Hi. I'm Gary and I'm a radio ham.
I live on a tiny farm - a hilltop forest clearing in rural New Zealand. The lamb above was about 2 days old, born in July 2014.
The photo below shows me with some of our kids. The lambs were too full of life and wouldn't stay still long enough to be photographed, while the camera-shy pregnant house cow was doing her best to hide behind a fence post. She subsequently gave birth to a little dark brown calf called Cocoa.
Originally licensed as G4iFB in 1979, I emigrated to ZL in 2005. Down here on the Far Side I feel like I am DX
My first love is CW, particularly CW DXing, CW ragchewing and CW contesting (usually signing ZM4G at home or ZM4T at the club). Apart from the odd SSB contest or pileup and the occasional burst of enthusiasm for RTTY, PSK, JT65 or other digital modes, you'll mostly find me chasing DX at the bottom ends of whichever bands are open. I also enjoy homebrewing and experimenting with stuff when conditions are poor. My soldering iron is always within reach. One of my current projects is an active HF antenna for an SDR. Another is a 5 band quad.
Here are some of my recent QSOs:
I use DXcluster routinely, so if you see me spotting DX or if I am spotted, I am QRV. Hint: as a keen CW op, I am usually identified first on the Reverse Beacon Network.
I am the webmaster for ZL7T and ZM4T, and a present or past member of: the First Class Operator's Club (FOC), East Coast Contesters (ZM4T), NZART, RSGB, ARRL including A1 Ops, G-QRP-Club #1751, SKCC #6722, Quartz Hill Contest Club (ZL6QH), Chiltern DX Club (CDXC), Martlesham CG (M6T), Windmill CG (G0FBB), the renowned Red Dragons CG (GW8GT), Leicester Radio Society (G3LRS), Sutton & Cheam Radio Society, and the infamous Voodoo Contest Group.
My station (PLEASE VISIT www.G4iFB.com FOR MORE)
My equipment includes Elecraft K3 and K2 radios and a KPA500, built from kits, THP HL-2.5K and LK550 amplifiers (both currently out of action), a trusty old AEA MM3 Morse Machine with a remote memory trigger, and a shiny chrome Bencher paddle.
My antennas include an old HyGain 3-ele tribander and various homebrew aerials - a 3-ele 17m Yagi (borrowed from my pal Morrie ZL2AAA), a 30m 4-square on the tin roof of my workshop, a 30+17m rotary dipole (currently on the ground, and now munted by the animals and the NZ sunshine), 80m and 40m fullwave wire loops dangling from ropes up convenient fir trees, a 12m fullwave wire delta loop on a lash-up fiberglass and PVC pipe support, a homebrewed 3 ele 6m quad (on the ground - didn't earn its place on the tower), and Other Stuff on a whim. I have 2 short towers and plenty of tall fir trees to support them - the wire antennas that is, not the towers. That would be silly.
Due to the cost and effort involved in installing low-loss coax feeders to each of my antennas ~100m from the shack, I use homebrew remote antenna switches to share the main feeder runs.
I live on the East coast of North Island New Zealand (IOTA OC-036) in sunny Hawke's Bay. It's a lovely site in a pine forest with a clear takeoff all round and no neighbours in sight: there are photos, aerial shots and lots more info on my website G4iFB.com.
Take a look at the Great Circle map to see how wet the world appears from ZL, and just how far we are from the main ham population centers (the purple circle shows the edge of our hemisphere):
I reply promptly to direct QSLs received, less promptly to bureau cards. If you want a direct QSL reply, please send at least US$2 or an IRC and a QSL-card-sized addressed return envelope. The round trip for direct cards takes a month or so. I suspect the ZL post office still uses wakas (canoes).
If you send insufficient funds, I will probably reply via the bureaux but not direct.
You can also request my QSL card through ClubLog's OQRS service. A couple of bucks via PayPal will pay for a direct card, otherwise if you are patient I will pop one in next batch of bureau cards for free.
Quickest and cheapest of all, I upload my log to LoTW frequently (literally every day when I'm active) so that's a quick and free option, though I still like to receive your QSL cards too. QSL cards take longer to prepare, process and distribute so please be prepared to wait. My current backlog is about 4,000 cards, half of which are ready to go to the buro any day now.
I hope you like my QSL card - it's a photo I took at Cape Reinga, a very beautiful, spiritual and culturally-significant spot at the very Northern tip of North Island NZ.
73 Gary ZL2iFB
PS As one of the volunteers who originally created and promoted it, I comply, and encourage you to comply, with the DX Code of Conduct:
I listen loads more than I transmit, and listen hard - more elephant than alligator.
I hold off until I can copy the DX station well enough to get his call and know that he is waiting for calls (I don't automatically believe DXcluster spots and always take trouble to confirm the DX callsign).
I send my callsign frequently, usually on every over of every QSO even when contesting or running a pile at high rates. When things get frantic, or if someone successfully tail-ends, or if a pal who clearly knows its me calls in, I may not ID 100% every single time, but I try not to make anyone listening-in wait any more than about a minute to find out who I am.
