History Worth Remembering

by MD0MDI
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History Worth Remembering

History Worth Remembering

A little while back I was given a box of QSL Cards from a very good friend, Douglas Dodd (GD3RFK), he was not exactly throwing them out, but he was after making some space and after like most of us in this hobby have come to find that Ham Radio has kind of taken over our lives and with it a great deal of space.

First off, I must warn you that this page has been driven by me wanting to find something do whilst in the worst Christmas I have had! I thought last year’s Christmas was depressing enough being in Hospital most of the time, this one is actually worse as I am presently in ‘lockdown’ after my partner tested positive for Covid, this meant that everything planned for Christmas has now cancelled,  ‘Lockdown’ has meant being locked away in the workshop with a fan heater trying to give me a bit of warmth in the only warm room in the house at present that is warm, so I am sleeping on the floor whilst staying away from others until this Covid stuff has either past me or killed me…

So I am sorry if there is a lot more ‘Off the Planet’ waffling but I have gone nocturnal and so somewhat  losing the plot at the moment.

I have only had the pleasure of knowing Douglas for a very small amount of time after I first met him in 2014 when I bought his 120ft Versa Tower, since that time I would certainly like to say that I have come to regard him as a very good friend and I have come to cherish my visits up North of the island to his QTH in Regaby.

W8RXY (Chuck) QSO 5th November 1964, 20 Meters SSB
W8RXY (Chuck) QSO 5th November 1964, 20 Meters SSB
WB2LIG (Sam) QSO10th October 1966, 15 Meters SSB
WB2LIG (Sam) QSO10th October 1966, 15 Meters SSB

One of the first things that I started to notice when looking at the older QSL Cards within this collection was that most of these older cards listed a separate Transmitter and Receiver –

One of the first things that I started to notice when looking at the older QSL Cards within this collection was that most of these older cards listed a separate Transmitter and Receiver – This alone was a fascinating read, looking at all the lovely equipment that was being used back then, so besides the jealously, I had to wonder just how much of this equipment is still kept  to this day.

These were offering a great look back in time to when conditions were so much better than they are now, and not only that, but people chatted back then, there was none of this FT8 which I personally see as a not being proper radio after I sore a video on YouTube of an Amateur in the USA that after waking up each day he would switch on the gear in the shack, and then set up the software that would automate this FT8 and then he would go to work, leaving his computer to manage the QSO’s automatically throughout the day using software and macro, and then on returning home he would boast the he had had QSO’s with far off lands, well sorry, this is not Ham Radio to me.

WA80VC (Jim) WSO 18th November 1966 21.3MHz SSB. Operating a Beautiful Swan 350 on what seemed very common back in the 1960's, QUAD Antenna.
WA80VC (Jim) WSO 18th November 1966 21.3MHz SSB. Operating a Beautiful Swan 350 on what seemed very common back in the 1960's, QUAD Antenna.
WB2QXX (Henry) QSO 22nd October 1965 on 21.366 MHz SSB using a SB-440 & a SB-200 Amp.
WB2QXX (Henry) QSO 22nd October 1965 on 21.366 MHz SSB using a SB-440 & a SB-200 Amp.

It was great to put these into order, and to see what the bands were like over the last 60 plus  years, and over time you can see how the attitudes of amateurs have changed over the years, evolving somewhat from either Home Built equipment, converted ex-military to a great period where so many great manufacturers were creating truly great radios such as Collins, Drake, KW Electronics, and swan to name just a few, all the way up to modern day equipment which has become very much an appliance driven hobby, truly great equipment but we are just operators compared to what it was once like.

A lot of the QSL Cards are from before I was even on the planet, and the golden age of vacuum tube radios where a lot of people built their own transmitters, a time that I am fascinated in, the good old days of Early Drake and Collins equipment, when everything was a great deal simpler.

WA7DTX (Harold) was one of many that did not just send a QSL Card, They enclosed Letters,. Photos, even Recipes and Photos of other items that were talked about during the QSO's with Douglas.
WA7DTX (Harold) was one of many that did not just send a QSL Card, They enclosed Letters,. Photos, even Recipes and Photos of other items that were talked about during the QSO's with Douglas.

The QSO’s between Harold and Douglas were from the 1980 and we start to see more common place transceivers starting to be used, Harrold was lucky enough to own the Yaesu FT-101B, which has now become a modern day classic which most amateurs would be happy to have in the shack even today.

Using his 2 Element HyQuad up at 60ft on 23rd April 1982, he kindly reports that Douglas’s signal into Arizona was one of the strongest Signals he had ever heard to date (Back then, hi hi) for this QSO on 21.278 MHz SSB

You have to Wonder  just how many of these great operators are still around, and what story’s we have now lost due to time.

What I have noticed that back in the 60’s Amateurs would not just send you a QSL Card with a 5/9 and Bye, and that was just it. There would be long correspondence either on the backs of the QSL Cards or you would have a small wad of paper enclosed in the envelopes with loads of information on things that had been talked about or other items of interest, some fascinating reading.

