80 Years in Radio

Bruce Vaughan – NR5Q – Silent Key 

One of Bruce’s many passions was writing and it was his wish that his family continue to sell his books.  You can buy a copy here:  Electric Radio Magazine.   He wanted to continue to share his love of life, learning, radio, and technology.  Please enjoy viewing this site that he created.

How do you condense 80 years of radio into an opening statement for a web page?  I doubt that it is possible. Therefore I will show you some building efforts, offer a few thoughts about Amateur Radio, and take you inside my shack.  If you love radio, you will get the message—if you are not among the lucky few who enjoy communicating with Hams all over the world, my words will be wasted.  I sincerely hope those among you who are amazed that a hat-full of old parts can be connected in such a way that you can hear short wave stations from around the world will find these pages enjoyable.

My first radio two-way communication was with an Allied Radio five meter transceiver.  It was not mine—I borrowed it from a friend who had fifteen bucks for the kit.  As I remember it, the transceiver used a single 19 tube. My best DX with this illegal operation was a few feet short of two blocks.

My “station” was closed down when some kill-joy told me that I was breaking the law—that an Amateur radio license was needed to operate any radio station. My friend could offer little help on how to secure such a license.  When I was fifteen years old we moved to Springdale, Arkansas—a hotbed of Amateur Radio activity with six licensed hams. In December of 1938, my first Amateur Radio License, W5HTX, arrived in the mail. I went on the air with a 47 Crystal Oscillator driving a pair of 45s. I told other hams I was running forty watts.  I realize now I probably stretched my power input by at least 20 watts.  Within a year I added a final amp running a pair of T-40s and used my 20 watt rig as a driver.

Good credit with Bob Henry enabled me to buy a Hallicrafters Sky Buddy S-19R, and later a Breting 9 that was sold on a closeout price of $44.50.  I paid it off in 12 payments.

After WWII, I returned to college.  I found I no longer felt at ease surrounded by what seemed like very young people.  I sealed my future when I told my French teacher that if he spoke French in France the way he spoke it in the classroom he could not order a beer in a bar.  The students thought it funny—the professor did not laugh.

I opened a radio repair shop with my savings from the service—seven hundred dollars total. 

Some sixty years later I was still “pounding brass.”  I never cared much for phone operation.  In the late forties, I did do a bit of ten meter and seventy-five meter AM operation.  As often happens, my station kept growing.  



This wall of the shack is mostly for home-built and classic gear.  The desk under the window and a bit to the right is a Corsair II, Kenwood 930, and Ten Tec Omni.  Power is boosted by a homebrew amp with three 813 tubes, a Hallicrafters “Loudenboomer,” and a Henry 2-KD.  Equipment comes and goes—the station stays in a state of flux. 


Another view of my shack.  The bare desk in the foreground is now supporting a SX-101 and a NC-240-D.


Boxer Zak and I waiting for the new cycle so we can work some DX.

Gina, the cat, was tossed out in the city park when she was 10 days old. My wife brought her home because she was starving. We agreed to keep the kitten until we found a home for her. That was a number of years ago. She and I are taking it easy—growing older—still waiting for sunspots.