---   Chicago   ---




In October of 1948, the family was leaving Halifax and moving to Chicago, and the transmitter occupied an important place in the moving van. It couldnít be used in Chicago then, because we were not U.S. citizens eligible to take a licence exam, and U.S.-Canadian reciprocal licensing was not yet in place. In July of 1952, we were on a trip back to Halifax, and somehow Dad persuaded the dreaded RI (Radio Inspector) to go to his office on a Saturday morning and examine me for a licence.

That exam is its own story. I remember the code exam was given by the RI as he perched his derrier on the edge of a desk, read from the morning edition of the Halifax Herald, and sent code from the newspaper text while he looked over my shoulder at my copy. Iíve never been sure whether his speed was accurate or whether it was higher because he was irritated by working on a Saturday or slower because he was Dadís pal. Then he handed the paper and the key to me and instructed me to send copy from the paper. Without comment, he soon launched into the theory portion. It was all oral. Tell him this and tell him that. What were the band edges? How did one determine he was not over-modulating? How did an oscillator work? Draw a circuit for an RFI filter for a BC receiver. Draw a key-click filter. Draw a block diagram of a superheterodyne receiver. Draw a schematic of a Clapp oscillator. A Pierce. A Colpitts. How did a Hartley differ? What would be the result in this amplifier schematic if that resistor was shorted? If it were open? What is neutralization? On and on like the babbling brook, but eventually the exam ended and I was soon notified that I was VE1VI.

Now, both Dad and I had Canadian calls, but still couldnít legally put BigRig on the air. Eventually, in 1953, Dad and Mom became citizens, and Dad made a beeline for the FCC office. He came up with W9IVP and BigRig returned to the airwaves from the Chicago QTH.

By now, I was old enough to be more seriously involved with Dadís ham gear, and I undertook several modifications to the transmitter. I remember adding a front-panel adjustment control to the swinging-link antenna coupling to enable changing the antenna loading without having to do it from behind the transmitter. I also remember deciding somewhere that a transmitter would look far more professional if removed from the open relay rack and rebuilt into a closed cabinet. I pestered Dad until he obtained such a cabinet and I made the changeover. More about that one later. I added an audio clipper to the speech amplifier to obtain a higher average audio power and a high-level splatter filter to remain legally narrow with my now-clipped audio. I changed a few pilot lamp jewels for that all-important ďmore professionalĒ appearance, and did whatever maintenance was occasionally required.

I still couldnít operate the rig myself because I had only a Canadian licence, and could not get a U.S. licence because I had elected to remain a Canadian citizen. One day, the new-fangled U.S.-Canadian reciprocity agreement went into effect. It became effective at midnight on some date that I donít now remember. I do remember that at 0900 the next morning, I was in downtown Chicago, pacing in front of the still-locked door at the FCC office, to apply. They didnít know much about it and couldnít answer several questions, but they did have the forms, signed one, and I ran out of the office as VE1VI / W9. In less than an hour, I was on the air. I've long thought that I may have been the very first ham to be on the air under the new reciprocity agreement.

In 1956, I became a U.S. citizen, but rather than going through the bother of taking a U.S. licence exam, I continued to operate as VE1VI / W9. In the spring of 1957, VE1MZ became a silent key. I inherited BigRig and kept it on the air using my reciprocity privileges. For various reasons, in the middle of 1958 I loaded my worldly goods into a U-Haul trailer, left Chicago, and came to Detroit. BigRig came too.


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