Winter 2006 Issue

A Tale of Two Meters

Combine nostalgia for a radio once owned by the author with the opportunity to restore another radio of the same model, and you have the tale of how N9XU resurrected his interest in operating on the 2-meter ham band.

By Dave Holdeman, N9XU

The past: It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Shades of Charles Dickensí A Tale of Two Cities, and all that. Seriously, it was early 1974 and I was making good money as a supervisor for AT&T. The Middle East oil embargo was winding down, but there were still spot shortages here and there. It was at this time that I decided to drive up to Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) in Milwaukee and take advantage of a sale on 2-meter gear that they had recently advertised.

I took off for AES at 7 AM on a Monday morning, traveling from my home in Hanover Park, Illinois. Under normal weather conditions the trip should have taken no more than two hours, but I ran into a horizontally blowing ice storm en route that made driving nearly impossible. I arrived at AES at about 1 PM and bought an SBE model SB144óa 12-channel, crystal-controlled 10-watt transceiver with an S-meter, which doubles as a power output indicator.

Shortly after leaving AES, there was a power failure in the southern Wisconsin area, and I was unable to refill the carís gas tank for the trip home because of lack of power at the gas pumps. I was driving on fumes on interstate I-294/94 toward home with my heart in my mouth, and I heard on the car radio that electrical power had just been restored to Union Grove, Wisconsin. Luck was with me, as I spotted the Union Grove exit ramp just ahead. I reasoned that if the power was newly restored, there should be gasoline in town. Sure enough, I coasted into the first gas station I found and the station had plenty of gas. The proprietor said that I was his first customer since the power had been restored.

I arrived safely back home just before dark and installed the radio in my nearly new 1973 Mercury. About two weeks later the radio was stolen from my car before I had much of a chance to enjoy it. It was later recovered and turned over to my insurance company, but thatís another story. It ended up being sold to another ham.

Photo 1. The broken power receptacle on the SB144 was replaced with a small metal plate and rubber grommet.

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