Sparks. From childhood I was drawn towards things of science and of technology. In Oroville, when I was in 4-H, in addition to agricultural subjects - including, obviously, my rabbits - I did projects on electricity and on Morse code. Sometime during my high school years, I built a Dynakit valve stereo amplifier. That was, indeed, a very good piece of equipment. Coupled with two mid-range speakers from my father's vending business - he had some jukeboxes that were part of his stable - they became my amplifier for a turntable (purchased) and an AM-FM tuner (built from a Heathkit), which I carried around and used in California (from whenever I built it - perhaps 1959? - until 1966), in Honolulu (1966-73), in Auckland (1973-76), in Yap (1976-84), and in Pukekohe (1984 until it was finally replaced with transistorised equipment, maybe about 1985 or -6). It had a long life and did yeoman's service.
I have built many Heathkit pieces of equipment during my life. When Edna and I lived in Poki Street, I built a television receiver, again Heathkit. In private e-mail Edna has claimed that I never finished it. This doubt is deeply hurtful to me :-) ! (Well, ok, maybe I didn't finish it whilst we still lived together - but I do think I did). Whether then or later, I don't know, but I did, indeed, finish it, and Susan and I hauled it to Auckland in 1973, where I had to fiddle with its tuning to get it to work with New Zealand television signals. Thankfully, that, at least, I did not drag to Yap - I knew there was no television broadcasting in Yap!
And anyway, I had by this time become a broadcaster myself.
Well, not literally broadcasting - unicasting is the term. At some point - and I am pretty sure it was in Poki Street - I acquired an amateur radio operator's ('ham') licence. One reason I am sure that this occurred at Poki Street is because I recall the gear taking over more and more of Edna's living room - much, in fact, as the fish had done in Berkeley.
Your first amateur radio licence is a 'Novice' - and, at least in 1966 or whenever I was licensed, you get a distinctive call sign - sort of like having an 'L' in your car's rear window in modern New Zealand, to broadcast to the world your shame at being a 'Learner.' My novice call was WH6GPC. For the Novice class you just had to be able to copy Morse at 5 words per minute, and are limited to using Morse - no voice. When I was able to master 13 WPM, I was allowed the glory of a real call - KH6GPC.
Amateur radio was something that I stayed with continuously and with considerable dedication right through the end of my time in Honolulu, my and Susan's three years in Auckland, and our eight years in Yap. I have been:
- ZL1AMT ("Able Mable Table")
- KC6JJ (calls in Micronesia are luxury class :-))
- ZL1WW ("Whisky Whisky")
These two years, from mid-1966 through mid-1968, gave me my Master's degree. During this same time, however, some of my reading, and some of my other experiences, were beginning to eat away at the sandy foundation my life was built on.