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Bill Dzurilla
Extra Class
NZ5N United States

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Other Callsigns
WN2YRD in 1967 in New Jersey, then WB2YRD. Moved to Florida in 1969, call WB4RSF. Moved to Louisiana and became WD5HRO, then KF5DD, then NZ5N. Retained NZ5N after returning to Florida in 2004. Summer call OM9ACA, Slovakia. DXpedition calls C91NZ, HQ8R

My Ham Radio Interests
DX, EME, VHF/UHF in general, satellites.

ICOM IC-756 Pro II for HF and 6 meters
ICOM IC-7000 for satellites and local repeaters
Yaesu FT-847 for EME, meteor scatter, satellites, 2 meters and 70 cm terrestrial

ACOM 2000 1.5kw for HF
Lunar Link LA-200 1.5kw for 2 meters

MFJ 1793 vertical for HF (modified to add 17m, 15m, 10m)
M2 2M9SSB 9 element yagi for 2 meters
Elk 2m/70m dual band log periodic for satellites
Homebrew 12 element yagi for 70 cm (K1FO design)

KL6M mast-mounted preamp for 2 meters
ARR mast-mounted preamp for 70 cm
Dell Optiplex desktop computer for WSJT and other digital modes
Donner interface

Other Interests
Star Trek

South Florida DX Association

My 40 Years of Ham Radio - Part I - Getting My Novice License

From NZ5N

3/14/2010 3:11:57 PM (2 comments) Add a commentAdd Comment

It's always impressive to read about kids who started as hams as teens, built their own radios, and continued active for the rest of their lives. I started in ham radio as a teenager, but my story is not so impressive.

As a boy in Carteret, NJ, near the WOR 710 clear channel transmitter where Gene Shepherd's show went on the air, I was always interested in radio, particularly radio broadcasting, but my mechanical talent was suspect. My granddad had to finish the crystal radio project I needed to build for the Cub Scouts. My first transmitters were a Remco Caravelle and a home wireless intercom, and I dreamed of owning my own radio broadcast station and having my own show. Friends came over and sang into the intercom and the Caravelle as part of my show, thinking they were on a real radio station.

My intro to ham radio came in spring 1966 when we visited my distant cousin, Vin Kurdyla, then WN2SSA. His ham shack wowed me and I immediately wanted to become a ham. For fifty cents, I ordered a copy of the Radio Amateur's License Manual by mail from the ARRL. There was a copy of the 1958 Radio Amateur's Handbook in the library at my school, Nichloas Minue Elementary, where I was in 7th grade. I checked it out and renewed it so many times they eventually said I could keep it, as no other kid was interested in reading it.

Upon receiving the License Manual, I looked over the morse code section and figured I could handle that. Just needed to memorize the sound of 26 letters and copy 25 in a row over 5 minutes. I had a good memory, so that was doable. The written test was 25 multiple choice questions on both the rules and regs and radio theory. The rules and regs were simple. In just a couple of days, I had memorized that the maximum power input for a novice transmitter was 75 watts, that A1 meant CW, that (much to my disappointment) hams were prohibited from broadcasting and playing music, etc.

The hard part was the radio theory. I had no clue what was a resistor or a capacitor or an inductor, let alone a complete circuit such as an oscillator or a rectifier. Somehow I discovered that the actual 25 questions that would be on the test were among the 75 or so in the appendix of the License Manual. At that point, instead of trying to learn the theory, I just tried to memorize the answers to all 75 questions.

After a couple of weeks of such study, I felt confident enough to try the test. My parents were not excited or even supportive of me becoming a ham. We were rather poor, they had seen Vin's well-equipped station, and they correctly assumed this hobby would cost more than we could afford. But my mom called Vin's mom and told her I wanted to take the test, did she know someone who would test me?

