Our Stories
 Bernie Huth W4BGH
 Bill Penhallegon W4STX
 Mike Branca W3IRZ
 Woody Pope ex-KN5GCM
 Ken Barber W2DTC
 Wayne Beck K5MB 
 Chuck Counselman W1HIS
 Dan Cron W6SBE
 Keith Synder KE7IOW
 Cam Harriot KI6WK 
 Ray Colbert W5XE 
 Slim Copeland K4KCS
 Dean Norris K7NO 
 John Fuller K4HQK
 Bill Tippett W4ZV
 Paula Keiser K8PK
 Mickey LeBoeuf K5ML
 Jim Cadien KC7ZMV
 Tony Rogozinski W4OI 
 Norm Goodkin K6YXH
 Doug Millar K6JEY
 Richard Cohen K6DBR
 Dick Newsome W0HXL
 Jeff Lackey K8CQ
 John Miller K6MM
 Al Burnham K6RIM 
 Jeff Wolf K6JW
 Jay Slough K4ZLE
 Mike Chernus K6PZN
 Richard Dillman W6AWO
 Stan Miln K6RMR 
 George Ison K4ZMI
 Don Minkoff NK6A  
 Tom Wilson K7FA
 Glen Zook K9STH
 Val Erwin W5PUT 
 Chas Shinn W7MAP/5
 Dean Straw N6BV
 Art Mouton K5FNQ
 Bob Silverman WA6MRK
Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH
1951 - 1955
1956 - 1960
1961 - 1965
1966 - 1970
1971 - 1975
1976 - 1980
1981 - 1990
1991 - 2000

John Fuller, K4HQK
(formerly KN4HQK, 1956)

The mystique of shortwave led me into ham radio. It began with reading the Hardy Boys series novel, "The Shortwave Mystery;" earning a "Radio" merit badge in the Boy Scouts (where I learned Morse); and discovering my parents had an old RCA radio in the attic with-Ah!-a shortwave band. In the small town of Barnwell, South Carolina, this was high drama.

K4HQKBy age twelve (1954) I had built a Meissner 3BK three-tube regenerative receiver from a kit. To change bands, it was necessary to unplug one coil and insert another, then tweak the regeneration threshold just so for maximum sensitivity, without howling.

Along the way I heard of amateur radio and wanted in. A business acquaintance of my grandfather's gave me an old one-tube ICA Signa-Tone code practice oscillator. Then a little ad in a radio magazine led me to an Army surplus J-38 telegraph key-for the grand sum of 99 cents.

A year later, at age thirteen, I was introduced to two dear, patient, supportive fellows in their late twenties-Herb Walters (KN4GDL) and "Kel" Kelley (KN4GLT)-who took me under their wings, demonstrated their commercial receivers and homemade, 10-watt 6L6-5U4G transmitters, and helped me practice code. A few months later (December 1956) I was ready for the exam. The FCC required that it be administered by a ham with a General class license, and the nearest such person was 14 miles away. I bummed a ride to his house and took the test on the kitchen table. Afterward this ham said I had passed the 20-question exam, which he then mailed off to the FCC. As I waited for the official decision, I begged my parents to persuade "Santa" to place a Heathkit AT-1 transmitter under our tree Christmas morning. "Santa" came through and I began soldering. A month later I turned 14 and a few days after that, my Novice license arrived in a little FCC envelope. I was to be KN4HQK, not quite the elegant call I had hoped for, but it was mine, and I was now ready to go on the air.

After finishing the AT-1 and getting the bugs out, I placed it on my desk next to the Meissner. Next I raised an 80-meter doublet. Then I plugged in the key and tapped it a few times. To my dismay, in the headset I didn't hear a clean CW tone but instead, a loud "Poomph! Poomph!" Something was still wrong with the AT-1, I thought, and resigned myself to going over the schematic yet again--unaware the problem was actually with the simple receiver, overloaded by the AT-1's strong signal.

A couple of weeks went by as I fussed over the "broken" transmitter. Then one night (February 21, 1956), while tuning around on the 80 meter novice band, I picked up KN4GAN calling CQ around 3720 kHz (k/c then). What the heck, I thought, I'll call him if for no other reason than to watch the AT-1's meter wiggle and get some code practice, and what does it matter my one and only crystal is some distance away on 3748. I called and listened, but . . . coming back to me in my headset was my own call sign. What! I picked up the pencil and began copying: RST 589, QTH Forsyth, GA, name is Jerry. I was suddenly in a pool of perspiration. I didn't even know all the numbers and had to write down dots and dashes for later translation. Then I sent my report, nervous and shaking, surely a mess, but he came back again and we chatted a few more minutes before sending our 73s. I had made my first contact and was floating high in the sky, somewhere near the ionosphere.

After many Novice QSOs that year I began to feel confined by the limited privileges, so I studied and passed the exam for a Conditional-class license (same test as the General class, only administered by a General class or higher volunteer instead of an FCC examiner). With that I said goodbye to the Novice bands, power limitations and crystal control, and was soon working DX on 20, 15 and 10 meters with a VFO and higher power. But nothing afterward could top the excitement of first getting on the air and hearing my call letters-in Morse code, on shortwave.

John Fuller