Amateur Radio Activities
I was always interested in radio and electronics in high school. It wasn't until some time later in the '70's, when I was studying Japanese that my friend, the late Keith Howard suggested that a Ham licence would assist in conversational Japanese. Keith VK2AKX was a founding member of Westlakes Amateur Radio Club at Teralba, near Newcastle NSW. He also wrote a book, "Questions and Answers for the Novice Licence". As well he taught the theory classes for the new Novice Class.
With Keith's classes, and many hours spent listening to the slow Morse broadcasts, I passed the exams for the Novice licence in July 1977. My first call was VK2NLY. Following that, I attended more of Keith's classes for the Full Call. In February 1978 I passed the theory but failed Morse, so got a Limited call VK2YES. A few months later I finally passed the Morse to get my present Unrestricted call VK2AHB.
In the late '70's I got involved with RTTY and was the Secretary of A.N.A.R.T.S for a few years. In those days I had a shack full of marvellous electro-mechanical clanking monsters - Model 15, 14TD and Reperf. From there I got interested in Fax in the early 80's and for a while, Peter VK2ABH and I were the only VK Fax stations on air. I had numerous contacts with mainly JA stations, and a few from Europe. Equipment was a modified Panafax 1000-D and a 2000.
I have had a few radios over the years, starting with a Swan 350. In 1998 sold my 20 year old ICOM 730S and replaced it with the much smaller Kenwood TS-50S. The TS-50S was a great little rig, but eventually succumbed to a few problems in the display. I sold it on ebay to a Russian who knew how to fix it. It was replaced in 2012 with a Kenwood TS-480. It is connected to the computer by Serial-USB cable, so can automatically change frequencies as I change on AirMail3. The HF email system uses the PTC-IIe Pactor 3 modem when we aren't near a network. With Internet acess, I can use Telnet to connect to my Winlink email account, much more reliable than HF. I get the weather GRIB files each day.
I try to catch the NOAA satellite weather pictures each day, using a Tall Narrow QFH antenna, R-139 receiver and WxtoImg program.
When I first went off-shore I was very active in SSTV. This activity has drifted by the wayside, as indeed has most Ham activity. However, the Ham licence is vrtually essential for the cruising sailor. Many people have taken the tests in places around the world to get their ticket. While sailors can and do use Sailmail, it is not a free service, and has restrictions on the volumes. Winlink is free BUT does also have restrictions: it is for Ham, personal traffic only, no business traffic is allowed.
Updated 1st September 2013