Dean Norris, K7NO
(formerly KN0DON, 1956)
As best I can recall, my initial interest in ham radio came from listening to an old console GE radio which included a Short Wave Band. This covered 160 Meters to about 15 kHz. (You remember those things, don't you?) This was probably in about 1952 or 3.
We had gotten our first TV set for Christmas in 1952 and the salesman/repairman was Tommy, K0ATG. He provided me some basic information about the hobby and licensing requirements. A quick look at the test told me, as a 12 year old I needed some more book learnin' to get the novice license.
I kept my interest until 1955 when I found a group of like minded school kids and we began studying the then available ARRL License Manual. As it turned out, I was the only one to follow through and get a license.
I learned the code by building a ‘clicker' key made from a piece of wooden siding. I pounded 2 nails into the top side and another 2 at the bottom. A third nail at the bottom was bent to hold a rod from my erector set. The rod was about 6 inches long and I hooked a rubber band over the far end and back to the front nails. This provided tension which gave a feel to the key.
I had been listening to a local ham (W0FNF Grant Mecham?) on 20M and he didn't live very far from me. I went to his house and asked him if he would administer the Novice Exam. He agreed. I took the test sometime in September 1955.
Over the Christmas holidays, my father was found to have brain cancer. He had given me a Modified Command Set for 40M and an S-38D Hallicrafters for Christmas. These plus a 40M folded dipole w/ 4:1 Balun made up the station. Due to his condition, he never saw me in action. He passed away in July of 1956.
My license arrived on January 23, 1956 and I was ON THE AIR. The power supply for the Command set had exposed plate 816 rectifiers and my antenna change-over was a knife switch in back. After a few instances of contacting my forearm to the plate cap, taught me that HV HURT.
I had met a local ham a block away (KN0AVW, the late Don Murkins) . Besides having a beautiful daughter my age, he also had a fully operational station and was very active. I got my Novice the same day as he got his Conditional. My Callsign, KN0DON. He was soooo mad.
I was very active and had a crystal for 7180. I managed to rack up 30-some states in short order. My first DX was a VE6 and shortly afterwards, WH6BRF.
I went back to W0FNF and took the Conditional exam. The license arrived in September 1956. K0DON.
Since then, I have held K7TNW, W2GPA, W7KVE and currently K7NO. There is no doubt that my Novice days were the most memorable. I still have all my logs from the first QSO to current. I can look through those lags and remember most of the contacts.