1952/1955: The CQ Twins (Clint, W9AV & Quent, W6RI)

1966: Brian Wood, W0DZ

1961: Richard Pumphrey, WN9DDV

1962, Walt Beverly, W4GV

1961: Rick Roznoy, K1OF

1962, Steve Meyers, W0AZ

1951: Bill Weinhardt, W9PPG

1955: Paul Johnston, W9PJ

1964: Michael Betz, WB8ZFQ.

1967: Pete Malvasi, W2PM

1962: Terry Schieler, W0FM

1969: John Kosmak, W3IK

1953: Dan Girand, W5ARB

1975: David Collingham, K3LP

1961: Jim Cain, K1TN

1957: Bill Tippett, W4ZV

1961: Bob Lightner, W4GJ

1956: Bernie Huth, W4BGH

1952: Dick Bender, W3SYY

1951: Dale Bredon, W6BGK

1963: "Sig" Signer, NV7E

1958: Jeff Lackey, K8CQ

1953: Dan Bathker, K6BLG

1961: Rick Tavan, N6XI

1956: Bill Penhallegon, W4STX

1958: John Miller, K6MM

1959/1993: Tom Carter, KC2GEP

1966: Kelly Klaas, K7SU

1976: Mary Moore, WX4MM

1970: David Kazan, AD8Y

1957: Paula Keiser, K8PK

1971: Charles Ahlgren, WB6IYM

1952: Tom Webb, W4YOK

1964: License Manual - Chapter 2, Novice

1964: Advertisements

1970: Jim Zimmerman, N6KZ

1987: Matt Cassarino, WV1K

More - Mike Branca, W3IRZ (sk)

1953: Bill Bell, KN2CZZ

1952: Ron D' Eau Claire, AC7AC

History - 1950s: The Beginning

History - 1960s: Mid-Peak

History - 1970s: Late Peak

(sample story) My Elmer

1954: Novice Logbook (Dick Zalewski, W7ZR)

1961: Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA

1953: George Marko, K2DWL

1964: How to Become a Radio Amateur

1967: ARRL Handbook

1963: Learning the Radiotelegraph Code

1955: Jack Burks, K4CNW

1979: Ann Santos, WA1S

1952: Ron Baker, WA6AZN

Welcome to the Novice Historical Society Home Page!

1952/1955: The CQ Twins (Clint, W9AV & Quent, W6RI)

1956: Mike Branca, W3IRZ

1959: Don Minkoff, NK6A

History - 1980s: Early-Decline

1990-2000: The End

1976, Rick Palm, K1CE

1978: Larry Makoski, W2LJ

1961: Gary Yantis, W0TM

1955: Al Cammarata, W3AWU

1951: Bob McDonald, W4DYF

1951: Charlie Curle, AD4F

1953: Kenny Cassidy, WN2WNC

1951: Jim Franklin, K4TMJ

1953: Rick Faust, N2RF

1973: Greg Harris, WB9MII

1957: Mickey LeBoeuf, K5ML

1957: Jim Cadien, KC7ZMV

1976: Tom Fagan, K7DF

1953: Fred Jensen, K6DGW

1957: Tony Rogozinski, W4OI

1961, Novice Roundup Award (Art Mouton, K5FNQ)

