Ken Brown, N6KB
(Formerly WN6CFF, 1970)
I had been introduced to Amateur Radio a few times while I was in elementary school. My father was not a ham at the time, though he always wanted to be one. He also told me about ham radio and encouraged me and my brother to get licenses. He bought me an Ameco code practice oscillator, some LP code course records and a Hammarlund Super-Pro BC-779. I made several starts at learning the code, and trying to learn some of the theory I would need for the written test, but I guess I had a short attention span and did not follow through and get the license.
My uncle Chuck had been a ham, but gave it up when he got TV interference complaints as he was setting up his station at a new home in Chatsworth, CA. The complaints of TVI started as soon as his tower went up, and before any of his radio gear had been unpacked. I do not know what my uncle Chuck's callsign was. I know he had been in the Air Force and stationed in Kaneohe, before moving to Chatsworth, so he may have had a KH6 call. I sure would like to hear from anyone who knew Charles (Chuck) Caswell Phillips and knows what his callsign was.
Uncle Chuck worked as an electronic engineer for an aerospace firm of some sort. Eventually he left that job, moved his family to Vista, California and started a two way radio service business. He serviced all kinds of VHF and UHF FM two way gear for Taxis, Cement Trucks, Tow Trucks, and various other businesses in the San Diego County area. His company was called North County Communications. There was a bit of a CB boom in the mid 60s and Chuck also serviced CB rigs. When our family visited Aunt Ceille, Uncle Chuck and our cousins, I spent most of the time out in the garage/two way shop watching chuck and asking him lots of questions about radio. My first paying job, besides mowing lawns, was testing tubes for Chuck. I think he paid me a nickel per tube to sort 6AU6s into three categories, good, medium and poor.
Eventually in the late sixties, I started getting serious about getting a ham license. Uncle Chuck gave me my first ARRL Radio Amateurs Handbook, which I still have to this day. It is a 1968 edition, and was apparently previously owned by J. E. Sorenson. I don't know who that is or whether he was a ham. In junior high school math class I met another aspiring ham, Jim Whelchel, whose father Tom is WA6TLL. With their help I finally stayed focused enough to really learn the code, and arrange to take the test. In those days the Novice test was administered by two General Class or better hams. Tom WA6TLL, and two other hams who I do not remember gave Jim and I our tests at the Whelchel's house. There were two other hams, so that Jim was not being tested by his father Tom. We both passed easily.
While waiting for the Novice ticket to arrive in the mail, I started building the two tube transmitter, with plug in coils and a 6HF5 sweep tube final, which is in the 1968 Handbook. I had it ready to go, along with the Super-Pro, when the license arrived in the mail sometime in 1970. I believe that Jim and I took our tests in late 1969 and did not have our licenses until June 1970. I was WN6CFF and Jim got WA6DOQ.
I had two 40 meter crystals. They were Texas crystals. In those days the Novice band on 40 meters was 7150 to 7200 kc. My crystals were on 7170 and 7185. I shared those frequencies with Radio Moscow and the VOA, as well as many SWBC jamming stations. Mostly I operated in the afternoons before the broadcasters came on the air, or at least before I could hear them. I worked plenty of stations around the West Coast, but no DX, due to my afternoon operating schedule.
My recollection is that the Novice license was a one year only license when I was studying for it, and I became a two year non-renewable license by the time I had the ticket. I did not take the General test until I had been a Novice for about 18 months. Uncle Chuck took me to the FCC office in San Diego, to take the test. He did not expect me to pass on my first try. I did pass though, and then tried for the Advanced, which I did not pass.