A 1926 ARRL Handbook

The capstone for my ARRL Handbook collection is a 1926 first edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook that Connie gave me for Christmas. I happened to see it come up on eBay with an interesting description, and she said “BUY IT.”

This particular Handbook is hardcover bound and embossed with the name of the original owner, Harry T. Carroll/W4AEE.

Hardbound copy of the 1926 First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook.  The name of the original owner, Harry T. Carroll is embossed on the lower right corner of the front cover.
Hardbound copy of the 1926 First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

The Handbook comes with a pretty cool story related to me in a letter (and also part of the eBay listing description) from Harry’s grandson (now W4AEE).

On the title page are the names of three previous owners: Harry T. Carroll/W4AEE, James McKennon/W4ATD, and Wm Ray /W4CUP.

Title page of the First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook with the names of several previous owners: Harry Carroll/W4AEE, James McKennon/W4ATD, and Wm Ray/W4CUP.
Title page of the First Edition ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

Harry/W4AEE was given the Handbook by his father as a birthday present, hardcover bound and with Harry’s name on the front cover.

The front cover bears the name of my grandfather as the original cover did. It was given to him by his father as a 20th birthday present in 1926.

W4AEE, eBay listing description

Harry received this book when it was a brand new publication. What a great birthday present it must have been!

Harry/W4AEE later loaned the book to James McKennon/W4ATD (who perhaps misinterpreted the gesture or just forgot, which might explain why he wrote “Property of W4ATD” on the title page). Harry/W4AEE was later unable to get back in touch with W4ATD to get the handbook back.

A few years later, Harry remembered the loan and wanted to get his handbook back. So, he attempted to contact Jim without success; relatives said Jim had joined the Navy.

W4AEE, personal correspondance

At some point (apparently in 1937), the book ended up in the possession of Wm Ray/W4CUP, who added his name on the title page.

Eventually, after many years and happy circumstance, the handbook found its way to Harry’s grandson:

Many years later, in the 1990s, I was listening to stories being shared by some OMs (old timers) at the Chattanooga Hamfest. The subject turned to old radio books. I mentioned that my granddad had once owned a 1st Edition ARRL Handbook but never saw it again after loaning it out in the early 1930s. One of the men in the group (Bill Ray, W4CUP) asked me my graddad’s name and callsign. I told him and he began to grin and said “I have your granddad’s handbook on the shelf at home! I’ll put it in the mail to you next week!” And, so he did. I had it rebound to match the original black covers that were shelf-worn. It has been with my collection for about 30 years.

W4AEE, eBay listing description

Now it has passed into my care (as the 5th owner) where it will have a special place in my collection. I love the story behind this Handbook as much as I love having it as part of my collection.

Maybe, after a few years or decades, the Handbook will find its way back to Harry’s family. If any of W4AEE’s children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren happen to discover the fun of amateur radio and stumble on this blog post, well, get in touch!

A 1927 ARRL Handbook

A second printing of the 1927 ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook (Second Edition) purchased on eBay rounds out my ARRL Handbook collection.

For a 94 year old book, it’s in remarkably good condition and doesn’t show a whole lot of wear.

The name “John R. Lacy” (or perhaps “John R. Locy”) is written in pencil across the top of the title page inside the front cover. There’s also another name written in pencil on the front cover that’s fainter and difficult to make out.

Another name written on the front cover
Another name written on the front cover

Looks like “Cecil W______”. The rest of the last name is tough to make out. Wonder if this was another person who owned the book.

Other than these two names, I haven’t seen any other writings, notes, or other markings inside the Handbook.

I’m quite happy with this addition to my Handbook collection and now I consider my collection complete. I have at least one handbook from each decade it was published, except for the 2020s. Unless someone has a 2020 – 2022 handbook they give me, the next one I’ll get will be the 2023 ARRL Handbook, which will be the 100th edition. I think the only other Handbook I’d actively look for would be the 1970 Handbook, the year I was born. I won’t seek one out on eBay or anything like this one or the last one, but if I happen to come across one at a hamfest or something for a decent price, I’d probably pick it up.

A 1931 ARRL Handbook

The newest addition to my ARRL Handbook collection is one from 1931, the 8th edition of the ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook.

8th edition of the ARRL Radio Amaateur's Handbook from 1931
8th edition of the ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook from 1931

It’s not in the greatest condition but for a 90 year old book, the condition isn’t too bad considering books like these were meant to be read and re-read. The binding has deteriorated and there are a number of loose pages. I wonder what it would take to preserve the binding or rebind the book.

Compared to recent handbooks and even those from the 1940s and later, this early handbook is quite thin at less than 220 pages.

Table of contents from the 1931 ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook
Table of contents

I haven’t had a chance to look through much of this book yet, but when I do I’ll have to be careful so that I don’t make any more pages fall out.

The Radio Boys and a Handbook

My father-in-law was kind enough to send me a couple of books when he learned about my ARRL Handbook collection.

