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My X Related
Robert Colee With Help from Anne Colee
They said I should have died when I was about 2 or 3 years old. We were living in Sarasota Florida at the time and my father was studying, on the G.I. Bill at Ringling school of Art
at the time.
My remembrances of this period included of my Dad's short wave radio, my (cleverly---I thought) mixing salt and pepper in the same shaker for convenience and the trouble it caused when my mother discovered it. I also remember creatively "redecorating" some of my Dad's art work much to his disapproval and the sand fight with the little neighbor girl (Brenda?).Most of all , though, I remember the sickness which engulfed both me and my parents to such an extent, that my Dad's mother, Lydia, finally had to be called for help.
It seems that my parents and I had been struck with pneumonia. My parents called for Lydia to come and take me to St. Augustine for care. Right after arriving at my Grandmothers house it was decided that I should be admitted to the hospital.
My memories of this period were filled with the sound of ambulance sirens outside the hospital window, and my Aunt Mildred, who was a military nurse. When I survived pneumonia everyone in the family said it was a miracle. Some of the medicine that was tried on me had apparently just been developed for the military in World War II. At that time the recovery rate for pneumonia was very low.
My conversion to ARC 5 World War 2 military aircraft radios was by the hand of Lloyd Wright W4NIR, this was in 1960 in Sarasota Florida. I was a 14 year old who had a burning curiosity for amateur radio. This was started several years previously when my father helped me with a Scouting badge with the completion of a crystal radio receiver. After stringing up many long wire antenna projects we successfully received all the local A.M. transmissions as well as the nearby shrimp trawlers transmitting on the old marine band that was just above the A.M. broadcast band. Short wave it was known as then.
Upon moving from St. Augustine, Florida, I found in my new neighbor hood, a house with a
tri-band "Ham" antenna. This is one that I knew by heart because it was one featured in the
CQ and QST magazines my mother had purchased for me. Knocking timidly on the door I introduced my self to this "Amateur Radio Operator". Lloyd was a retired fireman from Dayton Ohio. As I bombarded him with questions, he patiently taught me radio communications.
Under his mentor, I passed my Federal Communication Commission test and was awarded a Novice class license, KN4NKD. I built my first C.W. transmitter out of a plastic food container,
the RF tank coil was wound on a plastic pill bottle, the affair consisted of one electron tube and was crystal controlled. With my newly built transmitter and my Knight Kit regenerative receiver
I attempted my first contact. CQ, CQ, CQ, KN4NKD!!!!!!!!!!!!
My poor receiver would drift each time I transmitted, so I would not be able to zero beat my own signal. Frustrated II called W4NIR on the phone and asked if he could even hear my signal.
He replied that he could but it had terrible key chirp. Sensing my discouragement he recommended a cheap fix to arrive at high tech. C.W.
A few days later he approached my Dad with the plan of going to a local military surplus
electronics outlet and purchasing an ARC-5 (40 meter) receiver. This would take care of the receiver drift as the aircraft radio was a stable, selective and sensitive superheterodyne.
Noticing the placard on the radio was 2 years before my own birth, I was delighted as my new radio was truly new and came in the original carton from IST birth sixteen years before.
To convert the radio for civilian use, I had to re-wire the tube heater elements to parallel.
The original configuration used 12 volt filament tubes wired in a series parallel mode to run off the aircraft system which supplied 24 volts D.C. To these filaments I applied 12 volts A.C. as the tubes cathode was isolated from the heaters. The electron tube reference book was really helpful as I had no diagram of the radio at this time. The radio also needed a phone jack to plug head phones into as the pin outs for audio went to a cockpit control head that did not come with the radio. Also the beat frequency oscillator had to have a switch installed as well as a volume control potentiometer. The 24 volt dynamoter was discarded and I built a 250 volt D.C. power supply to accompany my 12 volt filament supply. Fortunately some rudimentary conversion schematics were obtained from CQ magazine articles for some of this work.
My first contact with KN4NKG was with the ARC 5 receiver and my home made transmitter that chirped. This fellow ham had also just received his ticket and was only a few letters away
from my call.
The chirping was still a problem that would probably require a complete redesign of my junk box transmitter. ARC 5 to the rescue again! Back to the shop, where I had obtained my receiver, and quite a few lawns cut for the purchase price, I walked out with a new receiver and transmitter. They were on the 80 meter band as I had found 40 meter novice band used up at night with the Radio Moscow station on 7.175 MHZ(mega cycles back then). Conversion of the receiver was a snap this time as I had the 40 meter receiver as a bench mark. By this time I had
purchased a whole book of schematics and conversion tricks for the ARC 5 series of equipment.
The transmitter also had to have the filament string rewired as well as having a jack installed for the C.W. key. Using some transformers chokes and capacitors from a dead T.V. as well as some donated rectifier and mercury vapor regulator tubes I assembled a power supply that would run the transmitter. Unfortunately I could not yet use my transmitter as it had a V.F.O. and was 100 watts input power while the constraints of my license was for crystal control and 50 watts.
About this time my father offered to buy me a Heath Kit DX-20 transmitter if I would paint the
family abode. After doing a job that should have killed me in the Florida sun, I received and assembled my kit transmitter. The rest of that summer I spent in busy Morse code communications with my fellow radio operators.
I moved the next year to Jacksonville Florida, where I joined a local Amateur Radio Club
"The Wacky Windingers" who helped in my preparation for a "Conditional Class" license.
This would allow me to use a V.F.O. as well phone communications and more power.
Happy to be allowed to fire up my ARC 5 transmitter, long nights were spent for several weeks
as I basked in the Violet Glow of the mercury vapor regulators each time I went into transmit mode. As I was gleefully acquiring other ARC 5 transmitters and researching the merits of single side band versed double side band over A.M. as well as building and coupling modulators the neighbors came to call. Seems that they just wanted to watch "Bonanza on the tube and my T.V.I. was a little much. Having found the disturbance of their T.V. gun play in the preponderance of antennas sprouting from my parents roof, I was asked nicely to clean up my act on the local airways.
At this time I decided to acquire a Knight Kit V.F.O. to control my new Heath Kit transmitter.
The neighbors loved this very much and I assured them that I was working on various filters and capacitors to correct the "Bonanza"problem.
About this time I decided to do a science fair project in school on radio communications.
At first I decided to build a receiver using electron tube technology patterned after the R. L. Drake 2B S.S.B. receiver that my friend used.
I wrote off to Drake and they even sent me the schematics. Finding the mechanical filters problematic to reverse engineer out of my junk box, I decided to acquire a larger junk box. By this time I was taking a course in electronics at my local high school "Terry Parker H.S." The instructor was usually just a few pages ahead of the lesson plan as he was a metal shop educator who had been pressed into service to teach electronics. I was appointed shop foreman and helped with tutoring my fellow students. Writing off to Electro Mechanical Research in Sarasota( where I had been given a tour in my scouting days), I requested that any spare parts be donated to my school. About a month later I was escorted into the principles office and given a huge container of Titan Missile parts. Gold plated transistors made for the Space Program were in my hands. After turning these parts into my class all of us dived on the box and sorted out parts for our individual projects. Eventually I had a working triple conversion radio receiver made of 23 transistors and if bought at military prices the components would have cost over $1000.00 at 1963 rates. I Know I priced each part E.M.R. had sent us.
I did not win the science fair prize but it did win a cash prize and a medal in the Florida Industrial Arts Contest which was presented to me at graduation much to my surprise.