VE3GFN, first licensed as VE1ADH in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has been on the air since 1956.
My main rig is now the Elecraft K3 transceiver, which is without doubt the best CW equipment I've ever used, including multiple homebrew designs of my own. The standby rig and "band checker" is my venerable Kenwood TS850, still going strong after 17 years of operation, and a few trips to the repair shop.
The two Palstar speakers add a lot to my joy of hamming. I usually use speakers, except when contesting or dealing with difficult conditions. These are the best speakers I've found for communications, as they refuse to buzz, click, or distort under any conditions of normal operations. I have a small stereo amplifier installed between the speakers and the two receivers which drive them, to avoid pushing the audio circuits of the receivers to their limits. I've known Paul, N8PH, Palstar's owner, since he was a VE3 living about two miles from me, and we used to compare notes on homebrew receiver designs. Paul is an excellent engineer, and these speakers reflect his talent.
The Datong audio filter in front of me has been a fixture in all my shack setups for three decades now, and is a superb accessory for CW ops. I have two Astron linear power supplies in use, one of which has been with me since I first acquired the TS850 transceiver. They give excellent performance. Just don't plan to carry them very far!
The two external antenna tuners (an MFJ and a Dentron) are both used on my inverted vee (see antenna description below), although not as much as in the days before the K3 was acquired. Currently, the amazing internal ATU in the K3 is used to drive the open-wire line directly on most bands, through an external Balun Designs 4:1 balun, without the need for external tuners.
Here are two images of my present forty-foot tower and Triband Yagi, a Cushcraft A4S that has been in use about twenty years. The tower, a heavy-duty television type model, has been up since I bought this house in 1975. I've hand-painted it, while it was standing, at least three times. It has three stainless-steel guy wires that help support it. An inverted-vee antenna, with fifty-foot legs, is supported at the top of the tower, and fed with open-wire tuned feeders. A large number of ground radials are installed on the lawn below it. They make quite a difference, as I live on old lakebed sand!
An early interest in homebrew equipment, (motivated by the usual student budget!), led to graduation from the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, in Electronics, in 1965.
While working for the University of Toronto for 23 years, I published a number of my amateur radio designs in Ham Radio and CQ Magazines, and multiple editions of W6SAI's Radio Handbook (Editors and Engineers). The 19th Edition of the Radio Handbook, published in 1972, contains articles on three solid-state receivers, and all three are my designs. One of these, an all-band solid-state receiver with digital frequency display, now resides in the Hammond Radio Museum in Guelph, Ontario, their only homebrew receiver exhibit.
The details of my homebrew open-wire transmission line, and its supports, can be seen in these two photos. The original wooden standoffs have all been replaced since I first installed the system. My 2 Meter vertical, on a separate mast, can be seen at the right - hand side of the house.
VE3GFN was the ARRL EC for the Toronto area for many years, during which I helped organise the Mississauga derailment/evacuation communications, which was used for 3 days in 1979. I was also very active in the National Traffic System for many years, at all levels, all on CW.
Contesting on CW has been an interest since my early days in ham radio, and has been regenerated with the introduction of computer logging software.
I entered my first contest in 1956, shortly after I was licensed as VE1ADH. In 1958, VE1ADH won the old VE/W contest for the Maritimes section, and acquired his first contest certificate. This, with a Hallicrafters SX99 receiver, a Heath DX35 transmitter, wire antennas, and manual logging techniques!
My "personal best" to date is the 2011 CQ WW CW contest, when I racked up 1081 QSOs in 24 hours of operation, runnng low power, single operator class. This won me the 2nd place certificate for Ontario, in my class, on CW.
In 2011, I also took first place for Ontario in my class, for the CQ WPX contest, and the ARRL SS, both on CW
These two photos show the new Butternut 80M/40M vertical antenna I've recently installed, and the 160 Meter resonator that gets it on the "Top Band". I'm not prepared to say it is any more effective than the inverted-vee, but in long-haul situations, it is often equal to the vee. On 160 Meters, it's a toss-up as to which is better. In 160 Meter contests, I now use them both! The left - hand photo shows the guying arrangement I've installed on it, including the "truss" that keeps it from blowing over in strong north winds.
The Elecraft K3 has given me a new band to play with, namely, 6 Meters!
This was always a "no no" band before, with terrible TVi, but cable television has changed all that!
I've recently added a Cushcraft 6M 3-element Yagi, on top of my tribander, which puts it at 45 feet in elevation.
This antenna is proving itself to be a killer on 6 Meters!
DXing has always been a strong interest. The "countries confirmed" total now exceeds 344. VE3GFN has qualified for 5BDXCC, and needs only 1 more current country worked, and 1 confirmed, to qualify for the DXCC Honor Roll.
I've been retired since 1999 (just in time for the sunspot maximum!), having spent the last 9 years of my working career teaching electronics and computers for the Toronto Board of Education, during which I completely rejuvenated the electronics program at Danforth Collegiate & Technical Institute.
A published freelance travel writer and photographer since 1985, I now spend lots of time on travel and photography, together with my artist wife Allison. I maintain a web site at: http://www.pathcom.com/~mgold
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