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G4SKO England flag England

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QSL image for G4SKO

 

Thanks for checking out my profile. I started my Ham adventure as a shortwave listener way back in the days of valves (tubes) and AM in the sixties with various broadcast receivers (totally inadequate of course) including the famous HAC one valver which you had to build from a kit.

I still have fond memories of building the HAC single valve

 

Eventually I graduated to the No.19 ex tank set which weighed as much as a Rolls Royce. Primitive as it was, it was a revelation, again it was only AM capable but I found I could inject the local oscillator signal from a portable radio into the antenna and resolve this new fangled mode (to me) called SSB, WOW! I had arrived in the modern age.

WWII No. 19 set, not the one I owned but very similar.

Many other receivers followed over the years including the classic Eddystone 710, deaf as post on the higher frequencies and it used to drift like a stranded ship until it warmed up,usually after a couple of weeks hi hi...but great fun was had. A Racal RA17L took pride of place some years later after my Realistic DX300 gave up the ghost following repeated repairs and marathon listening sessions deep into the twilight hours.

The Eddystone 710 shack heater(left) and The fantastic RA17L(right)

If the Racal wasn't such a lump I would probably still have one in the shack today. A variety of homebrew radios have been attempted, old regenerative designs,TRF recievers and a host of the vintage Practical Wireless projects started and often abandoned but some worked pretty well. All part of the learning curve and part of the journey but most of all, great fun.

My schoolboy interest in electronics and radio got me in plenty of trouble with school, spending too much time listening to daytime AM ragchews on Top band on a transistor radio I had managed to convert to 160M with a bit of guess work and blind tampering. That wasn't the end of it, home made shock machines consisting of scrap transformers, door bell buzzers and batteries secreted in my school bag, used to electrify my close circle of friends (literally). I have my science teacher to thank though, as he was the one to steer me in the right direction once he got wind of the geek who had taught himself to read circuit diagrams and the principles of electronics. A working life in various areas of electrical engineering and auto electrics followed in parallel with my ham activities, finally becoming licenced in the early eighties.

I have always had a keen interest in antennas and propagation and had some intriguing contacts via various modes eg: troposcatter, refraction, aurora and long and short path qso's with some exotic callsigns over the years on HF. The mysteries of the shotwave bands continue to unfold and confound. On one memorable occasion, working a guy in New York city on a handheld via his local 2M repeater crossbanded to a repeater in Belize and me driving along the M62 motorway running a converted CB rig with 10 watts FM on 10M, needless to say I nearly fell out of my seat.

Strange contact

Back in the eighties a friend G4MYP Terry (now sk sadly) and I used to have a regular weekend sked with Les Sampson 7Q7LW in Malawi. On one particular Saturday afternoon I was in Terry's shack, in the basement, we took turns to call 7Q7LW expecting the usual reply, nothing! called again, nothing,nada,zilch! We checked the band, it was wide open, this was most unusual, we persisted for some time but not a peep from Les. After maybe an hour there was a knock on the shack door, "come in" we said, expecting one of the local hams to enter, we were just a little surprised to find an unfamiliar face at the door. This gentleman was dressed in what I can only describe as a safari suit, now we may have been a lot younger back then but not stupid all the same and we knew there were no Rhino or big cat in Huddersfield, darkest Yorkshire.

It took us a couple of seconds to realise our unannounced visitor was none other than 7Q7LW Les. Surprise? you bet, he was back to the UK for one of his home visits and thought he'd look us up. Fantastic!!! and needless to say much drinking of whiskey ensued. He was well fed and watered during his, all too short visit and I still cherish the 7Q7LW eyeball QSL card. We lost touch with this fine gentleman of the airwaves and I understand he is back in the UK now permanently, maybe retired these days from his employment with the British Foreign Office, we never did tease out of him what his actual job was. Great memories tho.

Life, family and work pressures caused me to set the ether aside for a while but the thrill of the HF bands has never been far from my thoughts. The adventure continues and what a fantastic hobby/adventure amateur radio is.

January 2012 :-

Finally resumed my ham activity, it seems I'm just in time for decent HF propagation. 10M has been very lively (my favourite band).

My current mobile rig. Kenwood TS-570DGE

I do like to operate mobile, running 100watts from a Kenwood TS-570DGE. Antenna is the usual, loaded quarter wave. 10, 15 and 20 meters.

Summer 2012:- Finally resurrected my homebrew 2 element cubical quad for 10M. It was need of a serious rebuild. Several years up in the air and exposed to the elements has taken it's toll, the spreaders and mountings suffered substantial rot. The rotator, an old Yaesu was also totally stripped down and rebuilt, the position potentiometer replaced, this was giving errors in position. Now working perfectly. You probably gather I don't like waste or replacing equipment needlesly.

Other antennas include an off centre fed dipole cut for 40M which works OK on other bands too but is no substitute for a Quad or Yagi of course.

Below, is the now revamped and rebuilt quad being winched into position. We had to use the car to winch it into position and an extending ladder as a jin pole, quite a mission.

Below, finally back up and running perfectly Recycled and rebuilt, this time using fibreglass fishing poles as spreaders instead of wood, far superior

This antenna often got me through pileups even with modest power. Some slight redesign with the feed now being a 2:1 balun resulting in a good SWR curve around 28.500mhz. The results are very satisfactory.

September 2013 Aquired the Icom IC756PROIII Shown here at the operating position:

 

And finally here's my CAT controller He's called Lemmie, he's a Scottish Fold,quite a character with his tiny folded ears and is quite adept at changing Band,Mode and VFO settings just at that crucial DX moment but we love him all the same.

See you on the bands. 73.

Mark G4SKO

145113 Last modified: 2013-11-25 00:06:38, 8349 bytes

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