Newspaper Article about the Mt. St. Helens Volcano from the Tacoma News Tribune, dated Sunday 8th November 1981
Newspaper Article about the Mt. St. Helens Volcano from the Tacoma News Tribune, dated Sunday 8th November 1981

And some of the cards from the 60’s era has also come with some great photos on the QSL Cards themselves (or separately with the envelopes) that would proudly show off their great old equipment, items now that we are only just about showing an interest in, Items that I love to now restore and return to a fully working better than new condition, but still, some beautiful old transmitters and receivers.

Everyone loves a ‘Shack’ Photo, but these photo’s from the 60’s to 80’s that I am showing here are pure ‘Shack Porn’.

Nowadays we can only hope to ever own such great vintage radio equipment, and a lot of these are now fetch more now than what they were worth when they were first made.

K4TSJ as he was known back then (Now N4XP) enclosed this great photo of some very nice equipment,.
K4TSJ as he was known back then (Now N4XP) enclosed this great photo of some very nice equipment,.
WA0KDI (Hal) QSO on 7th October 1965, 21.380 MHz SSB, again complementing Douglas on have one of the best signals that he had heard that day. the equipment being used was an Exciter 325-1, Linear 301-S and a 75A-4 Receiver.
WA0KDI (Hal) QSO on 7th October 1965, 21.380 MHz SSB, again complementing Douglas on have one of the best signals that he had heard that day. the equipment being used was an Exciter 325-1, Linear 301-S and a 75A-4 Receiver.
W0YDB (Bill), QSO on 18th April 1966 on 21.259 MHz, where he apologised for the terrible band condition, but it sounded like the band was failing, but he did manage to finally get Douglas in the logbook 'twice'.
W0YDB (Bill), QSO on 18th April 1966 on 21.259 MHz, where he apologised for the terrible band condition, but it sounded like the band was failing, but he did manage to finally get Douglas in the logbook 'twice'.
W4FPS (Jim), QSO, 1 minute past midnight on 25th July 1966, Transmitter 4-400's, Exciter Home Made, and the Receiver was 75S3B and a 754A.
W4FPS (Jim), QSO, 1 minute past midnight on 25th July 1966, Transmitter 4-400's, Exciter Home Made, and the Receiver was 75S3B and a 754A.
W3FWD (Lou), QSO on27th October 1965 on 20 Meters SSB.
W3FWD (Lou), QSO on27th October 1965 on 20 Meters SSB.

A lot of new Amateurs sadly now just buy an old Yaesu and Kenwood Radio from even the 80’s and just have them in the shack as a show item sadly, I have come across so many modern day amateurs that do not even have a clue as to how they properly tune up some of these old Tube radios, which is another reason that they are just on show, as they have blown up or damaged tubes to such an extent that these poor old radios no longer working.

DJ3WE (Rudy), 25th June 1966 made a contact on 5 Bands 80m through to 10m SSB.
DJ3WE (Rudy), 25th June 1966 made a contact on 5 Bands 80m through to 10m SSB.
VE3CUI (Edward), QSO on 19th September 1981 on 14.159 MHz making a 15 minute chat on SSB
VE3CUI (Edward), QSO on 19th September 1981 on 14.159 MHz making a 15 minute chat on SSB

So, I see these as a real look back in history, I am more than happy to hold onto these for Douglas, after all, he is a good friend, and when it comes to remembering some of his antics, there is nothing better than old Logbooks and QSL Cards.

There was no limit or restrictions placed on you regarding the sizes of the correspondence that was used for QSL Cards, even complete A4 sheets from the look of it, photocopied at a copy shop in the local high street.

VE7ERQ (Bob) from Rossland, British Colombia

We all know about what Russia is doing to Ukraine in these dark times, so when I come across a QSL Card from a Ukrainian station, you cannot help but take a minute to wonder if they are alright, the horror stories of Russian troops ransacking homes of the Ukrainian people completely makes us all shiver. I wonder just how many good amateurs we have lost in Ukraine, we as Amateurs try not to let politics interfere with our hobby, but what is happening over there is ever so wrong.

This card was a just selected at random from many, I hope and prey that this station is safe from the war, and prey that they and their family are safe, and I wish this on all Ukrainian Stations and their families.

UB5IIA (Vlad), QSO on 17th June 1981 on 21 MHz SSB
UB5IIA (Vlad), QSO on 17th June 1981 on 21 MHz SSB

Douglas was very active in and around my birth date, the condition in the 1960’s was obviously very good and exciting times for a lot of amateur’s, I wish that I had met a lot more of these operators, especially those that had built much of their equipment themselves, these were great times for Vacuum tube equipment, and so many stories have now been sadly lost due to times modern day amateurs not being interested in these beautiful old radios.

Sadly, maybe the conditions were not too good for the 1970’s, there are loads of cards from the 1960’s, and another great pile from the 1980’s which is when I was well and truly into the hobby.

W1RED (Don), QSO on 26th March 1972 on 21 MHz SSB on some great equipment, Transmitter was a Swan 600T, Linear was a Swan II and finally the Receiver was a HQ-180-A
W1RED (Don), QSO on 26th March 1972 on 21 MHz SSB on some great equipment, Transmitter was a Swan 600T, Linear was a Swan II and finally the Receiver was a HQ-180-A
YA1DT (Don), QSO on 11th June 1973 on 20 Meters SSB.
YA1DT (Don), QSO on 11th June 1973 on 20 Meters SSB.

