Patrica J. Turpin
QCWA # 35648
Chapter 1 & 40
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950's and '60's. My dad had come home from WWII and taken advantage of the GI Bill to attend technical school and learn radio and television servicing. Around 1954, he opened a repair shop and by the time I was ten years old, it was filled - probably better described as littered - with all sorts of electronics from the 1930's on.
Of the three children, I was the one who liked the 'shop'. I spent most summers and Saturdays there with my dad. My mother also worked as bookkeeper and telephone operator, but as I got older, I replaced her (not as the bookkeeper), answering the phone and eventually actually helping. Remember, it was the era where you actually repaired things that broke, and many people would bring in their table-top radios.
By the 1960's, the new consumer radios were '5-tube' models using 5 miniature tubes with filaments strung together in series drawing a total of about 115 volts. This eliminated the need for a power transformer. Another thing about these radios was, often a single tube filament would burn out and the radio would be dead. My first job was checking the tubes for an open filament. Lo & behold, I could fix many of the radios just by replacing a 35W4 or 50C5.
By the time I was twelve, I knew a radio that 'hummed' probably had a bad filter capacitor and was allowed to use my dad's Weller soldering gun to replace it. I had become the master of table-top radios. We still received many older console radios and I seldom worked on those. These big entertainment centers often include a 78 rpm and every so often there was one that actually 'cut' records. I was also able to do minor repairs on televisions that came in. Sometimes, I would replace the horizontal or vertical output tube or the rectifier - no it wasn't really anything special, but it allowed my dad to work on troubleshooting tv's. It was the time that replacing a 1/2 watt resistor would sometimes fix a set and generate $12.50.
In early 1962, someone gave me an ARRL Handbook and I devoured it, even building a 35 watt novice transmitter (which I could only operate after the television stations went off the air - they used to do that - since it interfered with all VHF channels). In September, I took & passed my Novice class amateur radio license - shortly afterwards, I passed the technician test.
I didn't use the novice special transmitter long; in 1963 my parents gave me a Hallicrafters HT-40 transmitter (which did not cause TVI) and its companion SX-140 receiver. I was never crazy about operating, but more so about the hardware. I built various things - a Q-multiplier, a pre-selector, a two-meter converter, etc. Most had, if they had active circuits, tubes. It was another decade before I began working with transistors and another until IC's came along.
While in high school, I was given a Heath Two'er, which had a regenative AM receiver. Probably putting out about two or three watts, it was fairly limited in range. Some friends had theirs in cars, but I didn't have an auto, so mine was in my 'shack' and attached to various antennas - a few good, most not so.
My next and probably first 'real' radio was a Drake TR4C, which I keep for a long time - I sold it a couple of years ago at the November Montgomery Hamfest. I have never used any antenna better than a wire dipole.
My current station consists of Yaesu equipment. I like analog radios and my top radio is an FT-1000 MP. I also have a very nice FT-990 that has a receiver equal to the FT-1000 MP. Additionally, I have an FT-767 stuffed with all three VHF/UHF modules. For years, I had a series of FT-757's, a few of which are still on my shelves.
I have tried CW over the decades, and just don't hear words. I worked on CW for a year by listening to tapes as I drove to and from work - 1986 - 1987 and passed the 20-wpm code test for my extra class. I can still copy at about 12-15 wpm, but have to pause after receiving to read what I just wrote. As when I was a teen, I would rather open the radio and make mods than operate. (Maybe that is why I like the analog radios - the schematics still make sense and when you look inside, you can sometimes understand what's going on!)
In July, 1987, Art Ogden (N4HAN) and I (at that time N4IMU) made a series of 2 meter contacts using digital voice over FM. At that time, and still today, I believe it was the first digital audio transmission by amateur radio operators. It was reported in 73 Magazine October 1987.
A couple of years ago, I began using Ham Radio Deluxe. I think it is a nice tool. From what I've written, you may well see that in 2016, I have been a licensed radio operator for more than 50 years. I've had an Extra Class license since 1987 - that included 20 WPM CW. I sell microphones at Hamfests. I really hate it when guys will ask where my husband is? -- they have a question about a microphone! I'm the Ham! Ask me.
In the summer of 2016, I changed QTH from Alabama to Ohio. The move from a shady large lot in Montgomery to an apartment in Westerville, Ohio means that I live in a 'no-antenna' community. I'm looking for a house where I can plant a couple of nice antennas. I may be back on HF this summer.
Patricia - AB4CT
April 8, 2016