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ZS6AI South Africa flag South Africa

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QSL: eQSL (AG) LoTW or Direct with SAE and Postage

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Ham Member Lookups: 60854

 

Hello and thanks for looking up my call.                                           Website: www.zs6ai.co.za

Since childhood I have always been fascinated with radio. I built my first crystal set when I was about seven years old, and since we lived close to the BBC transmitter at Bell Bar I could listen to broadcast stations very easily although selectivity was not great! My Dad had a Heathkit Mohican which he built from a kit and we spent many hours listening to the shortwave bands and especially to the radio hams.

When I was fourteen I started evening classes for the Radio Amateur Examination at Southgate college on a Friday night. I went to about four or five classes but being a teenager I was easily distracted by the opposite sex and Friday night became the night out after I discovered girls, rock and roll and motor bikes! So my ham classes were put on hold for a few years. When I left school I studied Radio and TV servicing, first at Borehamwood college for a year, and then at Welwyn Garden City for four years. I served my apprenticeship with Rank Bush Murphy and went on to work for Visionhire TV Rentals.

In 1975 I had the opportunity to help set up Visionhire in South Africa, and there I met a lot of new people including a few radio hams. I was on a course in Johannesburg and met Abe Maran, ZS6GV. Abe and his brother Morris, ZS6BON owned Modern Radio, a business in President Street Johannesburg. This prompted me to study and finally take the South African Radio Amateur Exam which I passed in 1977. I had my first licence in 1978 with the call sign ZR6MO, and after passing the CW test a few months later I obtained my Class A licence and the call sign ZS6AI. I also wrote the City and Guilds Radio Amateur Exam in 1978 and obtained the UK call sign G4HCY. My CW mentor was Mike Sherman, ZS6IW (SK), who was an excellent CW operator. I put up a 12m tower and a Mosley TA-33 tri-band antenna which I bought from Mike. My first rig was a Yaesu FL-50, FR-50, FV-50 combination. I was very active in those early years on all bands, CW for the first year (a licence requirement) and then later SSB.

My shack around 1978 My Shack 1979

I started experimenting with packet radio in the early 1980s and it wasn't long before I had a packet BBS up and running using the call sign ZS6AI / ZS0CLP. My station was part of the ZS Packet Network in Johannesburg and my BBS had an HF gateway forwarding to 9Q5XO, Bill in Kinshasa and UA6LQ, Boris in Rostov-on-Don.

Living in Johannesburg has its problems - lightning! My first lightning strike destroyed my Icom 720A HF rig, Yaesu 2m and 70cm rigs plus my computer and packet TNCs. Within a few months I had managed to replace all my gear and was back on the air. A few years later on New Year's Eve lightning struck again, destroying everything in my shack. I was so upset I locked the door and didn't go back in the shack for over a month. I completely lost interest in amateur radio and turned to the Internet for my fix.

November 2013: I had been absent from the airwaves for about eighteen years, then a few months ago I got the bug again to get back on the air. I built a 5 band CobWebb antenna and bought a Kenwood TS-480SAT and after working a few DX stations the excitement returned. I still have a 3 element 15m monoband Yagi on a 10m tower but that has been up there for over twenty five years and needs to come down and be checked over; a project for later.

April 2014: I've been busy the last few months; I have installed another tower, an 18m crank up and on top I have a home brew 4 element 10m monoband Yagi. I'm using a Yaesu FT-920 running 100 watts output and since November 2013 I have worked over 140 countries and need just 8 more States for my 10m WAS. Contacts have been mostly on 10m SSB but a few on 10m PSK, a new mode for me. I'm really enjoying the hobby again!

November 2014: The 15m Yagi was taken down and checked over; only the coax had perished, that's not bad for a 30 year old antenna; they don't make them like that anymore!  I have installed another tower, 14m high and with the help of Stephen, ZS6SKY the 15m Yagi is on top along with a new 4 element 6m Yagi - watch out DX here I come! With 10m WAS complete now the next goal is 15m WAS. I have 176 countries confirmed for LoTW DXCC.

December 2015: It's been a busy year and I'm really enjoying the hobby again. I've been chasing DX on 15m and I have 148 countries confirmed on LoTW. On 10m I have 174 countries confirmed; I won't get into the history books but I'm really excited! I also have my 15m WAS. I managed first place for South Africa in the 2014 ARRL 10m Contest which was a great surprise. My 4 element 6m Yagi has proved to be a success. 6m is a fun band but openings are very scarce; I have managed to work 21 countries and I have 13 countries confirmed on LoTW. The digital modes have been fun especially with the poor band conditions. In October I started playing with JT65 and I can't believe the results I've had with just 10 watts. I have 101 countries confirmed on digital mode and 214 countries confirmed on mixed mode for LoTW DXCC.

