Dan Smith, K6PRK
(formerly KN6ERV, 1954)
My Novice days were certainly great fun for a 15 year old kid. I was amongst a group of high school hams or would be hams.
The code part of my ticket was hard won since I "learned" the code as a Boy Scout for a Merit badge. The hardest part of learning the code was un-learning the dots and dashes memorized as a scout.
At the time K6USN was on the air from Treasure Island CA and had code practice sessions on the 80 meter ham band. I used this to get my speed up to 5 wpm (barely). A couple of us went to the FCC in San Francisco for the Novice test. Some how I overcame my nervousness and managed to copy 25 consecutive letters and passed the test.
After that I kept checking the mail box every day after school to see if my hard won license arrived. About 6 weeks after I took the test, I missed one day of checking the mailbox. I had my transmitter all ready to go and I had it planned to get on the air as soon as I had the license in hand. The date was May 1954.
My mother casually mentioned at about 8PM that evening that I had some mail. I got a little angry with her for waiting until evening to give it to me. I ripped the envelope open and there was my license. My call letters were KN6ERV. I ran out into my shack and got on 3725Kc and put out a CQ and got an answer from KN6DYM in Delhi, California. I lived in Walnut Creek, California at the time. About 70 miles away. I was so nervous I could barely copy. I still have the QSL card of my first QSO. From that point, my enjoyment grew as a new ham. I managed to get my code speed up to about 10WPM, but had trouble getting over that plateau.
About 6 months into my ham experience, a friend of mine offered me some 2 meter gear so I could get on phone. It was a huge mistake getting on 2 meters. My code speed went backwards as I enjoyed the 2 Meter AM band. My license ran out and I couldn't copy 13 WPM.
I waited over a year before I went for the Technician license. I could still handle 5 WPM. I requested my original call, but the call was assigned to someone else. I ended up with K6PRK.
I could get my original call letters back now as a vanity, but I chose to keep my second call letters.
There was some magic with the Novice License and I look back at it as probably the most fun I have had in Ham Radio. Somewhere I still have my Novice license card. I will have to look for it again.
My first rig was a Meissner Signal Shifter driving an ARC-5 transmitter. My receiver was an ARC 5 3 to 6Mc command receiver. I had a center fed dipole up about 40' off the ground. Of course the Meissner was used with a 3725Mc crystal to stay within the law, although it was as steady as a crystal when used in the VFO position.