I became interested after reading articles in Popular Mechanics on building your own radio receivers and transmitters and other home made electronic gadgets. It all began in grade school. I guess I was about age nine. And with a lot of encouragement from my Dad, I began studying electronics and it became my primary interest. He was a real tinkerer, a repairman of radios, electrical appliances, space heaters, washing machines, kerosene stoves, electric motors, you name it. He told me that in 1935 he built a 2 tube radio from a schematic he purchased from a mail order house advertisement. When he would play the radio, people from all over the neighborhood would gather in front of his house, amazed and curious. (Radio was a new gadget in the thirties and the early forties.)
He brought me to Walter Ashe Electronic store and bought me a germanium crystal, a spool of 22ga enameled copper wire, a 355pf (mmf) condenser (capacitor), we made a coil wound on a discarded toilet paper roll and using a set of high impedance crystal headphones, used an alligator clip to connect this to a nearby radiator (for a ground) and A fifty foot hank of stranded lamp cord for an antenna.
Later, I answered an ad in QST magazine from an amateur radio Elmer who happened to live in my neighborhood. Jim was about forty years old when I met him. He had a horizontal three element antenna on his roof. His equipment was set up in a small attic room. His was running a Halicrafter receiver and a Heathkit Transmitter, A antenna rotator and other accessories. He was a ham. He would tune his receiver and we would listen to distant shortwave stations. He would call some of the stations and when they would answer back with his call letters and chat.
These were amazing sessions. I got hooked. I decided to take the F.C.C exam for the novice test. In those days the Elmers would Supervised and administered the exam for the Novice class Amateur Exam.. The test Consisted of a five -word-per-minute Morse code test and written exam on radio and electronic theory. I went on to get my Novice class license in 1955. I passed and received a General class amateur License in 1958, while stationed in the US Army at Fort Gordon GA., passed the advanced license exam in 1987 And the extra class license exam in 1997.
I give thanks for my Dad and Jim; a HAM, a friend and an engineer with years of experience in electronic technology for introducing me to this hobby. I get a certain excitement from “tinkering and getting something to work right now” and really enjoyed making my own computer interfaces, radio receivers, antennas and such.
How would you like to Make an antenna by throwing a given length of wire up over a tree limb, connect it to a transmitter-receiver and get out a radio signal to a distant Ham operator or listen to a far-away shortwave radio station. Have fun doodling in a hobby. Get that measure of pride and accomplishment when your experiment is successful, your gadget works. If you are looking for a pastime or something to cure boredom, something that you may do whenever you want, with friends or by yourself, take up a hobby. Find suppliers and others who are hobbyist. Amateur radio is a fascinating pastime, however there are thousands of other hobby sites online to investigate. Have fun.