I got my Amateur Certificate in 1961, my Advanced Amateur Certificate followed one year later.
With my father's encouragement, I developed an early interest in electronics. My parents moved into Burnaby and rented one half of a duplex (that was really a triplex). The owners were a terrific retired couple that had their suite in most of the basement. The other half was rented to a young RCMP officer named Barry Scarth and his wife. He had a strong interest in electronics as well and later went through a local Technical College - eventually transferring from regular police work to the RCMP electronic maintenance division. Barry suggested that I might like to get involved in Amateur Radio and put me in touch with a member of the New Westminster club who suggested the Burnaby Club might be a better option.
Keith Blenkarn, VE7AJ provided my introduction to the Burnaby Club. I went to my first meeting, not sure what to expect. As Keith was a shift-worker, I didn't actually meet him till a couple of meetings later, but then club president Dan Gentry (ex VE7BBL was VE7DG now SK) met me with such enthusiasm that I figured this could be a pretty neat hobby to get into. Fortunately for me, the Club had just started a class for beginners and that was my introduction to Amateur Radio.
My first call was VE7AQF -- a bit different, as most of the new calls issued then were VE7B's (there wasn't a large VE7 ham population then). I met people at the Burnaby Club who would eventually become life long friends; Jim Smith VE7FO; Gordy Calder then VE7BDP now VE7YU; Don Mullis (not active presently but its in his plan) and Lee Sawkins then VE7BDJ now VE7CC.
The first station was pretty small; a one-tube crystal controlled transmitter and a Command set receiver for 7 MHz. I had the usual wire antennas and did try a vertical on 40m that was inspired by stories of beer tin verticals. I built one out of large apple juice tins soldered together; too bad I don't have any pictures of this 30+-foot monster put up at the side of the house. By this time, my family had moved to another duplex. I was now closer to my school and again I was fortunate to have good landlords who lived in the other side of the duplex that were tolerant of my projects.
My parents finally bought their own home and that was where my first real station was put together. Influenced by Jim, VE7FO's station (Collins 75A-4 and Central Electronics 100V) I managed to get a second hand 75A-4, a Central Electronics 10B with VFO and a Gonset linear that put out a whopping 300 Watts.
During these formulate years near high school graduation I had mixed feelings as to what direction my life might take - pursue an engineering degree or become an electronics technician. I opted for the technician route and joined the RCAF for my initial technical training. This also meant selling my 75A-4 station, so I was off the air for awhile.
When my tour of duty with the RCAF concluded, IBM hired me where I stayed for about 6 years. During this time I got married and eventually left IBM for a technician position with Transport Canada. We bought a house in Burnaby and I restarted my Ham radio hobby again, with yet another 75A-4 and a 100V combination. I was also able to put up my first tower, a 48-foot Delhi (actually Don Kalman, VE7YR put up the tower for me) with a small tribander loaned from Jim VE7FO (who was not active at the time).
I was fortunate to meet Ron, VE7XR (then VE7LB ) who helped me start to understand about location and better equipment. At the time Ron had a Collins S-Line but was actively looking for a 32S-3. Once he secured the new 32S-3, he offered me his 32S-1. Sold in an instant! At about this time my interest in contesting began to develop and to this day, it's a major part of my ham radio activity.
Then divorce - the end of my first life. The next few months were an adjustment as the details were worked out. During this time Ron, VE7XR introduced me to a nice lady by the name of Patricia. We started to go out and get to know each other and eventually married. I later found out that Ron had warned her I was more of a contesting fanatic than even he was. Trish has become the light of my life and a tremendous supporter of my radio and contesting endeavours.
Given we bought our collective past to our new relationship, we decided to start fresh and began the search for a new home. It took us 6 months, but we eventually found our present QTH. We moved in on June 30, 1979, and have had a ball since! At the high point of land in our area, the 0.85-acre property is 124ft wide by 299ft deep -- with of course a reasonably clear shot to DX all directions.
The new station evolved from Burnaby where the final configuration was a Wilson System One at about 80 feet, 75A-4, 32S-1, SB-200. I did have a Wilson 4 element 20m yagi for a period of time before switching to the tri-bander (on the advice of Lee, VE7CC). So this was the starting configuration at the new QTH. I built the tower to 70 feet and put the System One back in place. I also secured my present call VE7IN within a year of moving to the new location.
Over the next few years I played with the Christmas tree -- 3 elements on 10, 15 and 20 above each other with long boom yagi's on 15 as well as various antenna combinations. During these years my design and construction methodology was heavily influenced by Jim Lawson, W2PV and his articles in Ham Radio magazine as well as the local godfather of real big time radio Rush Drake, W7RM. I also put up the 132 foot L&R 24 series tower I was fortunate enough to get just prior to moving here. Some would say, I have been slow in finishing this part off.
Other than the addition of a 73S-3, equipment changes were slight in these years. Dale VE7SV was working in the frozen outback of VE8-land at the time and asked if he could store some of his equipment here, saying I could use it if I wanted to. Well yes you can store your CX7A Signal One with me I said! I had finally found a radio that I liked better than the S-Line. As luck would have it Brent, VE7BD also had a Signal One and wanted to sell it. There was my next radio. Somewhere along here I also acquired a MLA-2500 to replace the SB-200 (which was working great) but the MLA-2500 put out more power - and isn't that what it's all about.
We did some remodelling of the house by adding on to make the kitchen nicer, closing in the carport to make a workshop and a couple of years later redoing the front entrance. My reward for showing a near Bob Villa level of remodelling expertise was Trish announcing that she was going to buy me a new radio. Till then all my radio's had been second hand with the Signal One being the closest to new - but Brent, VE7BD had been the original owner. I asked if I could select a new radio and Trish said since this was a one-time offer, the answer was yes. I opted for a fully loaded FT-1000D with the matching speaker! Could life get any better I asked myself. The answer was yes. A couple of years later I was able to add an Alpha 89, but I had to pay for it. The station was complete, life was good, but I was still operating from a corner of my unfinished basement.
That brings us up to the present. Now I'm retired and finally making the Ham shack look more presentable than the raw 2x6's I have been looking at for the last 20 years. All good things in time I say. As with most contesters, antennas will always be an on-going project. I'm now starting to develop an interest in VHF/UHF thanks to the influence of Ralph, VE7XF.
I try to maintain a balance in my pursuit of ham radio. Too much sideband contesting, try CW, too much CW contesting, try RTTY, then there's VHF/UHF contesting. There are more things to do than I will probably ever get to.
Amateur Radio has given me the opportunity to meet and create many life-long friendships....Earl
VE7AQF - the early days (circa 1962 - 1963)
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modified February 08, 2004
by Paul B. Peters,
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Copyright © 2000 -2003 Paul B. Peters, VE7AVV. All rights reserved.