Tag Archives: Radio Stories

Listener Post: Ed McCorry

Ed McCorry’s radio story is the latest in a new series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Ed for sharing his personal radio history:

Ed McCorry (KI4QDE & WDX2PNH)

How did I get my start in SWL’ing? Well I suppose it was a lot like many other people way back in the 60’s.

Hallicrafters-S-120As I remember, I was always a tinkerer with a keen interest in all things electrical, taking things apart and putting them back together, not always without modification or in working order. I was a freshman in high school (1962) and was working on a project with a classmate at his house one day and found out he was a ham. I had heard about this but this was the first time I had met someone who had radio equipment. He was new to the hobby and had a Hallicrafters S-120 receiver (didn’t everyone?) and a Morse code transmitter. He showed me how it worked and we listened for awhile and I was hooked.

Back in those days living in New Jersey, we had a black and white TV and received the three major network feeds and a few independents from New York. The stations went off the air sometime around two in the morning and there wasn’t a whole lot to watch anyway so I was always looking for something to do. Shortwave radio was the answer!

Like a lot of other families back then we had all the necessities we needed but there wasn’t any extra money to go buy a radio (the S-120 cost $65.00, a weeks pay). Well by doing odd jobs and mowing lawns I was able to save up to buy a used 4 band shortwave radio for $25.00 (can’t remember the brand). I threw some wire out of the window for an antenna and I was in business. I would listen for hours to places I had only read about. Little did I know then that it would still be a hobby when I was 65 years old!

(Image: RFCafe)

(Image: RFCafe)

From there I started reading Popular Electronics where Hank Bennett had a shortwave column, registered SWL’s and gave out call signs. Mine was WPE2PNH. From that column I learned how to send reception reports and get QSL cards. There were so many stations back then. I got a job after school and finally had the money to go buy that S-120. Meanwhile I was taking electronics in school and building some of the simpler projects from PE.

After High School I was in the military for the next 8 years and had the S-120 with me when I was in the States but between going to Viet Nam and Thailand for 3 years and everything else going on there wasn’t much time for SWL’ing. However, I did build my first of around 30 Heathkits back then. It was a Q-Multiplier for the S-120.

After I left the service I got back into listening and in 1978 I wrote Hank Bennett who had left PE and started his own SWL registration and he changed my call sign to WDX2PNH (still have the certificate on the wall).

I was never interested enough in all those years to go get my ham ticket until I was on a Search and Rescue team in 1995 that required it. So I received my Technician license, KI4QDE, and until recently spent much more time listening than talking. I’m pretty much 2 meters but I will probably upgrade to General in the near future as it seems that there is less to listen to month after month with the BCB stations cutting short wave.

So here we are, many years, radios, antenna’s and QSL’s later, I consider myself lucky growing up when I did. Times were much simpler, (even though we were afraid of being blown up by an H-bomb) we were at the beginning of a technical explosion, and we made due with what we had. I wonder if I was 13 years old today if I would have the same enthusiasm about radio as I did back then. Probably not, I’m sure radio seems old fashioned to the kids today with all the computer games, internet, smart phones etc. Sure there is more information available to the SWL on the internet but in my opinion it’s also killing the hobby. It’s to bad progress has to leave some good things in the dust…

Ed McCorry
Willow Spring, North Carolina

Many thanks, Ed, for sharing your story!
Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts!

Spread the radio love

Listener Post: Ken McKenzie

Analog Radio DialKen McKenzie’s radio story is the latest in a new series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Ken for sharing his personal radio history:

Ken McKenzie

My interest started somewhat like yours in that I “discovered” the family’s old WW2 Viking console radio in the basement. Besides the AM band it had 3 SW bands. The Viking brand name was made for a large coast to coast Canadian department store.
It still had the required license glued inside from the WW2 days.

Hallicrafters SX-25 Super Defiant Advertisement (Image: Rich Post)

Hallicrafters SX-25 Super Defiant Advertisement (Image: Rich Post)

I attached a 20 or 30 foot piece of wire to the antenna terminal and draped the wire over the back stair railing. Within 2 or 3 minutes I was listening to an English language broadcast from Japan. So, I got my dad to help me drag the old gal up to my attic bedroom. For the next 10 months or so every spare moment I had I spent spinning that dial.

Then about the Christmas of 1960 or 1961 my parents gave me a used Hallicrafters SX-25 Super Defiant. My dad had a customer who was a Ham. He asked him if he new of a shortwave radio he could buy for his son. Turns out VE7FC was selling the SX-25. He had won a contest with it. The winner was the 1st Ham to work a particular Antarctic station on CW. Someone had added voltage regulation to the SX-25 so it was a bit more stable than stock. For the next 15 years I was glued to that Hallicrafters!

