This is an article I specially wrote for the Southwest Dallas County Amateur Radio Club newsletter.
It was published in the 'Groudwire' June-2007 edition.
HAM-Radio in the Netherlands (from a large property to a crowded citylot)
Let me introduce myself to you first.
My name is Rob Aartman, 43 years old and fascinated by radio since I was 16.
I grew up in the countryside together with my three sisters and my loving parents in a small
village called Zevenhoven.
If you have a map of our country, then you can find it approximately
15 miles south of our capitol Amsterdam.
I was always into soccer and playing outdoors and
I can remember only one single interest into radio at that age of approximately 10 years old.
This was an electronics box in which you had selected items to make a simple radio.
You had to put this together on a blue plastic surface, but I canít remember all details.
It didnít really stick with me then Ö...
Anyway, I turned 16 and at that age the CB was popular here and many started operating those
available 22-channels/0,5 watt/FM.
I was excited and soon I got one myself.
My dad bought one for me from a colleague and I remember being very exited on the particular
evening he came along to show me how it worked.
Soon my ground plane antenna was on the roof and I could make contact, ahobby I enjoyed long
time until I started to get annoyed by the language and such by certain people.
I wanted to do more and got an old AM radio, 40 channels but illegal at that point! I operated only
at night because we had no cable or satellite television at that time and I had to be careful.
I hear you say, ďanother pirate"!
Yep, thatís true but I got on the right track after spending some time on CB using SSB and a yagi to
make worldwide contacts.
To make a long story short, I went for my license in 1994 together with a friend, which is always
handy to help each other out and keep yourself going to the organized theoretical evenings.
The exams went well and I got my first license in May 1994 which enabled me to operate on VHF
and UHF, all modes of course.
Due to my time on CB/SSB I got the thrill of working far away countries and that made me decide to
go for the full license, at that time the Class A, meaning 400 watt on most of the bands and no band restrictions.
I started to learn CW, which was frustrating at times, but practising every day made me learn it quite quickly.
The speed needed to be 12 WPM and on the exams you had to write down a 5 minutes long message
and if you passed a 5 minutes text transmitting.
You could only make a few mistakes but I made the test and I was as happy as a child.
I remember my wife having this old Junker (NOTE: a Junker is an old key, German manufactured!) hanging outside on a pole when I came home; she said she was sure that I would pass the test Ö
In the meantime I had my fun on 144MHz but it has never been my band, it still isnít.
I used a FT-225RD by Yaesu and a 17 element yagi which allowed me to get out of the country and I
made many nice contacts across the pond (on VHF/UHF this means to the UK) and into Europe.
Having said that, I do respect the VHF and UHF guys and am fascinated and interested if they tell
me with full excitement they worked 20 Scandinavian stations via Aurora or JA via the moon.
Our hobby has many facets and thatís just the exciting thing about it.
Some never talk on the radio but just like building them or...just like digital 10 modes or....well fill in yourself. There is just too much going on in our hobby to mention in one sentence.
But back to where I was, having this big hunting license in my pocket, I wanted to own a HF rig ASAP!
My first was a FT-101ZD which is a fine rig and the first QSO was with a UK station, canít remember
I knew how to operate because of my time on 11 meterís so I had a step ahead of some other new hams.
A couple rigs followed each other up and now days I own a FT-990 which is a perfect radio for me.
Eeverything can be adjusted from the front panel.
No menus and submenus, they drive me crazy!
OK, so I got my license and had put up a 20-meter dipole with a 1:1 balun between two trees then.
We had a small house with the two of us in a small village in Noorden near by the lake.
I met my wife Karin a couple years before that when I was busy with my other hobby, fishing for carp.
I moved in with her and at this property where I could build antennas as much as I wanted.
Not that she was all that happy when another wire went up again and I tried to explain that this was
absolute necessarily to be active on a particular band.
Do you recognize what they do then, shake their heads and think, ďwell if it makes you happy.Ē
Thatís the look alright.....,hihi! She has always been very understanding even when we got kids and
it was my turn to bath them, but hurried to the shack to work another new one!
So, the dipole went well and after some time when we had our 3rd child I had to move out the house
with my hobby.
Meaning, build my shack a couple meters from the house so I would not wake them shouting to a dx
station at night.
Main reason was the lack of space but it was a good thing, my hobby would not disturb their night
rest at all this way.
In the next years I had built many other antennas for different bands like dipoles, inverted Vís verticals etc.
I also noticed the effect that water can have on radio signals.
I only did SSB for a couple years until my friend Dennis/PA3GWJ mentioned working DX went much
easier with CW and so I practiced again to get on speed and now it is my favourite mode.
The tiny house was on a piece of land reaching into a lake, an absolutely perfect RF take off!
My last project was a full sized rectangular vertical loop for 160 meters or top band.
I got the swing of working DX there and it worked very well.
I can remember AA1BU/Joe asking me what I used to get my signal across the ocean and produce
such a fine readout? I told him I used a FT-890 (at that time) without a small CW filter and only 100 watts, which had a hilarious effect on him, as if I just told him a joke! He could just not believe that
I worked so many DX without a 500 Hz filter on top band with 100 watts.
Well, I did and I went out night after night to work stateside and other far away countries.
Many nights for nothing but the kick was even bigger when calling CQ and hear a bunch US coming
back in a row.
I worked really nice ones like JT, VK, 3B9, many Caribbean and of course stateside on that loop.
The top wire went from one tree to another, the highest being 18 meters, the lowest 10 meters.
The bottom wire hung about 2 meters from the ground and the aerial was fed by 450 ohms twin
lead (open-wire), to tune it in my shack.
This location was absolutely great and worked a lot DX from there.
One day we decided to move to the city were I live now, Bodegraven.
