Updated 5-12-2006

June 2006 Column



1950's Dream Station - W9CNN

Cecil Gregson, W9CNN, left in his 1956 Dream Station, and above with his home brew transmitter made about 1932. Cecil was one of the early pioneers on Radio Teletype, RTTY.

W9CNN demonstrates his Boat Anchor station aboard the yacht Lucille, except it wasn't a Boat Anchor back then. This had to be one of the best and biggest ham stations afloat in the 1950s.

Two early transmitters. The one above was made during the late 1920s, and to the right is his elegant 1932 transmitter shown during construction.

Cecil Gregson, W9CNN

Born in 1906, Cecil's radio career began in Iowa when he was a teenager. His family owned a farm and he soon discovered that electricity and radios were much more fun than farm work. Life was tough for him, as his father was overly strict and disciplined him often. His brothers liked fishing and hunting. Instead of joining them Cecil would stay at home and work in his makeshift shop in the rear of the barn experimenting with electricity, building radios and he even hand-built a generator for electrical power.

In 1927, at age 21, Cecil decided to leave the farm. He jumped on his motorcycle and went to Chicago. Licensed earlier, his ham call changed in1927 from 9AJE, Corwith Iowa, to 9ESU Chicago. He quickly found employment as a radio repairman for the L. Fish Furniture Company. In 1931 his call changed to W9CNN.

On his lunch hours, he would visit a local machine shop to learn about machining. Eventually he got his own equipment and started doing odd jobs for local auto mechanics in a small machine shop in his garage. In the late 1930s, he was able to expand his machine shop with leased equipment from the U. S. Government. The government knew that war was on the horizon and needed qualified companies who could manufacture much-needed war related materials. The Gregson Tool and Die Company was founded. During the war the name changed to Illinois Gage and Manufacturing Company.

Cecil Gregson and his dream station were featured on the cover of CQ magazine in September 1955. Unfortunately about this time it was discovered that Cecil had Cancer. After a long illness he became a Silent Key at age 49, on August 13, 1956.

I would like to thank Clifford Gregson for providing his father's biography, the station details and photos of his early transmitters.

For more about Cecil and his ham station, please read the Old Radio column in the June 2006 QST Magazine.


John Dilks, K2TQN    125 Warf Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234-8501   e-mail: K2TQN@arrl.net