My Novice Memories

My Novice QSL Card

My first Station

I was a lucky kid and had a nice Heath DX60B transmitter and a HR10B receiver.

My Novice QSOs

I've made a list of the first 100 stations and operators I worked as a Novice back in 1972. Along with the list are QSL cards from many of the contacts. Don't miss them! More…

A note from Tom:

At the Dayton Hamvention quite a few years ago, I purchased a copy of Log-EQF to keep track of my ham radio contacts. It was my first taste of computerized logging.

I started out transferring QSOs from my paper log book to the electronic one for the previous year or two, but then decided to get out my old log books and start from day one.

I found the experience of reliving those early days in the hobby rather moving. After I was done entering all 780 or so of my novice QSOs from over 26 years before, I felt the need to share the experience with my QRP friends on the Internet QRP mailing list and posted a message to the group on QRP-L.

Hi Gang

I'm feeling very, very nostalgic right now.

I spent most of today entering loggings from my days as a Novice into a computer logging program I bought at Dayton.

I was a novice back in 1972. I made my first contact with a Heath DX60B and HR10B in March of that year. Two days and 15 contacts later, the transmitter died. It wasn't until 4 and a half months had passed before I got back on the air. When I did, I hit 80 meters with a vengeance. I made over 780 QSOs before I upgraded in April of '73 - a few on 40 and 15, but 80 meters was MY band.

A few things jumped out at me while I reentered all those contacts. Novices were only allowed crystal control back then. That changed while I was a novice, but it wasn't until Christmas of 1972 that I had a VFO (a nice new HG10B from Mom and Dad). As a result, the loggings showed my frequency, as well as the frequency of the station I worked. It was usually close to the same, but not always.

I worked a ton of stations with WN9JK* calls. I wonder how many of them are still hams? Because calls changed to WB calls after upgrading, none of them showed up in the QRZ CD lookup. Some of the non-novice calls did. I couldn't help but wonder how many of these guys were still on the air, how many of the QRZ listings were of silent keys... The term "silent key" means a little more to me now...

Boy, I was a night owl. Many of my contacts occurred at 2 or 3 in the morning. I'm beginning to realize why my college grades were less than impressive. I was on the air a lot. Today, an average CW QSO for me lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Back in 1972 I had lots of hour long contacts. Most of them were a half hour, at least. Sure, my cw was slower back then, but not THAT much. I think we are all in too big a hurry these days. It appears that back then we relaxed and enjoyed the contacts more. I don't remember having any problem passing my 13 wpm code test back then. The much given advice about getting on the air to get your code speed up must have worked for me.

I had lots of loggings of check-ins to Novice traffic nets - IPON, the Indiana Post Office Net, MNN, the Michigan Novice Net, etc. I doubt that any of these nets are still around. I remember having alot of fun with them.

Along the way entering contacts I relived my first contacts to the coasts, lots of loggings with "nice qso" remarks, my first DX, etc. I had a couple dozen pages filled with contacts in the 1973 Novice Roundup - a contest that the ARRL has dropped due to lack of interest. I noticed that I often wrote comments like "he was QRP - 3 watts!" or something similar. QRP obviously impressed me back then. For Christmas of 1973 I got an HW-7 and had it on the air by the 26th. QRP has been a part of my ham radio career for a long, long time.

When I was done entering all those contacts, I felt the need to tune the rig to 3.712 MHz. Conditions were horrible, and I didn't hear anybody on, but as I listened to the static, I knew that somewhere, way out in space, a bit of energy is still out there. It's a CQ from WN9IUQ...

Please excuse the bandwidth. I had to share my feelings with others I knew would understand.


Tom N9DD (ex-WN9IUQ, WB9IUQ)
South Bend, IN