Welcome to Bob's Spyder Web

KN9YGM:

Amateur Radio became more then a passing interest during my high school years when friends of my parents began to leave short wave receivers at our house for my listening pleasure. The very first radio receiver was a military surplus rig that only tuned from 6.5 kilocycles (KC) to 7.5 KC. It used headphones for listening and required an outside antenna. I used a paper clip and a hunk of wire hooked to the window screen in my room.

Let me take a minute to describe "my room."

We were living in a mobile home, 8 feet wide by 42 feet long, with two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and living room. All in a long line with a hall walk way down the middle. You entered in the living room combination kitchen. Then you went through my room into the bathroom and Mom an Dads room was on the very end. So you can see space was at a premium so to speak.

I kept the radio stuff in the closet on its floor which actually was the wheel well cover for the trailer chassis wheels so I had to sit on the floor or a very short stool and used a piece of finished plywood as a lap desk.

In 1957 we moved into a new mobile home park and lived behind a ham by the name of Bob Kraft, I don’t remember his call sign but he had a big radio set that he used mobile and fixed, a Multi-Elmac Receiver and Transmitter, with a Webster Band Spanner antenna mounted on his car. He is probably one of the major influences that started pouring water on the ham radio seed growing in my brain.

In 1958 we had moved to another park and a genius moved into our neighborhood. He was a licensed "General Class ham" and an Electrical Engineer for the Montgomery Elevator Company in Moline, IL. He pushed me to get my "Novice License." Finally after studying long and hard the local radio club, W9YCR, "Your Club Radio" in Moline, IL gave the test and I passed it. My first call sign in 1958 was "KN9YGM."

I built my first transmitter with the help of my Dad, Mom, Heath Kit and John the ham next door. A Heath Kit DX-35 model. I was now "radio active" with a straight key, a hand full of gift crystals, a home made dipole antenna, a borrowed Halicrafters receiver and a whole lot of luck and patience.

Living in a 8 foot wide mobile home provided some real challenges in providing adequate space for the hobby. For months at a time we, Dad and I, used Mom's kitchen table to build radio kits on. The kitchen table built a Heath Kit, DX-35, DX-60, outboard VFO, Apache, Phone Patch, SWR Bridge, Comanche, Cheyenne and a Allied Knight kit general coverage receiver over a period of years.

For a long time I had the radio station stacked on top of each other in my clothes closet that was on one side of the aisle or passage way from the front to the rear of the mobile home. Having the middle bedroom in a 42 foot mobile home guarantees you don't have a lot of extra space, quiet or privacy. Like living in a subway or on Main Street, lots of foot traffic. But we made it work just the same.

When I finally was able to land a real cash paying job after school I got my first commercially built receiver a Hammarlund HQ-170C with a real built in clock. I actually began to hear stations on their own frequencies instead of being a different beat note in a what sounded like a pile up. We were hitting the big time for sure now.

My first antenna was a basic garden variety 40 meter half wave dipole but finding a suitable way to hold the wire antenna in the sky is a real challenge when your parents insist in living in mobile home trailer parks.  So when we mad one of our moves into a new park that had no trees at all it became really apparent that if I was ever going to advance in the hobby I was going to have to become really innovative so I found that I had sufficient money in my savings account for a factory made antenna.  I purchased a Mosley Vertical Trap Antenna Model V-4-6 which worked from 40 meters to 6 meters.  Dad was able to secure the necessary permission from the farmer that owned the field next to where our trailer space backed up to and I put it out there in the open and put a radial field under it so that it would work better.  Now I was cooking with high test gas in the RF radiating department.  This system stayed with me throughout the remaining months of my Novice, into technician and general license phases.

By now I have used up almost six months of my one year and getting lots of air time.  One afternoon I was on the air banging away on my CW key and just having a wonderful good ole time when I got a call from a W9 station in the Novice band that just about blew my ears off.  It turned out that he was telling me to get off the air as I had key clicks on my signal.  Well I did not have a clue as to what he was talking about so he gave me his telephone number with explicit instructions to call him at a certain time and in the men time shut down, turn it off, leave the air warning.  So I did and went in the front room to tell Mom what had  happened and she got all alarmed and called Dad at work.  Now that as not what I ever wanted to hear!