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I'm now doing youtube videos on the Icom IC-7610!  My latest one is here:



Breaking (Literally) News

Whilst playing with the new WSJT-X FT8 Mode running 120 Watts on 80M and making some new cables at my desk, a catastrophic failure of my station occured :(

In one swift blow, my 13.8V supply went into overload protection, taking everything offline in an instant, except my amplifier.

Resetting the protection, everything came back.  I proceeded to test my IC-7300 into my Bird dummy load, only to find it had no output - the best it would do was about 1 Watt on 6M, so it sounds like the finals are toast.  Off to Icom it goes. [UPDATE: New Finals & full alignment; fixed by Icom Australia in 1 week under warranty].

No problem right? I'll just use my backup IC-7200 for a while; a bit of nostalgia will be fun!  Plugging it in revealed a healthy 100 Watts. :)

The next step was to test the Amp.  I decided on a conservative 10 Watts input, tested that again into the dummy load, and then power cycled the amp.  I was prompted as usual to put it into operate, only to be greated with 'PROT FUSE BLOW' on the LCD.  I knew from manual reading this was a cover off fuse, so off to the bench it went for analysis.  A new fuse was put in, only to instantly blow the minute the amp was put back into OPER.  Oh dear. [UPDATE: Amplifier is with VK3GUY; Finals are toast, as are bias resistors and the bias board has issues.  Awaiting parts].

Thankfully, my lovely Palstar HF-AUTO escaped unscathed.  The THP HL-2.5Kfx is now off with VK3GUY for repair, and I was lucky enough to find someone with a New In Box / New Old Stock THP HL-450B to use in the meantime, as well as a Manson 60 Amp power supply to go with it!

The heartbreaking thing is I was just about to commence on a big station upgrade; custom shelving, casters on the desk, all new quality grade cables (crimped Amphenol connectors on Benelec RG-213/U or Benelec LL400), and of course a West Mountain Radio 8012 fusable power distribution unit.  

I had reached the point where I felt my shack was complete, and it was time for "cosmetics".  I'd even managed to acquire some great second hand 5" studio monitors with balanced inputs to avoid hum on TX, and had ordered a bunch of balanced relay switching modules off eBay to construct a nice Mic/PTT/ALC/Audio radio selector!  

I still don't have a reasonable hypothesis regarding what happened.  The only thing that had changed was I had begun using the FT8 mode, which has a rather unique duty cycle of 13 seconds on / 17 seconds off, although temperature monitoring had thus indicated that this was 10 degrees less 'stressful' than JT65B.  Hopefully Icom and VK Radio (VK3GUY) can help root out the cause of the failure. [The wonderful Icom tech couldn't offer any insight as to why the finals went, only that it is uncommon].

To top it all off?  I pulled my back loading the Amp into the truck and had to take 2 days off work due to the physical pain!


About Me

My name is Jarrad, and my current QTH is in Ferntree Gully at the base of the Mt Dandenong Ranges, 30Km from the City Centre of Melbourne.

My formal training is in Sociology & Philosophy, however I am an avid reader and autodidact, possessing knowledge of and interest in many fields.  My employment has primary consisted of working in IT as a System Administrator and Network Engineer; I currently work for a premium business grade Internet Service Provider, Summit Internet.  

I have had an interest in electronics since childhood, and finally got around to obtaining my Amateur Radio licence due to the encouragement of my dear friend and elmer, VK3HBN.  I have been obsessed ever since, and continue to find new interests and make new friends, especially on the 40M band where I love to ragchew.

I love DXing, and am often found chasing the latest DXPedition or working JT65 (now FT8).  My band of interest at the moment is 80M.  So far, I am up to 39 confirmed using primarily digital modes; JT65B in the wee hours of the morning is the trick. 

I was bitten by the DXing bug early on, and have achieved DXCC for Mixed, Phone, Digital, 40M and 20M bands so far.  Of course, I have yet to shell out the money for the certificates, but the ARRL assures me that I can with LoTW. :)

I also enjoy homebrewing, especially antennas as I enjoy building things, and am addicted to continually trying to improve my station in all ways; especially regarding signal and audio quality.  

Hope to see you on the air!  Always up for a ragchew with likeminded folk - I'm quite friendly so say hello! :)

I just recently published a blog article on the art of ragchewing and tips to get the most out of it; if anyone is interested it can be found here: https://vk3bl.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/tips-for-becoming-a-seasoned-ragchewer/

I am a paid up member of the ARRL.


