Wayne Beck, K5MB
(formerly KN5HYB, 1956, K5HYB)
I was introduced to Amateur Radio in 1956 while in the 9th grade of Jr. High School when I was visiting a friend from school. We went flying through his house and when we passed through the back room , I stopped dead in my tracks and there on one wall of the room was a mass of tall cabinets with meters switches and lights, reaching to the ceiling and his father was sitting at a desk talking into a microphone. "CQ DX, CQ DX, CQ DX, this is W5LGH, Whiskey Five Little Green Horn." After he turned and spoke to me, he got a call from someone with a funny accent. He told me he was talking to a man in Africa!! No Way !, I thought.
A few weeks later after a few more visits, I was spending my time studying an old license manual that my friend's mother and father gave me. Not only was his father a ham but also his mother! Her call was W5LVT, Whiskey Five Little Vacuum Tube. I finally received my license in October of 1956 and since I hadn't quite talked my parents into getting me some equipment, I spent my weekends at the home of W5LGH and W5LVT pounding on their straight key. Too bad I had to use their old xtal controlled rig over in the corner of the room instead of that nice 75A4 / 32V3 Collins Line on the other side. In a few months I had my own equipment: a Johnson Viking II and SX99 Halicrafter receiver. I will never forget one night on 15 meter CW when I called CQ and got a call from ZL1APM in New Zealand. This was my first experience with DXing and I never stopped chasing it. (well, I did chase something else while in High School!)
During my High School days at Texarkana, Arkansas, I spent my spare time between chasing girls and hamming. In those days (1957-1960), most of our local QSOs took place on 80 meters, after school & homework. Let us never forget the old Nucklehead Net on 80 meters! Two other hams that went to school with me: K5JBZ and K5VYL; on the other side of town in Texas were: K5KMX and K5AVH; in nearby Atlanta, Texas were: K5GAT and K5MFA; and in Bonham & Kilgore, Texas were W5VYY and K5BSY. We had a pretty large group and most all of us had met at hamfests or were close enough to visit. All of these guys except for one are still active and QSOs are few and far between but the memories will always be there!
It seemed, in the 50s and 60s, all the Well Known Radio Supply Houses were offering their own brand of QSL cards like those above. This brings back memories of the equipment we used in the 50s and the prices compared to those today. What fun it was to build your own Heathkit! A chance to get into radio the cheap route.
I couldn't afford a VFO so I took the little screws out of the Xtal case and took out the Xtal and rubbed it on powdered graphite to move the frequency.
Equipment prices were a little different than those today as in these prices from World Radio Laboratories (1956).
- Globe Scout Xmtr, 50 watts phone & 65 watts CW for $99.95 or $8.10 per month
- Globe King Xmtr (Big Daddy!), 500 watts phone & cw for $699.00 or $39.00 per month
- Heath DX-35 Xmtr, 50 watts phone & 65 watts CW for $56.00 or $4.78 per month
- Heath DX-100 Xmtr, 100 watts phone & 120 watts CW for $189.00 or $16.00 per month (107 lbs!)
- Vibroplex Bug (Presentation model) for $39.95