It was 1953 and I was living in Tularosa, New Mexico. Tularosa was a little Mexican town with a population of less than 4,000 and was mostly of Mexican decent, telephone messages to anywhere other than to someone in your own little town were long distance, and long distance calls were expensive. There were several other homes on the same line with you so when you made a call, as soon as someone on your line lifted up their receiver to listen to what you were saying, and to see who you were talking to, the quality of your reception went down and you could hear the breathing of the other person on your line, better than the voice of the person you were trying to talk to. Not only was a long distance call very expensive, they would take, sometimes several minutes for the operator to get your call through as they had to go through all of those different stations to complete your connection.
In Tularosa, the main business street was only 3 blocks long. However, on that short business street, there was a Methodist Church, Turner's small Movie Theater, Otero County Bank, Powell's small Chevrolet Dealership, a tiny Ben Franklin 5 & 10 cent store, The Electric Company's Office, Carl's Florest Shop, a butaine gas dealer, Tularosa Drygoods, Stanley's Hardware Store, Champion's Grocery Store, McKinleys Barber Shop, The US Post Office, and Cordery's Radio & TV Repair. It is the small radio repair shop I want to talk about.
Now just an old man want to share my passion for Ham Radio
The New 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 Door HT
Each day after school, I would walk down the sidewalk past the shops and look in the windows. I was 9 years old and the Chevrolet dealer had just removed the paper from his windows displaying the all new 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door hardtop, it was blue with a white top and it was beautiful.
The little shop on Granado Street in Tularosa
70 years later. It's true, you can't go back!.
What was more interesting though was the display in the window of the little Radio & TV repair shop. There was the all new RCA automatic 45 RPM record changer that could plug into your radio, and an EICO oscilloscope kit that Paul, the owner of the shop was building. Each night after he would finish working on it, he would place it back in the window and I had been watching it being built since the first day he placed it in the window when it was all just a bunch of parts.
60 Years a Ham & Too Much Stuff
After several days he had finished building the scope, except for placing it inside its cabinet, so I had to go inside his shop and ask him what it was. He explained that it was for watching electronic signal waves and showed me on his factory built RCA oscilloscope a simple 60 cycle signal that he produced by just touching the tip of the probe. Then he hooked it to the speaker of a radio and showed me what music looked like. I was hooked. I wanted to know more about electronics and test equipment.
I told Paul that if he would teach me about electronics, I would work for him for FREE! Now I wonder what he thought when a 9 year old said he would work. He said that I could clean up his shop and he would teach me about the code key he had hooked to his transmitter and let me listen as he would send code and then write down what they said in response on his radio. Each day after school I would go to his shop and work for one hour, then two hours, and then 3 hours. At first I would sweep up all the burned out resistors and shorted or open small caps from the floor, then he taught me how to check radio tubes on his fancy tube tester, next how to unsolder and remove resistors and caps, and then how to resolder good resistors and caps back into a radio to replace the ones I had removed, but everyday he was also teaching me a little more Morse code until I was able to get my Novice license. It would be a few more years before I could get my General, and a little later, my Extra.
I got my first car about the same time
I got my General ticket. (1940 Cadi) circa 1959
Everybody Loves Old Cars!
And now why all the babble about the poor and expensive telephone service. After I got my Novice license, Paul let me work for (well, I guess he gave it to me) a small, low power, crystal controled transmitter. Next he helped me run a long wire antenna from one corner of my parents property to another corner and I would spend hours pounding on that code key, and for FREE, and INSTANTLY, depending on the time of the day, the weather, and the time of the year, talk to people in parts of the country that I could not dream of calling on the phone. I would pound out that dah dit dah dit, dah dah dit dah over and over until someone, somewhere, would respond with their call sign. All of a sudden, it did not matter that I lived in a town with less than 4,000 people, I now lived in a great big radio world and I loved it.
AF7LL Building the Whatiuse Wagon circa 1992
That was about 70 years ago and I am still fasinated with what all of those itty bitty electrons do as they are rushing through those big ol wires. What they do when they come to a cap, choke, a resistor, a cathode of a tube or transistor, or even a shorted or an open circuit. What I love about electronics is that it always does the same thing under the same conditions. I think that when you bring an old radio, transmitter, or other piece of electronic equipment back to life, you might feel a little bit like a doctor does when he delivers a new baby into the world.
AF7LL, his Jeannie, and N8719T circa 1990
60 Years collecting Clocks
So to this old ham, Amateur Radio is more than just pounding on a key or talking into a mike to let a fellow ham know what his signal looks or sounds like, it is also about keeping those little ol electrons in your radio or transmitter acting the way they are supposed to act.
73s my friends!
When November 871 Niner Tango was at 11,500 feet,
rime ice forming on the struts, pitot tube frozen
and AF7LL wishing he was home in his Ham Shack!
This is what IFR looks like! circa 1985
(Instrument Flight Rules)
Flying by the instruments, you can't see outside!
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