I currently hold the call signs:

VK3BL (Advanced Australian Licence)

XU7AGA (Full Cambodian Licence)


Future Projects - Station Cosmetics & Usability 

  • Castors under my desk so I can roll it forward for maintenance & cabling [Done]
  • Custom shelving for my gear, putting everything in reach and looking nice [Done]
  • Quality custom shortest length possible 10mm (RG8) sized interconnect cables
  • West Mountain Radio 8012 fused 13.8V power distribution box [Installed]
  • Shortest practical length PowerPole based DC cables for all rigs [Installed]
  • Homebrew Radio Selector Switch (Balanced Mic, Balanced Audio, ALC, TX & Antenna)
  • Put up a 2M & 70CM Antenna for repeater work and a bit of SSB [Diamond X-30M (10M High) & Diamond X-50M (5M High) Installed]


Previous Project

Having recently got 100 DXCC confirmed on 40M, and with the sunspot cycle declining, I decided it was time to get onto the 80M band, and my 52ft Doublet wasn't going to cut it.  I did still want to be able to use my other favourite bands of course; 40M & 20M.

As such, I decided to go with a 102ft Doublet, otherwise known as a G5RV!  My coax feedline is Andrew FSJ-450B 1/2" Superflex Heliax, and its only long enough to get out of the shack into my homebrew balun, which is 5 turns through 4 FT240-31 Cores.

Now, the real part of the project was getting the Doublet into the air.  After a few weeks of planning, I managed to get it up 14M at the Apex, and 10M on either end.  The masts are aluminium, and have been considerably overengineered so they are freestanding (with a 'pier' mounted base).

The main mast tubing consists of ~3.5M of 60mm x 5mm, ~6.5m of 50mm x 3mm, ~3m of 44mm x 1.6mm and then finished off at the top with 1m of 32mm (nominal!) PVC Pressure pipe to keep the feed line and elements insulated.

Its early days, but so far I'm overwhelmingly happy with the mast and antenna!

One of the end supports serves as a full sized 1/4 wave vertical for 40M, and so far I am quite happy with its DX performance, although I still need to lay many more radials.  The ground is way to wet at the moment, but come Spring I plan to do 3-4 a weekend until I hit the 32 mark.



  • Primary HF Radio: Icom IC-6710 Standalone SDR
  • Secondary HF Radio: Icom IC-7300 Standalone SDR 
  • DXPedition HF Radio: Icom IC-7200
  • 2M & 70CM SSB Radio: Icom IC-7100 
  • Experimental & Ragchew Radio: Apache Labs ANAN-100D 
  • Boatanchor HF Radio: Yaesu FT-101E
  • Station Monitor: SDRPlay RSP2
  • Microphone: Heil PR-40 or PR-781
  • Speech Processing: DBX 286s, DBX 266xs, DBX 133s
  • Speaker (2&70): Yaesu SP-2000
  • Speakers (Main): Rokit RP-5 G2 Active Studio Monitors (Balance Fed)
  • Linear Amplifier 2: Tokyo Hy-Power HL-2.5Kfx (off getting serviced)
  • Linear Amplifier 2: Tokyo Hy-Power HL-450B (currently in use)
  • Antenna Tuner 1: Palstar HF-Auto (currently in use)
  • Antenna Tuner 2: LDG AT-600Pro II with M-600 Meter 
  • Power Supply 1: Manson SPS-8400 40 Amp Analogue Meters
  • Power Supply 2: Manson SPS-9600 60 Amp Digital Meters
  • Dummy Load: Bird 8201 500 Watt CCS DC to 2.5GHz <1.25:1
  • Portable HF Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND
  • 2M/70CM FM Radio: Yaesu FT-8800R
  • Handhelds: Yaesu VX-7R & VX-3R
  • Antenna #1 (HF): 102 ft Doublet (G5RV), 14M High
  • Antenna #2 (HF): 1/4 Wave 40M Vertical (Homebrew Self Supporting)
  • Antenna #3 (2&70): Diamond X-30M, 10M High, 45M LMR-400 Feed (Best Performer)
  • Antenna #4 (2&70): Diamond X-50M, 5M High, 20M LMR-400 Feed 


My DXPeditions

LoTW has my official log for all QSOs, so it would not be wise to create fake QSLs with my calls.  The images above also contain slight changes to the actual QSL card sent out.


8438214 Last modified: 2017-11-07 15:07:24, 20936 bytes

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World Continents Award#14806
Granted: 2016-08-03 16:34:18   (VK3BL)

  • 20M Digital
  • 40M Digital
Grid Squared Award#13410
Granted: 2016-08-03 16:34:14   (VK3BL)

  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
  • 20M Digital
  • 40M Digital
  • 20M Phone
United States Counties Award#2807
Granted: 2016-07-21 16:14:05   (VK3BL)

  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 250 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
DX World Award#4029
Granted: 2016-06-11 16:00:02   (VK3BL)

  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
  • Mixed Digital
  • Mixed Phone
United States Award#2182
Granted: 2016-05-21 10:50:14   (VK3BL)

  • 40 Meters Mixed
  • 40M Digital
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