At 47 Years old I have a small story to tell, I will skip all the I was born stuff and just condense it to I grew up in Catholic family, in a small neighborhood looking at most of my world like it was an episode of The Andy griffin Show. I was always active in scouts from cub to boy scouts and that and my dad led me to the fascinating world of electronics.
In 4th grade I was old enough to graduate from Weblos to Boy Scouts and the troop I was involved in was where I met one of my life long friends who entered the world of electronics with me and still to this day works in the industry and the hobby. The Christmas after I joined the troop I received a Radio Shack 150 in 1 Experimenters kit. I had already worn in the reputation for liking to tear things apart and like most boys I could be entertained for hours with batteries, a flashlight and a dc motor. I fired up that Radio shack experimenters kit and built my first crystal radio. I had a bedroom in the basement that my dad had remodeled years before for my older brothers. He had built a nice desk and wrap around counter that hid the water meter, this was still back when the meter man had to read the meter in the house so it had a little trap door to lift to see the digits. For though it provided a great earth ground connection for my crystal radio. I spent countless evenings listening to skipped am radio stations from all over, constantly tuning as the station faded away. The seed was planted, within months most of the parts were torn of the experimenters board and made into various projects.
My friend in scouts too had started playing with circuits and was showing a greater aptitude than me already. My dad took me one day up to bunch of storage units where a guy was selling boxes of circuit boards and parts. I really wasn’t sure why we were there until my dad pointed to some boxes and told me load them into the car. On the way home he gave me the stern “I don’t want to see this all over my workshop”. He had built me my own workbench when I was 6 complete with tools and I was known for migrating his tools to my bench and leaving a mess about. My dad had just loaded me up with tons of parts to desolder from circuit boards and play with, I was in heaven.
The following summer as we uncovered our small above ground pool my friend and I started envisioning little electric boats. We had seen the guys down at the river with the RC hydroplanes, we had both had our share of COX control line planes and spent plenty of time building models and loitering in the local hobby shop. The whole hobby thing was in full motion. We started with Styrofoam and motors powered with propellers from broken rubber power balsa planes. We progressed to cutting water props out of pop cans and JB welding them onto motors. Running around the pool to turn your boat around was getting old and our medium had progressed to balsa wood carved and painted. I don’t remember which one of us it was but we took a cheap radio control car from Woolworths and tore it apart to control the rudder on one of the boats. Remember the early RC cars that only turned when they went in reverse? This was one of those. We both dreamed of ways we could achieve radio control on a 7th graders wages.
That fall at middle school or junior high as we called it then we both got to take an electronics elective class. Our collective proficiency got us into the job of running the class’s parts room where we got to be exposed to more parts than Radio shack had. We learned more, years went by we stayed near the hobbies of electronics. My friend designed circuit boards and still does research and design stuff as a contractor. I went on to 20 years in the bicycle business, some in the computer and IT trades and 10 years in the hobby RC industry.
Now years later I have 2 sons and a beautiful wife that supports all my hobbies and it is the perfect time to return to the things I enjoy and feed my mind a little bit. For years I have thought off and on about getting back into ham radio after playing with it in my early 20’s. I decided recently I knew most of the information for the Technicians test so I got an ARRL book, found practice tests online and went and took the test this last August. I passed and it began my journey of learning a lot of new things in this last month.
The bench has parts on it, the soldering iron is hot, I am tracking my first HF rig shipment to me, talking on 2meter repeaters with handheld and already starting to study for my General License test. Life is good.