December 2016: I couldn't have come back into the hobby at a worst time! Propagation has been terrible, we are at sunspot minimum and nobody seems to point their beams to South Africa, we are always off the side of the beam! Having said that I managed to rack up a few more countries for my DXCC. I now have a total of 220 countries confirmed on LoTW. On SSB I have 209 confirmed and 118 on Digital. On 15m I've managed 191 confirmed countries, 186 on 10m, 79 on 12m, 56 on 40m and 51 on 20m. I have a homebrew rotatable dipole on 20m that's only 6 metres off the ground so I can't expect great results on that band. I want to put that antenna on top of my 10 metre high tower; I'm just waiting for a volunteer to climb the tower for me! For 40m I have a homebrew inverted V antenna which seems to favour NE and SW best. I plan to put up another inverted V for 40m which would favour the U.S. and help me get my final 9 states I need for 40m WAS. I have 50 states confirmed on 15m and 10m SSB and on digital I just need Alaska on both 10m and 15m. If any Alaskan ham wants to make a sked on JT65, please let me know! I haven't worked anyone on 6m this year, not the fun band it's meant to be! You'll hear me most days on JT65, which now seems to be my main mode, not through preference but due to poor band conditions.

May 2017: I put up another 40m inverted V antenna and a homebrew 40m vertical antenna, but the band seems to have closed for winter! I need just 3 more states to complete my 40m WAS; MT, VT and WY. It looks like I’ll have to wait until the end of the year when the 40m band opens up again for DX. I also put up a new 20m homebrew inverted V antenna. I use this antenna most of the time as it seems to work better than my 20m rotary dipole, probably because it’s up much higher. Last month I found by chance that my 15m monoband Yagi loads up nicely on 17m. I've never worked on 17m before but the band seems busy with lots of DX stations. Since 15th April I have 51 countries confirmed on 17m, I think that’s pretty good for just over two weeks of working the new band. My total countries confirmed on LoTW now stands at 224 mixed, 211 phone and 139 digital. On 20m I now have 101 countries confirmed on LoTW, all worked on my wire antennas. On 12m I've been sitting on 99 confirmed for about the last 4 months, I just can't find that last country for 12m DXCC!

 

DXCC   New    WAS   New    WAS   New 
Award   LoTW QSLs   Award   LoTW QSLs   Award   LoTW QSLs
Mixed   224   Mixed   50   17M Digital   5
CW   1   40M   47   17M JT65   5
Phone   211   20M   43   15M Phone   50
Digital   139   17M   5   15M Digital   48
160M   1   15M   50   15M JT65   48
80M   2   12M   32   15M PSK31   11
40M   76   10M   50   15M PSK63   2
20M   101   Phone   50   12M Phone   16
17M   51   Digital   50   12M Digital   23
15M   195   JT65   50   12M JT65   23
12M   99   PSK31   33   10M Phone   50
10M   188   PSK63   2   10M Digital   49
6M   14   40M Phone   5   10M JT65   48
Challenge   727   40M Digital   47   10M PSK31   29
        40M JT65   47   Triple Play   100
        20M Phone   2   5-Band   190
        20M Digital   43        
        20M JT65   43        
                     

                                                                      My Antenna Farm!

                                     

                                

 

 

 

 

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8080099 Last modified: 2017-05-07 10:53:43, 27344 bytes

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United States Counties Award#409
Granted: 2016-07-19 04:20:02   (ZS6AI)

Endorsements:
  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 250 Counties Digital
  • 500 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
  • 500 Counties Mixed
  • 100 Counties Phone
  • 250 Counties Phone
United States Award#961
Granted: 2015-03-24 16:30:02   (ZS6AI)

Endorsements:
  • 10 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
  • 10 Meters Mixed
  • 15 Meters Mixed
  • 10 Meters Phone
  • 15 Meters Phone
DX World Award#1551
Granted: 2015-03-24 16:25:02   (ZS6AI)

Endorsements:
  • 10 Meters Mixed
  • 12 Meters Mixed
  • 15 Meters Mixed
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 10 Meters Phone
  • 15 Meters Phone
  • 15 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
Grid Squared Award#3450
Granted: 2015-02-15 20:12:41   (ZS6AI)

Endorsements:
  • 5 Band Digital
  • 10 Meters Digital
    12 Meters Digital
    15 Meters Digital
    17 Meters Digital
    20 Meters Digital
    40 Meters Digital
  • 5 Band Mixed
  • 10 Meters Mixed
    12 Meters Mixed
    15 Meters Mixed
    17 Meters Mixed
    20 Meters Mixed
    40 Meters Mixed
  • 10 Meters Phone
  • 15 Meters Phone
  • Mixed Phone
World Continents Award#3958
Granted: 2015-02-15 13:55:04   (ZS6AI)

Endorsements:
  • 5 Band Digital
  • 10 Meters Digital
    12 Meters Digital
    15 Meters Digital
    17 Meters Digital
    20 Meters Digital
    40 Meters Digital
  • 5 Band Mixed
  • 10 Meters Mixed
    12 Meters Mixed
    15 Meters Mixed
    17 Meters Mixed
    20 Meters Mixed
    40 Meters Mixed
  • 10 Meters Phone
  • 12 Meters Phone
  • 15 Meters Phone
  • 40 Meters Phone
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