As it turned out, Vin's novice ticket had just expired, and John Slazier (sp?), WA2HRR, was coming to their house that week to give Vin his written test for the technician license. I went there and, while Vin was taking the written test, John gave me the 5 wpm code test, which I barely passed (got 26 in a row). John was the head of the ham radio department of the Carteret Civil Defense (CD), which had a meeting room in the basement of a public building near Vin's house. There was a weekly meeting and a 6 meter net, where the CDs of all towns in Middlesex County checked in. They invited me to the next meeting.

At my first CD meeting the following week, while waiting for my novice written exam to arrive, I met the gang. Everyone was young. John was the only non-teenager. The rest were in high school. Don Tardiff (WN2UTH) and Nick Racsok (forgot his call but remember his Eyeball QSO card) were friendly and lived near me in West Carteret. There was a third, slightly older guy, a technical expert who built his own radios, named Zoltan Sisko, who was nicknamed Zookie.

John told Zookie to take me aside and help me prepare for my novice test. Zookie did so and started peppering me with questions about radio theory. After a few questions, it was clear I knew next to nothing about the theory. He handed me a copy of a thick book, the Ameco Amateur Radio Theory Course, and told me, -- Read this, then you can start thinking about a novice license. When told I had already passed the code and would be taking the written exam in just a few days, he got mad and would not have anything further to do with me.

The exam had arrived by next week's meeting. With the help of the License Manual's actual questions and answers, I passed with no difficulty. In June, while awaiting the arrival of the license, I went with the CD club to Liberty Park in Carteret for Field Day, what a great experience, sleeping in a tent while the generators hummed.

My WN2YRD ticket soon arrived in the mail. But I had no equipment, so now what?

Read the 2 comments after the break below.


by W2KSC 9/2/2012 7:34:33 PM

I was very surprised to read your account of our time together at the Carteret Civil Defense Amateur Radio Club, which took place over 40 years ago. I remember the events somewhat differently.

I do recall John Schlesier asking me to help you learn some electronics. I was happy to share what I knew. At that first encounter I asked you a few basic questions and I tried to explain a bit about electronics. It was evident that you were just starting out. You said that you did not have any books about electronics. I thought that you needed some study materials, so the next week I brought you some of my own materials from home which I found helpful when I was studying for my license. You took the study materials home and a week or two passed.

When I next encountered you you happily exclaimed that you had passed your code test, which was great.

What I was not expecting was your assertion that "I don't need to learn any of this electronics to pass my written test! My cousin said that all I had to do was memorize the answers to these questions to pass the novice test."

Well...OK.... I can't force you to learn these things. I offered to help you, I brought my own materials in and gave them to you, but if you aren't interested in learning any of the theory there wasn't much that I could do for you. As I recall you were in eighth grade at the time. I chalked it up to your age and excitement for a shortcut to your license. You never followed up and asked for any help with electronics theory, so I left it at that.

I'm sorry that you feel badly about this event, but there was no more that I could do for you if you weren't interested in learning about electronics.

Zoltan Sisko W2KSC

by NZ5N 9/3/2012 6:50:12 AM

Zoltan, hello. First, great to hear from you. Second, you were 100% correct and I was 100% wrong. I had no business taking the novice test at that time, and my lack of knowledge of electronics had some unfortunate consequences down the road, as I intended to detail in this blog story that I never finished. I'm surprised you remember me at all, you were the hero of the club. My cousin Vinnie (now deceased) showed me your homebrew Twoer you had built from scratch and how you had improved it from the original Heathkit design. When I had trouble building my Heathkit, he suggested I call you for help. I was pretty scared to call you after the CD incident, but I did once and your mom said you were not home. I do recall that evening at CD a bit differently, but it was 46 years ago, and in any event for the next 20 years every time I thought about doing something stupid I remembered your words and avoided some bad situations. There are some photos of you and the old Carteret CD gang on my web page at I am still in touch with Don Tardiff.
73, and again deeply sorry for any misunderstanding,
Bill NZ5N

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