Slim Copeland, K4KCS
(formerly, KN4KCS, 1956)
I was first licensed as KN4KCS , Memphis Tennessee, back in July of 1956. My first rig was a converted AN/ARC-5 T-22 (40 meter) transmitter, which ran about 50 watts or so. I built the power supply and converted the rig myself and learned an awful lot while doing it. I probably had about $25 invested in the transmitter and power supply. I had purchased the transmitter from Walter Ashe Radio in St. Louis for $5 and folks, it was BRAND NEW and still in the military's overseas shipping packaging. My receiver was a (slightly used) Hallicrafters S-53A and the antenna was a ¼ wave vertical, ground-mounted. I bought the receiver from a friend for $50 and the vertical was made from TV masting, purchased from Bluff City Electronics there in Memphis.
This was back in my high school years in Memphis Tennessee. I went to Central High School (graduated in 1958), where my home room teacher, Mr. Calvin A. Branyan, K4EIS, was also my radio shop teacher. Mr. "B" as we called him was a fine gentleman who was well-respected and loved by all of his "boys". During this period of time, Mr. "B" got permission to set up a working ham station in one corner of the classroom. We had numerous pieces of surplus radio equipment that we'd been listening on and also a fairly-recently acquired NC-98 receiver. So about all we needed was a decent transmitter.
So, when a Heathkit DX-100 AM/CW kit was purchased and built, we were almost ready to get on the air. All we needed was a good antenna. Someone suggested an "all-band" vertical that we'd seen advertised in QST and CQ. We could put that vertical up on top of the building (3 stories up) and it should work very well.
Well, the antenna - a GOTHAM vertical - was purchased and installed and it seemed to work fairly well. We tried it on several bands, mainly 40 and 15 and the DX-100 seemed to load it very well. No one knew anything about "SWR" in those days, and to my knowledge, there were no readily-available "SWR" meters or bridges on the market. So one day, shortly after I got my General Class License, I decided to tune up on 10 meters and work some of that DX I had been hearing on the NC-98. Bear in mind that this antenna had NO traps, tuning stubs, or anything else to make it resonant; it was just a 21 ft long piece of (aluminum?) conduit with a base insulator. How you tuned it was your problem.
Well, to make a long story short, I managed to tune the DX-100 up on 10 meters and was happily yakking away on AM Phone, when all of a sudden, I began to smell smoke. Quickly I shut the rig off, but I reckon I wasn't quick enough, as a loud BANG came out of the DX-100 along with a bright flash. Man, I was scared to death. I had broken the school's new radio!! Examination showed that the plastic support bars on the final tank coil had melted and wound up shorting out a bunch of stuff in the plate circuit. Of course, the culprit was an infinitely high SWR. I had thoughts of (1) being imprisoned for life, (2) having to sell everything I owned to pay off the damages, and (3) having my license revoked. Mr. "B", God Bless him, took it all in stride and never once threatened me with any punishment of any kind.
The rig was subsequently fixed and later on, better antennas were installed. But I'll let John, K4LSX, tell you about that. 73 everybody de Paul Wayne "Slim" Copeland K4KCS.