Antennas, Apartments and AM Reception

February 5, 2017 1 comment

For some time now I have struggled with the fact that no matter what antenna I use, they couple to the high rise building in which I live and are quite deaf. Today I draped the Lake Eyre special antenna off my balcony as far as I was game. The building management would come down on me if they saw it. It’s better but still quite deaf. This is my Hammarlund HQ170 listening to the ARNSW broadcast on 40 meters AM. Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 11.09.54 AM.png

Categories: HF

Of Injury, Depression and Productivity

January 28, 2017 1 comment

I had planned for some time to attend Symphony in the Park at Parramatta with my lovely friend, but due to my leg injury from falling down the stairs, I could not attend. This put me in bad mood yesterday. I don’t suffer depression as much as I used to do, in fact I rarely have any symptoms at all nowadays, but occasional mild situational depression still arises. I notice it most not by how I feel, but by the state of my apartment which yesterday got quite messy. My productivity suffers badly at such times. Being one who is always doing something, depression for me is most noticeable by my complete lack of interest in anything, and lack of desire to do anything.

I attempted to turn things around yesterday by going over to the community garden and picking a big bunch of various basil. I also contemplated going to the local ham radio trash and treasure but feel my leg would rather I stayed home. Instead I will come up with some recipes today for the basil. I will clean up my apartment and, of interest to all of the readers of this blog, will begin an antenna project. More about that later


Categories: Daily News

Rebuilding a Life, Rebuilding a Shack- it is all Drama

January 26, 2017 1 comment

Well I got all of my vintage radios out of storage where they have been for about 2 years and have now got them all set up in my tiny apartment, though no suitable antenna yet.  I also managed to bring along all of my test equipment and various cables and audio mixer etc etc.

The problem is of course, when you leave stuff for so long, especially stuff that was the subject of restoration and many little and large projects, you kind of forget where you left off. I recalled as I began to test equipment with my meagre antenna and dummy load, that not all was 100% when I left it. The Yaesu FT101E was, but now isn’t- that is pretty normal for an FT101 left in storage, so no surprise there. I was disappointing when I connected the mains chord to it and blew resistor 1 on the rectifier board, because that was not my chord but one I had purchased and it was probably wired incorrectly – ouch!

More interesting when I remember that the plan of using the Johnson Viking Ranger II and the Hammarlund HQ170 as a transmit/receive pair had fallen on issues as well- issues I had forgotten. See the HQ170 receiver pulls wildly off frequency when I transmit on the Viking II and sounds very chirpy. I am convinced it is the way this radio uses AVC(automated volume control not AGC) – although switching off the AVC makes no difference. So now I recall that I had a huge project to do with the Hammarlund and had kind of decided to ditch it and get something vintage but more stable. That is out of the question now because I am nowhere near as financial as I was when I had my own business. Wonder what I can do to stabilise it? My fist attempt will be to replace the OB2 valve (tube in the US) with a solid state version.

The Viking Ranger II I was sure had no issues. I remember using it on CW and AM and it sounded great on AM, but then did I not change the value of a capacitor in the audio circuit in order to improve performance and some how stuffed that up? Or was it that an audio amplifier tube was to blame? Either way there is nasty hum and no audio from the microphone on AM today when I went to use it on AM. Since I can’t remember what I did two or more years ago, I will have to go through the service and construction manual and backtrack.

Maybe these radios will be working properly two years from now. You can follow the saga here

(Shack is a term used to describe the location from which amateur radio operators operate)

Categories: Uncategorized

I Love my Vintage Radios

January 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Just a quick post to say I got all my old radios moved to my new home Sydney. They are in my bedroom so now to dress it up so it doesn’t look like a teenage boy’s bedroom 🙂


I still have to solve the issue of my Hammarlund HQ170 moving off frequency when receiving strong signals.



Categories: Uncategorized

Holiday Operations- I Get to Work HF Again

December 22, 2016 2 comments

The problem with living in Sydney is not just the issue of trying to build or purchase a HF antenna that can be fitted onto the balcony of a one bedroom apartment, but also the problem of an S9 noise floor. So it was that when I was asked to do some dog sitting at my RF quiet North Queensland residence, I packed a HF radio.


Of course, a radio is not much good without an antenna, but in my usual style I decided the best approach was to build one from scratch. I wanted to work only 80m CW and 40m phone and I could have chosen a dipole but the yard is a bit small. I had in the past constructed a 40m/80m trapped sloper referred to as a Lake Eyre Special and I figured this would be the ideal antenna. There are several tall Royal palm trees that would provide the necessary elevation.

I started by purchasing some speaker wire and splitting it into single wires then would 120 turns on to a 40mm pvc form. 10.04 m of wire formed the 40m section which I then tuned using my antenna tuner which I always pack in my holiday baggage :-). I then fitted the coil and double checked the tuning. A slight change to the coil of a few more turns had me back in tune. I then added the top section 1.6m and checked the tuning on 80m. Despite my error of tuning to 3.1MHz instead of 3.6MHz, I finally got things correct. The antenna was hoisted into the tree via the usual sling shot and fishing line method. I always carry my slingshot on holiday for this very purpose.

Now to work some 80m CW in the mornings

73 de VK2KMI es VK4KIM

Categories: HF, Holiday, Home Brew

Antenna Plans @ VK2KMI

October 2, 2016 Leave a comment

Following on from

80m Apartment HF- The Monster in My Bedroom

Taming the Monster

The Monster is Deaf

The Monster will Live Again

The 10kV capacitor arrived a few days ago so soon I will have to begin modifying the 80m and above mag loop. Probably over the next few weeks, as I quite a bit of travel to do. I am still concerned though that I will have to get it away from the building and over the balcony rail for it to work well. This high rise building is so full of steel and the balcony is framed by aluminium windows. The concern is, if I do that I am likely to attract the attention of the building management with such a large copper loop. The capacitor is huge and heavy so mounting it at mid point of the loop will present some issues, not the least of which will be drawing further attention to the thing hanging over my balcony rail.


My intention at this point is to mount the capacitor lower down on the support frame and inside the line of the balcony rail and use RG213 coaxial cable to connect it to the loop. This will add a small amount of capacitance which may affect use on higher bands. I guess I will just have to try it and see what happens.





Categories: Uncategorized

YLs Unwelcome in VK Ham Radio

September 12, 2016 9 comments


Yesterday, I had the most awful experience I’ve ever had. It confirmed for me a number of things

  1. Women are not truly welcomed by many men in tech pursuits
  2. Strong women who speak up or dare have an opinion are doubly unwelcome
  3. Privilege is completely invisible to those who possess it
  4. Privilege is measured by the number of the following boxes you can tick.
  • white
  • male
  • educated
  • rich
  • heterosexual
  • cisgender
  • grew up in large city
  • ….and more

Unfortunately I can tick fewer of those boxes than many people. What is important about these boxes is that most are beyond our own control, we are born with or without them. Once we’re born without them we have a harder time ticking the others like education. Not being able to tick these boxes affects every part of our lives.

By contrast those born with privilege, never have to acknowledge it even exists, they are blind to it, but they have a choice when someone points it out to them. They can choose to be extremely vulgar aresholes like I encountered yesterday, or they can choose to analyse their behavior and modify it.

Some men in this country are so damaged by the societal construct of masculinity that I hold out little hope for any form of equity ever.

(VK = Australia. YL is shorthand for young lady, first used to speed up morse code conversations. Interestingly a woman becomes old (XYL) when she marries- assuming her country allows her to marry but that is another story. Men for some reason are OM old men always.)

Categories: Daily News Tags: ,