Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blast from the past (3)

Another regular contact in the early 90s was my friend Marty, WA2MCZ, now W2OT in Saddle Brook NJ. I always laugh when I think of Marty explaining how he had gone through lots of different station configurations before hitting what he thought at the time was the perfect one. To be fair, nowadays he still has the TH11 on the same tower, but all the rest of it has changed:

Closer to home, every friday I had a sked on 40m with Alan Mills, EA7BA, and his friend Andrés, EA7AG. Over easter 1995, we planned to visit the area and Alan and his wife Carla kindly offered to put us up for the night at their fantastic villa in Cuevas de Almanzora (Almería). Alan, a native welshman, explained to me that he had never planned to move to Spain, but once on holiday, he had passed by and saw the villa by chance and it was for sale. The villa had been abandonded and needed a lot of work, but the sale price was one million pesestas (6000 euros in todays money) and he couldn't resist the temptation. Looking at this photo, you can tell why:

The photo doesn't really do justice to this almost perfect ham radio QTH. The antenna had a 360º take off and steep sloping ground in all directions. The 60' versatower and Alan's home made yagis (3 ele linear loaded for 15 and 20, 4 element monoband for 10) made this station a beacon for stations on other continents.

Here's me having a whale of a time operating:

Alan died not long after our visit in a very unfortunate motorcyle accident. RIP OM.

And less than a year later, our twin daughters came along and a new chapter of our lives started. But from time to time I still managed to get on the air, here with daughter Elena:

I hope you enjoyed the photos. If you happen to have any more, please send them to me and I'll publish them.

73 de Duncan EA5ON

Blast from the past (2)

At my first university digs, I still didn't have my licence. The place I lived in 1985/6 was right in the city centre of Edinburgh and impossible to put up an antenna. And although as you can tell from this photo, beer and music were important parts of student life, I still had my Alfa Tango cards on the wall, and from time to time I strung my dipole out the window and listened on my Cobra 148....

Fast forward a couple of years, and me and the lads now have a nice flat just across the road from the medical school. I now have my GM7CXM licence and am studying CW. Sort of. I managed to get a 2m colinear on the chimney here and it gets out pretty well.

You can see my FT290R and TS130V in the background.

Next stop Spain. I have my HF licence and have fun working people with my home made VK2ABQ (now known as the Moxon). I have almost daily chats with the high school students at the Bulgarian club station LZ1KVZ in Sopot, under the watchful eye of Gosho, LZ1ZF. These guys did SOTA activities way before it was popular, as these snaps which Vladi (the most active operator at the time) sent me testify:

Unfortunately my mechanical contruction skill left a lot to be desired and my Moxon came crashing down on new years day 1994. be continued

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Blast from the past (1)

I've been meaning to do this for a while but just haven't had time to get round to it. Finally today though I got out the scanner and zipped through a few old radio-related photos that may bring a smile to some faces.

First off, here's where it all started (See "How it all began" on the sidebar).

This is Tamano, home of my parents, and where I was brought up. It's taken from a viewpoint way behind the house, a great place for either some peace and quiet, or alternatively, hooking up to a local repeater.....

And this is one of the earliest photos of the 108AT276 DX station:

The Bremi BRL 210, with a single EL519 valve, made a big difference! If you look carefully, you can see a copy of the Alfa Tango callbook, just next to William the cat.

This dude is Peter frae Motherwell, now also known as GM0HWB. Peter was a right character and I quite often spent my saturdays down at his place having a laugh.

Next stop Lesmahagow, in Lanarkshire, to meet Kevin Mair, now MM6KCM:

And here's a couple of shots of my first field day style event, with Kevin and Bruce, GM1KNP/ZL1AAO: be continued

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Summer is always a busy time of year for me and between one thing and another radio always takes a bit of a back seat.

First of all, it's starting to get hot here, and at lunchtime it just isn't too much fun sitting in a metal box (car) under a blazing sun with no shade. Aircon? Yes, but even aircon doesn't work too well in those circumstances.

Also propagation isn't too great. In spite of the improving solar conditions in general, during the day the D layer absorbs signals quite high up into the HF range. If there is sporadic E, the higher HF bands and 6 metres can be fun, but otherwise, choosing between talking to myself in 40º heat, or going for lunch in an air conditioned bar, I often opt for the latter.

(f you are interested in knowing more about seasonal propagation, take a look at the interesting article published in this months "Radioaficionados" magazine by Salva, EA5DY).

If you add to that, the fact that we are very busy at work (fortunately) and that for several weeks access to my normal location was blocked by the Formula 1 urban racetrack, well, it doesn't help matters.

Does that mean I am totally inactive just now? No! It just means I'm not on the air every single day. Also, I've been busy doing other radio-related things.

Next weekend is the IARU HF championship, and I have been spending time with the team getting ready. Yesterday, almost all the spanish team got together for a "dry run" to make sure all our stations are connected on a private internet link, and that all the logging programs are set up and working fine.

Also on the equipment front, our Yaesu FT2000D is now equipped with a new AC0C network solutions 3KHz roofing filter, which we are sure will improve the IMD performance and make for a generally better contesting experience. Thanks to Jose Vicente of AGV Radio for doing this delicate operation. I hope to have a detailed entry on this topic at a later stage.

And in spite of everything, I do try to get down to the pier from time to time, because even if propagation isnt great, there's always the view:

And with that, I'm going back to the IARU preparations. Hope to work you in the contest as EF5HQ on 15m SSB!