What was your magnet to Amateur radio?

My first CB radio 
All of us have a story regarding the steps that moved us toward our adventure in Amateur radio. When I was growing up CB radio was in it's hay day and everyone had a citizen band radio either in their car or home or both. At a young age I was around adults that had CB radios and thus it exposed me to the magic of radio. The solar cycle was peaking and the bands were alive and this even more sparked my interest. I thought it was so cool that you could talk to someone over the air waves as opposed to a phone and not a cell phone as they were not even around then. I was almost a teenager and I picked up a Johnson Messenger 6 channel AM CB radio and way back then you needed a licence to operate a citizen band radio. Eventually I did apply for a licence and was given the call XM4240.  When I was young I lived in an apartment building in Toronto but was on the ground floor and that was not good for CB radio. My mom knew someone on the 8th floor and she agreed to me having an antenna on her balcony. So I ran the coax up to the 8th floor and I was good to go. At this point in time I was not interested in DX but to be honest I didn't  even know what it was I was just thrilled to listen CBers chatting and occasionally introducing my voice on the air to see who was there.
My first SSB CB radio 
For about 8 years my CB radio endeavours took a back seat to school and then working for a living. Once married I began to rediscover my radio wonders, I purchased a SSB CB radio for the car. My new wife and I took a vacation from Ontario to the Maritimes with the SSB CB radio installed in the car. During the evenings I was in the car trying my hand at DX and at that time DX was working the U.S. states from Canada. One evening to my thrill I was able to work many states and I even had a pile up of U.S. states that wanted to work me from the Maritimes!! At this point in time I was hooked on DX and it began my ham radio adventure.
I now  had a full time job and was working on a family but my Amateur radio thrill was still very much alive. I was able to get a part-time job at an Amateur radio store that just opened up in my town. This was great exposure and allowed me time to study for my exams which I took and passed. My wife and I were renting a house in the country at the time and I was able to put up an R6 vertical antenna and through part time amateur radio job I got a great deal on an Icom 735 radio. I was fascinated with CW after learning it for my basic licence, I wanted to keep my learning curve alive
My pre-amp mic 
regarding CW. I figured I worked very very hard to learn it I did not want to loose it and having said that our kids came along and ham radio took a second seat to family life. It was off and one with ham radio as the kids did there growing and maturing. Once the kids were in high school the amateur radio magnetic kicked in again! My CW was very rusty and needed to be brushed up on but I was determined to not loose this great "language" I acquired!!  From this point in time it has been an adventure and has brought me to the point were I am now with radio. It was the magic of CB radio that caught my interest and it started my adventure towards ham radio........what was your trigger toward ham radio......shortwave radio, listening to your dad on his ham radio or scanners...........do share how you received the spark for ham radio?
The Icom 735
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

27 Responses to “What was your magnet to Amateur radio?”

  • Howard AC4FS:

    I grew up during the CB craze in the 1970’s, but managed to resist the temptation to dip my toes into those waters, so to speak. Basically, I listened to the way they talked on the air, and thought it was stupid. I was an avid SWL when I was in my pre-teens and teens, but drifted away from that after high school.

    I was an electronics nut. I went to a vocational/technical high school, and took electronics for two hours a day, for three years. After graduating, I went in the US Navy, and was trained as an Aviation Electronics Technician. Later on, during a tour of instructor duty, I met another instructor who held his Technician class license (this was back in 1989 – 1990). He was the spark that got me interested in Amateur Radio, and also arranged to have a General class ham come over during our lunch break, and administer the Novice exam and 5WPM code test to me (August 1990). After receiving my Novice license, I immediately started studying for my Technician class exam. Once I received that, the two of us (along with a third instructor who was also a Technician class) started pushing each other. The three of us eventually went all the way to Amateur Extra (my Amateur Extra class license arrived in May 1991), and we formed a small ham radio club on base (NAS Oceana, Virginia).

