Fred Merkel, AK7D
(formerly WN6BEV, 1962; WB6BEV, WA7UKP, N6FZ, AE0B)
I was living in Los Angeles CA in 1962, and passed Novice exam in LA FCC office on 19 Aug 62 (effective date, 4 Sept 62). Call sign: WN6BEV. My first QSO was at 1035 PST on 18 Nov 62, when I answered the CQ of WN6BUK. He gave me a 599. I gave him 399, and lost him (due to poor selectivity in receiver, the Heathkit AR-3) without getting any other info. My transmitter was a Knight-kit T-60 with a 7.178 MHz crystal. His cyrstal was on 7.180 MHz. My antenna was parallel 80 thru 10 dipoles made from 8-conductor rotator wire strung on 10-foot poles on roof of the 2-story building that housed a grocery store (below) and apartments (on 2nd floor). Lead-in was 75-ohm coax. After getting a report of harmonics I added a low pass filter between the transmitter and the coax. I didn't have an antenna tuner, just tuned for max and went on the air
I was at the time a member of a local radio club with call sign of W6EDL (since reissued) at the White Memorial Hospital. They had a Viking Invader 2000 transmitter and Collins 75A4 receiver, plus a Johnson matchbox , and a triband beam atop the 6-story hospital. So I took my T-60 over to the hospital-I lived only 2 blocks away-and got on the air from there, using my own call, and using my T-60 and their 75A4 receiver. Much to my surprise, I again heard WN6BUK calling CQ on 40 meters and I contacted him again, with 599 sigs both ends, and also got his name and QTH: Dave, in North Hollywood. My log shows that the contact began at 1332 PST and ended at 1418 PST. During the QSO I also worked Jerry, WN6BPE, who was visiting Dave's shack.
Memory is dim now, but I do recall that I put up a dipole on top of the hospital at some time or other, although I'm not at all certain that that was prior to my first QSO from the club. So I may have simply used the tri-bander for my 40 meter QSO that day.
My log shows only one more QSO from WMH that day, KN7TDV, Bob, with note "In Nevada I think. QRM." The next entry in my log is for 21 Feb 63 operating from my home QTH again, and now with a Drake 2-B receiver, though my next QSO wasn't until the next day, 22 Feb 63.
A word about W6EDL. The White Memorial Hospital was a teaching hospital affiliated with Loma Linda Medical School, and at the time I was employed at WMH as a bedpan jockey. It so happened that one day I wandered by the club station's open door (on the basement floor of the hospital) and heard someone operating the station so I and stopped in to chat. As a result I joined the club and received my own key to the station. They had an Instructograph code practice machine, with the punched tapes, and I used that to practice my code, while I studied theory and regulations from books at home.
Since the other club members were doctors and interns, both very busy, there wasn't much competition for use of the station, and since I lived just 2 blocks away, and had my own key to get in, I could (and did) go there at any time of the day or night and get on the air. I passed first the Tech and then the General exam in the Spring of 1963 and then I was able to use all the club equipment. It was almost like having a second station of my own. Besides the Invader 2000 and 75A4, they also had a Gonset "Goonie Bird" with a few 8 MHz crystals, and a ground plane antenna on the roof, for 2 meters.
I operated both from at home and at the club until1968, when I finally finished my BA in English (it only took me eleven years, mostly at night) and left LA on a trip overseas that took me to 19 countries in nine months at a total cost of $1521. I didn't have any ham gear with me, but I did get on the air as guest op at 9N1MM (Father Moran, in Kathmandu, Nepal) in the Spring of 1969. But that's another story.
Text originally published in the Flying Pigs QRP Club's Bacon Bits on-line quarterly newsletter. It has been updated and a few errors corrected.
Fred Merkel - AK7D Portland OR