CQ Zone 29, ITU Zone 58, Grid square OF88cf. VK6GX since September 2008, formerly VK6ABL.
Member of:- Wireless Institute of Australia, ARRL, RAOTC, SKCC, FOC.
QSL via LOTW preferred, otherwise direct, but please enclose return addressed envelope and sufficient greenstamps. Australia Post recently increased the postage rate to AU$2.60 per card. No IRC please. Buro ok also but very slow and sorry, I'm years behind.
I am located on a 15 acre block, on a plateau 300m ASL, in Gidgegannup (known as Gidgie to the locals), a rural area in the Darling Range Hills, 45km ENE of Perth, 50km inland from the Indian Ocean. My main interest (since 1962) is CW DX, especially 160m.
VK6GX circa 2008, note the many VK6GX labels, to remind me after many years as VK6ABL. (I haven't aged a day since, honest)!
Main (Boat anchor) desk, December 2014.
My home station consists of :- FT-1000D, TS-850SAT, TS-830S + VFO-230 + AT-250, IC-765 + IC-2KL + IC-500AT, FL-2100Z, VK3ZL GS-35B 160m Linear Amplifier and a much loved BC-348-Q from childhood SWL days. The FT1000D, TS850 & IC765 are all interfaced with a PC. A recent addition is the amazing Elecraft KX3/KPA100/PX3 which is setup on a seperate desk as well as being used for portable operation. I also operate mobile, CW and SSB, on HF & 160m using an IC-706. Also out on the patio/deck/poolside, using an IC-720A or the KX3.
Home station antennas are a 160m Inverted V @ 27m, a Windom and a WH2T Loop which functions as a Bi-Square loop for 40m & Delta loop on 80m, but fed with open wire feeder and a balun, it can be matched on all HF bands. A 160m vertical is still under construction (has been for several years), also 4 new Beverages above kangaroo height are planned as anything lower has been repeatedly destroyed. I hope to make rapid progress with the antennas and be a lot more active on air after I retire on 23rd January 2015.
KX3 & main desks December 2014.
I have fitted Inrad Roofing and CW filters to my FT-1000D, TS-850SAT & IC-765 and carried out many other CW performance enhancing modifications (no rig is perfect), but I have made them as good as I can. To further improve intelligibility I employ several additional measures as required:- A homebrew four stage variable Q and frequency, switched capacitor audio bandpass filter, plus equalization and customised DSP filtering through a PC. Other very effective CW enhancing devices are a couple of "Canspeakers" with an intentionally huge resonance, one less sharp than the other, set at my prefered sidetone frequency of 500Hz, (cheap and nasty PC speakers soldered into small tin cans and positioned for maximum effect, experiments continue, e-mail me for details). In addition, with my TS-850, I use a homebrew VK5BR RF noise canceller to minimise noise or reject unwanted signals and a LP-Pan fed from the 8.83MHz IF. All of which, along with a quiet location, makes for very good, weak signal, CW reception. I can switch keying (straight keys), microphone, audio/DSP filtering, headphones/speakers, antennas and linears to any rig.
KX3 desk December 2014.
The KX3/KPA100/PX3 is setup on it's own desk with a high spec PC, with control by several programs, including HDSDR, ACLog and VE7CC, courtesy of the LPB virtual com port program by Larry Phipps N8LP and OmniRig by Alex VE3NEA. To say I'm impressed with this rig is an understatement, my other rigs are feeling badly neglected since I got it! DC Power is provided by the excellent, RF quiet, Alinco DM-330MWII switch mode PSU, which can deliver 30A peak. It has a noise offset control to shift any PSU generated noise off your operating frequency, but I have never had to use it! I have not observed any noise attributable to the PSU on the SDR screen. Note that an external SDR program can still be used with the PX3 as it has a buffered I/Q output, in this case HDSDR, which can also control the KX3. When portable with the KX3, I use an Asus Transformer eePad for logging/control via USB and an iPad for SDR display via a Sonic Port Line 6 audio interface. The portable antenna is a QRP rated 80m doublet fed with 300 Ohm TV ribbon feeder and a 9:1 balun, supported by a 12m Spiderbeam composite fibre pole. The KX3 and KPA100 auto ATU's can match this antenna on all bands from 80-6m (including 5MHz when used in the UK last year). Operation is also possible on 160m with the feeder strapped and a 1/4 wavelength counterpoise.
KX3 and HDSDR via a Creative 0204 USB sound card, showing ARRL DX CW contest activity on 20m,16th February 2014.
Two panoramic displays, PX3 and HDSDR, best of both worlds! HDSDR via the Creative 0204 can display up to 96kHz, but I usually set it to 48kHz which is adequate for the CW segment of most bands and independent of the PX3 which can be set from 2kHz to 200kHz span. I mostly use the PX3 with quite a narrow span as I can see the rest of the band on HDSDR.
Creative 0204 USB sound card and FoxL Platinum HiFi speaker connected to the KX3 via cable. (It can be linked to a laptop/tablet/MP3 player/smartphone etc. via Bluetooth). The FoxL has an amazing frequency response for such a small device and the internal Lithiun ion battery provides up to 12 hours operation and doubles as a woofer, the battery vibrates. The only problem with this little marvel is, it produces so much bass, that it tends to go walkabout!
Extra screen on the back-up PC to ease congestion on the other screens.
Icom rack incorporating IC-2KL linear amplifier, IC-AT500 auto ATU, IC-720A and power supplies. A large UPS has since been added, in the base. Any rig can be switched to utilize this linear & ATU. It is possible to get up to 500W out with the KX3 & KPA100 driving it and 300W with the KX3 alone.
