Many, many years ago, in a land far away, a wonderful day dawned in November, 1962.
I received a telephone call from the local branch post office: "Mr. Farson, your amateur radio licence is here. Please stop in and pick it up, and pay the fee." So now I was ZS1ZG. And I was QRV on 80 and 40m CW, with a clean, working WS62 which had cost me all of two pounds (about $5.50) at a surplus dealer's. I also had my faithful SWL receiver, an R1155B with a homebrew mains PSU.
So all in a whirl, it was off to the post office with my buddy who was soon to become ZS1ZS, rush back to the student dorm, licence in hand, grab the W.S.62, hook up the key (a beautiful ex-Royal Navy job), long-wire aerial and battery, call CQ on 3510. All of 5W! No joy. Try 40m; CQ on 7020. Silence. Eventually the battery discharged. My buddy looked at me in disgust; "Come on...let's build a 20m transmitter and get on a REAL band with some REAL power!"
So back to the "bench" (actually my student desk), grab an ARC-5 transmitter (they cost all of $1.00 each at the surplus store) and a soldering iron, and get cracking. That was at 1300. By 1600 we had a working, crystal-controlled, 50W input, 6AG7-1625 20m transmitter, and were QRV on 14020. The ARC-5 made a great chassis and parts source. The end result looked very imposing next to the trusty old R1155. We had even managed to erect a 20m 1/4-wave ground-plane on the dorm roof!
Powered up, called CQ; ZS2MI, the South African Antarctic weather station, came back - my first QSO ever!
After six months, per Radio Regulations, that same transmitter acquired a highly stable VFO (using British tubes EF91 and CV416), also built with ARC-5 parts. The oscillator ran at 7 MHz, and drove a doubler which in turn drove the 6AG7, now an IPA. A second 1625 was plugged in for 100W input, now also allowed.
The following year, an AM modulator (2 X 1625, with 6SN7 driver, and a TV damper diode in a high-level clipper/filter) was added. The modulator was also housed in an ARC-5 transmitter chassis. I also tried operating a "stock" ARC-5 transmitter on 40m CW, but could never conquer the key-clicks and chirp of the M.O.P.A. design. (Another friend alleviated that problem by regulating the 1626 M.O. and the P.A. screen supply using an 0D3 tube). Not wishing to attract the interest of the Post Office Radio Inspector, I did not pursue the M.O.P.A. track any further.
My homebrew 20m SSB transceiver, built in 1964, also used ARC-5 parts in the VFO and P.A. sections.
Read Beginnings (reprinted by kind permission of the K9YA Telegraph)
Copyright  2003-2009  A.Farson VA7OJ/AB4OJ. All rights reserved. Updated: 28/07/2017.