was my dad’s). This radio is responsible for my love of radio, electronics, and communications.


    (above) Sony Portable 4-Band Radio - the model 7F-74DL (my First Radio)

    I still use this, sometimes, when listening to late-night AM-broadcast-band-radio DX. It is horrible for shortwave radio listening, as it has no noise blanker. For MW (Medium-wave) AM Broadcast DXing at night, it is excellent. The internal bar antenna is very directional so I can rotate the radio around until I get the best reception of some station. Back when I was a child, that made the radio very fun to use.

    This next radio is a really capable military surplus radio circa WWII or shortly after (the late 1940s, early 1950s). This radio was my world starting around 1975. From Medium-wave to Shortwave, this radio could hear a pin drop around the world! Many late nights when I was supposed to be sleeping, I was up with the light dimmed and the tubes singing signals from exotic places.

    (above) Espey R366 Tube Receiver (my Second Radio)

    Here’s my short story video:

    What is your story?


    A follow-up video:

    I look forward to your story. 73 de NW7US
  2. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a typographical error in my post. I discovered that Sony radio sometime between 1971 and 1973. Not between 1991 and 1973. :)

    -- Tomas
  3. KC8RLU

    KC8RLU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mine starts back in the 80's with being handed down from my grandparents a Zenith 6S632 tube radio (Google image search that for a picture) on my 9th birthday. The radio, of course, didn't work; probably the tubes or caps needed replacing. Dad tried plugging the power cord in, turned the power/volume knob and...nothing. At least it was a possible project for restoration in the future. But being young and not knowing any better, I learned by taking things apart and putting it back together. Well, maybe the former is a more appropriate description.

    Shortly after that, I was given a used 100-in-1 electronic projects kit sold in a nearby garage sale. My learning electronics came from that. It had all the parts attached to a hard plastic/rubber board with wires and spring terminals. You built a circuit/project by following the simple instructions or bending spring terminals and placing wires in-between the coils to both hold the wires secure and to complete the circuit path. It included a crystal earphone piece. I became fascinated by the AM Crystal Radio project; the fact that I could build it and use without needing any batteries was to me a cool thing. I was surprised that I could pick up quite a number of AM stations, some DX and a number of Canadian broadcasts, since I lived very close to Detroit and London/Windsor, Ontario border of Michigan at the time. I took that project with me on occasional visits to my grandparents up north in Roscommon. All this with just what was provided in wires and the kit. Very strong signals and quite a sensitive receiver.

    The fall of government in Russia/Eastern Europe and Operation Desert Storm broke out over the next couple of years and being concerned about all that was going on, I wanted to hear more news regarding those events. The project kit unfortunately didn't have the plans nor the necessary parts to build a shortwave radio. It wasn't until much later that I did get one.

    Our family relocated to Traverse City around Christmas 1991 and it somewhat put a hold on my electronics and radio learning. 2 to 3 years later, Mom and picked up a multi-band radio at a church rummage sale for real cheap. It was a Rhapsody RY-610 (Radio Shack also sold this model, but with their name stamped on it). I loved that radio for all the features it had. Being a long time AM DXer (medium wave), I did many mods to that unit to pick up Detroit stations on it. You should have seen it; I had a strong magnet strategically placed against the direction finder on top of the radio and a small wire tapped onto the DF's coil, fed outside the housing and connected to an outside wire dipole. It worked real good. I had to do this since there were times that our local radio and cable network blacked us out from receiving live coverage of the Red Wings games and DXing WJR or WXYT was the only alternative.

    The shortwave function on that Rhapsody was good and I could pick up many different broadcasts in Europe, but I found that the radio could only receive up to 12 MHz. So that limited me in what I could pick up and at what times, since it was customary for stations to switch frequencies at given times. The other problem is that radio didn't have sideband. There were times where tuning the dial would bring up a number of CW and other digital-like modes of transmission. Other times I would stumble on some garbled talking. Without SSB, I didn't know what was being said.

    Around this same time, my grandparents had moved to a new house near Grayling. I was 13/14 at the time. The neighbor next door had quite the layout of antennas and towers on their property. One time while my sister and I were visiting, I asked the neighbor what all the antennas were for and he said it was because he was a ham radio operator. We were invited over to check out the radio room. We walked in and I was amazed; covering every wall, from floor to ceiling, were these post cards. I asked what they were and he explained that they were QSL cards. Each one from a different operator around the world. He showed us the radio he used and before leaving, handed me a stack of QST issues. He then told me you can become licensed at any age and talk to people around the world. That got me motivated to getting my ticket.

    Well, in the mean time, school and work got in the way over those teenage years so I missed many opportunities. I waited until I was 21, but finally became licensed. Since then, I've upgraded to General class, I'm on my 5th HT (Radio Shack HTX-245, Yaesu VX-150, Yaesu VX-60R, Kenwood TH-F6A and Baofeng UV-5R), 2 mobiles (Yaesu FT-1500M and Motorola Spectra modded for ham radio) and just recently acquired my first HF rig (Kenwood TS-430S) that I plan on getting set up once the snow melts. I've been licensed since May 2001, joined the Cherryland ARC that same year and haven't regretted any of it. I've participated in Field Day nearly every year, our local swap meets, contests, a couple fox hunts and now serve on the club's board. I'll keep doing amateur radio 'til the day I die.

