A 1970 Handbook

While browsing the tables in the Swaps building at Hamcation, the distinctive blue colour of the 1970 ARRL Handbook caught my eye so I had to buy it. I’ve always thought it would be nice to have one from the year I was born so that I could see what amateur radio was like back then.

1970 ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook
1970 ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

I don’t think there’s much difference between the 1970 and 1971 Handbook that I already have, but it’s still a nice one to have.

Orlando Hamcation 2022

Made it back to Hamcation for the first time since my very first trip there in 2013. Like the first time, Hamcation didn’t disappoint. The crowd size seemed pretty respectable for Hamcation, although I don’t really have a good memory of what the crowd was like the first time I went so it’s a bit tough to compare. There were a lot of people moving through the commercial and swaps buildings, but I didn’t feel like I was stepping on anyone making my way through from table to table.

We started the festivities off Thursday (Feb 10) with the 2022 ARRL National Convention, held at a different location from Hamcation. It was a day long affair with four different tracks. Connie and I were in the Handbook track, with talks designed to introduce or remind people about different aspects of amateur radio. There were some good presentations on hunting down radio-frequency interference, Parks On The Air, amateur radio satellites, and remote rig operating.

Friday was the first day of Hamcation. Most of the big name vendors you expect to see at a major hamfest were set up in the Commercial building. Wandered through the Commercial building for a while checking out various offerings. LiFePO4 batteries from a company I hadn’t heard about yet, PO4Power, looked pretty interesting with an integrated LCD screen showing the battery voltage (and maybe other things).

LiFePO4 batteries from PO4Power
LiFePO4 batteries from PO4Power

After going through the Commercial building, we walked over to the Swaps building. Pretty crowded in there with both sellers and shoppers. We made the circuit of the outside tables, I got distracted by a display of handbooks at one of the inside tables and picked up a 1970 ARRL handbook in pretty good shape to add to my collection. Then it was time for a lunch break.

Lunch options at this year’s Hamcation looked pretty decent. There were four different food vendors offering a decent variety of choices. A wood-fired pizza place was set up, so we decided to go for that. Pretty tasty pizza.

Pizza for lunch at Hamcation 2022
Pizza for lunch at Hamcation 2022

After lunch, it was back in to the Swaps building. Lots of people selling in there. Came across a set of tables where two nice ladies had a bunch of components, bins, equipment, and homebrew radios displayed. Turns out they were the wife and daughter of an SK who was a skilled homebrewer and did a lot of work in the radio/EE world. I was looking over the various component bins working out what would be good to add to my collection of bits and pieces and was starting to accumulate a bit of a pile when Connie asked if I’d be interested in taking the whole set of bins (6 in total). The two ladies were a bit surprised that Connie made such a suggestion, but they were very supportive of the idea. I thought about it a bit (mostly thinking about how I was going to find room for everything). Connie said do it, so I said Ok! Took a few trips to get everything out to the car. It will take me a while to go through everything I picked up and figure out what I’ve got (that deserves it’s own blog post), but along with what I already have, now I think I’ve got enough bits and pieces for a lifetime or two of building.

After that, we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel for some much needed rest.

The second day of Hamcation (Saturday), Connie was volunteering at the VE testing session, so I was left to wander Hamcation on my own. Didn’t really notice if the Saturday crowd was bigger because I spent most of my time out in the boneyard. Looked like a lot more cars in the parking area on Day 2 though.

Wandered through the rest of the Swaps building after picking up a few more bits and pieces from the two ladies we bought the bins from. Scored a Digilent Analog Discovery 2 USB oscilloscope at one table for an exceptionally good price.

After that, it was time to wander the boneyard, which felt a lot more expansive than I remember from 2013, although I’m not sure I made it through all of it back then. I spent a good 4 hours wandering through all the boneyard tables (and getting a bit sunburned in the process) and probably could have spent another hour or so revisiting a few of the tables.

Spotted an old Heathkit TC-2 tube tester that looked interesting. The guy selling it told me “That’ll look great in your closet!” He had it marked for $20, I asked if he’d take $10 for it, and he accepted it. I think it will be a fun project to work on.

After Connie was finished with the VE testing session, we met back up for one more quick cruise through the swaps building, and then called it a day.

All in all, it was great getting back to Hamcation. Crowds seemed pretty decent and there was lots of stuff to see. Looking forward to going back next year.

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.

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