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VK4SWE Australia flag Australia

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QSL: DIRECT/BURO TO NR6M

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IOTA OC-227

My QTH is Sweers Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, a very quiet QTH with nice clear reception. I have a Yaesu FT2000 and an Icom IC-718 as backup/for mobile work. The FT2000 is interfaced to an Ameritron ALS-500MX and then runs through an LDG AT-1000 ProII Auto-tuner to the antenna.

My main antenna is a K4KIO 6-band Hex Beam on a 56ft tower. For 40m there is an inverted V and a 40m end-fed Longwire, built by Harold VK4ANR. I also have a ground-mounted DXpedition style vertical built by Bill VK4FW - this antenna, known as the Grunter-227 is very efficient on 20m, 15m and 18m. (Scroll down for photos of the Tower Project, Xmas 2010!  I will soon post photos of the HEX BEAM PROJECT 2014)

I am interested in CW and DX and IOTA and have recently had a go at digital modes, PSK31, Olivia, SSTV and most recently, RTTY.

I am also interested in the Shires Award, and my QTH recently became part of Mornington Shire (MG4) - I am happy to make a sked in order to give out that Shire, or to give OC-227 for the IOTA Award. When propagation is good to EU, the pileups can be very busy hi. Please be patient, and please stand by if you hear me trying to copy a particular station, it will make it easier for me to hear the station and it will make the QSOs happen faster hi.

 

I HAVE A NEW QSL MANAGER!

PLEASE SEND ALL DIRECT & BURO CARDS TO NR6M!

I will try this new system and hopefully everyone will get their cards much faster.   smiley

IN NOVEMBER 2012, I OPERATED MARITIME MOBILE ON MV TRIM AS VK4SWE/MM. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH I WAS ANCHORED OFF SEVERAL ISLANDS, I WAS NOT ON SHORE, ONLY MARITIME MOBILE. SEE LISTING OF VK4EI FOR MY ONLY IOTA ACTIVATION DURING THAT TIME. I am having special QSL cards printed for 'Minnie Mouse' and they will be mailed out shortly. Thank you to all the stations who worked me on my first MM voyage, it was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again at the end of this year! smiley

I WILL BE OFF THE ISLAND FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER AND SOME OF DECEMBER 2014 - IF YOU HEAR ME MARITIME MOBILE OR FROM AN IOTA, PLEASE GIVE ME A CALL OR POST ME ON THE CLUSTER! I WILL BE USING MY OTHER CALLSIGN VK4EI/P OR VK4EI/MM SO AS TO AVOID CONFUSION THAT I MIGHT BE ON OC-227. NOTE: I WILL NOT BE ON OC-227 FROM NOVEMBER 3-MID DECEMBER 2014.

 

 

EJM 1970 and EJM 2012

 

and EI/VK4EI at EJM Feb 2013...

 

 

I was born in Ireland, on site at Malin Head Wireless Station EJM (my father was a wireless operator) and I have lived on Sweers Island since 1987 with my Australian husband Tex, where we operate a small fishing lodge. Sweers Island is the most south-easterly of the South Wellesley Group in the Gulf of Carpentaria IOTA OC-227, measures about 7km by 2km and is otherwise uninhabited. The island is Dry Tropics, with nice winter temperatures about 25C, and hot humid summers about 35C! It is also prone to cyclone activity, so antennas are sometimes lowered around Christmas.

Other interests apart from ham radio include scuba diving, photography, travel, writing and cooking!

73/88 de lyn VK4SWE/VK4EI

FISTS # 14132

SKCC # 8458

smiley

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There was an IOTA activation here in 2004 by Johan PA3EXX operating as VK4WWI.

Details at http://members.multiweb.nl/willemsen/CARPENTARIA.html

Checkin each day for some great DX on the ANZA Net. (Australia New Zealand Africa Net)- click here for details:

Another good DX net is the Pacific DX Net, click here for details:

 

Unfortunately, we sometimes get a lot of QRM from the Over Horizon Radar (OHR) which makes things very difficult for QSOs.If you hear this radar interference, please report it to your local authority. In Australia, there is an easy form to fill in at the Wireless Institute of Australia's Intruder Watch section. Overseas countries also have appropriate reporting authorities.