    73s de Joe KC8RLU.
    NW7US likes this.
  4. US7IGN

    US7IGN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It was magic. The great-grandfather lamp tube radio.
    It's still magic for me. I still do not understand how the radio wave in the fog finds the right antenna.
    WN1MB, G5TM and NW7US like this.
  5. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Is it the one featured in the following video?

    I, when very young, took everything apart--anything I could sneak (take without permission) from my parents, brothers--well, you get it. I would then take the item apart. Then, I'd attempt putting it back together. The only type of thing I had problems getting back together were night-stand wind-up alarm clocks. I got a reputation, "he can take apart anything and put it back together better than the original!"

    Isn't it cool that we had the experience of hands-on learning about radios and electronics? I think that is key to any mentoring new radio people.

    Awesome! I had a number of those types of kits. Including a VHF Air (aviation band) kit. Those were huge in my initial learning. Weren't those fun, for us when we were younger?

    KC8RLU likes this.
  6. NN2X

    NN2X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    When I was a 7 years old, (Back in 1965) I had a pair of walkies talkies and noticed it would only transmit about 1/4 of a mile. I wanted to communicate much further and that was the drive towards Ham radio. I met late K2JFJ, in Butler NJ and showed me how far Ham radio works..Well, that was it...
    WB7OXP likes this.
  7. KC8RLU

    KC8RLU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes! That's the one! Wow, so that's what it sounded like when working. Except mine had all black knobs on the bottom front, not the lighter color ones this has.

    I thank my dad, who was and still is a licensed electrician, for teaching me some of the basics in electronics and soldering. I now can wire up just about anything, including house electrical wiring, without the need of hiring an electrician.

    I think mine was made in Scotland in the 80's. It mentioned a cassette tape that went along with the kit, but it was missing. Mine didn't have the VHF Air; just regular AM radio.
  8. AD2HK

    AD2HK XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    K2JFJ gave me my test for Novice license!
  9. W7TRD

    W7TRD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    All the knobs.... :p
  10. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Digital communications.

    While at university the Amateur radio club on campus was working on some kind of internet connected HF radio so the club members had better access to the club station. As I recall the station was in a good location for an antenna but not great for student access, the building would be locked at night and because of fire codes or something the room with the equipment had more restrictions. Had this been completed as planned then I could have operated the station from my dorm room in the evenings.

    Another interesting project was a pager network using a box full of old 900MHz POCSAG pagers that was donated to the club. The plan was to re-tune the pagers to an Amateur frequency and put up a transmitter that could send out text messages. A few things killed interest in this. Growing use of cell phones among students. The campus WiFi network was growing to cover many outdoor areas. Difficulty in finding an appropriate 900MHz transmitter. The pagers were a bit big and ugly, and would be unlikely to provide much utility above an e-mail list or something similar.

    Before University I knew of Amateur radio but didn't have the resources to get licensed. I was expressing this interest in digital communications with programming computers to communicate by wires or sound. I recall seeing code to get a CRT to produce some RF which could be picked up by an AM radio, but I as much as I wanted to try it myself I did not since it took hardware I didn't have ready access to. I got an electronics kit while in grade school for Christmas once. It was a system of blocks that would be plugged into a kind of pegboard to build a circuit, sort of like arranging LEGO blocks or puzzle pieces. I could pack the blocks on the pegboard to build a radio transmitter *OR* a receiver with the included pieces, not both, so I saved up some money for a FM/AM/SW radio receiver.

    Talking on the radio didn't interest me much. If people wanted to talk then there were telephones and walkie-talkies for that.
  11. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The chicks. I knew having a license would make me irresistible.

    Actually, as a kid in the 70s and 80s the portrayal of radio (including SWL) in movies and books caught my attention as a "gateway to the world" for a kid living in the semi-rural south. However, by the time I actually got licensed in 2006, global communication was trivial and it was the engineering, building, and experimenting that drove me.

  12. NN2X

    NN2X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Holy cow! Wow, what a small world....Jack was such a great guy; I saw his family and his success and asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was an Electrical Engineer, and he said he was Ham operator. I will never forget when he showed me his Ham station and he worked with some fellow in Arizona. I was totally in shock and awe.. And he wore a suite and tie....How we met was through CB, his son and I spoke via CB, (Before it was popular), and he said you should meet my Dad...

    What an influence he had over me, I wanted to do the same as him, and I did...BSEE/MBA, I have a wonderful family, and of course, I have been active on Ham radio ever since Jack introduced me to Ham radio. Go to my QRZ Page (NN2X), you will see a mini Jack Janicke (K2JFJ)

    de NN2X / Tom
  13. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There's at least one Dilbert comic that shows how irresistible having an Amateur radio license would be. I often joke about how I'm Dilbert without the tie.
    KI4POT likes this.
  14. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Reading KonTiki at an early age.
    WN1MB likes this.
  15. KQ4GUI

    KQ4GUI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mine started when I asked my neighbor what Ham radio was and then that was the question I wished I had asked a bit sooner.

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