John Shidler, NS5Z
(formerly WN5JSG, 1964)
When I was 12 years old, my father told me about guys who built their own transmitters and receivers and could "talk" via morse code around the world. He told me that my grandfather had been a Continetial Code operator for Postal Telegraph and that as a lad that he delivered telegrams. He had some old book on electronics that he gave me and I began to read it.We built a crystal radio and I can remember laying in bed listening to it at night. I was hooked!
One day he came home with a Hallicrafters SX-100 receiver and I thought that I was the luckiest boy alive. My antenna was a piece of "Bell" wire strubng between 2 trees. I listened to CW in the Novice part of 40 meters and of course to Shortwave Broadcast. As I learned the code and became more proficient, somehow I wound up with a ARRL novice study guide. My Dad had a friend W5AJS, Bud Ports who gave me my Noice and I passed!!!
While we were waiting for my license, my Dad ordered me a Knight Kit T-60 which we built. I still was waiting for my license which took I think about 3 months to arrive and suddenly I was WN5JSG. In those days we were "Rock Bound" and could only use Crystal Control. Since I amd most young Novices only had a few crystals we worked "split". We would call CQ then tune up and down the Novice band listening for another station to call us his frequency.
How exciting that was!!! The thrill of hearing some guy taping out your callsign was pure pleasure. (Just an aside here, although I grew up to be a young adult in the 1960's, I never experimented with drugs, perhaps the reason was that I received such a rush while making contacts that I never was tempted)
My older brother scrapped up the money somehow and bought my some QSL cards for my birthday and I don't think that I ever thanked him enough. He also used to climb the big willow tree in the back yard and adjust my long wire for me.
In the last few years, I have turned to QRP building and operating to try and get back some of that early thrill and I believe that it has worked. Since 1964, Ham Radio has always been a part of my life. When everything else changed, Ham Radio was a stable thing. I thank my Elmers, my father, mother and my two brothers.
John Shidler, NS5Z
Bossier City, Louisiana