But the 1970’s when my introduction would have been the great old days of AM CB Radio, with weird handles and the great use of the 10 code, this was the early days of radio for me, my career was taking me in a totally different, and in the 70’s I was still at school and totally oblivious of the great times that Douglas was having on the Isle of Man at this point, and although I can remember that I had a small interest in CB-Radio, I was due to be pointed towards Yacht as a career step.

The 1980’s must have been fun due to the amount of good QSL Cards he has collected for this time.

W0PQQ (Red), QSO on 10th September 1981 on 28 MHz SSB
W0PQQ (Red), QSO on 10th September 1981 on 28 MHz SSB
DJ6NI (Gunter), QSO on 16th September 1981 on both 80m and 40m SSB.
DJ6NI (Gunter), QSO on 16th September 1981 on both 80m and 40m SSB.
W7KVV (Jim), QSO on 9th February 1982 on 28 MHz SSB
W7KVV (Jim), QSO on 9th February 1982 on 28 MHz SSB
W7IIU (Gene), QSO on 9th September 1981, 28.632 MHz SSB.
W7IIU (Gene), QSO on 9th September 1981, 28.632 MHz SSB.

There were so many cards in this collection that I could have chosen, I actually scanned more in than I have used here but there must be around 500 cards in the box that I am now the caretaker for, I have just a few more QSL Cards I would like to post here, nothing special but still worth a mention.

Shortwave Listerners

Shortwave Listeners often get ignored by quite a few amateurs, which I feel is totally wrong, a lot of these SWL’s that quite often send you in these QSL Cards really need to be replied to, they have gone to the trouble of contacting you directly, and these operators are not after a confirmation for a DXCC Certificate, these guys just hope that you will send them back a card. I have always given these guys praise, I think they deserve it.

UB5-070-546 was Monitoring a QSO between Douglas and VK6RZ on 6th March 1982, and a Bonus, it's from Ukraine.
UB5-070-546 was Monitoring a QSO between Douglas and VK6RZ on 6th March 1982, and a Bonus, it's from Ukraine.
NL-5736-R47 (Carlo) was monitoring a QSO between Douglas and KG6JJH on 26th October 1981
NL-5736-R47 (Carlo) was monitoring a QSO between Douglas and KG6JJH on 26th October 1981

And finally, a selection of more Local stations I came across including a ‘Very’ local station to Douglas, on the Isle of Man.

GC2FMV QSO on 13th June 1966 on 14 MHz SSB
GC2FMV QSO on 13th June 1966 on 14 MHz SSB
G3AZC (Jim), QSO on 6th February 1967 on 21 MHz SSB.
G3AZC (Jim), QSO on 6th February 1967 on 21 MHz SSB.
GD3RWF with a very local QSO on 21st September 1966 on 21 Meters SSB
GD3RWF with a very local QSO on 21st September 1966 on 21 Meters SSB

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I doubt that I have explained the correct, but these old QSL cards that were amount in boxes and shove in a attic space are so much more than just postcards, when you get hold of a local amateurs QSL cards you have to be aware that there is a history that needs to be past on, it is something that should be done by a local Amateur Radio Club, but as no one has ever bothered on the island I can honestly say that I feel that they do not really care about anything older than ‘FT8’, Maybe I am wrong? Maybe we should all forget old friends long gone, not remember their birthdays which we would celebrate together, forget friends made with foreign amateurs and just throw these old QSL cards that you found in the attic. I am sorry but I can’t, I think these old amateurs that did so much more than we do, I think they really should be remembered, and old photos should be posted somewhere so that other hams can see what happened in the good old days.

I have known that so many old photo albums have long been lost, I was told quite recently that a very large collection that use to belong to someone I once called a friend was put on a garden fire along with many other items by someone that maybe deserved the right to do it, I just feel sad that in those albums were many old photos of old IOMARS club members along with visiting amateurs and SWL’s on DX-peditions to the Isle of Man.

I was asked by a friend just days before he died to remember him, I told him I have enough photos to be able to do that and that I would never forget the good friend that he was, I have since been sent some very nice photo albums and been asked to keep them safe, and remembered, which I hope that I have. I would love to see more locals interested in remembering old amateurs, sadly from what I have seen, most of the older hams have been alienated by the club to such an extent that most of them now want nothing to do with them, and sadly because of this, any old photo collection will possibly lost or forgotten.

I do not have many photos of some of the big stations on the Isle of Man, I have so few of Alex (GD6IA), Bob (MD0CCE), Alan Crowther (GD0MWL), Ralf Furness (GD4IHC), Mike Dunning (GD0HYM), but sadly I have never been offered anything in return, there are so many more that I never knew, and to make a point, you never see new photos appear, and on the odd occasion when one has appeared, no one can remember who they are, this is so sad.

So, when we are offered QSL Cards, Logbooks, and photos once owned by old amateurs, this is History Worth Remembering.

Last Edited – 27th December 2022  

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