Then one day there was a short in one of the capacitors and the whole chassis went hot with 380 volts. I unplugged the old girl and put her away as at that time I just didn’t have the money to fix it. I knew replacing one cap wasn’t the answer. I knew most had to be replaced. That was a BIG job and over my head at that point. Then with a new job my fortunes changed and in 1989 just as that wonderful sun spot cycle was on the way up I bought myself a Kenwood R-5000. Well you can imagine how that changed the game!



I was up at all hours chasing Utilities DX at that point. I added a Universal M-7000 RTTY decoder, 2 wire antennas, audio processing, tape recorders, etc. Then about 1996 I bought a JRC NRD-535D with the matching active speaker from a retired man in Saskatchewan Canada. He had received it as a retirement gift. Less than a year later he moved from the suburbs into the city a couple of hundred feet away from a power substation. His listening days were over. I got this radio for $800 and when he said it was mint he meant it!!! Absolutely spotless. Between the R-5000 and the 535D I was in heaven. 🙂

Now I have a little FiFi SDR to play with and am looking long and hard at a QS1R or an Excalibur or Excalibur Pro….still gathering data.

These days the M-7000 isn’t even plugged in but one of my PCs decodes HFDL and ACARS. A little RTL looks for Mode-S radar. So I am still at it. I still enjoy twirling the dials on the two “real radios” but have to admit the SDRs of this day and age have
SO many advantages when chasing DX.

Many thanks, Ken, for sharing your story!
Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts!

Spread the radio love

Listener Post: Alexander von Obert

Analog Radio DialShortly after posting my plea for your radio stories, I received several replies, including this excellent story from SWLing Post reader, Alexander von Obert, who lives in Germany.

I have created a new series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Alexander for sharing his personal radio history:

Alexander von Obert (DL4NO)

My fate was sealed on my 12th birthday: As a present I got a redio experimenting kit (Kosmos Radiomann for the Germans among the readers). I could build a diode receiver (AKA detector receiver with a Germanium diode) from it. Adding an EF98 pentode (anode voltage 12 V) I could even build a tube audion, a 0V1 for the hams among the readers.

rbfjWithin a few months I outgrew it. My father, an engineer himself but completely absorbed by his job, showed me where a soldering iron gets hot. I managed to get hold of old radio and TV sets including Audions from the 3rd Reich area (“Volksempfänger”). First I simply dismantled them out of curiosity. Then I discovered the public library of my home town. The author of the time was Heinz Richter with titles like “Radiobasteln für Jungen”(radio building for boys).

Naturally I even tried to use these radios – especially those I managed to repair. I even listened to shortwave stations. In these times you found quite some German transmissions, notably from the BBC and Radio Sweden. Later, when my English knowledge blossomed, I discovered an even wider universe out there.

Then came the time where I wished to transmit myself. I never considered to do a radio program, I enjoyed experimenting with my equipment to much. Here in Germany transmitting without proper license was a criminal offence so my tests were few. CB had not been introduced here in Germany at that time, but I learned about ham radio. Somehow I found out about my local club and their license course. So I got the proud owner of the call DB1NO, a VHF/UHF license without Morse code test.

A short time later started my military service. I had to do quite some night shifts, a good opportunity to train Morse code hearing. When my comrades saw my cassette recorder they disappeared knowing about the “music” I would be listening to over the next half hour. After two years I did the code test. I have been DL4NO ever since.

No question about it: After my military service I got an electronics engineer. What I learned at the university I quite often considered as the theoretical background of things that I had known before. In that time I discovered microprocessors. You had to build your machines by yourself. My first computer used a regular cassette tape recorder as “mass storage”. Only the fourth homemade machine had a floppy disk drive – of the 8″ form factor variety, with about 1 MB of capacity per medium. I could only laugh about the first IBM PC with its 320 kB floppies.

During that time ham radio was mostly a social activity for me. I held contact with the OMs around on 2m FM and had no shortwave station at all. Microprocessors, studies, and later my first job, occupied most of my time. OK, I even had discovered girls 🙂

Now, as my job slowly settles down, I have upgraded my ham radio activities. I have built a mobile station that can operate from 7 to 440 MHz. My most important objective is to reduce the effort as far as possible and to stay within the traffic regulatory. For example I have proven that you can operate a 100W SSB station from a standard 12V outlet. Down to 14 MHz you can even use magmounts without really bad effects.

vy 73

Alexander also adds this note:

How I operate my station from a standard 12 V outlet in my car is described at http://www.dl4no.de/thema/mobil-st.htm. The picture and the circuit diagram  at the bottom of the page should be clear enough even if you don’t understand German. At http://www.dl4no.de/thema/mobilbe0.htm you see how a magmount antenna works on 20 m. The magmount has 200-300 pF to the roof of the car. This is an impedance of about 50 Ohms, that can be compensated. The magmount moves the resonance frequency a bit higher as you can see in the SWR diagram.

Many thanks, Alexander, for sharing your story! Readers, be sure to check out Alexander’s ham radio website at http://www.dl4no.de.

Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts!

Spread the radio love