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QSL: SILENT KEY

Ham Member Lookups: 13266

 

SILENT KEY

Hello, I'm Rob.

I'm living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and since early childhood (back in the late fifties) I'm addicted to various forms of radio communication. This started off with listening to the strange noises that emitted from the valve radio we had, when it was slowly tuned through the 'Petit Ondes' (shortwave) bands.

Listening to the voice code transmissions of the East block intelligence urged me to write a stack of noteblocs of about one foot high full with the female voice shouting numbers in German like "FUNEFF!- ACHT!- DRRREI!- ZWO!- ACHT!- ACHT!- VIER!..." etcetera.
I did this to give myself a sense of involvement, and to impress friends. All without having a clue of what I was talking about or listening to.

A memorable milestone was there when I got a Crystal Radio in kitform for my eighth birthday, which enabled me to listen to radio broadcasts uncontrolled by parental authority (under the blanket).

Later I took up serious hunting of broadcast and utility signals, and learned to recognise RTTY, Facsimile, 200 percent AM modulation depth (North Africa and Egypt), propagation effects etc.
At the time I had a Philips BX135U, a so called "U-receiver" a transformerless radio, in which all voltages for the valve heaters and cathode/anode biasing were delivered through rectifiers and resistors. One phase of the mains voltage (220V, 50Hz) was directly connected to the chassis. Presented then as a feature, I can now only conclude that it was a production cost-saver, eliminating the need for a transformer.


A friend, who owned a U-rec too, and who is like me supprisingly still alive, told me to earth the chassis for better reception.

Great. I had a water supply pipe running through my Frankenstein-style room, and there I was, with a wire running from the chassis of the darned little killer in one hand, ready to grab the water pipe with the other...

I don't remember what I said when my parents hurdled in, but it must have been brilliant because if they knew what had really happened I would still be in custody, locked in the coal barn.

A while later it became inevitable that I would have my own transmitter and talk back to the world. So I built a piece of garbage that ran one Watt into a dipole. It was frequency-modulated and tunable between 100 and 107 MHz. The frequency also appeared to be a function of the temperature, so it was a superb telemetric thermometer as well!


Apart from me being unlicensed at the time, working this thing on that frequencies was (and is!), by all means, illegal.
When I think of that ugly bug, with it's spurious emissions that must have been just a couple of dB's down as compared to the carrier, and that spurious being probably right smack in the middle of the aviation band, I can still hide my face in schame. I lived only 6 kilometres from Schiphol Airport.


We were a group, five or six or so, that locally Rag Chewed over that part of the FM-broadcast band when one night, at about two in the morning, there was some knocking on the door. Not the familiar knocking of a neighbour, but the (unfamiliar) knocking of a neighbour in panic.
So I went for the door and opened it. It wasn't the neighbour, and after some gazing the terrible truth settled. Right there in front of me were five men. Two of them were from the radio control department, the other three were police officers equipped with torches and tools to break open floors. Bo-peep!


"Gentlemen, what can I do for you" I said, although to me it felt like some other "me" said it for me. They told me that according to their information there was an illegal transmitter on the premises. I started to re-assemble into utter denial, when suddenly the little loudspeaker in my room played the overture to my downfall. It sounded: "Rob! Rob!!! quit this QSO and hide your rig, they're sweeping the whole town. Out!".


Left with nothing to build an atmosphere of innocence upon, I invited them in, gave them chairs and put the kettle on.
An hour later they left, having confiscated the ugly bug, the power supply, an SWR meter, my sophisticated (I mean: primitive) Goerler FM tuner and my record player with a copy of Emerson Lake and Palmer's album "Tarkus" still on it.

---------------------------

My professional life is devided in two: I am a commercial photographer with a studio facility in Amsterdam, and a part-time Broadcast operator working in Hilversum.

When I ride my recumbent bicycle or "ligfiets" (a blue Rainbow Lyra) I'm QRV using an Icom IC-E92D, either on an analogue repeater or on the D-Star network.

Since the spring of 2013 I sometimes drag a portable HF field kit in a Radical Design Cyclone trailer (towed by my recumbent bicycle). It carries a number of items:

1. Yaesu FT-817ND radio
2. 12V 7Ah lead gel battery
3. Emtech ZM-2 ATU
4. two pieces of 15m wire
5. Glass fibre telescopic mast from DX-Wire
6. Twin lead feeder
7. Mini Iambic paddle from Palm Radio. August 2014 I replaced it for a Porta-Paddle 2 from American Morse Equipment. This one has a somewhat more direct feel to it.
8. Paperwork (mini log, Atlas, etc.)

March 2014 I added a HyEndFed antenna. The QRP three band (10m; 20m; 40m) version. Link here.

With this material I can easily set up an inverted V aerial that's centre fed (and by construction of the ZM-2 balanced and completely floating), or I can wind one wire on the mast (helix-wise) and have an effective vertical, draping the other wire on the ground so as to act as counter capacitance.

Carrying a world atlas with all this may be a little pretentious, but if the dx-gods are with me, they only have to check my luggage to see what I'm aiming at. In the mean time I worked Spitsbergen on 15 metres with SSB, from a picknick table in the countryside SE of Amsterdam.
Using nothing more than the RF power equal to a bicycle generator, so: so far so good.

March 2014: with my new HyEndFed antenna I worked Knoxville Tennessee with the same radio. I was located in the Amsterdam Forest, at the top of the rowing lane (Bosbaan).

At home I'm experimenting with magnetic loop antennas for shortwave. I also try to be a good cook, but the cuisinal explosions outnumber the Ham shack ones to date.

My oldest rig is a Kenwood TS-520, and in addition (addiction?) to that I'm running some Icom sets for HF and VHF/UHF.

Since attempting to ground the chassis of that transformerless Philips "U"-radio to a copper water pipe back in the sixties, and thus having experienced the real mother of all electro-shocks, I cheerfully conclude that my Karma must be Amateur Radio.

It still is. And it will ever be.

Peace to all,

Rob

P.S. November 2014 I was diagnosed with colon cancer. While this is frightening to say the least, the treatment of these sorts of things has improved tremendously nowadays.

5 February 2015: I'm back home recovering. I'm back on the airwaves aswell! :-)

11 March 2015 Silent Key because of complications after surgery. (admin)

6176357 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:21:32, 9057 bytes

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