NCSSB History by "AL" Alred - NCSSB Recollections

K4ZKQ – “Al”

I joined this net in early 1960. At that time it was already a very active group of hams who saw suppressed-carrier side band transmissions to be a more effective use of the radio frequency spectrum. I think that we can safely accept the premise that this net was established at least as early as 1958. Its organizational stature in early 1960 and the fact that the South Carolina Single Side Band Net celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in April 2008 led me to that premise.

In the early days, all hams did not welcome suppressed-carrier side band transmissions. Not all ham operators had receivers that would tune the SSB signal appropriately. Thus they described what they heard as being “Donald Duck” or “Mickey Mouse” chatter. Those detractors had some very un-complimentary definitions for the initials “SSB.” But gradually SSB became the predominant operating mode for the high-frequency spectrum.

My “Elmer” was W4DCL, “Doc.” In his professional life, he was an outstanding general surgeon in Greensboro. As a ham radio operator he had an excellent station. If he appeared sleepy during the day, he simply told the nurses that he operated most of the night. One nurse told me that they would not ask which kind of operating had kept him from sleeping.

His receiver was a Collins 75A(4). I think that his transmitting set-up started with a Central Electronics exciter. I don’t remember if he had an amplifier behind it. He encouraged me to begin with SSB capability. So after operating initially in the novice bands with the prerequisite CW operation (using a 60-watt transmitter borrowed from him), I put a Gonset GSB 100 on the air with 100 watts input of SSB signals on Christmas Day, 1959. The rig used a 6DQ5 sweep tube for its final output, drawing 160 milliamps at 600 volts on the plate.

My receiver was a Hammarlund HQ 170C. The “C” indicates a clock that could be preset to turn the receiver on for a warm-up cycle to gain better stability before operating.

In addition to 3.938 megahertz being the gathering place for North Carolina hams operating on SSB, several hams from Virginia were also regular participants.


For several years the NC SSBN on 3.938 megahertz was a member of the National Traffic System. The North Carolina Tar Heel Emergency Net on 3.923 megahertz also participated in the NTS. Eventually NTS designated the NC THEN as North Carolina’s NTS representative. Being removed from the NTS did not reduce the activities of the NC SSBN.



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