    I’ve enjoyed Amateur Radio since receiving my Novice license in September 1990, especially CW. My wife is also an Amateur Extra, and the two of us are active members of both local Amateur Radio clubs, our county ARES group, and the local REACT group.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Howard, thanks for taking the time to share the adventure into ham radio! I went to your QRZ page and very nice setup with the Elecraft gear. I have the KX3 as well but not the PX3, in the past I had the P3 along with the K3. Since then the K3 has been sold and I now have the 7610 and the KX3 for portable op’s. Have a great weekend Howard and again thanks for taking the time to share.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Rick AA3C:

    I grew up with CBs and it just so happened that my electronics teacher in high school was a ham, W0YSE. I owe a lot to that guy for stirring my interest in electronics, computers and engineering, plus the interest in amateur radio. Since he was a ham we happened to have a station at school, WB0OKP, and we were allowed to come after school to operate so long as we got an ok from him first. Also, Neil was willing to humor us for Sweepstakes weekend where we would stay up all night, or at least try to, and operate. All in all, a good time.

  • Richard KWØU:

    My father got an Aiwa shortwave receiver in ’65 and I enjoyed listening to it. My brother, never a ham, told me about the hobby. It was in the back of my mind for 10 years, so after getting married I had time to start the license series. Eventually I got a simple station and took off from there.

  • Don SandersW4BWS:

    Thanks for all sharing their magnets to ham radio. I grew up with a big Silvertone console radio in the living room.The family would sit there in the evenings listening to various radio programs, music or stories- loved the Green Hornet and The Phantom. This was 1947 and we did not have TV.
    It had shortwave bands also and I would often listen to broadcasts from foreign countries. One day I heard two fellows talking and realized they were neighbors in my town. I wondered how they were doing this and I could hear them. This was fascinating for an 8 year old. So I got on my bike and headed to the address one fellow had given to the other, after getting permission from my mother of course. The fellow invited me into his basement and explained how he was coming out of my radio. He became my ELMER and helped me to learn about electronics, build my first receiver and 6L6 transmitter and get my Novice license.

  • RL KENTUCKY TRAUTH-kb7lrz:

    nov. 24, 1960…my 17th birthday.
    dec. 1, 1960, seven days later, signed the papers for a 4 year enlistment in the usmc.
    1962, on the ground in cuba with my outfit vmf 251, marine fighter squadron flying f8 crusader jet aircraft. cuban missle crisis.
    on the flight line performing maintenence i was approached by a marine unknown to me and was told to get in his vehicle and he would take me to the control tower. !highly unusual! no reason given.
    in the control tower i was taken to a radio room (mars station) where the operator handed me the mic and said, “just say hello”.
    a ham radio operator in the states answered and patched the call through to my wife in kentucky.
    she told me we had a new son, our first child and all was well.
    i’ve never forgot what that ham did for me.
    i was able 27 years later to get my first ham ticket. still an active ham.

  • Burt K7HVN:

    In junior high we had a teacher who led an elective ham radio class and I took it.
    There wasn’t much of a “shack” there, but what was there was fascinating though the bands were always dead in the daytime and I never got to hear much of anything. Morse at 5 WPM for practice. Off to highschool and no radio club, then college, marriage, kids, etc., but at about 60 I got my General. But Mr. Hulbert planted that “seed” many years ago, and I wish that he was living so I could thank him.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Rick and thanks for commenting, it’s so true that teachers really do have an influence on us! It was great that this teacher took the time to spark the interest of the students including yourself. I was just listening to the CW sweepstakes this evening here at home. Rick thanks for sharing your journey and have a great week.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Richard it sure is crazy how things stick with us over time to eventually become an influence in our lives. Great to read that this journey took you to the place you are at now and I hope a place that has brought relaxation, challenges and lots and lots of fun!!
    73 and have a good upcoming week Richard.
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Don thanks so much for sharing and I can just imagine the whole family gathered around the radio and listening to the radio shows! How things have changed since then…..now it’s cell phones, texting and the internet. Don what an adventure you had to search out and find the hams in your area. Thanks for sharing and it’s great to look back and see the time they spent with you in time has brought you so much enjoyment and challenges.
    Thanks for sharing Don.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Top of the evening RL, WOW thanks for sharing this story with us….to think you were so far away from home and it was a phone patch that gave you the news of your sons birth! That sure are amazing the Ham did that for you and to think this was the introduction to ham radio for you. Thanks for sharing this story it sure is a one of a kind.
    73 and thanks for your service.
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Hello Burt thanks very much for taking the time to share your story, it’s very true how teachers have an influence in our lives. The seed that Mr Hulbert planted has (in time) given you much enjoyment and challenges in your ham radio adventure.
    73 and again thanks for sharing.
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Bill VE7WNO:

