Glenn Kurzenknabe, K3SWZ
(formerly KN3SWZ, 1962)
At the beginning of 10th grade (1961) I met Ed Cox who had moved to the area from Pittsburgh, PA over the summer. We found that we both wanted to be hams, but couldn't sit still long enough to learn the code! We were both too busy playing with old radios and taking TV sets apart. There was a Physics and Chemistry teacher at our school, Dave Anwyll, W3HCC (SK) who had a sort of club for electronic enthusiasts and misfits. Ed and I leaned on each other to get with the code practice and after some months we both thought we had it down well enough to take the Novice exam in early 1962. W3HCC was a Technician, so he could not give us the exam. He got Carl Fredericks, K3RMD, who was in the Navy and stationed at the local supply depot to give us the exam. I can remember that day like it was yesterday! Scared to death. Carl gave us the code test and we both passed. Then came the written and the long wait to find out how we did. He would not tell us how we did! I guess we did OK as Ed became KN3SWJ (now KE3D) and I became KN3SWZ in April 1962.
I had a Hallicrafters S-38E, which was nearly worthless on the ham bands, however a local, W3HTO (SK) was selling some gear he no longer used and sold me a boat anchor WW II Navy RBO-1 receiver for $25. It was a better receiver, but only covered the 40 Meter band, plus a bunch of Short Wave bands. My dad and I took the Heath QF-1
Q-Multiplier that was attached to the S-38E and dumb lucked into the right place in the IF section to make it work. That made it pretty hot or at least I thought so.
While I was waiting for my license my parents bought me a Knight T-60 Transmitter kit to build which was a mistake. I think the soldering iron we had was for sheet metal and I wasn't any good at soldering. I made a mess of it and someone at Knight got it going. My parents picked up the tab for the repair and I have no idea how much it was.
I had two xtals in the 40 Meter band. Two was better than one! I had done a little reading about antennas, but didn't understand a whole lot about what I was reading. I built a 40 Meter Dipole and fed it with 300 ohm TV twin lead. One side connected to ground and the other connected to the center connector of the coax connector on the T-60. (What did I know?)
I was given a bunch of FT-243 xtals that were out of the ham bands...I had read that one could raise and lower the frequency of these by taking them apart and removing or adding little "material" to them. I had no idea how much was a "little" I knew that you could lower the frequency by adding pencil lead and you could raise the frequency by removing quartz with tooth paste. I played around a broke most all of the blanks and never did successfully move any into the ham bands... now for the epilog --- Little did I know that my career path would lead me to the quartz crystal and frequency standard business. I spent over 35 years working in that field and was part owner of the former Piezo Crystal Company, one of the oldest companies in the business, as the central PA area used to be the "crystal capitol of the world" I reflect on how little I knew at in those early days, but I was willing to give it a try and learned a lot about a lot of things by trial and error...
I had a Heath Sixer (no license to use it yet) and the local club was having a Transmitter Hunt (my dad had to drive) I built a 6 Meter Quad loop and mount for the window of the car for DFing, which was actually too big, as I found out. The problem was I only had a 6 VDC Vibrator Power Supply for the Sixer. In order to get 6 V from a 12 V battery, I drove a nail in the battery of my dad's new Ford station wagon and obtained 6 V, however the battery failed the next week (after the transmitter hunt). The dealer never could figure out what happened to that battery , when they replaced it under warranty --- my dad was not too happy! I also found out that DFing is not accomplished with a Regenerative receiver and no S-Meter! BTW -- we never did find the transmitter -- we had to open the envelope, but arrived at the site and enjoyed the fellowship that followed, even though I was just some stupid kid, the old timers were very supportive.
Pages and pages of CQ's and no response in my logbook followed. By chance, I ran into another young, local ham at an Armed Forces Day, Ham Radio display at the local Navy Depot. He was John, KN3SFW (now K4NP). He had been licensed a few weeks before me and he was making contacts!! He rode his bike to my QTH to look things over and saw that I was not using coax. He said he wasn't sure, but he thought that was the problem. I talked my mother into buying 75 ft. of RG-59 for me at the local Radio and TV parts place. We installed it and we actually made a QSO with a guy in Maryland! It worked...
Later I upgraded to an old Heath DX-20 that seemed to work better than the T-60?? I guess I worked about 20 states as a Novice and a VE3 for my DX contact. Along the way my dad got interested and became KN3UKO (then K3UKO-SK). I upgraded my license and equipment as the years went on. I have met many wonderful people through ham radio. I am very active to this day and I don't think I will ever forget my experiences as a Novice! I have often wondered where my life would have lead were it not for ham radio and the influence it had on me.
Glenn Kurzenknabe, K3SWZ
New Cumberland, PA