History of 160 Meters including W1BB Stew Perry letters

160 meter History

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My 160 Transmitting Antennas

160 meter Receiving Antennas

160 was the band
that got me
interested in
amateur radio.

I Discovered 160-meters Accidentally

I was around 11 years
old, I read a Popular Electronics
article about
building a 2-meter receiver. Partially understanding
tuned circuits, I started
removing the tuning capacitors plates in
an “All
American Five”
table radio, so it looked like the 2 meter tuning capacitor. (The
American Five
slang for any
receiver using any of the common
five tube line-operated series
filament string.)
When I removed
enough plates to look like the two-meter PE project capacitor, I stated hearing
Hams talking. I thought I
was listening to 2
meters. I heard a local Ham from my neighborhood, Fred
Mahaney, W8IQC, talking on AM phone.

I jumped on my
bicycle and peddled
down to Fred’s
house. Fred’s wife
answered my timid
tap on the door and
ushered me into
Fred’s radio room.
What a sight to
behold! His radio room, while shared with the laundry, had a huge black-crinkle-finish rack with the
biggest tubes I ever saw.
There was an SX-99 on a desk, and a Viking Ranger in the rack with all the large

I explained how I was working on
a receiver, tuning it to two-meters, and how
I heard him on two
meters. Fred thought
a minute, broke into a grin, and
said “I hope
not. I was on
160!” Fred let me listen to, and say hello to the people he was talking to.
It was magic.

That one visit
with Fred convinced
me. I had to get an
amateur license at
any cost. Getting started could have been difficult, but I was determined.

We were a very poor family. From week to week, we barely knew if we would
have enough food, or 35-cents for school lunch. These
was no way my family could
afford Ham gear, so
I had to read, scrounge scrap piles, and
learn how to build
things. My first
transmitter was a
single-stage 6V6GT. It was a single
tube crystal
oscillator with a
pi-network on the
output. I changed the 6V6GT it to a giant tube, a 6L6G, without problem. That
was the start of my hunger for RF power. 🙂 My receivers
were made from scrap
radios recovered
from the local
city dump, near or on Fassett Street, in Toledo. See the
SWL card I sent to
W8JKC in 1963 when I
was 12 and 1/4 
years old (hey, a
1/4 year mattered
back then):

first SWL card W8JI




Fred and others used to joke about working DX on 160 meters. Fred would
sometimes call CQ California on 160, not realizing working California was
actually possible. I remember asking Fred one day if he managed to work
California, and how he chuckled and told me it was impossible. 160 was
considered mainly a local band, good for local ragchews and mobile operation.
160 meters, in Toledo, Ohio’s 1960 Ham-era, was like the two-meter band of today.

I was first
active on 160 meters
in early 63. At that
time LORAN
was on 160. The
power limit was 25
watts night and 100
watts daytime, the
band was restricted
from 1800-1825 kcs
in the area where I
lived. Different
regions of the USA
had different power
limits. California,
for example, was
restricted to
1975-2000 kcs. By
the way, it was
kilocycles per
second back then,
not kilohertz. My
first west coast
contact was with
W6VSS Dale (K6UA)
working split
frequency. Dale was
on 1995 kcs, I was
on 1805 kcs. I’m not sure if Fred ever actually believed I worked Dale.

160 is no longer a local band, and I’ve worked many stations deep in Asia on
160 meters. This even includes several contacts with stations in Mongolia,
several in China, and several in and around India.

Here’s my signal in Mongolia

I still collect
that era.


This page
includes archives of
160 meter history.
You can download
W1BB’s original
newsletters. These
scanned files were
contributed by Rolf
PY1RO and converted
to .pdf files by Ron
PY2FUS. Information
on this page is
intended for private
viewing. Publication
without permission
is prohibited.


of 160

History of 160
in pdf
(large file 170 MB!)







62 to Feb 63


screen at edges and



Hit Countersince
May 2004




©w8ji Mar 2004