Strays—The Twenties Begin

If you’ve been following along you know that strays is a word hams used in the early years to mean static or other noises caused mostly by nature that would interfere with reception of signals. QST adopted the word as a heading for a collection of unrelated short topics of interest. In the first issues they were all grouped together and sometimes would take up a full page or more. Today, Strays lives on in QST, but distributed around the … Continue reading

Spark to CW

Through the years, starting well before the war, amateurs occasionally had discussed undamped oscillations and how Audions could be used to detect them.1 By summer 1916 a government radio inspector was predicting that in five years most amateurs would be using undamped waves.2 QST noted that with the influx of “mature men” and a willingness to spend more (around $250) on equipment, it was just a matter of time before a “Mr. Undamped Wave” would appear and lead the way. … Continue reading

Naval Maneuvers

Despite the political and regulatory-control disputes between amateurs and the Secretary, the Navy well understood how much it had benefited from all the trained amateurs ready to volunteer for service during the war and the likelihood of needing them again someday. In August the Navy announced it would begin broadcasting test messages containing weather information and text for code-copying practice at 15 and 25 words per minute every night on 476 meters from NAJ, the Great Lakes station, “in order … Continue reading

Waking Up

As amateur stations fell silent, the airwaves continued to carry commercial and military signals, many from the fingertips of former radio amateurs. But despite their contributions there were some in government who still sought to limit or eliminate the use of wireless by private individuals. As the battles ceased in Europe, amateur radio came under renewed attack at home. Bills introduced in both houses of Congress shortly after the armistice sought to turn control of all use of radio over … Continue reading

Shut Down and Called Up

With ham radio shut down completely by the war, The Old Man was back the following month with an article titled simply “Rotten !!” which is what he thought of the closing of amateur stations, finding that he no longer had anything to do in the evenings.1 What was the harm, he asked, in allowing us to at least listen? One compensation for him had been an increase in the activity (meetings) of the local radio club. Despite the good … Continue reading

Aerials, Attachments, and Audibility

Aside from the spark gap, the aerial was then, as the antenna system is today, a source of intense interest and experimentation. Aerials partly governed resonance in both transmitter and receiver, and therefore played an integral part in determining the wavelength of operation. In QST, The Old Man advised that amateurs should not simply make aerials as long as possible but stick with lengths of around 175 meters with short lead-in and ground connections, so as to stay close to … Continue reading

Humor, Poetry, and Rotten Rants

Humor played a prominent role in QST from its first issue, born of the evident joy hams derived in pursuing their passion for radio. The first curious attempt, in the first issue, two pages from the back cover, was not an article at all but a reprinted letter. It had been sent in by a Japanese radio student, identified only as Kathis Kathan, of Hynacus, who attempted to ask a technical question in painstaking, but painfully broken English—the main source … Continue reading