The first book was a 1956 ARRL Handbook in reasonably decent condition (for a 65 year old book) owned at one point by a Stephen Ray Bird/KN0LES from Nebraska. Tucked away in the pages of the handbook are several papers with handwritten schematics and notes.

One of the papers is an ARRL pamphlet, a reprint from a 1956 QST article titled “Your Novice Accent And What To Do About It” written by Keith Williams/W6DTY. This presumably was something ARRL sent to new hams.

There was also a meeting reminder postcard for the Otoe Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, which perhaps was being used as a bookmark.

Flipping through the book, I can’t help but wonder what KN0LES was doing with the schematics. Was he sketching out circuits to build? Was he using them to study for upgrading his license (I believe KN0LES would have been a Novice class call sign at the time)? I’m perhaps a little more intrigued by these little bits of paper than I am with the handbook itself.

A quick Google search brings up the obituary of a Stephen Ray Bird who died in 2013 in Arizona, was originally from Nebraska, and was also an amateur radio operator (KS7R). An AE7Q lookup also shows he held the call sign K0LES, which leads me to believe that I am now in possession of an ARRL Handbook he once owned. From his obituary, it seems like he was a nice guy.

The other book is “The Radio Boys’ First Wireless” from 1922. It’s not in the greatest condition, but for an almost 100 year old book that has obviously been read quite a bit, it’s in not too bad shape.

Inside the front cover is some handwriting that indicates the book belonged to someone named Rex Buzzett and that this book was a birthday gift in 1923. On the back cover he appears to have written his name, where he lived (Apalachicola, FL), and a date of October 16, 1925.

A Google search brought up a Rex Buzzett Street in Apalachicola as well as a couple of memorial entries for a Julian Rex Buzzett also from Apalachicola FL. Julian Rex Buzzett served in the US Army and was sadly killed during D-Day at Utah Beach. Considering the uniqueness of the name and where they’re both from, I’m guessing this might be the same Rex Buzzett who owned this book. If so, he would have been 9 years old when he was given this book. I wonder if young Rex Buzzett enjoyed reading this book. Did he own others in the series? Julian Rex Buzzett was a first lieutenant and a combat engineer in the US Army. If they’re the same person, did reading about the Radio Boys’ adventures have an influence on him? What did he do before joining the army?

I hadn’t heard of the Radio Boys series until my father-in-law asked us a few years ago to look out for them at hamfests. So far we haven’t found any, so I haven’t had the chance to read any of them until now. Wikipedia tells me that the author, Allen Chapman, was a pseudonym and that the books were written by ghost writers. Interestingly enough, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series of books (which I have heard of and were some of my favourites growing up) was also published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published this Radio Boys series.

This seems like it will be an interesting and fun book to read. The book has seen quite a lot use and I’ll have to be careful reading it. I’m very grateful to my father-in-law for sending this and the Handbook to me.

RFI in the house

Finally had a chance to connect the antenna up to the radio using the coax running through the conduit from the garage side of the house into the shack. Up until now, most of the operating (what little of it there’s been) has been out in the back yard with the radio connected directly to the antenna.

This weekend, I thought I’d give the ARRL November Sweepstakes (Phone) contest a try. After making a 40m contact Sunday morning, I noticed the network had gone down. Discovered the GFCI breaker for the circuit that our service provider’s ONT box is on had tripped. Not entirely positive it was because of me operating on 40m, because I had made a handful of 40m contacts on Saturday without any problems (that we noticed anyway). Seems likely to be an RFI issue though since the network was up just prior to my QSO.

Reset the breaker, got the network back up, and switched over to 20m but then the wife spotted one of her edge lit acrylic signs flickering on and off while I was making another contact and basically turning it into an “On the Air” sign.

Not wanting to risk messing up anything else in the house by overloading them with RF, I wrapped up the ARRL November Sweepstakes contest with 12 contacts in the log and 240 points with most of my contacts from Saturday evening on 40m (40m opens up pretty nicely out to the West coast in the evenings from here).

I’ve had the antenna up a handful of times since we’ve been in the house, but most of my operating has been outside, so any RF-induced problems there might have been in the house have generally gone unnoticed (except maybe for the time the Nest thermostat died). I’m pretty sure the issue is because most of the antenna lays on top of the roof and on the side where most of the wiring is (electrical service entrance, breaker panel, network router, AC unit, etc). Running 100W is probably causing a lot of RF to be coupled into the house wiring.

So it looks like I’ll have to work on changing the antenna situation. Moving the antenna and mast to the fence on the other side of the house would probably get the antenna far enough away to solve most of problem, but then I wouldn’t be able to use the coax running through the conduit without making the coax run a whole lot longer. The mast would also be on the street side of the house making it even more visible when set up. I could also order a ton of ferrite chokes to put on pretty much any current carrying wire in the house (that could get pretty expensive). I guess I could also take my operations portable and head out into the field or a park.