1956: Woody Pope, ex-KN5GCM

1967: Larry Rybacki, WA2ARA

1955: Gene Schonrock, W6EAJ

1955: Dave Germeyer, W3BJG

1983: Harry Weiss, KA3NZR

1970: Paul Huff, N8XMS

1976: John Yasuda, WB6PTC

1953: Alvin Burgland, W6WJ

1966: Neil Friedman, N3DF

1976: Lyle Heide, WB9VTM

1968: Leigh Klotz, Sr., N5LK

1956: Ken Barber, W2DTC

1977: Keith Darwin, N1AS

1959: Tom Wilson, K7FA

1956: Wayne Beck, K5MB

1984: Paul Conant, WQ5X

1970: Ward Silver, N0AX

1982: Christopher Horne, W4CXH

1953: Paul Signorelli, W0RW

1954: Ray Cadmus, W0PFO

1957: Norm Goodkin, K6YXH

1959: Glen Zook, K9STH

1970: Ken Brown, N6KB

1962: Fred Merkel, AK7D

1972: Rob Atkinson, K5UJ

1955: David Quagiana, K2MTW

1952: Sam Whitley, K5SW

1967: Frequency Chart

1983: William Wilson, AB0VG

1953: Jim Brown, W5ZIT

1958: Al Burnham, K6RIM

1952: Gary Borri, K9DBR

1961: Bill Husted, KQ4YA

1955: Dan Schobert, W9MFG

1976: Charles Bibb, K5ZK

1979: Bill Brown, KA6KBC

1965: Ken Widelitz, K6LA / VY2TT

1975: Tim Madden, KI4TG

1972: Steve Ewald, WV1X

1969: Mike "Jug" Jogoleff, WA6MBZ

1964: Phil Salas, AD5X

1954: John Johnston, W3BE

1968: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU

1975: Last of the Distinct Novice Callsigns (Cliff Cheng, AC6C; ex-WN6JPA)

1987: Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV

1966: Tom Morgan, AF4HL

1954: Dan Smith, K6PRK

1954: Novice Callsign History License (Dan, K6PRK's License)

1975: First of the Non-distinct Novice Callsigns (Cliff Cheng, AC6C; ex-WA6JPA)

1957: Doug Millar, K6JEY

1954: Dick Zalewski, W7ZR

1962: Steve Pink, KF1Y

1975: Cliff Cheng, AC6C

1966: Tom Napier, AI4QV

1965: Novice Code Test (Ken Widelitz, K6LA / VY2TT)

1954: Bob Brown, W4YFJ

1977: Russ Roberts, KH6JRM

1958: Jeff Wolf, K6JW

1964: John Shidler, NS5Z

1972: Rick Andersen, KE3IJ

1977: Barry Whittemore, WB1EDI

1967: Grover Cordell, WB5FSP

1959: Val Erwin, W5PUT

1953: Bob Rolfness, W7AVK

1953: Paul Danzer, N1ii

1969: Dennis Kidder, W6DQ

1971: Jonathan Kramer, W6JLK

1959: Chas Shinn, W7MAP/5

1961: Mark Nelson, AJ2K

1978: Alice King, AI4K

1965: Gary Pearce, KN4AQ

1988: James Kern, KB2FCV

1958: Jay Slough, K4ZLE

1954: L.B. Cebik, W4RNL (sk)

1997: Novice Question Pool.