    I have had an interest in electronics since the age of 13. I started driving in the early 70s and met a gentleman who got me interested in CB, I too had to get a license (XM12-7921). I was fortunate to have a high school electronics teacher who was a ham, Brian, VE7BHY. I didn’t really catch the bug then, but that is where it began. Now later in life I have been a ham for 6 years, and the most magical part is still hearing that voice across the airwaves.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    good evening bill and thanks for sharing, once I saw your CB call I believe mine was not XM 4240 but actually XM12-4240. I guess as time goes past so does the memory! It sure must be interesting to hear the call of the person who was instrumental in getting your ham radio bug going.
    Thanks for taking the time to stop by and have a great week.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Larry VE7VJ:

    It was shortwave listening in the 60’s. We had a set at the farm and a longwire stretched out from the house to the shed. Used to spend hours with my Uncle spinning the knob, especially in the winter at night when the chores were done. I bought a set of my own (DX160) when I saved up enough. Had little marks all along the dial for stations I liked. Saw a digital read out one day on a new set in the local RS and thought that was the greatest thing ever.
    Got a CB (XM491260) later along with several friends in school. We had a lot of fun, but this was before the craze. Ha! I remember hearing of a ‘dipole’ antenna and tried one. Didn’t work much at all. Of course we didn’t know anything about polarization at the time. Unfortunately we did not know any hams back then or I might have gotten into the hobby much sooner.
    Once that damned song came out it wasn’t even worthwhile turning on the CB. I took down my Shakespeare vertical, packed up my RS Navaho and gave them away.
    Got away from radio for a long time afterwards. Used them for work but that was about it. Moved to northern BC and met Larry (VE7AMK) when I joined the local SAR group. He was just starting a basic license class so I signed up.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Larry very nice to hear from you, yes I remember the XM call letters I had one myself and I too was into the CB radio thing before the whole “CB thing” erupted. Well the shortwave winter evenings and CB radios seemed to lead your path eventually to ham radio.
    Thanks for sharing and have a good week.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Jim Stanley M7BXT:

    My first exposure was with an old valve broadcast receiver, which had short wave on it. I was about aged 12. I had a friend whose garden backed onto ours so we aet up a wire foe morse code, initially with a bulb and later a buzzer. I started learning morse and studying for the C&G RAE exam, and was saving for a No 19 set, advertised in Exchange and Mart for a whole £8! All was going well until hormones kicked in and the opposite sex proved to be the reason for a break!. In the late 70’s I got into AM CB, and had a number of chats with some guys in the States, not bad off a short mag mount on my work van. That was it until I retired and this year I passed the UK Foundation ticket and am now the proud operator of M7BXT. Being retired cash is obviously a problem so I am working with second hand gear, and having a ball. I run a Yaesu 1500m and a Sommerkamp FT7B, as soon as I can get the G8RV sorted.. Next stop my intermediate license and more power, 10 watts is limiting, as I do not have the skill or ears to take advantage of the low power signals. My 2 m rig is on more or less all the time, anmd I pick up contacts throughout the day, and I am looking forward to doing the same on HF as soon as I have the masts up.My only regret is that I did not get my ticket when a teenager. Think of it, a car, even a wreck when you can talk from it to the States. What a chick magnet for an 18 year old in 1971!

  • Dennis Cornell KL7HRO:

    I started in the early 60’s building a Knight Kit CB. My dad got a radio for the car. I think he started with a White Faced Johnson which I managed to buy recently from a ham in KS. My dads went by the way a long time ago. He had KNK0256 and later I got KEL2729. I had a Knight 2572 ground plane and later a 3 element beam on a 40′ tower. I got an HQ-129X receiver and a DX100. My dads friend, Lee Brody SK gave me a book to study and in 66 I got my novice and technician in the mail. WN9VRR and WA9VRR. I joined the Navy in 68 and while stationed in Australia I got on the VK6US station. I also had VK6ZDC while there. When I moved to TN I got WD4HRO. By then I had gotten away from CB. In NV I got N7HRO and moved up to Extra. When I moved to AK I put in for KL7HRO. After I got that call my son, KB7LMI put in for my N7HRO call and got it. I still have several CB radios but haven’t put them in any vehicles. There are lots of 2 meter and 440 repeaters up here in Two Rivers NE of Fairbanks but not to many people use them. I finally got a hex beam and a couple wire antennas up so now I wait until the bands open again. 73, [email protected]

