1) How did you get involved in Ham-radio and how many years are being a ham now?
Growing up in the 1950's radio and the print media were the only form of information for the masses until the
release of television in 1956. The early years of listening to the radio a lot set me up for a future interest in radio.
As a teenager electronics was gaining strength, my next door neighbour was also interested in electronics and we
set up a crude wired morse code link between us.
Later this progressed into a phone and I remember spending many a late night chatting to him until our batteries went flat.
I had always wanted to become a ham but the thought of having to draw a circuit diagram in the test frightened me off.
I then convinced myself that I would never be able to pass the exam.
Along came the 1970's and in the late 70's 27MHz CB radio took of big here in VK.
In the late 70's UHF CB 476/477MHz became popular and a repeater network started to grow.
I was quite happy to use the UHF version of CB until the abusive factor both 27MHz and 476MHz became
unbearable, by then it was the late 1980's and I decided to find a course so I could study and sit the Ham exam.
In September 1990 I was licensed with the Novice call VK3MFN.
Shortly after receiving my Novice License I passed the 10wpm Morse exam but it was not until about 10 months
later I passed the AOCP theory exam "the highest class of VK license".
One bit of trivia is that when I started to improve my Morse code I always had trouble with the letter "W" so to
remind me of that fact I took the call of VK3WWW.
2) What attracted you the most in being a Ham-radio operator?
Certainly getting away from the rubbish on the CB bands was a big influence. I must add though there were a lot
of great people on CB-Radio but the few percent that used it as a platform for abuse really put off a lot of them.
I am glad to say that most of the good operators from those days all became hams and we still keep in touch.
Going back to my early SWL days I was intrigued by all the different sounds I was hearing on the HF bands not to
mention the hams using SSB to chat with other hams around the world.
This was probably the biggest influence that attracted me to become a ham.
3) What is your favorite mode and/or band?
This is a difficult question, I will answer it by explaining what I am up to at the moment.
HF from home is a dead loss at the moment I have S9 QRM on 20m this is the same on most HF bands.
If we did not have computers then I am sure my interference levels would drop considerably.
Over the years I have been heavily involved with Hidden Transmitter Hunting and because of that interest I have
been able to meet amateurs from around the World at International ARDF Events.
I spend most of my radio operating time on 70cm.
My work van is set up with a 22channel Midland commercial transceiver converted to 70cm this makes my travel to
and from work much less of a chore.
Also as Locksmith I am on the road a lot going from one job to the next, having the radio and is a real asset.
Having said all that my favorite Band and mode would be 70cm FM.
I really do like operating HF/6m and weak signal on 2m, 70cm and 23cm but all these are done portable either
during a local VK Contest or on a DX-pedition.
4) What equipment do you use?
Apart from the Midland UHF radio I have a few other transceivers but they spend most of there time in road cases
waiting for the next portable operation.
Currently I have in the shack a Kenwood TS-140S transceiver connected to a 80/40/20 trap dipole via an MFJ-949E tuner.
In the road cases there is: IC-706MK2G, IC-271H, Alinco DX70TH and a Kenwood TM721.
I have various Hand Held Transceivers but the one I use the most for it is the most reliable is an IC-Q7A.
For personal HF portable I usually fly my Sutton Flowform kite with an end fed wire running up the kite string.
On VHF I have 2X6 element Yagis on FM and 2X6 element yagis on SSB.
On UHF I have the same setup but the antennas are 16 element yagis.
Also for the VHF/UHF bands I have one Diamond X-500 for home and a Diamond X-200 for portable work.
5) Do you hold DXCC and what is the score?
No, I don't have DXCC but I have been part of club and IOTA activities that are eligible for it.
I think from memory 3 of our IOTA expeditions VI5WCP, VI5BR and VI5PN all worked in excess of 100 countries.
And as VI3GP a club station over 100 countries were worked.
For me to work a personal DXCC I would need a country property or move from my current location.
6) What has been your most memorable story related to Ham-radio so far?
There are many of these but the one that should interest readers is the time I had a VHF contact with VK5MIR,
Dr. Andy Thomas aboard the Russian Space station MIR.
I had worked Andy a few times but for one contact we arranged a sked for my local radio club, at the time the
committee didn't really understand what I was suggesting and the contact nearly didn't come off.
Eventually on the night I was promised a 70watt 2m transceiver but that never happened so armed with a 5 watt
HT and a 15w amp I was watching dropped jaws amongst the 70 plus members in the hall.
It has been remembered as one of the best meeting the club has had.
7) Do you think CW had it's best time since you don't need it anymore to get a license?
I was one of the early ones voting to keep CW but I expect this was because I had to do it.
Eventually I came around and saw the other side of the debate and changed my views on the subject.
CW is like any of the digital modes if you like it you will use it, I must add though that doing a lot of weak signal
VHF/UHF reading CW is important to decode beacons and Repeater ID's.
8) How would you explain our hobby to someone not familiar with Ham-radio?
I explain that ham radio is not just two amateurs talking to each other, it is a lot of other things.
Most young teenagers are amazed that when you mention that most SMS abbreviations come from Morse Code,
speaking to Astronauts and Cosmonauts is very common,VOIP and Data transmissions have been used by hams
for years and most hams these days use the Internet in some form or another.
Meeting such a large diverse community is really great for if you have a problem radio or non radio related there
is usually a ham with the answer and even personal assistance to solve it.
9) Do you have other hobby's besides Ham-radio?
Outside of radio I would spend a lot of time on a computer, and some of that time is involved with Video Editing.
Going on my first DX-pedition to Lady Julia Percy Island VI3JPI I took along a video camera and put together a
20 minute video.
With assistance from a couple of amateurs in the broadcast industry I learned a lot and each time I do another
video. I hope to improve my editing skills.
My Youtube site is "http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=vermontcreekbed"
The rest of the time is taken up with family, I am married with 3 children.
Keeping the network and PC's going for the family is also another challenge.
10) Any final words to the people reading the interview?
If you have never worked portable I suggest you give it a go, next time your club enters a contest or has a field
day get off your backside and get along.
If you want to try something new but don't because you think it is too much of a challenge, well I suggest you do try it.
Even if you fail then the experience gained far out ways the feeling of defeat.