1952: Steve Jensen, W6RHM

1989: Michael Tracy, KC1SX

1979: Matt Tinker, AA8P

1965: Dan Gaylord, W7IDG

1956: Chuck Counselman, W1HIS

1976: Scott McMullen, W5ESE

1961: Joe Park, WB6AGR

1955: Jack Schmidling, K9ACT

1969: Bill Continelli, W2XOY

1962: Bob Roske, N0UF

1963: Glenn Kurzenknabe, K3SWZ

1969: Phyllis Webb, WN4IIF

1956: Dan Cron, W6SBE

1954: Carl Yaffey, K8NU

1967: Ted White, N8TW

1982: Penny Cron, W6SBE

1961, Kent Gardner, WA7AHY

1970: Brad Bradfield, W5CGH

1976: Steve Melachrinos, W3HF

1994: Brian Lamb, KE4QZB

1958: Operating an Amateur Radio Station

1965: AL LaPeter, W2AS

1961: Rick Swain, KK8o

1956: Keith Synder, KE7IOW

1951: Elmer Harger, N7EL

1987: Lou Giovannetti, KB2DHG

1966: Dave Fuseler, NJ4F

1976: Marcel Livesay, N5VU

1965: Bob Jameson, N3LNP

1951: Byron Engen, W4EBA

1956: Cam Harriot, KI6WK

1965: FCC Exam Schedule

1962: Joe Trombino, W2KJ

1956: Ray Colbert, W5XE

1964: Geoff Allsup, W1OH

1977: Tom Herold, N9BUL

1951: Hank Greeb, N8XX

1959: Dean Straw, N6BV

1970: Alan Applegate, K0BG

1957: Richard Cohen, K6DBR

1971: Ronald Erickson, K0IC

1965: Jan Perkins, N6AW

1953: Charlie Lofgren, W6JJZ

1960: Art Mouton, K5FNQ

1955: Dan Marks, ex-K6IQF

1958: Mike Chernus, K6PZN

1960: Bob Silverman, WA6MRK

1951: Richard Schachter, W6HHI

1953: Joe Montgomery, W1DWJ

1958: Richard Dillman, W6AWO

1968: Bob Dunn, K5IQ

1988: Jamie Markowitz, AA6TH

1952: Jim Leighty, W6UJX

1955: Matt Wheaton, W1EMM

1957: Dick Newsome, W0HXL

1956: Slim Copeland, K4KCS

1959, 1993: Tom Carter, KC2GEP

1968: Bill Byrnes, AB9BD

1971: Jeff Angus, WA6FWI

1956: Dean Norris, K7NO

1972: Dennis Drew, W7RVR

1958: Stan Miln, K6RMR

1958: George Ison, K4ZMI

1978: Fred Soper, KC8FS

1956: John Fuller, K4HQK

1961: Riley Hollingswworth, K4ZDH


1952/1955: The CQ Twins (Clint, W9AV & Quent, W6RI)

Quent Cassen, W6RI (ex-WN4YMG, 1952) and Clint Sprott, W9AV (ex-KN4BOM, 1955)

The year was 1955. Dwight Eisenhower was president, and it was a much simpler time, especially in Memphis, Tennessee where 12-year-old Clint Sprott (ex-KN4BOM) has just received his Novice ham license in the mail. Two years earlier, 11-year old Quent Cassen (ex-WN4YMG) had also become a Novice. Within the year Clint and Quent had upgraded to Generals and became lifelong friends, sometimes called the “CQ twins” by local hams during their teenage years.


Their early ham days were spent on 40 meters with low-power homebrew CW transmitters. Hams built a lot of their own equipment in those days, especially teenagers on weekly allowances. Clint mowed lawns, and Quent had a paper route to make enough money to buy the parts to assemble their early equipment. Quent had a Hallicrafters S-40B receiver, purchased from Sears, and Clint used a National NC-98 receiver that Santa Claus had left under the tree. Clint remembers the trepidation with which he made his first QSO on January 17, 1955 with K4ASL, nearly a mile away, on the 40-meter CW Novice band. Quent remembers yelling to his mom “What should I tell him?” when it was his turn to transmit.



Ham radio in the 1950s was quite different from today. There was the thrill of listening to the first satellite to orbit the Earth, Sputnik 1, launched by Russia in October 1957. Sputnik was easy to tune in (click here to hear what it sounded like) since it transmitted at 20.007 MHz, just above WWV. Receivers weren’t so good in those days, and it helped to have WWV as a marker to find the right frequency. Probably the Russians did that on purpose lest we fail to notice. Propagation was so good in 1957 that one could hear Sputnik much of the way around the Earth during some passes. Sometimes one could go outdoors and see the satellite pass overhead just after dusk. There was a 1 kHz Doppler shift on the Sputnik signal as it passed, but the receivers that teenagers could afford weren’t stable enough to notice it.



They were surprised how easy it was to work DX with very modest equipment. Ten-meter CW was really hot. On the weekends they would get up early and work one European station after another, staying with it all day until stations from Australia and Japan would start to come in just before 10 meters went dead in the evening. The world seemed a very big place to two kids who hadn’t ventured very far from home. What they didn’t know was that sunspot cycle 19, which peaked in 1957, still stands as the all-time record. DX contests were a thrill for them. By 1959, they both had their DXCC certificates and many other operating awards.



Before they were old enough to drive, they converted a Heathkit 11-meter Citizens’ Band transceiver to 10 meters and mounted it on Quent’s bicycle. The equipment was all vacuum tubes, and so they had to convert the output of a small wet cell battery to high voltage DC to power the tubes. The bicycle had an 8-foot whip antenna on the back, constructed from an old fishing pole. It was fun working locals as well as DX on 10 meters with only 5 watts while pedaling down the street. Everyone thought they were crazy. Why would anyone want their own personal communicator to take with them in their vehicle?



While still in high school each built his own Heathkit DX-100 transmitter. This photo is of Clint in his basement shack, in front of his DX-100. They built many other pieces of Heath equipment – receivers, transmitters, and test equipment. Allied Radio in Chicago (via mail order) and the local ham emporiums in Memphis (Bluff City and W&W) soaked up a lot of their allowances. They occasionally used the popular World War II ARC-5 Command Set equipment that was readily available and easily adapted for use on the ham bands.


