John E. Ashurst
My radio interest started at about 8 or 9 years of age in the small town of Boone, CO when a friend purchased a radio. With his allowance in hand he found the radio in a second hand store in Pueblo, CO. We listened to the old thing on foreign voice broadcasts and code. We had no idea what was being said. We did however find guys talking to one another, usually only hearing one side of the conversation and trying to figure out who the poor guy was talking with.
We made an attempt to make it transmit but only managed to blow it up. We then pooled our allowance money and wages from cutting grass or whatever we could find to do and purchased a new (second hand) radio with real short wave bands which were spread out and you could actually separate the stations. Could hear the hams talking and the interest stuck in my head. I think it cost about $10.00, an expensive radio for us.
Later on my family moved a few miles away to Fowler, CO where I got more involved with school and girls. Then into the Air Force, then the Army, and then the Weather Bureau which has now become the National Weather Service.
I attended Electronic schools in the Air Force, Army, National Weather Service, and college. Managed to work my way up from grunt to head grunt and on. I retired from the National Weather Service as the "Area Electronics Supervisor" for West Texas and New Mexico. Had a total of 34 years with the government
I got married while in the Air Force to the love of my life Judy. My father-in-law, Delmar 'Del' Rafferty, being an avid ham operator with the call WØGPP, now a Silent Key, started asking me to give it a try. He said 'You have the electronics background so it should be easy' and it was, except for the code. I finally got around to giving it a shot and I got some code tapes and listened to them and I slowly started to pick it up but really wasn't getting too far. One day I took my tape player to my camper trailer and started listing and nine (9) hours later I knew the code, though I was a little shell shocked for a couple of days.
In February 1976 I passed my Novice test and became WN5RSX. Later a new license came in the mail changing it to WB5RSX, no more Novice calls. In October 1977 I made the trip to Lubbock, TX for FCC testing and upgraded to General, never was a Technician. In October 1978 I passed the Advanced Test and decided to change my call, I always hated the X on the end of my call because I couldn't come up with a good rhyme for RSX. I was issued the call KB5FS and kept it for 20 years.
I then studied for the Extra and submitted my paperwork to the FCC to take the test and was scheduled to again go to Lubbock, TX until everyone was notified that the FCC would only give tests in the main offices and then later not at all.
I got to thinking that while a Novice I had made 25 or 30 contacts. Wrong!! I counted over 200 contacts with my old modified ARC-5/BC-457 transmitter on 40 meters and as I recall an Allied Radio, NON-HAM receiver. The thing had to be more than 10 KC (now KHz) wide so I could hear almost everyone on the Novice portion of the band. I decided to come up with a filter of some type and built an audio filter centered at 800 cycles (Hz) with sharp skirts. You talk about hearing things then! I was rock bound but still managed very well and had a lot of fun.
When I got my General I put up an old tower, 33 foot, and built a two element Quad antenna, 10 and 15 meters only. I also had purchased a Brand New Kenwood TS-520S which I still own and it still works like new (same tubes even). "My power house." Had wire antennas for 75, 40 and 20 meters. Later I purchased a Wilson System-36 Yagi antenna because the wind here was very hard on my Quad antenna.
I finally decided again to take my Extra Test so I took it at the hamfest in Canyon, TX in 1998 and passed. Didn't think about changing my call "until one day" while I was looking around on the internet I discovered that K5FS was available. I thought what the heck, and applied for it and discovered that a bunch of other people had also applied for the same call, Somehow I received the call and the rest is history. That was in June of 2000.
My equipment now is my trusted Kenwood TS-520S, a Kenwood TS-570S and an old Harris RF-102 amplifier, also my mobile Yaesu FT-8500 VHF/UHF dual band.
I made many QSO's with my father-in-law Del over the years until he became a Silent Key.
Never was a person to hunt for papers, DXCC, WAS, etc. but do enjoy a good rag-chew and to work those hard to contact special event and DX stations. Every year I have been involved with Route 66 On The Air and if you have worked Amarillo, Texas during this event then we may have talked.
February 18, 2012