Australia WIA Online Reporting
 
New Zealand: John Martin ZL1GWE
New Zealand E-mail: ms@nzart.org.nz
 
Region 2 Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands.
Contact Chuck Skolaut at cskolaut@arrl.org
 
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SECOND OPERATORS
 

Lily Hogan has been visiting the island with her familysince she was 7 years old. She is interested in radio, particularly morse code, and has learned some basic procedures to operate on SSB and CW as Second Operator. In September 2012 she competently handled a pileup to EU, working more than 50 stations. It was a pretty cool geography lesson, with contacts ranging from the Carribean, USA, America, Japan and Pacific Islands. Lily thanks everyone for their patience, she really enjoyed her first Pileup!

 

Lee Davies is a resident of the island during the tourist season. Lee has been interested in radio for several years now, and is working towards her Foundation License. She is a competent CW operator, and also had her first mini pileup recently. She has regular CW sessions with VK4CC and FK8HZ.
 
 
 
 
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THE TOWER PROJECT!

This project started in August 2010 when my OM Tex promised me a Tower for my birthday! The search for a suitable tower was on - considerations included height, materials, construction, ease of operation for a YL, and cost - particularly freight to the island. There were several towers to consider, from VK7 (too expensive to freight) through VK3,VK2 Waverly Amateur Radio Society, VK4, and winding up as the best option at the QTH of VK4ANR who had a 50ft telescoping tower in storage. VK4ANR, Harold, is an old friend - he was my original Elmer, encouraging me to follow my interest in Amateur Radio, and he coached me in CW to pass my exams. Harold is a regular visitor to Sweers Island and is an electronics wizard, expert welder etc etc. We organised for our freight company to pick up the tower and start the long journey by truck and barge to Sweers. Meanwhile, ham buddy Col VK4CC, promised to donate a beam antenna - a HyGain TH3JR Tribander Yagi for 10, 15 and 20m. Perfect! We then searched for a suitable rotator. Bobby, VK4FPNR, provided a good-as-new Yaesu G650A Rotator at a very fair price, packed it as carefully as an egg and shipped it safely to the island. The Yagi arrived first, on the barge, carefully labelled by Col for easy re-assembly by Lyn! Then the tower, which we had to unload by boat trailer - the sheer size of it made the project suddenly very real indeed.

That is the TH3JR aloft at the QTH of VK4CC then disassembled ready for its journey north; And the Tower at the QTH of VK4ANR ready for the road.

They travelled nearly 2000 km by truck and barge to Sweers Island to be unloaded by tractor and boat trailer!

 

By the time Lyn & Tex got back from the annual holiday to the mainland, just before Christmas, Harold - who was caretaking the island with his XYL Glenis - had built the base section and designed the tower to be tilted horizontal and raised up using a single wire and winch. Harold used bits and pieces from all over the island to make his system work. The pivot pin was a bearing salvaged from an old trailer! The base support was the old support for the CP6 multiband vertical, and Harold welded the pivot pin on top of this, to support the lower section of the tower at the halfway 'pivot' point. Tex drove the backhoe, carefully positioning the tower section onto the pivot pin and suddenly we had half a tower standing tall.

 

 

Tex driving the backhoe while Harold guides the bottom section onto the pivot pin base.Bottom section of tower standing tall. Harold welding on the winch plate.... Yes, Lyn had a go too!

 

The rotator had missed the barge by one day so we had to wait a whole week for the next barge. This is one of the downsides of living on a remote tropical island hi! But in the meantime, Harold built the winch plate and also a special section of tower to house the rotator as the one already on the tower was not quite strong enough for our cyclone-prone QTH. Lyn assembled the Yagi - carefully measuring and re-measuring the element lengths to best suit a combination of SSB and CW modes. Then Harold bolted the rotator into the new section, bolted the new section on top of the tower top section, and we were ready to slide it up inside the lower half. Everyone helped to push and pull! Next we had to fix the new stainless steel cables for raising the top section. We also had to fit the control cables for the rotator, and the coax for the yagi and the CP6 - which we planned to put on the very top of the tower as a set of omni-directional 'ears' to chase DX for the Yagi to home in on! So Harold clamped a section of mast on top of the tower, clamped the CP6 on the very top, then Lyn assembled the Yagi below that - it was all starting to look SERIOUSLY big... Lyn gives names to most of her equipment, and Col had already christened the yagi 'Jim' or JB(Jim Beam!) and Harold christened the tower 'Jack' - for Jack and the Beanstalk, as it really did tower into the sky! At full height, the Yagi sits at 50 ft with the tip of the CP6 about 70 ft in the air. On an island just 12ft above sea level, with the Gulf waters 500m to the north of the shack/tower.

The workshop at Sweers had a job different from the usual boat work! Harold built the rotator section while Lyn assembled the Yagi elements...and up went Jack and JB...

All this time we were working in between the rain storms which were causing so many floods all over Queensland. Fortunately, the island is mostly sand and the rain drained safely away (it was only later, in March that we had serious flooding). Even once everything was assembled, we had delays due to thunderstorms. The suspense was killing us, so as soon as we got a clear spell, we winched up the top section and turned on the radio to check the SWR. We couldn't believe it - the beam was working even better than expected, with SWR lower than 2 right across all bands. All the hard work was worth it! Unfortunately at first, the CP6 was not working as well as we expected it to, but we soon figured that water had most likely got into it while it was on an angle on the ground during construction of the tower base. We took it apart, dried it out and gradually it returned to its former performance. Shiny new staineless guy wires were fixed to the tower, a bit of silver paint applied to the welds, and the first DX session on air returned 59s all round - brilliant!

Lyn climbing up to put the locking bolts in place. It's a long way down! The view from halfway up showing the great saltwater takeoff, the 40m inverted V in the foreground. Lyn VK4SWE & Harold VK4ANR project completed!

 

HICCUP...

After a week of fantastic DX, logging countries as far flung as Finland, UK, and Portugal with ease and high RST, I walked out one morning and glanced up as usual at Jack and Jim Beam... and the usual smile turned to horror as I saw one of the elements at a horrible angle! We had not had severe wind during the rainstorm the previous night; the element was not twisted as from a birdstrike. Puzzle. Until we saw the rather large Osprey (Fish Eagle) perched on the boom some time later, we must assume his first landing was on the element which did NOT support his weight, it swivelled on the boom and the angle allowed the rain to run down into the traps. We lowered the tower, removed the trapped elements, blew them out (carefully) with the compressor, used the hairdryer again to warm them and dry them out as much as possible, and re-assembled. HUGE relief when the SWR started to come down! It took some time, due to continued rain. During our next trip to the mainland, I removed ALL the trapped elements and stored them in the shack. Reassembly resulted in perfect performance on the first QSO from both the Yagi and the CP6.

So - the new system is working well, and is making it much easier to give OC-227 to IOTA chasers all over the world, and making DX much more fun and less frustrating from this extremely quiet QTH where I used to 'hear' everyone but they could not hear me. Next on the list is an amplifier! Col VK4CC has rebuilt a Yaesu 2100B, painted it racing red, and it arrived on the island in late April by private aircraft, courtesy of regular Glen and his pal Blair.It is also working well, in fact I cannot get over the difference it makes - i have never heard so many 59 reports in my life hi.And yes, it also has a name - the fiery red reminds us of the little cartoon character devil called 'Hot Stuff' so 'HS'is the new amp!

OUCH! Not good. We found the culprit - an Osprey who figured out to sit on the BOOM, not on the end of the element... And the Yaesu 2100B from Col VK4CC, painted red like the little devil cartoon character Hot Stuff!

 

Jack and Jim Beam at the QTH of VK4SWE/VK4EI. Diamond CP6 Multiband Vertical on top.Hy-Gain TH3JR Yagi for 10m, 15m, 20m below that. End-fed longwire for 40m runs from top of bottom section of tower out to right of photo. 40m Inverted V on mast at house gable. 20m whip antenna beside that. Ground mounted Vertical out of view behind trees for 15m, 17m, 20m.

Thank you to everyone who helped with this project, both in the donation of equipment, construction, advice and encouragement. Special thanks to Tex!

