Gary N. Bullinger
QCWA # 26726
My career in "electronics" began in 1965 when I received a Zenith M660 shortwave receiver. I remember my first station I heard was the Russian "woodpecker" over-the-horizon radar. This sparked my interest as well as other interesting stations. Shortwave listening was my hobby at the time, and within a couple of years, I upgraded to a Hallicrafters SX130 receiver. I was on a roll. During my senior year at West Aurora High School, I was introduced to ham radio by Lionel Gardner, W9IEC, trustee of the school ham radio club station WA9CAC, and fellow classmate James Kassel, AF0Z. We contacted a 10 meter AM station in Washington State---then one in Florida. I was hooked. That year I received my Novice WN9BVZ. It was a fun two years of crystal control operation, and one notable contact was Canada's Yukon Territory @ 3 AM on 40 meters.....it was my first taste of rare DX. My 40 m wire dipole fed with 73 ohm coax was working well that morning!
After two years I received my General. I knew my priorities, but I still put together a Heath HW-16 in my dorm room at Western Illinois University. I spent a lot of quality time at the school's club station, W9YOL, and furthering my education in Physics, mathematics, biology, and last, but not least, hamradio! During my Senior, I drove a 1972 Dodge Challenger equipped with a Swan Cygnet 270B & Hustler vertical. It was fun giving out counties while traveling the country.....even used a Heath HW-7 QRP transceiver with good results. You can do wonders with 5 watts when conditions are good and the antenna is perfectly matched.
After college my interest in electronics continued unabated. My first large tranceiver was the Yaesu FTDx560 in 1973. The late Jim Rafferty, N6RJ, who was also a student @ WIU had previously brought his FTDx560 to Western's club station for use by fellow club members. As you know, Jim made ham radio a career, and became VP @ Ham Radio Outlet. He was a gentleman and a scholar.
Other radios followed: EBC Jr, Yaesu FT101B, Swan 270B, and Atlas. I earned my Extra, FCC First Class with Radar Endorsement, and worked for Motorola, Spectrum Service Corp, Chicago Communications, and Radco Communications until retirement. It wasn't until the early 90's that I changed my call to AF9Z after discussing the change with fellow operator AF0Z in Minnesota. There was only one "AF9" call available, so I took it!
I think back to 1965 and know that electronics was the right choice. My current rig is the Icom 746, Icom R7 receiver, dipole antennas 10-40m, and a TA-31 rotatable dipole 10-20m. I never felt the need for an amplifier, and believe a good antenna will always fit the bill whether it be mobile or base. Mode of choice: CW, but SSB is enjoyed as well. I QSL 100%!
In April 2013 I purchased a used Zenith M660 Shortwave receiver which was the model of my first radio purchased 48 years years ago. The first station I tuned in this time was News radio 78, WBBM on 780 Khz.
August 13, 2015