I did a lot of thinking, is this the right move, no water fun anymore, no big antenna experiments????
But the house was 3 times as big and this would be a good environment for the kids to grow up as well.
There were many families with kids their age, school nearby, so it sounded just great!
Would we go and miss our privacy, because the nearest neighbour now lives 80 meter away while
this new house is in a row of 5, packed together?
We took the step and actually never missed the old place as beautiful as it was situated and was
such good choice!
Whilst moving in I saw that antenna space was very limited, it did not look good at first sight.
The garden is about 5 meters wide and 8 meters long.
No possibility to set up a tower, I probably would get it if I
pushed it but I did not want to upset the area and neighbours at all.
So, when living here for a month or so I had put on my hero shoes and went up the roof putting up a
2x 10 meter dipole with open feeder to my shack on the top floor.
This thing went from a pole on the chimney and sloping down to the backyard fence and the feeding
heigh was about 6 meters.
Just down from the roof I got my wife complaining that the back neighbour asked her if this
clothesline would stay there long, a thing she did not really appreciate and asked me to go and talk to the guy.
My first thought of course was Ďreally good start Robí but when I had spoken to the man he did
understand my reason (I think) and still found it dirt at the horizon but agreed with the fact that everyone must have his hobby.
We are allowed to have an antenna system 5 meters above the cutting edge of the roof without a
permit here in the country, so my act was completely within the terms of the law.
This antenna worked well, as I thought this would be good for 40-meter rag chew and maybe some
DX when conditions were extremely good.
This happened to be much better than I expected.
Specially 30 and 40 meter worked very well and using CW must have helped me a lot too.
One day driving through the city I found this property with a high tower and a big yagi on it.
I found his name in the phonebook and called to introduce myself, make an appointment to visit his station.
Peter/PA8A is a very good friend of mine now and we have made several adjustments to the
antennas and build new ones as well since then.
I do often go there to play with his exceptional station with a FTDX-9000 and an IC-7800.
We have done some nice antenna experiments in the past few years as well.
I do mention Peter because about 2 years ago he mentioned someone from the ARRL coming over
for the Friedrichshaben evenement in Germany.
He would stay at Peterís house and be her for just 2 days before heading towards Germany.
He offered me to check my cards at Peterís place, which allowed me to have them checked for DXCC
without sending all your cards across the ocean.
Me holding DXCC??? Never thought about that, I have never been an award chaser but this was an
opportunity out of thousands!
I had to go through my shoeboxes because I had no clue how many countries I had confirmed;
It had never really been important to me!
I ended up with Dave/NN1N checking 275 DXCC entities, truly not bad at all.
From that moment I was very keen on working new ones and keep my score updated and send card
away right after the QSO.
The dipole and its bad location did not keep me from working nice DX and getting new DXCC, but I
was not really satisfied about its position.
It was close to ground and the feeder came into the shack parallel to the antenna, across one leg
and over the roof through a window.
Strange that even this did not hold me from working DX!
I thought about it for a while and decided to make a 2x 15,5 meter G5RV.
Feeding point would go up the pole on the chimney, which was 4 meters higher, which would be good.
One of the legs went to the fence in the backyard again and the other had to go down to a tree at
the front of the house.
Except this tree is on public ground and I was not sure if I could have it there for long before
Nobody did so far which is a big relief!
This antenna works better now on the higher bands and even allows me to operate 80 meter with 400 watts.
I really had exciting moments with this antenna and I will mention a few.
In the past, when the solar cycle reached itís high-end somewhere in 2001/2002, I had never heard
T88 from Palau! But on the 27th in August/2005 at 17:33 UTC I had just finished dinner and went to
the shack to check the bands.
Switched it on and found Marti Laine/OH2BH active from Palau on 30 meters/CW.
Unbelievable strong and after switching on the amplifier I was in the log without to much trouble (there is a sound file on www.sitekreator/com/pa3gvi/soundfiles).
Truly amazing, when you least expect it you work them!
Other story, 3Y0DX that would be a hard nut to crack! Pile ups would be huge because Peter 1st was
high on the world-wide wanted list.
I did my best and heard them a couple times but did not get through.
Then on one morning I worked them on 30 meters, wow could not believe my ears and was only
100% sure when I saw my call in the online log!
Same with XF4DL and YX0LIX !
I worked them with my simple station and the XF4DL even long path in the afternoon, again on 30 meters.
This is truly a magic band for me!
Now what is important if you want to work them having a small station?
I always try to be one step ahead of the others and here are a few tips, which could get you into the
log before you know it.
- Listen on the bands, DX clusters are very good but you will probably have to stand in line as you
are not the only one who has the spots!
- CW is really a good mode to use when having a small station. The signal reaches much further
- If a DX station says up 2, you donít go up 2 but 2.4 or something like that.
They often tend to hang out at the ends of the pile ups, especially when they are a mess.
- Wait with your call a couple seconds after he said up or qrz, big chance he hears your last
Two (or three) out of the crowd.
- Try to work them as soon as you hear them especially when they are weak.
Meaning: you could be the only one in your area (Europe) or one of the few before conditions are
getting stronger for other as well, know what I mean?
- check the cluster by the command SH/DX/84 XF4DL (example) to see when he has been active on
what particular band and look at stations from your area or country that spotted or worked them.
You will get his routine and a pretty good sight of conditions long or short path.
So, I feel quite happy with this antenna and itís always a challenge to get them with my own equipment.
Working from my friendís station is truly a delight but the thrill of working a rare one from a city lot
will always be a special moment.
I did never expect to work new ones from here with the dipole but have 296 worked right now and
am just waiting for N8S, VU7LD, 9M4SDX and 5W0RE to arrive and have them all confirmed.
DXCC 300, here I come!!!