Patrica J. Turpin
QCWA # 35648
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950's. My dad had come home from WWII and taken advantage of the GI Bill to go to technical school to learn radio and television servicing. Around 1954, he opened a repair shop and by the time I was ten years old in 1957, 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 there 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 1960, the new radios were '5-tube' models using 5 miniature tubes with filaments strung together in series totaling 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 the radio would be dead. My first jobs was checking the tubes for an open filament. Low & behold, I could fix many of the radios just by replacing a 35W4 or 50C5.
By the time I was twelve, I knew that a radio that 'hummed' probably had a bad filter capacitor and was allowed to use my dad's Weller soldering gun and replace it. I had become the master of table-top radios. We still received many console radios and I seldom worked on those. 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 really 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!) 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 I graduated to 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 - some good, some 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 Montgomery Hamfest in November. I have never used any antenna better than a wire dipole, although my current is a G5RV that a summer storm recently blew down. I strung it back up, but it will be late fall when all of the leaves are off my trees before I can get it back up to 40 feet or so.
My current station consists of Yaesu equipment. I like analog radios and my top radio is actually a pair of FT-990's. I also 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!)
I recently (Aug 5th) downloaded Ham Radio Deluxe. From an hours use, I think it will be a nice tool. Not sure I will use the logbook, but I look forward to saving favorites on the various bands.
From what I've written, you may well see that in 2013, I have been a licensed radio operator for more than 50 years. I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer that I use periodically, but as to amateur radio, I am NOT an appliance operator.
Patricia - AB4CT
August 6, 2013