My Past Catches Up With Me ... (Part 2)

So I visited my friend's trove of "electronics" and immediately recognized that there was a lot of Good Stuff that seemed serviceable and of good quality. The widow was now trying to clear out the house. Through several conversations, she came to the conclusion that she just wanted to get rid of the stuff and was bringing a dumpster in.
Well, this was difficult for me to contemplate the trashing of several useful and even antique-quality pieces. It was then I realized that I'd been thinking about getting back into the hobby. The barrier was the expense of getting equipment. A solution to that problem was right in front of me. Connecting those dots occurred to me right in her garage. So, we had a chat. The widow was delighted that somebody would get good use out of the 'junk.' We made a quick cash transaction and I walked away with equipment that, back in the day, probably totaled a few thousand dollars.
So, the deceased's stuff was now my stuff - not all of it. There was just Too Much. But I did try to rescue the things I could recognize as useful.
Next, get the pieces home and stacked up. Then, clear out space in the basement to set up my workshop-station. Once that happened, I started pulling out old tools that hadn't seen the light of day in years. That began my tinkering. I would identify the equipment, look up the manual online, get the piece 'fired up' (apply power and turn it on) and - fortunately - nothing sparked or spit at me. Then I would run through some basic functions. For the radio transmitters, I would use the receiver function as I didn't have legal privileges to transmit a signal.
In the meantime, I bought a couple books on basic electronic theory to refresh my recollection (my knowledge was oddly good in some areas and bizarrely weak in others) and to get ready to take the Federal Communications Commission's test for the first level of radio privileges.
In the Old Days - well, when I was a youth - the FCC had five tiers of amateur radio privileges. They were called (in order of increasing privilege and requirements): Novice, Technician, General, Advanced, and Extra "classes." During that time there was a "Technician Plus" class created, but I was inactive during that period. About 15 years back, the FCC decided to revamp the tiers. The requirement to use Morse Code was eliminated and the tiers simplified. The new tiers were Technician, General, and Advanced-Extra. So, this meant I needed to study a bit more and learn some of the capabilities and practices that didn't exist when I was previously active.
It was a bit of a trick to find a testing site, but I traveled about an hour, took the test, and was told that I'd passed. Yay!
Now, I needed to wait for my pass result to be passed up to the FCC, be posted on their database, and learn my randomly assigned call letters. True to form, about ten days later - May 1st, 2017 - I was recognized as "KA8GVY."


My Past Catches Up With Me ... (Part 1)

About two months back, a friend of mine was telling me that he was planning to move his family into his mother-in-law’s house. No jokes, here, just practicalities. Her husband had died a couple of years back, their house was large, and my friend would be closer to work, church, and friends. Everyone wins.
Except, he continued, that there was a lot of junk in the house – his father-in-law seemed to keep a lot of stuff around. To keep the conversation going, I was curious: what kind of “stuff?” He said there were lots of electronics and radio gear. Hmmm. I used to know something about electronics and radio.
Back when I was 13, I got my first amateur radio license. The entry level was the Novice class and that was what I got.
In high school, I took a couple of years of electronics but migrated to Information Systems. My amateur privileges lapsed. In college, I was involved with the school radio station both in production and technical support. One summer I worked for a Christian radio station near Fairbanks, Alaska – KJNP. The station was AM, FM, and TV production at the time – I worked in all of it. A couple that I knew from high school days were there and he was the chief engineer. While I worked as an announcer and other things, he had me doing minor technical things around the station. After a couple of weeks, he threw a self-study course for getting a broadcast engineering license (2nd Class radio-something-or-other) which I studied on breaks and such. My friend and I would discuss the material and he would have him help him with increasingly more interesting tasks around the station. A while later, he said he wanted me to sit for the actual exam – well, I went from casual to clever quickly. Sat for the exam and missed passing by two questions. Still, not bad for not much more than a lark.
I came back, retook the Novice exam again but got married, started a career, and just never could make radio happen.
All of this to say that I have a small background in “electronics and radio stuff.” I offered to come by and see if I could help them determine what was good and what was really junk. My friend was happy to have me come – no one in his circle understood anything about what they had at the house.

The day finally came when we could get our schedules to synch. (To be continued…)