N5TM…. seems like I’ve had that callsign all my life. Actually two thirds of it– since 1976.
I got interested in ham radio when I was about 12 years old. I was a sophomore at a high school in Oklahoma City in 1962. I managed to pass the five wpm code test and novice theory. My first call was WN5DTM.
My attempts at a cw QSO did not go too well. I had a borrowed “regen” receiver and it just didn’t work very well.
A friend of mine had just acquired a Drake 2B (a real Cadillac of a receiver in 1962) and offered to sell me his BC-312 Navy surplus receiver for $30. I put together a 50 Watt oscillator using a 6L6 metal tube and a 40 meter crystal. As luck would have it the frequency was right in the middle of a shortwave broadcast station, so still no luck.
I managed to acquire another 40 meter crystal and started calling cq. The antenna was a home brew 40m dipole at about 10 ft off the ground.
After several nights I got a call back from WN4BRQ, Jim Gerke. Jim was a year older so he had a driver’s license. In about an hour I got a knock on the door Jim and another young ham Cliff Hafen WN5BEK were standing at the door. They said “hi we just worked you”. My first QSO was for a total distance of two miles.
I can still recall being quite surprised as to who was at the door, because I don’t think I copied anything Jim has sent that night on my first QSO.
It did not take long for me to get the hang of operating cw and I even worked the Sweep Stakes contest the next year.
After I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BSEE degree, I moved to Texas where I married my bride, Judy Bradley Bates WB5TFS. We had met at OSU and she had been engaged to Cliff (remember he and Jim knocked on the door). In the 70s I upgraded to Exta Class and in 1976 applied for the vanity call N5TM, keeping the TM from my original call.
I must say, N5TM is the worlds best CW call. Even a rank beginner at field day can copy N5TM.
I am an active member of CWOps #856 and have been a CW Advisor for the Level 1 CW Academy classes for several years.
My latest interest is operating two meter EME. This is a bid challenge when you live on a small city lot.