Edgar A. 'Ed' Naratil - W3BNR
QCWA # 13,930
It starts way back in the early 1900s. My dad decided to become a ham radio operator. So he found an Elmer, studied, went to Philadelphia for his test and was assigned the call of 3AMC in 1917.
At that time Pennsylvania was split - some in the 3rd call area and most in the 8th, main office in Buffalo, NY.
A short while later the powers to be informed him that he was really in the eighth call district (Carbon County, PA) and assigned him the call of 8CTZ. Then, later, they decided he should be in the 3rd area and gave him 3AMC. A little later another decision and back to 8-land where he became W8CTZ.
Then the call areas were changed and the whole state of PA was put into the third call area and he was assigned the call of W3AMC. More wishy-washy than today's politicians.
Marriage in the early 1931 put an end to ham radio for him. Well, not forever but for about 20 years.
Now, for me.
I enlisted in the Navy in 1951 and became an Electronics Technician - going through Electronics School at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. No, CW was not taught. But basic electronics, radio, radar, etc. were.
I was assigned to a converted LST, USS Electron (AKS-27) in Sasebo, Japan. When I arrived on board I was give the option to stand Electrician's watches or Quartermaster watches. Well, below deck or above deck, which would you choose?
Yep, I took the Quartermaster watches which also meant keeping an ear on the local AM radio channels for traffic for the ship or a request to 'come up' on the FOX channel. The FOX channel being on CW required calling one of the two Radiomen to come up to the radio room.
After a short while I was transferred to another converted LST, the USS Chimon (AKS-31). Same deal there, but this time one of the Radiomen offered to teach me CW. A little experience there from the Boy Scouts where I had earned the Radio Merit Badge gave me a little head start. I at least knew the alphabet and numbers.
In about 6 months I was copying the FOX broadcasts from Guam at about 18-20 WPM. So I acted as the third Radioman aboard the ship while still performing the duties of Electronics Technician since I was the only ET aboard.
And so it went.
While I was in the service my dad got bitten by the bug again and went to Philadelphia, took the amateur test again and, believe it or not, got his original 3-land call back, W3AMC. At the same time he also took the test and got a First Class Commercial FCC license.
So, when I was discharged in February of 1955 after 4 years in the Navy I returned home (Palmerton, PA). I was familiar with CW, had a good electronics background, and with a little coaching from my dad who was also my Elmer, got a Novice license (WN3BNR). A couple of months later after memorizing enough questions and answers I traveled to Philadelphia and took the General test in front of the grand master, Joe Welsh. Passed it the first time!
On the air as a General, still using my first rig a Heathkit AT-1. Crystal controlled, CW only. Shortly thereafter a cathode modulator was added. Transformer on floor!
My dad and I purchased a used Collins 75A3 and a brand new B&W 5100. We picked it up at the factory. Wow! What a difference from the AT-1! Eventually we added the SB Kit and then later a B&W 5100B.
Dad went on to a Collins KW-1 and 75A4. Great equipment. Especially with the 3-element 20 meter beam on the tower and the 10-meter quad on the roof.
I went through a number of different mobile rigs. Gonset Super-6 and 12. A Stancor Transformer Co. 10 meter transmitter kit. Multi-Elmac AF-67, Gonset Twins. One car, my 1953 Chevrolet had two generators, two regulators and two batteries (one in the trunk). One of the batteries ran a military surplus PE-103 (I think) dynamotor for the high voltage on the AF-67. And these are the only ones I remember - there were others.
All this while I was working for Western Electric in Allentown, PA.
Most of my operation from 1955 - 1960 was in the line of traffic handling and net operations. I was a net control station for the Pennsylvania Fone Net (PFN) from 1955-1960. Also net control for the 2nd Regional Fone Net in the mornings while I was working the 'swing shift'. And I shouldn't forget the early mornings with the Early Bird Transcontinental Phone Net at 5:00AM. And, the EPA net on 3610 which I managed to check into on occasion.
Participated in most of the ARRL contests for ARRL appointees only from 1955 to 1959. As an Official Bulletin Station (OBS), Official Phone Station (OPS), and Official Relay Station (ORS) I had three options to choose from when operating. Two of those OBS and OPS no longer exist. I still hold ORS. And, I believe, ARRL no longer holds this contest.
I was the first Civil Defense Radio Officer for Carbon County, PA. And wrote the first RACES plan for the county in 1956 and it was approved on the first submission.
In 1959 I went to work for Burroughs Corporation in Paoli, PA. On the road until 1967 working on government contracts for the US Air Force and other government agencies. Forth and back across the country, Maine to California. All my operations became mobile and portable.
I operated portable in areas 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Had a ball while in Sundance, Wyoming operating W3BNR/7. All I had to do was give a quick CQ and presto - as many contacts as I wanted.
Then tragedy, at least ham radio wise, struck. I met a girl in California. Got married in New York State (she was from there) and we immediately went to Finland, Minnesota where I was working. This was December of 1966. Ham radio started to take less of my time. And the birth of two boys, one in 1968 and one in 1970, took more time away from ham radio.
Moving into the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania area in 1968 was pretty much the end of any HF work. Small yard, PECO transmission lines on the rear property lines, no room for vertical or horizontal antennas. I donated my HF gear - a Swan 240 and power supply to N3KAS for the Boy Scouts.
Since then I've only been active on 2 meters, 220 and 440. Presently running an Alinco DR-110 on 144 and an Alinco DR-430 on 440. Two HTs: a Kenwood TH-F6 and an Icom IC-Q7A. Plus a backup 2 meter rig, a Yaesu FT-1500M which I'd like to put into my new car, but can't find the room.
144 and 440 antennae are both Ringo Rangers. And the 220 operation is strictly from the TH-F6 HT.
I have 2 Public Service Awards from the ARRL for service during the two hurricanes that caused considerable damage to Eastern Pennsylvania back in August and October of 1955. A couple of BPL certificates for traffic handling. I have WAS and WAC with phone endorsements. (WAS was for working 48 states. That's all there was when I got it.)
In addition to Pottstown Area Amateur Radio Club (PAARC), I belong to the Mid-Atlantic ARC and was a member of both the Carbon County ARC and Delaware-Lehigh ARC years ago when I lived in Palmerton, PA. I also belong to ARRL, QCWA, OOTC, (life member of all of those). I guess I shouldn't forget the Rag Chewers Club (RCC).
Just might mention famous people I've worked: Barry Goldwater and the 'ole Red-head Himself - Arthur Godfrey.
That's it - if anyone is bored, don't blame me - blame the editor!
My Station 1956
My Mobile Rig 1956
My Station 1974
My Station 2008
September 1, 2013