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. I recently sold my 20 year old ICOM 730S and replaced it with the much smaller KenwoodTS-50S.  The latest toy which I bought in New Orleans is the Yaesu VX-5R, a miracle of miniaturisation and computer technology. One of the great things about it is that it can be programmed by the computer by use of a great program EVE and an interface cable.  These have been made up by Pete VK2DFR of Interdigital.

These radios will be taken onto our boat when we take off.  They will be part of the communication with other cruising Hams as well as sending and receiving email.


Now nearly 20 years later, I am updating this page!

On Meridian I used the Kenwood mainly for HF email with the program Airmail3.  This went through the Pactor 3 modem.  I also used to get WeatherFax pictures using JVComm.  Weather satellite pictures were received using an R-139 receiver and WXtoImg decoding program.

The Kenwood TS-50S succumbed to life on the ocean waves.  It's successor, another Kenwood, the TS480SAT also didn't survive the salty air environment. Now back on land I have an ICOM-IC7200 which can do digital modes.  I also have a Yaesu VX-8R which replaces the VX-5R.  I still have the R-139 and getting good pictures with a QFH antenna.

Now on land in Bathurst NSW for over 5 years.  I bought a second-hand Icom IC-7200 which I used for JS8Call and other digital modes.  A lightning strike to a 40 ft pine tree killed the ICOM as well as other equipment.  Insurance replaced the laptop, stereo amp and guess what!? an ICOM  IC-7300.

I started using JS8Call over two years ago, starting with version 0.5, now up to 2.2.0.  I always wanted to do band scanning to see if other stations were out there.  JS8Call has a facility to change frequencies but it doesn't work. Wit the help of Kevin VK2CKD, we came up with the basic commands to drive functions on the IC-7300.  These include setpower for RF and Modulation, tuner on, set frequency.  I then used these basic commands in scripts to set the power and modulation before starting js8call.  From there I used them to QSY for band scanning.  Meanwhile Kevin (a real programmer, not a hacker) wrote a Perl script for these commands.

Scripts for JS8Call