The San Diego DX Club

An ARRL Affiliated Club


History and Traditions of The San Diego DX Club

By Sam Johnson, W6BS

World War II was officially over in August 1945, but amateur radio activity did not resume as quickly as it ceased on December 7, 1941.  However, the bands were returned to us within a few months.  Shortly thereafter (Note 1), a group of local hams interested in DX got together in Dick Shanks' radio shack to share their interest.  Included in that gathering were: Dick - W6BZE, Bert - W6EHV (later W4BQY), Bud - W6PBI, Don - W6LRU (later N6RU), Ralph - W6CHV, Theo - W6LWV, W6OBD, Hal - W6MI (later KL7MF), W6GTM, and W6KYT.  Dick was elected president of the new San Diego DX Club, and the fourth Wednesday of each month selected as the meeting date.  At first meetings were held in Dick's radio shack, but as the membership grew, meetings were rotated to the member's homes.  One of the benefits of membership was an agreement with Horace Greer - W6TI (the W6 QSL bureau) to bundle up and mail member's QSL's once a month for distribution at the meetings.  The ladder list of members' totals was established in 1950 and has continued to date, albeit in a different form and much longer now.  There was no packet then and 2-meter nets were unknown.  However, members helped each other via Ma Bell when a needed one came on the air.  It worked, I can assure you.

When W6TI had to give up the W6 QSL bureau about 1957, the San Diego DX Club took over.  The bulk of the work was handled by Si Slocum - W6JH, then Otto Miller - K6ENX (later W6PT).  We continued as the QSL bureau until about 1966 when the volume became too much for Otto and the extra help we could provide.  The bureau then was turned over to the Southern California DX Club, who is still doing an excellent job.

In 1958, the International Geophysical year (IGY), an opportunity was presented to operate from Clipperton Island.  A license, FO8AT was obtained and club members, Bob (not Don) Miller - W6ZVQ was selected as the operator.  A generator was purchased and a myriad other arrangements made.  At the last minute, Bob could not go and another local ham, Doug Megil - K6RXM agreed to step in.  The following quotation from the FO8AT QSL summarized the DXpedition:  "Operation of FO8AT was made possible through the generosity of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  On 1 August 1958, FO8AT departed San Diego aboard the motorship Spencer F. Baird.  Six days later, Clipperton Island was sighted and landing operations began.  Eleven men and one woman were put ashore to perform IGY studies.  Shortly after reaching shore, rains and extremely high winds arose, making immediate operation impossible.  Operation commenced on 8 August 1958 and continued through 23 August 1958.  Extreme weather conditions existed during the entire stay on Clipperton and IGY tasks limited operations..."  The rig was a single KWM-1 furnished by Collins, and the antennas were a vertical and a 2-element beam furnished by Hy-Gain.  Operation was limited to 15 and 20 meters - CW, SSB and AM.  The logs were sketchy at best, and QSLing was made possible by Andy - W6FF who monitored and recorded practically all transmissions.  Geo. Keeler - W6KSM handled the cards.

During the 1950's and 1960's the membership remained fairly small, 18-24, and meetings were held at various member's homes.  In the early 1970's, Frank Kemper - W6QNM was able to obtain use of the Convair Gun Club as a meeting place to accommodate the increased membership.  Meetings were held there for six or eight years.  After several unsatisfactory arrangements were tried, we moved into The Hindquarter, our present meeting place.

Many things have changed since 1949 - the dues have gone from $3.00 to $15.00, the club has incorporated, membership has risen from 10 to nearly 100 and we now have many members on the honor roll.  However, we still meet on the fourth Wednesday and more importantly we still all share a sincere interest in DX.

Sam Johnson - W6BS
with a big assist from Dick Shanks - W6BZE.
November, 1994

Note 1: Traditionally, we have always considered the date of “establishment” of the club to be 1949.  That is the year local DX’ers began gathering informally at Dick Shanks home to share DX’ing experiences.  Evidence from W6PBI’s personal affects (courtesy W6YA) indicates that he actually joined the club and became a “charter” member in 1949.  If we assume that is when the others also became charter members, then it appears to have taken three years after the establishment date to get around to formalizing the club charter.

K6AM, June 2013