160 meter History
160 was the band that got me interested in amateur radio.
I Discovered 160-meters Accidentally
When I was around 11 years old, I read a Popular Electronics article about building a 2-meter receiver. Partially understanding tuned circuits, I started removing the tuning capacitors plates in an "All American Five" table radio, so it looked like the 2 meter tuning capacitor. (The All American Five was slang for any receiver using any of the common five tube line-operated series filament string.) When I removed enough plates to look like the two-meter PE project capacitor, I stated hearing Hams talking. I thought I was listening to 2 meters. I heard a local Ham from my neighborhood, Fred Mahaney, W8IQC, talking on AM phone.
I jumped on my bicycle and peddled down to Fred's house. Fred's wife answered my timid tap on the door and ushered me into Fred's radio room. What a sight to behold! His radio room, while shared with the laundry, had a huge black-crinkle-finish rack with the biggest tubes I ever saw. There was an SX-99 on a desk, and a Viking Ranger in the rack with all the large tubes.
I explained how I was working on a receiver, tuning it to two-meters, and how I heard him on two meters. Fred thought a minute, broke into a grin, and said "I hope not. I was on 160!" Fred let me listen to, and say hello to the people he was talking to. It was magic.
That one visit with Fred convinced me. I had to get an amateur license at any cost. Getting started could have been difficult, but I was determined.
We were a very poor family. From week to week, we barely knew if we would have enough food, or 35-cents for school lunch. These was no way my family could afford Ham gear, so I had to read, scrounge scrap piles, and learn how to build things. My first transmitter was a single-stage 6V6GT. It was a single tube crystal oscillator with a pi-network on the output. I changed the 6V6GT it to a giant tube, a 6L6G, without problem. That was the start of my hunger for RF power. :-) My receivers were made from scrap radios recovered from the local city dump, near or on Fassett Street, in Toledo. See the SWL card I sent to W8JKC in 1963 when I was 12 and 1/4 years old (hey, a 1/4 year mattered back then):
Fred and others used to joke about working DX on 160 meters. Fred would sometimes call CQ California on 160, not realizing working California was actually possible. I remember asking Fred one day if he managed to work California, and how he chuckled and told me it was impossible. 160 was considered mainly a local band, good for local ragchews and mobile operation. 160 meters, in Toledo, Ohio's 1960 Ham-era, was like the two-meter band of today.
I was first active on 160 meters in early 63. At that time LORAN was on 160. The power limit was 25 watts night and 100 watts daytime, the band was restricted from 1800-1825 kcs in the area where I lived. Different regions of the USA had different power limits. California, for example, was restricted to 1975-2000 kcs. By the way, it was kilocycles per second back then, not kilohertz. My first west coast contact was with W6VSS Dale (K6UA) working split frequency. Dale was on 1995 kcs, I was on 1805 kcs. I'm not sure if Fred ever actually believed I worked Dale.
160 is no longer a local band, and I've worked many stations deep in Asia on 160 meters. This even includes several contacts with stations in Mongolia, several in China, and several in and around India.
Here's my signal in Mongolia.
I still collect boatanchors from that era.
160 Meter Newsletters
This page includes archives of 160 meter history. You can download W1BB's original newsletters. These scanned files were contributed by Rolf PY1RO and converted to .pdf files by Ron PY2FUS. Information on this page is intended for private viewing. Publication without permission is prohibited.
History of 160 (about 15MB)
Fully History of 160 in pdf (large file 170 MB!)
Feb 1962 Bulletin
April 1962 Bulletin
October 1962 Bulletin
December 1962 Bulletin
Dec 62 to Feb 63 Letter
1963? Letter (off screen at edges and incomplete)
since May 2004
©w8ji Mar 2004