My interest in radio started in the late fifties when I was drawn for some reason to a little family electronics shop in the town of Dover. Here I discovered the crystal set, and even more exiting to me, the components to build my own. My earliest recollection of being interested in anything electrical, however, was of proudly walking about the junior school playground around 1950 I guess, clutching a battery, a piece of wire and of course a connected lit bulb. Rediculous now but at that age it was magic!. Well until the battery died Hi.
It was about 1956 that I passed a radio ham's house on the way home from school, who had a pair of ex army headphones in the window for sale. I naturally returned home exitedly clutching my new aquisition and wondered what I could do with them. As luck would have it I had a friend living on my estate who was equally smitten by electronics which resulted in our rigging up a telephone between our respective houses. Firstly from my front bedroon window, across various peoples front gardens and on over the back gardens of the row he lived in to his back bedroom. His row of houses were staggered foreward from my own obviousely. This was unsatifactory according to the neighbours involved, so we moved the wiring to follow the back fences all the way around. Luckilly we were both backing on to the bare hillside.
The wire we came across one day whilst walking across a field on the outskirts of town. Didn't occur to us then of course, that a farmer had other plans for said wire. Bet he was cross to find it missing Hi!
Once the crystal set was discovered, it led on to the transister of course. 'Babani' construction book were aquired and construction ensued. I never did get into valve radio construction as working with mains voltage put the wind up me basically. I did however adorn my room with reclaimed domestic valve sets from the local council rubbish tip as this basically made my room look cool!. In those days the council tips were freely available for said rummaging. Now the operators insist on flogging the stuff to you.
Early sixties saw me expanding my interests, which included space flight. I followed every move regarding the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs either on radio, or later, early seventies, nipping out of the shop I worked in to see the latest launch on the live tv displayed in nearest vendors window.
Radio was always part of my life, and I got through a few in the sixties and seventies. However, i've always had an insatiable thirst for knowledge re 'What's it all about' so to speak. Therefore I went through the UFO thing, the Ghost hunting thing and basically anything supernatural/other plains of existance related. Photography also claimed a year or so of my time, which resulted in my utilising the bathroom as a temporary darkroom., much to the anoyance of her indoors *chuckle*.
In 1985 I ran out of excuses to avoid taking the radio ham exam so after a couple of months of evening classes I aquired my ticket. Initially, I bought a transmitter kit for 2 metres. This was meant to carry one crystal, but I reasoned I could get some more made up at a crystal factory near me and fit them around a rotory switch. This gave me all the simplex channels for two metres. Trouble is I can't remember now what I was recieving on *sigh*. must be going scenic in my old age. Probably another kit for receive
Like most people of the time I then progressed to the legendary FT-290 for 2 metres. later I also got the 690. Both of these are still in my junk box and presumably still work. In '87 I decided I wanted some hf action so I took, and passed, the cw test. Thich entailed taking a trip over to the Isle Of Wight.
My first venture into hf tx'ing was with another kit, this one made by 'Howes'. 20 metres it was, about a watt out, cw only. I knocked that up to ten with another 'Howes' pa kit. Now I could talk to the world Hi. Well I did get as far as Israel anyway. To recieve I built yet another 'Howes' kit. Super regen' if I remember right. Before that I used to get ssb by strapping a home made bfo to a normal transister set over the if coils section. Worked very well actually.
Anyway, in later years I went up market , relatively speaking, with an FT-ONE, Yaesu's 817, 857 and 897D, and Icom 718. The Ft-897D being my last aquisition for hf. Recievers have been many, and most have not survived to the present day. Either toes up or sold like the 857, VR-5000 and the Kenwood DM-700 for instance when times were hard.
The last couple of years or so has seen me reverting to shortwave listening mostly. This as a result of experiencing various problems associating with transmitting, such as lack of antenna space, equipment failures, local qrm and qrn etc. Prior to my semi retirement so to speak I was heavily into hf data modes. I prefered this aspect of radio for two main reasons. One, I was always seeking something new and exiting to play with that incorporated my other toy, the computer, and there always semed to be a new mode appearing on the rf scene. And two, I am not particularly comfortable with making small talk on the voice modes, ie rag chewing as it's known. Data was, and still is I guess, my bag.