My Favorite QSO

I’ve been a Ham since 1966, with some breaks in activity for college, family, and other responsibilities. Life happens, and it was almost fifteen years after getting my first license that I upgraded to General. 

To celebrate this accomplishment, I purchased and built a Heathkit HW-101 so I’d be able to use single sideband and ditch all those crystals in favor of using a VFO for the first time. Many contacts were made over the next few years using the 101 with a simple trap dipole. It was a solid radio, but I wanted more.

After saving for several months, I was able to come up with about $600 toward a new transceiver. It wasn’t quite enough for the Kenwood TS-530s I wanted, but if the 101 could be sold at a Hamfest, I’d have a shot at getting that Kenwood.

Those of you who lived in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and western New York during the 1980s probably remember the Warren Hamfest. At one time, it was the largest in the region. There were several acres for tables as well as two floors of the Kent State Trumbull Campus building for vendors. I set up my table and hoped for the best.

It was approaching noon, and I’d sold some small items. Several people had looked at the HW-101 and power supply, but there were no takers. Around 12:30, a Ham stopped by to look at the Heathkit. He’d just passed his General, and he was looking for a good, inexpensive radio. After some discussion, he said he’d be back later. Right. . .

He came back about forty minutes later, cash in hand. We negotiated a price, he carried it off in a cart, and I headed for the main building. AES (remember them?) usually came to the Hamfest and had an entire wall near the cafeteria. I quickly snagged a TS-530s, returned to my table, and prepared to pack up and leave.

So what about the QSO? Later that afternoon, I read the minimal amount of the manual to set up this new radio and listened for a while on 40 meters. Doing a quick tune-up, I called out CQ a few times and got an answer from a W3 that didn’t sound too far away. After we made contact, I explained that I was testing a new radio bought at the Warren Hamfest and gave him a 59 report, commenting on his good audio. He responded with a similar report.

Interestingly, he mentioned that he was trying out a radio for the first time, also purchased at the Warren Hamfest. He talked about the Heathkit he’d just bought and commented on the good deal he got at the flea market. After several exchanges, it was clear that he was the one who bought my radio. What are the odds of that happening on the first QSO after we got our radios?

A coincidence? Possibly. In any event, he got his first sideband radio, I got my rig upgrade with more bells and whistles, and we had a great QSO. I also got to hear how good my old radio sounded over the air.

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