Others include Harold VK4ANR and XYL Glenis; Col VK4CC; Bobby VK4FPNR; Ross VK4RO; Bob W9KNI; Chris VK4FR; Barry VK4TBD; Mario I5BZ; Eric VK2VE; Gordon VK4KAL; Rick VK4?; Terry VK5ATN; David P29GQ; Bill VK4FW. And also all the DX stations who encouraged me to improve my station! TKS and GD DX...

 

Watch this space for the next Instalment:  Samantha the Hex Beam joins the shack!

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VK4SWE - Lyn putting up the CP6 multi-band vertical antenna; soldering up some connectors; VK4SWE ham shack.

 

Morning Glory Cloud meets a Sea Fog at Sweers Island

Morning Glory Cloud meets a bank of Sea Fog over Sweers Island. This rare meteorological phenomenon occurs in the Gulf in October each year, and glider pilots from all over the world visit so they can 'surf' on the front of the cloud, sometimes travelling a thousand kilometres...

 

Approaching Sweers Island from the north

Approaching Sweers Island from the north, the resort buildings at the NW sandy point, VK4SWE radio shack is the white roof building on extreme left. The Gulf mainland coast is just over the horizon, 20 miles to the south.

Waterspouts off Sweers Island

Another rare meteorological phenomenon sometimes seen at Sweers Island - Waterspouts - sometimes seen during the early part of the summer storm season. We could hear the roar of the water as they passed by! (Photo enchancement by Ki6KFB)

 

Monsoon Storm off Sweers Island

A summer storm cloud building off the southeast corner of Sweers Island. We use quad bikes to get around the island. This lovely beach on the eastern side is 4 km long.

One of our beautiful sunsets...photo by Lee Davies

One of our beautiful sunsets. The sun is setting over the Sandy Point (NW tip) with Bentinck Island in the background. (Photo: Lee Davies)

 

My beautiful Bencher Paddle - Some fun with my gorgeous old Eddystone bug...

My beautiful Bencher Paddle "Elle" and some fun with my old Eddystone Bug "Eddy"...

 

Below are some of the keys I have restored...

PMG 8AMP No2 1B D^D 1942 unused for decades'Tassie Devil' after brasso and ready to go back on the air...

This is a WT 8AMP No2 Design 1 type B, made by PMG in 1942 for the Department of Defence. It carries the D^D stamp on the arm, and has PMG 1942 on the base. Solid brass, this key was given to me by John VK7XX. He aquired it in the 1970s and it is the first key he ever used. After decades of unuse, it is all cleaned up and back on the air regularly. This key has been named 'The Tassie Devil' - thanks, XX

Recently, I received a Mystery Package in the mail - from the UK! A morse key and a cryptic note! The sender has obviously seen the key above - but?!?!?!

WOW! What to do? Renovate it of course! Now the first thing to note is: the key was not even functioning when it arrived here. The arm moved down but did not spring back up. But I'd have a look at the spring and see if broken or whatever else might be the problem! Perhaps when the previous owner sees it all shiny and new again, and more importantly - back on the air! - perhaps they will step up and ask for me to send it back to them - like the garden gnome hihi!

So..... the first step is: dismantle the key:

Then the hard work begins! Here is a 'before photo' - I will try to upload 'in between photos' ....

Watch this space!

...and I have a helper! Jen from Western Australia, whose mother worked in Signals during the War, and Mother had a Best Friend, also YL in War and they kept in contact afterwards and later married with families, and their son and their daughter....met! ...and Married! And so they came to Sweers! So Jen helped me clean up the Mystery Key and while she was here she made several contacts on ham radio...She was a pure 'natural'!

That's Jen on the left, polishing away... then in the centre, on air as Second Operator first as VK4SWE on SSB to Alan VK3HGN, then on CW to Col VK4CC. Far right is the key arm after I finally managed to get the spring pin out! (Beware - hard as it was to get OUT, it turned out to be a lot harder to get back in!)

