How I became a ham

My fascination with Radio began in the mid-1950s. Our family radio, a General Electric AC/DC valve-type tabletop set, started it all. It required a mains connection and a copper braid ‘aerial’, with cotton-covered lead-in, strung across the living room ceiling.

I was even more thrilled with the arrival of an ‘Emerson 888 Pioneer MW Pocket Radio’, as it was literally ‘wireless’!

A decade later, I got a book ‘Build your own Transistor Radios’ by mail order, not knowing there was a radio parts store across town. Likewise, I got a soldering iron, solder, flux, a diode and a transistor.

Hooking the 6V soldering iron to our car battery kick-started my preoccupation with crystal radios, antennas, earthing, TRFs, superhets, audio amplifiers and whatnot.

Meanwhile, I chanced upon an article 'G3MY Calling!' in an issue of 'Doctors Only'. OM Mike was a doctor and a ham. My father was a doctor too and I had discovered that the magazine made for interesting reading.

Mike, now no more, made a lasting impression. It was the mid-1960s and my first awareness of ham radio. I wondered if it was permitted in India.

There was yet another article, I came across, about Australian housewives keeping in touch through two-way radio.

I turned to shortwave listening, using a Philips 4-band Transistor Portable and a long wire. I also heard aircraft transmissions on 8.8 MHz AM. In the course of these activities I stumbled upon what turned out to be a QSO between two South Indian hams. I regularly monitored the transmissions and realized that ham radio did exist in India.

A few enquiries led to a meeting with Pai-VU2PF and Ramesh-VU2NRS.

Ramesh, then a teenager, readily agreed to teach me the Morse Code. His tireless efforts and his family’s active support resulted in my successful learning of the Morse Code and eventually getting my call sign in the year 1977.

Ramesh was truly intelligent, highly motivated and very mature for one so young. He was very active on 40m/20m CW/AM. Later he homebrewed a crystal filter type SSB Transmitter for 40m/20m. It was a 50W PEP all-tube version with a built-in VFO. With able support from his father, a 3-element 20m Yagi beam followed.

Unfortunately Ramesh passed away at a very young age.

As a ham, I am highly indebted to OM Ramesh and his family.