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Jim and very nice to here from you, yes when we look back on what we did as opposed to what we now see being what we should had done we always seem to have 20/20 vision looking back. That being said the past is the past but you seem to have a great time with CW. Congrats on getting your foundation licence. I can understand with the solar cycle in the shape its in that 10 watts output would be a challenge. Now that you are retired you will have a bit more time on your hands to upgrade your licence to intermediate and then beyond!
    Jim thanks for sharing your story with us.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Dennis thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment, I was reading your QRZ.COM page and it seems you have had your hands full with mishaps! You had a nice adventure from shortwave radio and then into ham radio.
    Thanks for sharing and have a great week.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Jim. n9egm:

    Was in communications in the navy. Go first cb after I got out

  • Elwood Downey, WB0OEW:

    Knight Kit Star Roamer when I was 13. Built a BFO to hear SSB and CW. Got licensed a few years later.

  • Paul, N6SFC:

    I got a set of toy walkie-talkies for my 10th birthday. My cousin Phil and I were playing with them one day, and we heard these two guys talking to each other. I asked Phil… “Hey! Who are those guys on my radio?”. Phil said “Those are ‘Hams’!” Well, the toy walkie-talkies were fixed on CB channel 14, so those guys were no doubt CBers and not Hams, but I didn’t know any better at the time. Nonetheless I became fascinated with the idea of Ham radio.

    Maybe 3 years went by, and a kid in my neighborhood had assembled a little station in his backyard shed. He was Dennis, WN6OXO. He had a Hallicrafters S20R “Sky Champion”, an EICO 720 transmitter and a Lionel J-38 key. This equipment fascinated me and I spent a lot of time over at Dennis’ place, watching him play with his cool stuff. Pretty soon, I bought a Hallicrafters S38A from a neighborhood TV repairman for $8. I strung a random wire in my family’s backyard and I was off to the races. Dennis loaned me a copy of “Mastering the Morse Code” by the Ameco Co. and by the end of my 13th summer, I had learned the code.

    A high school teacher, Mr. Bell, WB6TIJ, made a deal with his freshman industrial arts class… Get your Novice ticket and you get an automatic “A” in his class. Well, I had already gotten “the bug” from Dennis that previous summer and was ready to take my Novice test from Mr. Bell by the time he’d made his offer to the class. Mr. Bell administered my test one Saturday morning, and in January 1971, I became WN6GDC.

    Other activities distracted me from Ham radio and I’d let my license expire. Novice tickets were only good for two years back then. It took me 15 years, but I eventually upgraded to General class in 1987. I’ve been pretty inactive lately, but now I’m retired and ready to restart

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Jim, seems like a natural progression.
    Thanks for leaving your feedback.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Elwood very nice to hear from you, I looked up the he knight kit star roamed looked like a nice receiver to get an introduction inti short wave.
    Have a good weekend
    Mike
    73
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Paul, it seems to me that ham radio just kept popping up all through your early life! I too became very busy in my middle live but kept my licence. I too am now retired and find I have time for radio it’s great.
    Thanks for sharing your journey Paul.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike AB8MW:

    Good afternoon Mike,
    Starting back in the early ’60s, my father was stationed in France. We had a Boy Scout troop on the base and I was studying for a Morse code merit badge when we took a trip to a base radio club. I was hooked. When we returned to the States I received my novice ticket. It wasn’t long after that I joined to Navy. I was also in on the CB craze. KYQ0281. I retired after 24 years and bought my house here in Ohio. There is a major bike ride from my location in Columbus to the Ohio river and back every year. I kept seeing the first aid stations with the antennae. The bug bit again. The only thing stopping me was the code requirement. After 50 years I would never be able to learn it again. I then heard the the FCC had deleted the requirement along with the Novice designation. Within a year I had obtained my Extra ticket. Today I am active as a traffic handler for OH and WV along with ARES.

    73
    Mike AB8MW

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

E-mail 
Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.



Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.


Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

 
We never share your e-mail address.



Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!


  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: