Do you remember your first?

 


I was doing some cleaning around the house the other day and came across a QSL card of the very first contact I made.  It was June 6th, 1989 and I was pounding out CQ with my Bencher BY-1 Iambic paddle. I had a script all made up with a step by step CW QSO contact information. As I very well remember things did not go as planned.  I now know I just was experiencing what any new green CW op would experience. I was listening to the code that was being sent and writing it down on paper but then I missed a letter and started to concentrate on the missed letter. This meant I missed even more code and was lost in no time. I had to do I mental reset and carry on. At some points, I fell into the bad habit of counting dits and dahs and not hearing the rhythm again it was panic setting in. When it came time to send I wanted to for some reason send just a bit faster than I was receiving well that did not work out too well when I was receiving and the code was coming back at me just a bit faster! While on the subject of sending I did find myself messing up letters and having to send words again. Then frustration set in which made it worse, but I did complete the QSO. As stressful as it may have seemed I was thrilled and could not wait for my next contact. 

At that time my station setup was the Icom IC-745 it was second hand but I loved it and had served me for many years.  My antenna was the Crushcraft R4 vertical antenna which for my location was the best solution. I did not own the house I was living in so a tower and beam were out of the question. Also, the lot was small so no room for ground radial. The R4 answered my needs as it did not need ground radials and had a very small footprint. As stated earlier I had the Bencher BY-1 key.

Can any of you remember your first contact and the gear you were using at the time? 

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

18 Responses to “Do you remember your first?”

  • Peter Dehman WA1ISA:

    Hi Mike!

    Yes I do! Sometime in 1968 @ 14 years old. I called CQ on the 40 Meter Novice band with a HARVEY WELLS TBS50C Transmitter, HB power supply and an old HALLICRAFTERS S-38D Receiver signing WN1ISA. Bought for me by my father in 1967 when I had my Novice. I worked WN2EQQ in NY. I still have the card and original license!!!!!! Been on the air ever since 100% CW.

  • Bob-N8QE:

    My first contact was with WN8RQQ in 1966. I prize his QSL card among my favorites ever received. Code was at 5 wpm speed so the contact was long. What made it extra special was I lived in Greenville, PA at the time, and he lived in Greenville, OH. My call at the time was WN3FNT. Rig was an Eico 720 and a Hallicrafters SX-99 to a 140’ long wire antenna with a knife switch in between them.

  • woody KE5YXO:

    I have the QSL card I sent to my first contact across town. I was a novice then(KN5GCM) and we worked CW on 7.125 mhz crystal control.Date August 18, 1956.My output was 4 watts and my receiver was a Heathkit AR-2.My friend’s call was K5ATD.

  • N2RZ:

    I had been listening to a loaner HF rig while studying for my General license. Upon passing the test and returning home I fired up the radio and heard W1AW calling CQ. I responded and made my first HF contact! Not having any logging software or even a paper logbook, I made a note of the details on an envelope on the desk.
    Before I could order QSL cards I lost the envelope so I have no card from that first contact. But I have since contacted them several times and have a couple of cards in the shack.
    I guess the lesson is “be prepared!”

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Peter and very nice to hear from you and read about your first radio contact adventure. I was a late bloomer and was 28 when I made my first contact. In my younger years it was CB radio and some tube ham receivers. I do agree that CW is the way to go, and it truly is a skill.
    73 and have a great weekend,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Bob thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it’s great when you can obtain the QSL card of your first contact. I guess today it would most likely be an electronic version. That was how I obtained my very FT8 contact. Thanks for sharing your first radio contact adventure Bob.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Woody great to hear from you, whether it’s across town or across the world a contact is a contact! After that contact on August the 8th 1956 the rest was radio history.
    73 have a great Friday and weekend,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Tom (N2RZ) well I will say contacting W1AW sure would be a memorable thing. I have never to date made a contact with them. Yes as the Boy Scouts say “be prepared” and I say “hindsight is always 20/20” Thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • BOB Spears:

    How do you pound out CW with a Bencher Iambic Paddle.
    Poor choice of words, as pounding is done on a STRAIGHT KEY.

  • Jim, KB9JMU:

    I was 40 years young in 1995. I passed the Tech test, but had to wait for my callsign. I also had a business trip to HI coming up. The day before the trip, I got my callsign and packed my HT, which I had purchased a few weeks before and headed to sun and surf.

    My first contact was a couple days later while walking on a beach North of Kona on a local 2m repeater with David, K7OMA.

    73,
    KB9JMU
    Jim

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning BOB and thanks for taking the time to read the post well I hope you read all the post and did not just stop after the third line when you encountered “pounding”. I am very sorry and as it happens I once again missed the memo regarding pounding being bound to a straight key. By the force of your comment it seems its more of a copy right infringement?
    To set the record straight it was my first contact, and I was very nervous when N8LA came back to my CQ. One hand was gripping the key….sorry paddle as I did not want it to move, as you know a Bencher is a solid paddle BUT…..I did not tap the out the code as I was very concerned with forming dit’s and dah’s correctly. There was no finesse finger code as I did not have the years of experience.
    I gripped the Bencher with one had and held it steady with white knuckles, I stopped breathing while sending and with my other hand I literally POUNDED out the code.
    I have to run now a chore is awaiting me, it’s time to “pound” some nails. It’s a project my wife has been after me about, and I could tell her to go “pound” salt. This would just result in me having a “pounding” headache. Well I’m off with my “pound” of nails to “pound” most of them in. My wife will be so “pound” of me…..oh sorry I mean proud of me. I guess I just got mixed up in the word. After all it is just a word and let’s treat it that way.
    Have a great weekend Bob.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Jim very nice to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment. I was reading on your QRZ page that you started out your radio adventure with a shortwave radio. I acquired a Hellicrafters reviewer and not sure at all what model, but I loved picking up the shortwave stations, SSB and CW stations.
    Like you I then got into CB and I loved that it really kicked my ham career into high gear.
    Thanks for taking the time to share Jim 73 and have a great weekend,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • KEN SLUSHER N2DF:

    YEP I SURE DO, FIRST CONTACT WAS IN 1975 WHEN I WAS A CODE ONLY NOVICE, MY SCRIPT WAS : NAME HERE IS, QTH IS, UR REPORT IS, WX HERE IS , AHHHH SUCH MEMORIES

  • Jim Smith:

    My Novice License came in the mail on at the end of the first week of January, 1962. I had already built my Heathkit HX-11 the 50 watter that heath replaced their venerable DX-20 with in late 1961. My receiver was a Heathkit AR-3 which I had built a year before. The AR-3 to say the least was not a very selective receiver but I had fortunatly built the Heathkit QF-1 Q Multiplier which made quite a difference and allowed me to separate the many other Novice signals on the 40 meter band. What really made it difficult to copy other stations was the fact that many European countries took perverse pleasure in plopping their 500,000 watt AM signals right in the middle of the 40 meter Novice band! With this setup and a 40 meter dipole barely 20 feet off the ground I was able to make may dozens of contacts during the seven months that I had my Novice. Oh, by the way for most of the seven months that I was a Novice I had only one crystal! Thankfully I was able to replace my AR-3 with a Heathkit Mohawk and the HX-11 with a Heathkit Apache about a year after getting my General Class license. I honestly can’t remember what the call letters were of the first station worked even though I have searched my QSL file

    Best 73’s

    Jim K3RTU

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Ken very nice to hear from you, yes writing the script out sure does help in my case I still had my nerves get the best of me. I visited your QRZ page and very nice bike you have looks like fun. Have a good retirement and thanks for stopping by the post.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Jim, yes gone are the days for the most part when gear like Heathkit was around. Now you do have the Elecraft K2 (built two of them) but for the most part that era has pasted. Having only one crystal to operate from sure does limit things for sure, and I bit once you moved on from that it was an eye-opener for sure!
    Jim thanks for sharing your adventure and have a great weekend,
    73
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Dave N3DZ:

    I had a terrific first contact in 1995. It lasted 45 minutes in CW with a fellow who was a printer for the city of Winston Salem. We had a long ragchew and I told him of my other hobby of playing theatre pipe organ. A week later I was surprised by a package in the mail. It was a 100 custom created QSL cards for my then call sign of N3VFF. They had a caricature of a jazzy guy playing a stylized keyboard. Talk about comradely in Ham Radio.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Dave and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, now that is a first contact to remember and very nice of the op to send the cards to you. It was a very nice way to get you off and started with QSLing.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

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