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Tuesday 25 February 2014

Thirty Years a Radio Amateur

Celebrating Thirty Years as a Radio Amateur, 1984-2014

My FT-817 on top of my original TR-9130, from a 2m only rig in 1984
to an HF to UHF rig in 2014.

My first contact was on 7th September 1984 with G1/PD0HWL/M on 2m. He was only a few miles from me but I hadn't managed to work out the use of the RF Gain control on my newly purchased Trio TR-9130 and I had it turned all the way down. Velerh probably wondered why I gave him a 33 report when he gave me a 59! By the time I had my second QSO two days later with G1EXO I had worked it out and 59 reports were exchanged both ways.

My early ham radio exploits were predominantly with a group of amateurs I met after I left college and moved to Stevenage in Hertfordshire, these included G0HOP, G6LMV, G1IFL, and G1LIQ among others.

That group of Stevenage amateurs ran the G4VAT contest group. I participated in many VHF/UHF contests with them, which were great fun. On one occasion the brakes on my old Mk 1 Vauxhall Cavalier failed on the way up the hill we used top operate from at Pegsdon. This site conveniently had a pub called the 'Live and Let Live' located at the bottom of the hill.

I have found in my log book details of a contact through the OSCAR-13 satellite with JA1CG on 14/8/88. In that same session I had first contacted two German stations. I am pleased to see that Haruo is still active. This was a 145/433 Mhz contact and I remember that G0HOP was instrumental in working out that the satellite would be on the horizon so we would be able to make contacts with our horizontally polarized beams (with no elevation control).

I have been somewhat less active since marriage and children (1999 and 2002/2004 respectively) but I did use the proceeds of a very generous bonus to purchase a Yaesu FT-920 HF rig.

So, what am I gong to do to celebrate this anniversary. Well, I am going to try a few different amateur radio activities, here's the start of a list, that may grow or reduce over the year:

  • Have a JT65B QSO - I have completed this and was very non-plussed by it. I don't think this is a mode for me. I've had a few more JT65 contacts now and will probably have more.
  • Run WSPR to test antenna configurations - I built an Arduino WSPR system last year and see WSPR as ideal for learning about propagation and antennas.
  • Receive QRSS signals - I've done this recently so will blog about it soon. Update: see here
  • Amend my Arduino WSPR system to also transmit QRSS. I've done this, and also added transmission of Sequential Multi-tone Hellschreiber. Update: see here
  • Build a 70Mhz amplifier - I completed my 70Mhz transverter last year, it outputs about 50mW so I need an amplifier to make it useful. I've rebuilt my 70Mhz transverter using a Manhatten style, it now outputs a good 100mW. I've decided not to build an amplifier but to buy one pre-built. I'll do a blog post on this when it is complete and working. However, I did manage one contact in a recent 4m contest with my 100mW so it certainly works. See my updated post here
  • Erect a 50/70Mhz beam - InnovAntenna have an interesting looking dual-band beam.
  • Have a go at meteor scatter operation on 50/70Mhz.
  • Receive signals bounced off the moon. I have on old 19 element 70cm beam that I might press into service to attempt this once.
  • Do some portable HF operating with my FT-817.
  • Get my CW speed back up to something usable - I think this is a long shot but it needs to be on the list!
That's enough to be getting on with. Other blog posts will follow with updates as I tick these items off.