M. Kent Miller - Lexington, NC
Pour yourself a cup
and come on in.
We'll talk about radio
as it was back then...


Note: What follows are recollections and photos relating to my nearly 53 years as a ham radio operator. I have posted it for anyone who may have an interest.

Welcome and I sincerely hope that you enjoy it.

How I Started

From the time I was born, I remember my dad often listening to the short wave bands with his Sears AirCastle radio. It sat next to his favorite chair in the den and was on whenever he was in the room. By the time I had grown to the ripe old age of 10, I had, in effect, been an SWL all of my life. Perhaps because of his own enjoyment of SWLing, I had little trouble persuading him I needed a radio of my own for my 10th birthday.

I think I promised to mow the lawn for the rest of my life if I could just get that shiny Hallicrafters S-53A. Well, to make a long story short, I did--and from that point on all other hobbies, including my early favorite-carp fishing, took a back seat to radio. At this time, I didn't know much about hams, but I knew I wanted to be one.

A couple of years later when I found out from a friend about something called a license manual. I spent much of the following summer studying the manual and practicing the code on a doorbell buzzer rigged up to a key. I took the novice test on Valentine's day, 1956 and received my license on March 30. After 4 months of cw on 80 and 40 meters, I took the General exam in August and received the license in September. This was then the premier achievement of my life! I was on the air almost constantly for the next five years. meeting many of the friends who I still cherish today.

Hey now! Isn't this is how a ham station is supposed to look?

My first station as General Class operator back in 1957.
WRL Globe Scout 65, WRL 755 VFO, Hallicrafters SX100,
Astatic Model 200 mike, Vibroplex Blue Racer Bug,
ARRL DX map, and a National Geo map for tracking WAS.

The Young Adult Years

In the fall of 1961, I left home for college after selling all of the old ham gear and buying the latest rig on the market -
a Gonset G-76 transceiver. I bought it because the rig and its power supply would fit nicely into two suitcases; a devoted ham like me was not going off to school without a rig.

A rig fit for a young scholar of the early 60s.

The Gonset G-76 is in the upper left desk opening.

My college experience included a lot of hamming and very little studying, and after three colleges in three years I finally graduated with an associate degree in electronics. I then went to work as a Q. A. technician with a local packaging manufacturer. About the same time, I married a lovely lady and we set out to build our life together.

Hamming was never quite the same after that time; the pressures of house payments, car payments, payments, payments, payments, etc., plus all the new responsibilities really put the squeeze on hamming. I managed to build an assortment of Heathkit rigs through the 1960's and into the 70's, but had little time to use them.

The " Middle years "

By the mid 70's, our family had grown to include a son and daughter. My work switched to a process engineering role and it required long hours, whether on the road or in the office. I retained my equipment and helped set up a couple of local 2 meter repeaters, but otherwise I was almost totally inactive as a ham. I did keep up with the changes in amateur licensing and got my advanced ticket so I could keep my band privileges when incentive licensing came along.

In 1979, my hamming was featured in my company's newsletter.

Involvement with work and family continued through the 80's; I had progressed to Q.A. department supervisor at work and my children, Martin and Ann, were in college and high school. In the early 90's, I renewed my interest in AM equipment and accumulated some nice old gear from the 50's and 60's. As my son and daughter graduated from school, married, and started families of their own, I found myself with a little more time to ham. It felt good to get back on the bands, even though it was a very different world from what it was during the great days of the 50's and 60's.

The " Post Retirement " years -- the Present

Me and my collection of classic radio gear in 1994 ...

On the cover of ER magazine in 1994!

Concluding 30 years with the same employer, I retired at the end of 1995 and moved to a new QTH out in the country where I have plenty of antenna room. That, along with having plenty of time, has enabled me to again become fairly active. Recently most of my on-the-air time has been spent chasing DX - something that I did very little of in my earlier years as a ham.

This was the "AM corner" of the station in 1997,

showing a kinder, gentler old geezer version of K4IHN!

Whereas, this was the "SSB corner" of the station in 1997, operated by friend Genie.

Why does this corner look soooo much better?

The years from 1998 to 2008

My interest in DX' ing increased and interest in old gear and AM operating decreased. I found myself putting together a station with more up-to-date equipment and upgrading antennas. A five year project of antenna improvement resulted in the installation of 3 towers and 15 antennas, covering 160 meters through 432 Mhz. Equipment upgrades included 2 new transceivers and 3 new amplifiers.

Also, along the way, I changed calls; first to W4MKM in 1999 and then to K4MK in 2001. My change to K4MK was made with the thought of having a good short call for contesting, but somehow I have not gotten as enthused about contesting as I thought I would.

Here is what the SSB station looked like in 2002.

The yagi for 75 meters was the most ambitious of the antenna projects. It was completed in 2004. The " DX MAGAZINE " featured it in an article in the August, 2004 issue.

Click here to view the article (requires PDF, use browser Return to get back here)

During the mid and late 1990's and up to the present, my extended family has increased in size to include five grandchildren, ranging in age from 15 to 7 years old. On occasion, some of them have shown an interest in ham radio. Shown below is oldest grandson Tanner, doing a bit of code practice.

The hamshack feline, Gloria, helps keep the station running.
Here she is, doing some repair work on a power supply.

Her associate technician Floyd, also helps out, but prefers frequent breaks for a nap.

In mid-2007, the CQ photographer visited and took pictures for the 2008-2009 CQ calendar. Here are a few of those:



In November , 2007, after ten years of concentrating on the pursuit of DX, I was rewarded with the Honor Roll # 1 award.

During the early part of 2008, changes continue to be made in the shack. The two main transceivers are set up side-by-side for convenience and the amplifiers are placed on the left and right. The larger amplifiers are housed in a cabinet on the left which has auxiliary cooling fans built in.


At the present time, my favorite on-the-air activity continues to be DX' ing. Now at age 67, I look back and recall how much fun and how many wonderful experiences and interesting people that ham radio has exposed me to. My life has been enriched greatly by the hobby.

I thank you for visiting my spot on the web. I hope that you found something of interest. If you'd like to discuss Classic radios, AM operating, DX chasing or any other subject, please e-mail me by clicking the button below.

    73 - Kent K4MK     ex-K4IHN, W4MKM