Paul Huff, N8XMS
(Formerly WN0BJC, 1970)
I got my Novice license in 1970 when I was 15 years old. We lived in Sioux Falls, SD and my call was WN0BJC. My grandfather, Emory Cox, W0MA, was one of my Elmers but he lived in Leavenworth, KS so his role was more of a long-distance encourager. My local Elmer was Bob Shuck, my junior high school shop teacher. I don't remember Mr. Shuck's call.
My grandfather gave me his old Hammarlund HQ170 receiver. It weighed about a ton and took up most of the available space on my desk, but it was a great radio. That receiver made me the envy of all of my "radio-kid" friends.
For a transmitter Mr. Shuck loaned me a Heathkit AT-1. It was already ancient in 1970. I think that I only had 2 crystals for it - both for 40 meters. With a very low random-wire antenna most of my QSOs were with other stations in the zero call district. But once in a while I managed to work some real DX all the way into Michigan or Oklahoma! It was a blast!
One day the AT-1 stopped working. Being more bold than intelligent, I unplugged the rig, opened it up, and started poking around inside. I had no schematic and almost no idea of how the thing was supposed to work, but I eventually spotted an RF choke that looked like it was a little bit charred. Without knowing anything about component values I went to my junkbox to look for a replacement. My junkbox was literally a box filled with old telephone parts, TV chassis, and broken transistor radios. I found a choke that looked about the same - at least it had the same number of honeycombed coils of wire along its length. So I got out my soldering gun and quickly replaced the old part. After closing up the rig I fired it up and bingo, I was back on the air! That blind luck gave me such a feeling of accomplishment, and I knew then that I was a "real ham!"
Paul Huff, N8XMS