[AMRadio] A special day today

sbjohnston at aol.com sbjohnston at aol.com
Mon Jan 19 14:35:33 EST 2009

It is indeed a special day today.  I'm working on the restoration of my 
old WRL Galaxy 300 SSB transceiver - my first SSB rig I bought as a new 
General lo those many years ago.  I had to pull use all my savings, 
plus cash gifts from my parents and grandmother to scrape enough money 
to buy it mail-order from Associated Radio in Kansas City.  I think it 
cost $229.

This is the rig that put me in the hospital on Martin Luther King Day 
1977 or 1978.   I was 13-14 years old, fooling around one evening in my 
room, trying to determine why there was a tube shield on the Galaxy's 
6BZ6 RF amp tube.  It is located right behind the finals in the PA 

At one point I got very careless.  With the transceiver turned on 
(bad), in fact transmitting a full-power carrier (very bad), I lifted 
the lid and reached back in with my right hand to remove the 6BZ6's 
shield. Trouble is, to get to it I reached over the two 6HF5 finals and 
their plate caps with about 900 volts DC, plus a couple hundred watts 
of RF.  My wrist touched the plate caps at the same time my fingers 
reached the tube shield, and the shocking and the burning commenced.  
My hand drew up in a fist, making it seemingly impossible to pull it 
back out. With the pain of the electric shock and RF burns I couldn't 
get my hand out!  Fortunately I was only using one hand for this 
madness, and I ultimately pushed myself away with my other hand on the 
wooden desk.  This also meant that the current had only flowed through 
my hand and arm, not across my chest (very good).

I had some pretty serious and painful burns on my hand and forearm.  
Clutching my wounded limb, I sat on my bed considering my options.  I 
had a VERY BIG CONCERN that if I told my parents what had happened 
they'd stop my ham hobby dead.  I was also very embarrassed to have 
hurt myself in such a dumb way.  But I was also hurting pretty bad, and 
worried about the side-effects of a strong shock, so I concluded to be 
up-front about it.  Not sure now how I would have hidden the injuries 
anyway. now that I think about it thirty years later.

They handled it very well, and took me to the hospital emergency room.  
The doctor did not understand the situation very well and was checking 
my feet for burns, worried about my heart, etc - and he demanded that I 
be kept overnight.  I was admitted and put into a bed in a room with 
eight patients.

All night long, every few minutes one or another of these poor souls 
needed a nurse for something and would start calling out, ringing 
bells, moaning and crying.  The nurse would finally enter, switching on 
the gigantic bank of fluorescent lights that lit the whole room like 
the surface of the sun.  Click... zzzzzz.. , snap, snap, snap as the 
lights fired individually and finally hummmmmm they were on and I was 
blinded by the light.  No sleep for me, and I spent part of the the 
next day in the hospital wasting a school holiday - Martin Luther King 

My parents never said a word in judgment of my foolishness or against 
ham radio because of this accident.   And I was able to "milk" my 
injury to get me out of gym class for several months (very good).

"Before" photos of the Galaxy 300 at


Steve WD8DAS

sbjohnston at aol.com
Radio is your best entertainment value.

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