There are few things more motivating than having your one and only radio die on you when your interest is starting to peak. Add that to the typical plight of the
average teenager, no money, and you have the recipe for adolescent depression!
Time to do some extra chores.
By the time the summer of 1973 rolled around, I had built myself a kit from Radio Shack called the Globe patrol. It was simple enough - a handful of transistors, capacitors, resistors, and a few pre-wound coils. All of this was soldered onto a copper clad phenolic board. This was my first project utilizing a pencil soldering iron. I did pretty well as it worked flawlessly when the project was completed. Well, as flawlessly as
a regenerative receiver can work.
Note to self: I Must build a better antenna.
Having the Globe Patrol regenerative radio as my primary receiver was incentive plenty to put up a better antenna.
I did just that.
Off to Radio Shack again. This time I picked up 100 feet of #14 stranded copper wire and 50 feet of insulated wire to use as lead-in.
I ran it from an out building to the side of a 75 foot fir tree. Okay, so I nailed one end to the tree at the 20 foot level. Risk taking in relation to tall Douglas fir trees was yet to come.
A simple regenerative receiver performs quite well with a good antenna but there are serious limitations when one is located in the World's shortwave fringe area, the West coast of North America. By November 1973, I convinced my father to loan me a remarkable 179 dollars for a brand new DX150B from Radio Shack. I had been wearing out a path into the store for months.
The 1973 Radio Shack catalog was the next best thing to a Christmas wish book, chock-a-block with scanners, radios and electronic bits and pieces - yes sir, this was a teenage boys dream come true.
Wednesday, November 14, 1973. No, I do not remember a lot of days and dates. This one I remember. Graduating to the Radio Shack DX150B was a major step indeed. Hooking the radio up to my 100 foot long "inverted-L" antenna (I did not know it was called this at the time) was one of those unforgettable firsts - It was late in the afternoon during a period of moderately good radio conditions so the bands were open. By nightfall,
the dial of the DX150B was alive with signals. From the sheer excitement I would describe this experience worth the price of admission!
One month later I would add a logbook (from Radio Shack). Within months, a single antenna would grow to become a small fleet of dipoles;
49, 31, 25 and 19 meter dipoles festooned a portion of our farmyard.
By December 1973 I had discovered QSL cards. Ian McFarland (member on this website) was running the English language show on Radio Canada International. I had submitted and received 3 QSL confirmations from RCI to join the Radio Canada Shortwave Club. Very cool!
By the Spring of 1974, I was a regular and contributing member of the Canadian International DX Club. For a time I was the editor of the, very lame, propagation report! Not bad for a 13 year old.
1975 proved to be as banner year for radio reception, ever expanding antenna fields and QSL cards arriving almost daily. One day, in the Spring of 1975 I received 5 in one day. One day as I was emptying the wooden mailbox, I noticed a small bundle from the International Radio Club of America, an all-medium-wave listeners circle that produced an engaging and quality printed product. Medium-wave listening was proving to be of growing interest to me as I was, at the time, exhausting the choices on the Shortwave bands. Adding fuel to this fire was the discovery of a magazine called "Communications World" on the shelves of the local pharmacy.
In this particular issue, there was a cool article about picking up trans-atlantic and trans-pacific radio signals, on medium-wave, in North America! What, what, what?!? Is this possible?
In the next chapter I will reveal my first cross Pacific and cross Atlantic medium-wave reception and the timely meeting with one of North Americas most talented radio enthusiasts, who just so happened to live right here in Victoria!
Colin Newell grew up on a small piece of farm land on Southern Vancouver Island. Little did he know then, that a brief encounter with a cheap radio would shape the rest of his life.