160m ATU based on a US Army Signal Corps BC-939-A ATU, incorporating the original roller inductor and thermocouple antenna current meter. It now has a perspex cover completely enclosing it, apart from the front panel, to keep dust and creepy crawlies out, courtesy of Bob, VK6CG. Alongside is my VK3ZL (sadly now a SK) 160m GS-35B Linear Amplifier. Bob made great amplifiers! At least someone else will have a chance in the Mt. Gambier Hamfest homebrew competition, with his passing. He cleaned up every year with various linears. RIP mate!
160m ATU & VK3ZL 160m Linear Amplifier.
Below are a few photos including a beautifully crafted, stainless steel, fully functional and adjustable micro key, kindly sent to me by Bob, G3XNG, who was in turn given it by his great friend Joci, HA7PB (SK). I christened it "The Joci Key" in honor of it's former owner. It bears no markings, so it's origin is unknown. I would be interested if anyone can provide any clue as to the manufacturer, or is it a one off by a craftsman?
The "Joci" micro key alongside a very old Dentsu Seikico "Swallow" Deluxe Stream Key, model HK-3S at M/VK6GX, October 2013. I believe the HK-3S was the forerunner to the popular Hi-Mound series.
KX3 and the "Joci" micro key at M/VK6GX, October 2013. (the KX3 paddle key is, as yet, un-mastered).
I1QOD Deluxe Swedish Key, a masterpiece by Alberto Frattini I1QOD. My favorite key.
GHD Telegraph GT501A Key, yes, that's a built in micrometer to set the contact gap! Great if you use a very small contact gap, as I do. Love at first sight, just had to have one, it's a beauty!
VK2DLF #102 key, great robust compact key, used mostly for portable operation.
GHD Telegraph GF601A single paddle key. I have mine configured as a "Cootie" key, still learning to use it and never been put on air for fear of embarrasment, never tried a paddle before! I prefer to use my left hand for this key, whereas I send right handed with a straight key. I bought it when I had an injured right shoulder and thought I would otherwise be out of action for a while. Luckily my shoulder healed itself without having to resort to surgery. It may come in handy if I ever get too old and decrepit to handle a straight key!
A pneumatic key I invented back around 1985 to enable hands free mobile CW operation in the metro area, using a sensitive pressure switch. Clip the clamp to your collar, grip the tube between your teeth and blow in a whistling fashion. A "T" piece is incorporated to prevent over pressurisation of the sensor and to vent moisture.
One of my "Canspeakers" tuned for maximum output at 500Hz, an effective aid to inteligibility of CW signals. You don't need a HiFi speaker for CW, this is about as LoFi as you can get!
VK6GX/m in the Ford Territory on 160m -10m with various antennas.
VK6GX/m in the remote Murchison area of VK6 approx 1000km NE of Perth.
VK6GX Mobile Shack. IC-706 with remote head. The antenna is mounted on a heavy duty spring base on the bull bar of the Ford Territory SUV (An excellent Australian designed and manufactured AWD turbo diesel vehicle, built for Australian conditions).
VK6GX/m CW mobile with a straight key, used on outback trips only, on quiet country roads. Gets a bit tricky on dirt roads with bad corrugations and pot holes!
For metro area driving I invented a pneumatic, hands free key, see above.
My 1st key, a WW2 military surplus Key, WT 8 AMP No.2. My Father (a WW2 Air Force radio operator) taught me morse with this key and a buzzer, when aged 8 in the Cubs. Now used in the mobile shack, see mounting method below.
My crude, but effective mobile morse key mounting bracket, a cast iron shelf bracket with a vertical aluminium pillar, beautified by heat shrink sleeving, and the key mounted on top. The bracket slides into the drivers seat guide rail. The key sits by my right knee and can be quickly removed and laid in a convenient storage area, between the drivers seat and door pillar. Note the IC-706 body mounted under the drivers seat.
VK6GX out on the deck with the IC-706.
VK6GX poolside, we get plenty of hot WX here in Gidgegannup, 50km from the coast. The cooling seabreeze known in Perth as the "Fremantle Doctor" (because it comes from the direction of the port of Fremantle), struggles to make it this far inland, if at all, consequently we are about 4C warmer than Perth in summer, so temperatures often exceed 38C/100F and up to the mid 40's at times, but the humidity of the prevailing easterly summer wind is very low, so it's quite tollerable. Being inland and 300m ASL we get the occasional winter frost, it got down to -1C once, but thankfully, we NEVER get snow. We get most of our rain between mid May and September, apart from the occasional summer thunderstorm, so, as we have no scheme water in this area, we rely on rain and bore water and cherish every drop.
VK6GX after cooling off in the pool.
VK6GX/P at Duke of Orleans Bay, near Esperance on the south coast of VK6, February 2014.
The Asus Transformer eePad runs the Pignology Hamlog Android program by Nick, N3WG and communicates with and controls the KX3 via USB.
The iPad is used as a panadaptor, using the iSDR program by Charles NZ0I and is interfaced by a Sonic Port Line 6 adaptor (designed for use as a guitar/keyboard A/D converter for the iPad).
I operate 95% CW, from 160m to 10m, favouring the low bands and WARC bands, but especially Top Band. I also enjoy listening on MF/LF/VLF and look forward to operating on MF/LF one day and hopefully 5MHz if and when we get an allocation in VK.
To encourage greater 160m activity in VK6, I broadcast the WIA news on 1845kHz LSB, Sunday mornings at 0600 & 0700 local time during summer and in winter at 0700 & 0800. Coverage extends to several hundred km in daylight, all callbacks/email/SWL reports gratefully received.
Give me a call, I hear pretty well, 73, Phil VK6GX (ex VK6ABL).
1501228 Last modified: 2014-12-07 03:45:43, 16681 bytes
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