I don't interfere with DX stations nor other callers - at least not intentionally. I never tune up on the DX frequency or in his QSX slot. I have a dummy load for that.
We all occasionally make mistakes but I am not a frequency kop. I don't shout "UP! UP! UP!" like a demented parrot or berate someone for daring to transmit on the DX frequency when the DX is split, because I know that will just cause even more QRM for other more considerate DXers patiently listening on the side.
I don't interrupt QSOs. I wait for contacts to end before calling in. If you call over the top of my QSOs, causing QRM, I am much less likely to contact you. Please be patient and listen carefully to what I am sending. I mostly work DX, stations that may be out of hearing range at your end. Hint: "QRL" means "the frequency is busy", and "KN" means "go ahead the named station only". If you really wind me up by repeatedly ignoring my pleas and deliberately causing QRM, I will blacklist you. I may even record and publish your rudeness. Shame on you.
I always send my full callsign. I hate partials. If you call me, please give your full callsign or I may pointedly ignore you. This is a legal requirement in many countries, and it is inefficient and annoying to deal with the ignorant callers who repeatedly shout partials at me. Life's too short for partials.
Before calling CQ, I normally send "QRL?" once or twice, meaning "Is this frequency occupied?" The expected response is either silence, or else "QRL" or "Y" or "R" or "C" or whatever. Hint: if you send "QRL" on my frequency without the question mark, I cannot tell whether you are asking me if the frequency is busy, or if you are telling someone else (who I can't hear) that the frequency is busy - either way I will not respond. If you then start CQing, you will probably cause me QRM. Please don't forget the "?" in "QRL?"!!
When calling DX or CQ, I call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I don't call continuously, and I don't call at all if the DX is clearly calling someone else. If I'm not sure, I transmit reluctantly, leaving more time for others to call. See 1st bullet!
I hold back if the DX operator calls specific geographical areas other than PAC, OC or VK/ZL. If he is calling CQ Asia or NA/SA, I might call briefly to let him know the band is open to ZL, but I would much rather everyone called CQ PAC, CQ OC or CQ VK/ZL occasionally ...
On CW, I routinely use QSK (full break-in). Feel free to drop in your callsign while I am transmitting a CQ: if I hear someone on my frequency, I will normally stop transmitting to listen for them. Go ahead, try it! It doesn't always work, particularly if the frequency is busy with QRM and QRN, but I do my best. Hint: don't zero-beat with me too accurately. That way, I will find it easier to differentiate you from other callers. I normally run my RX filters at 2.7kHz bandwidth on all modes so there is a good chance I will copy you if you are way off-frequency (up 1 for instance).
I will normally try to match your speed. Send as slow or as fast as you like (up to about 40 WPM on CW, if the path is good enough anyway!). If you are uncomfortable sending as fast as me, send more slowly and I will do my best to QRS for you. You shouldn't ever need to ask me to "QRS"but if you do, I will gladly slow down futher - no worries. Likewise if you want to speed up, either send "QRQ?" ... or simply send faster. I'd be happy to wear out the speed pot on my MM3.
When a DX operator calls me, I repeat my call sign if he has copied it incorrectly. I persist doggedly until he has my call correct. The rest (including his report) can wait. Likewise if I send "QRZ?" I am asking you to repeat your call. If I send "CE3?" I am asking for the station with CE3 in his call to repeat. If your call does not contain CE3, QRX. You will get your turn. If I send "CE3 CE3 CE3?? KN", that's a big clue that I am losing my patience and may shortly QRT to cool off and regain my composure.
I try hard to pull weaker stations out of the pile. If you are QRP, it's up to you whether you sign "/QRP" (if your license allows it), simply mention that you are QRP, or don't let on until you send your QSL card. Generally speaking, if two or more people call me at the same time, I will do my level best to work the weakest one first if I can. It's not always possible, especially if rude ops with loud signals refuse to stand by a moment and give the tiddlers a chance. If the path is good enough, I may turn down the wick at my end to try for a two-way QRP QSO, although I would prefer to make the entire QSO on QRP before putting 2xQRP in my log and QSL cards.
I am thankful if and when I do make contacts. I QSL all QSOs within hours via LoTW. I send QSL cards via the bureau or direct for DXCC countries I still need, and respond 100% to the cards and email requests I receive. Please email me if you are left waiting for a card - due to my other interests, I often fall many months behind with my QSLing chores but I will catch up in the end, honestly.
I respect my fellow hams and try hard to conduct myself so as to earn your respect. If you think I am being inconsiderate or operating badly, please email me about it, preferably with an MP3 of whatever caught your attention. We can all improve our technique. Seriously, I welcome learning opportunities and honest feedback. If I know something is wrong, I will do something about it.
Thank you for reading this far. Please encourage others by referring to the DX Code of Conduct on your QRZ page, DXpedition and ham website. Together, we are making a difference: operating standards are far from perfect but they would be even worse if nobody cared. I care, and I hope you do too.