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100 Years of W7QC

My dad, Harold Buroker, was the original W7QC. He was born in 1901 the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters in a small town in southeastern Washington. He worked on the family farm and attended school in Waitsburg, WA. He graduated High School in 1919 and by 1921 had obtained an amateur radio license with the call of W7QC. It was common in those days to shorten the calls by removing the letter ‘W’ so his contacts used just 7QC.


First W7QC QSL Card


I have some of his early license certificates dating back to 1924. He was known to be a bit of a tinkerer and by 1923 he had assembled his own spark station. This was quite an accomplishment considering he had no formal training and this was before Radio Shack and Allied Radio were available. This was a remarkable achievement for a high-school graduate in rural Washington state. I remember seeing that very station in the attic of our shop.


First W7QC Station


Since he had knowledge of radio and electricity, in the early 20’s he was hired to be the electrician at a mine in northern Idaho – Continental Mine. It was a lead and silver mine in a very remote area near the Canadian border and about 30 miles from the small town of Bonners Ferry. By this time, he had married my mother, Fay, and my sister, Phyllis was born. Dad, mom and Phyllis moved into a house at the Continental Mine. The mine operated year-round and it was high and remote and if you were there in the winter you were there for the winter. I have a picture of him standing next to a Grizzly bear he had shot while at the mine.


Early W7QC Stations


I was born in the early 40’s and my earliest memory of anything related to radio was when I was 7 or 8. I remember a dedicated “Radio Room” but probably wasn’t allowed to go there. Since there was an executive order to dismantle radios and antennas during WW2, I don’t remember any activity related to radio.

I learned the code in boy scouts and my friends Garry Allan and Phillip Ray learned it with me. I remember we strung up a wire between our houses using existing utility poles as supports and were able to key the buzzers in the others house and carry-on conversations and improve our skills. By age 10, I was well aware of the Radio Room and convinced my dad to show me how it worked. He built a regenerative receiver for me so I could listen to shortwave although I was still not allowed to go in the Radio Room.

I became aware of the Novice license in 1953 when I was 11. The code requirement was 5 WPM and the theory was pretty basic and I knew I could pass the test. Since we were more than 100 miles from Spokane and the nearest examination station, my dad was allowed to administer the test. After waiting about a month, my novice ticket arrived (WN7VMF) and I was allowed to transmit using a crystal-controlled transmitter running 75 watts or less on CW-only on frequencies of 3700-3750, 7150-7200 and 21100-21145. My dad had put together a BC-454 and ARC-5 on a single chassis with a power supply and an antenna tuner. We used carborundum and dimethyl chloride to grind and clean a single crystal which came out with a frequency of 3712.5 and found that the ARC-5 would put out 40 watts.

With my dad’s encouragement I fell in love with CW and was on the air as much as time would allow and my code speed quickly increased to 20+ WPM and I upgraded after 3 months to W7VMF. I now had my eye on my dad’s station. He had three open racks of equipment for a transmitter with a bank of light switches that I had no idea what they were for. There was an exciter with plug-in coils that would operate on 80 through 10 if you could understand how to get the doubling to work. It used a pair of 812A tubes and had a homemade 20-meter beam that he had made out of 2 X 4 lumber and electrical conduit and mounted it on a utility pole. I was content to stay on 20 CW which was a far cry from 40 watts on 3712.5. His receiver was an RME-69.


RME 69


Even though there was a microphone and what he said was a speech processor on the operating desk, he told me that the modulation transformer was burned out and that it would only work on CW. I never did verify that and to this day I don’t know if he was telling me the truth or if he just wanted me to stay on CW – I suspect the latter.

My dad had a long successful career as manager of the Bonners Ferry Light and Water Department. Among his accomplishments was his effort to build a hydroelectric dam on the Moyie River which provided enough power to run the city as well as around $100,000 per year into the city coffers from selling excess power to Bonneville.


Moyie Dam


Since Bonners Ferry is 100+ miles from the nearest TV station in Spokane, getting a picture in town was nearly impossible. I remember my dad and several neighbors chipped in and erected an array of six phased multi-element Yagi antennas pointed at Spokane. Later on, they formed the Bonners Ferry Translator Association and erected a building, antennas and translator equipment on a 6000-foot mountain which would receive channels 4, 5 and 7 and retransmit them on 9, 11 and 13.

I left for college in 1959 and moved to Seattle after graduation to work for Boeing. I maintained a station and had frequent contacts with my dad – on CW of course. He became a SK in 1987. I traded in W7VMF for W7QC in 1995 when the FCC opened up the vanity window for the second time.

On his gravestone is the subtle message – “73.”