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  1. Web site created December, 2012, a few days after the end of the Mayan Calendar. We're still here so I figured I had better rebuild my web site! read more...
  2. Club Bulletins added

Welcome to the NE6I Web Site

I was first licensed in March, 1972 and was issued the callsign WN6OYV. I was thrilled to get my license after ten weeks of classes provided by the Antelope Valley Amateur Radio Club K6OX. I don't recall how many we had attending the classes but I think we had a nice mixture of youngsters like me as well as guys in their 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. It wasn't a huge class but we had a nice mixture.

I didn't know squat about electronics then. I was only 15, and I was very green. I was mainly focused on learning Morse Code and memorizing the answers to the questions that would be on the test. I had my ARRL License Manual, and I did a lot of practicing of the code at home.

I remember that only a few of us passed the test. The code was the hang up for most. I passed that part easily enough (and in later years, that would become my forte). The written test wasn't as easy for me but since there was a nice balance of rules and some theory, I managed to pass. (I could memorize the rules while I needed to actually comprehend the theory so that any juggling of the wording of the questions wouldn't trip me up. At age 15, comprehending electronics theory wasn't coming easily!)

A month or so later, my license came. I was ecstatic!

There was only one problem. I didn't have a rig!

No matter. A friend nearby had a small station and graciously allowed me to get on the air. A few months later, my parents allowed me to purchase a Heathkit HW-16. After a couple weeks of assembly, I was ready to power it up and begin testing. I plugged it in and anxiously turned it on. SNAP!

Something popped. I didn't know what, but all of the lights came on and the receiver was making some noise. The good kind. I turned the radio off, unplugged it, and closely checked things out. I couldn't find any problem, so I turned it back on and made all of the checks described in the assembly manual. Everything seemed to check out except there was no Relative Power output indication on the meter. Or almost none. I didn't know how much to expect so I thought all was fine. Unbeknownst to me, it wasn't.

I put it on the air and began calling stations to no avail. I called CQ endlessly, and had no one calling me. This went on for weeks. I had my friend (who wasn't yet licensed) listen for me. He could hear me fine. Hmmm.

One day, I finally worked someone a hundred miles or so away. He gave me a very low signal report, but HE COULD HEAR ME! I was ecstatic! Later, I worked a few locals too. I eventually figured out that I was not outputting any real wattage but I still couldn't figure out why. I was a true Novice, and I didn't understand electronics yet.

I found a 15 watt transmitter project in Electronics Illustrated. It used a 50C5 audio tube and was built on a piece of wood. I gathered all of the parts and put it together, even winding my own coils on plastic pill bottles provided by my grandfather. My heart really pounded when I fired it up and was really making some light out of the bulb I used as a dummy load! With that little contraption, I finally began making real contacts! I even worked some nearby states! This was pretty amazing when I think back. My antenna wasn't at all resonant. Remember, I didn't understand electronics or antenna theory yet. I'd seen pictures of an inverted vee, and my grandfather and I hoisted one up on the 30 foot TV tower at my parent's house. But there was just one problem. I end fed it! I didn't have an SWR meter yet so I had no idea that it wasn't matched. Still, I began making contacts and was having a ball. One night, I even worked a fellow novice out in Indiana!

Many moons later, a General Class ham began exchanging mail with me and helped me troubleshoot the HW-16. In the end, I discovered that the final screen choke had shorted to the chassis and opened. With no screen voltage, there was virtually no transmitter output. Finding that burnt choke was almost as exhilirating as my first contact! I ordered a replacement from Heathkit, and carefully soldered it into place after it arrived. NOW I had full output power! I was in heaven! I soon discovered that I needed to center feed my inverted vee, and then the pieces began to fall into place! I really started filling in the logbook with all sorts of contacts. I was finally on the air in earnest!

The Novice Class License was valid for two years only back then. As 1973 began to wane, I studied hard to upgrade to General Class. The code wasn't a problem. I'd found some other teenagers on the air that were CW fanatics like me, and we pushed each other to copy faster and faster. We were on the air every day after school, and we were having a great time. The written test however, now that was going to be a challenge. There were many more questions on the test than the Novice test! But pass it I did, and the call became WA6OYV in February, 1974.

It wasn't long before I was itching to get my Advanced Class License in order to make more frequencies available to me. No code test this time; just another written test. I passed this one soon enough but then the Extra Class started beckoning me. All of the good DX on CW was below .025, and very few were listening in the General band. Back to the books, and in November, 1975, voila!

The next thing that began tugging at me was to get a shorter call sign. I was watching as all of the California contesters I knew were upgrading to the new 2 x 1 calls. And there was a lot of chatter on the air about the advantages of those shorter call signs. Even though I'd only been licensed about five years now, I'd already become attached to WA6OYV. We hams really get emotionally attached to these things, you know? But I overcame that and decided to get one of those new fangled calls. By this time, the A*6 calls were gone and the FCC was into the K 2 x 1's in California. However, I decided that an N 2 x 1 sounded really cool, and I set my sights on NC6 or ND6. Back then, there was no internet and no really good way to know what calls were being issued other than to listen on the air and watch QST (the mag was publishing the latest issued call signs). As you might imagine, these methods were not very timely but calls weren't exactly flying out the door either. Still, I panicked when I learned that NC6's were being issued! I hurriedly sent in my application for a call sign change and waited for the sequential issuance of my new call.

On the day that it came, I was nearly breathless with excitement. The envelope was from the FCC and naturally, it was sealed. I knew that opening that envelope meant that I was giving up WA6OYV and getting a new call sign. Emotions ran wild. Crazy, huh? I finally opened it and,,,,gasp! NE6I was printed on the new license! THAT wasn't what I was looking for! In fact, there had been much discussion about the suffix ending in a "dah", such as ND6A or NC6M. But I now had a call sign full of dits! Could it be any worse?

For the next few days, I contemplated continuing to use WA6OYV and ignoring the new license for a while. Maybe it would just go away. Maybe I could return it to the FCC as "Refused", or some such thing. I really wrestled with it. But eventually I realized that I was stuck with this new dit filled call sign. And I began using it. And you know what? It began to grow on me. It wasn't bad at all on SSB. Phonetics help. And on CW, I started to notice that I was cracking some pile ups a little more easily. And what's this? I can send it faster than others can send their calls, especially those with 2 x 3 calls. Gee, this is really helping in the pile ups!

So over time, I began to write off those that said call signs ending in a "dah" were better than those ending in a "dit". And I began to really like my new call. Plus, the new NE6 prefix was attracting a lot of prefix chasers. In fact, the CQ WPX Contest became my new favorite contest!

And now I've become quite happy with and emotionally attached to my current call sign. Heck, I even have a web site! Thanks for reading!

  • Licensed 50+ years
  • Active DXer
  • Former President of SCCC

About Me

NE6I was first licensed in March, 1972 and is active today on the HF bands, chasing DX and working a few contests. 339 countries confirmed on DXCC and on the Honor Roll.

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