James Kern, KB2FCV (1988)
I was first introduced to ham radio back in 1987. I was an 8th grade student at the Chatham Middle School in NJ. In the earliest days of the school year my science teacher, Joe Reid K2JAO, offered a 'side track' to the usual four marking period required projects. He told us about this hobby, ham radio. As an incentive, pass your 5wpm CW? You don't have to do a project for a marking period. Pass your Novice? Another marking period you don't need to complete a project. Upgrade? Another exempt marking period project... to someone interested in science and technology this sounds like a great thing!
By the first marking period I had passed my 5WPM test! By the second marking period, I passed my Novice test just before Christmas.. then came the long wait to get my Ticket. Finally, in what seemed an eternity my ticket arrived in the Mailbox on a cold Ferbruary afternoon (also in the mailbox were advertisements for QSL cards - how did they find out so fast?!). My earliest and first QSO's were made at the school radio station, A2RGV. There was a Heathkit SB-303 and SB-401 which fed into a Mosely TA-33 affixed to a tower (an old telephone pole the school put in). I was able to borrow an HW-16 with the HG-10B VFO and used that to make some of my first QSO's from home. The first rig I bought was a Ten-Tec 540 that I purchased from saving money over the summer from a grocery store job. Ahh those were the days - many fond memories of QSO's.. the slow rag chew going 5 or 10 wpm on 40 meters and 15. I'm glad I had the experiences I had as a Novice, those were some fun times!