Early Ham Memories

        1.    My First Receiver - Heath AR-3

\I'm reminded of my experience with the AR-3 which was my first receiver and also the first kit I'd ever built. The year was 1957 and I was a new novice and anxious to get on the air and at least listen to some hams.

Heath AR-3.jpg (71943 bytes)

First time kit-builders sometimes are guilty of skimming over the instructions in order to get to the main project and see it work. I didn't know about trimming the leads on components so all mine were full lead length, just like the day they were manufactured.

I quickly hurried past any cautions and soldered it all together. Amazingly, it lit up and even would receive something, although now I don't remember what I heard. Perhaps it was only noise from the speaker, but it was something. My very first kit and it worked. I was thrilled.

The book suggested that I take it to a ham friend to do the alignment and I knew just the guy, Tommy - W5CFF. He was a member of our small amateur radio club and also worked for the telephone company. Best of all, he had lots of really good test equipment and offered to do the alignment for me. I remember the anticipation as I watch him with my wonderful receiver on his bench as he set about to line it all up. The frown on his face worried me a bit but he continued to work on it.

Finally, he put the tools down and said, "Jim, I can't get it to hold still long enough for me to align." I asked him why and he told me long lead lengths caused it to be unstable. I didn't know a lot about radios then but that didn't sound good.

I said, "What can I do to fix it?" He said, "Well, if it were mine, I'd unsolder everything and start again." He carefully showed me how to use minimum lengths on the components and even showed me how he lined them up so they were going the same direction. He told me that didn't make it work any better but just looked nicer when others viewed my handi-work.

I've never forgotten his excellent advice. I took my spidery-looking AR-3 back home and removed all the soldered-in pieces. I then took my time and rebuilt my receiver kit, but this time, like it was supposed to be. Not surprisingly, it took me quite a bit longer to build it the second time but it sounded, and looked, so much better.

I took it back to Tommy to realign and this time it was solid as a rock....... at least as solid as an AR-3 could be. I used it for several years and it was a great receiver. I would love to have it back now since it still has a special place in my early ham years memory.

----------- Added August 4, 2005