They acquired many inexpensive components from Lazarov Surplus Sales in Memphis, which sold parts by the pound. Clint remembers clipping resistors out of some of the equipment so they didn’t have to pay for the weight of the unneeded chassis. Can you blame the workers for being annoyed with them?  Much of the war surplus electronics was designed for 24-volt military equipment, but they occasionally found 12-volt amplifier vacuum tubes (1625s) and dynamotors which were the standard way to produce the hundreds of volts needed to power the AM vacuum tube transmitters that some hams put in their cars. They each built 10-meter AM mobile transmitters for their cars, at a time when they were too young to drive. Clint still has an operating version of one of those almost 50 years later! The other transmitter, unfortunately, went up in flames years later while his mother was driving the car after Clint went off to college.



CW came easy to them, probably because they started so young. They both used mechanical bugs for sending code, and Clint built an electronic keyer using vacuum tubes, but it never quite worked right, sometimes running away and sending things never intended. They got code proficiency certificates for 35 WPM, which was the highest speed for which the ARRL tested. They were asked to teach the code to adults who were studying for their General license at the local ham school. They would record code practice sessions at 30 WPM on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and play it back at half speed for their students to practice so that it didn’t take so long to prepare the lesson. To keep secrets from their parents, they occasionally “spoke” to one another in Morse code. Not exactly the same as the Navajo code talkers you’ve seen in the movies, but you get the idea.



Field Day was always a summer highlight. They often operated W4EM, the club station of the Mid-South Amateur Radio Association (MARA) in Memphis. Quent is tuning the Collins 75A-3 in this picture, and Clint’s hand is on the Johnson Viking II transmitter. While still in high school, one Field Day they set up their own station deep in the woods in Overton Park and stayed up all night operating.



Biweekly transmitter hunts were very popular in the late 50s in Memphis. This photo shows Quent (at right car door) and Clint (at left car door) of Clint’s mother’s car before the start of a rabbit hunt. Can you imagine what Clint’s mother said after she found out that he had drilled a hole in the top of her brand new 1956 Buick Special! Reluctantly she agreed that it was better to plug the hole with a 2-meter antenna than just to leave it. This photo shows Quent’s dad, Frank Cassen, W4WBK, recording Clint’s mileage before the start of a hunt.



Although transmitter hunts were conducted on 10 meters, the 2-meter antenna was used for VHF communication using retired vacuum tube taxicab radios that they converted to 2 meters. The receiver and transmitter took up most of the trunk space. That was before the days of 2-meter repeaters and commercial solid-state ham transceivers.


They used 29.627 MHz for the “Memphis 10 Meter Mobile Emergency Net.” Everyone was crystal controlled since 7406.6 kHz quartz crystals were easy to get from surplus outlets and VFOs weren’t so stable on 10 meters or even common on inexpensive and homebrew equipment. The net met faithfully on Monday and Friday nights, although it seemed no one ever had any traffic. Nevertheless, the operators and equipment were well prepared for the many drills that they took part in.



Once while at Clint’s parents’ lake home on Pickwick Lake in northeast Mississippi, they decided to go on a DXpedition of sorts. They overloaded Clint’s dad’s small boat with a gasoline-powered AC generator, a large vacuum tube receiver (SX-100), an Eldico CW transmitter, and a dipole antenna, and set up shop on a tiny island in the Tennessee River, near the dividing line between Tennessee and Mississippi – all for the chance to sign K4BOM/4/5 on the air and pretend they were DX. The pileups were feeble (nonexistent, really), but it was their first time to be on the “wanted” end of a DXpedition after working so many others. Miraculously, they got back to shore without losing any equipment despite the very rough seas.



One might think that they always walked the straight and narrow, but unfortunately “boys will be boys.” Quent had a receiver that could tune to the local police and fire department, and Clint bought at a police auction for $5 a vacuum tube receiver that was on a police motorcycle that had been submerged for a month in the Mississippi River and nursed it back to health. They would often converge on the scene of local calls, first on bicycle and later by car after getting their drivers licenses at age 16. Some of the police began to know them. They used to occasionally visit the police dispatcher and help him dispatch cars. They once inquired about getting summer jobs as police dispatchers but were told that one had to be 21 years old to work for the police department, and so Quent took a summer job with the electric company and Clint delivered packages for his dad’s office supply company.



After high school they both went on to college. Clint became a physics professor and Quent an electronics engineer. They have been involved in a lot of interesting technical work in their careers. Without doubt, their start in ham radio with the Novice license opened many doors and launched them into their interesting and rewarding careers.

Photos Courtesy: W4BAQ.   

(c) 2008 Cliff Cheng, Ph.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!