 

LOTS of polishing! This key is a Mystery Key so we dont know its history but it looks like it has had a lot of use in the past though not recently - lots of 'golden grime' coming off on the soft polishing towels! Looks like a lot of hands have held this key and sent signals throughout the world... grease was the first thing to get off, then a lot of oxidation and some pitting on the cadmium? plated brass... we used very fine grade sandpaper for that, and a marine grade polish for final shine. The difficult knurled screws are always best soaked in 'brasso' then I have a special toothbrush for the job hihi... we just did a little bit every day... with Jen here I have to say it made the progress faster with progress more noticable. Then a final rinse off and dry with a soft towel and start the not so simple process of re-assembly! That spring pin and grooved screw I mentioned earlier? It proved to be EXTREMELY difficult to get back in. I actually thought I was going to have to ask my OM Tex to cut off the base of the screw to make it fit. I was very much afraid I would break something struggling to force it all back into place. And I really needed six hands hihi. But at the last minute - (there is SO much one can achieve in that "last minute"!) it all slipped into place and the key was a key once again. This time more shiny and with a few drops of sewing machine oil swirled around, the arm was now moving again. I do have to say it does not move as smoothly as my Tassie Devil, but nevertheless, it was moving! So -

All those bits - back together again...

 

And a reminder - a Before and an After photo... (keep in mind that the lever did not work when the key arrived here, but it sure does now!)

 

I hope whoever sent me this Mystery Key is happy with the restoration job as requested! I am happy to say it was back on the air on May 16th 2013, first working my Elmer, Harold VK4ANR, who has the same type of key in his collection, then later working my ham buddy Col VK4CC, and next day working VK4ANR again and also Paul VK4DGU, then later working Tomm WL7HP.

I wonder will they own up now and make themselves known? Do you want this key returned to you? If not, who can give it a Happy and Deserving Home? It is welcome to stay in my collection, and it is happy here with its twin "The Tassie Devil" but I am happy to return it to its original owner or to one of the Deserving...

In background is the Tassie Devil and in foreground is the newly restored Mystery Key...

 


 

 

NQ Louis Olsen solid brass key on eBay after 30 yrs of non use...Louis Olsen key after Brasso and ready to get back on the air!

 

This key was made by the highly respected North Queensland machinist Louis Olsen circa 1970. I bought it from Jim Edwards in 2011 who bought it abt 1980 from Ron Petrich SK who we assume had it made for him by Louis Olsen VK4NRB. Beautifully hand crafted key, solid brass, and a joy to use. We have tracked down 9 of these keys and so far they all look different. This one, I have named - obviously - 'Louis'.

 

Vibroplex Original Deluxe, serial number dates it to 1919. In great condition, but that cork annoyed me!New fingerpieces still available from Vibroplex USA, and a good polish and ready to go back on the air!

This is a Vibroplex Bug -Deluxe chromed model.It was given to me in 2011 by Ross 'Rossco' Anderson VK4AQ. He got it from Eric VK4EDN, who got it from Eric 'Cobber' ex VK4FRO. Eric says he got it when still in UK during WWII working for Defence, sending sigs to Bletchley Park for decoding...the French apparantly used Vibroplex bugs, so, to better deciper French sigs, Eric (FRO)bought this key (New, he says, from a ham mag) and learned how to use and 'hear' it. So, this key has served in WWII, and if I can figure out how to adjust it correctly, it will be back on the air in 2012... (It HAS been on air briefly but my best friend/CW Critic VK4CC sent back that it sounded "bldy awful" hihi! so it is back to the drawing board...) and yes, you can still buy replacement parts from Vibroplex USA. Eric (FRO) put the cork on and while I certainly am all for making the most of a bottle of good wine... it just did not look right... so thanks to Scott at Vibroplex for the new parts!)

 

This is Mickey Mouse - one of the unusual giftsI received for Xmas 2011...it is a fully funcioning morse paddle made from a computer mouse by Col VK4CC. Left click for dits, right click for dahs and it is Iambic and i can send at 18wpm so it is more than a novelty key and fun to use :-)

 

Here is my Collection so far (but I am not a 'Collector' - they just follow me home!!! (I borrow that line from Straight Key pal John VK4TJ!)

 

VK4EI's collection of morse keys in October 2011...

 

 

 

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