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PA0WLB Netherlands flag Netherlands

SILENT KEY SILENT KEY

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QSL: Reported Silent Key

Ham Member Lookups: 17310

 

Hi, my name is William Dekker and I'm living in Alphen aan den Rijn in the western part of the Netherlands. At the age of 15 years I became fascinated by Ham Radio after discovering the 7 MHz band on my parent's broadcast radio. Soon I became a registered SWL as NL898. Like many other radio amateurs in those days my first real radio equipment was an old World War II radio, the well known Wireless Set No. 19. After passing the amateur radio exam in 1963 I got the call sign PAØWLB and became active on the 145 MHz band. During the 70's numerous contacts have been made, with the equipment shown below (right) and mainly using CW, via the early generation of Amateur Communication Satellites, the AMSAT-OSCAR 6 & 7, resulting in the first Satellite DX Achievement Award issued to a Dutch ham operator.

But apart from being a ham operator as a hobby, I was also professionally involved in radio communication as a radio system design engineer. As such I was responsible for the design and implementation of HF, VHF and microwave networks, initially mainly in Latin America and Africa but after the liberalization of the Dutch telecom market in 1997 also in my native country. Since January 2007 I'm retired and, apart from some occasional consultancy jobs, almost a full time ham. In the early 80's however my ham activities faded gradually, probably because of the resemblance between my professional and leisure activities, and PAØWLB ceased operation in 1982. But that didn't mean being short of hobbies. Other hobbies keeping me busy those days were aviation, photography, radio broadcasting, music, audio processing and writing software using assembly. A certain degree of fanaticism in whatever I'm doing as well as time constraints, made it practically impossible to explore all these areas of interest, including ham radio, simultaneously.

PA0WLB

But the saying "old love never dies" turned out to be true in July 1996 when I returned to ham radio after getting myself an IC-706 HF/VHF radio.The problem however was how to get RF into the air. Because meanwhile I had moved to an apartment on the first floor of a nine-storeyed apartment building. A great place to live near the border of a lake but unfortunately not a favourable one for the installation of antennae. Since the building owner doesn't allow antennae on the roof the only option left was to install my antennae on the balcony, only 4-5 metres above ground/sea level and screened from half of the world by the 8 floors above mine. Initial operation started on the 2 and 6 metre VHF bands with respectively a 3-el yagi and a 2-el HB9CV antenna both with a fixed SE bearing.

PA0WLB

While on the air again I gradually started to see the space and height restrictions I have as a challenge rather than a handicap. Working 1600 kilometres on 2 metres with a 16-el yagi as I did in the past was already exciting but doing the same now with a small 3-el yagi only 4 metres above ground and sea level is even much more rewarding. To date I've worked 25 DXCC entities on 2 metres and 75 on 6 metres from my present QTH, even in directions that are not "visible" from my balcony and even completely blocked by the apartment building I live in.

In March 2005 I installed an ECO balcony antenna for the 7, 14, 21 and 28 MHz bands on the balcony railing to explore the feasibility of HF operation within the space and height restrictions I have to live with. Considering the small size of this antenna and the proximity of reinforced concrete effectively screening the antenna in most directions, the results were beyond expections. In combination with my MFJ-945E HF tuner the antenna could also be used on the 10 and 18 MHz WARC bands. During the first 22 months of HF operation with this antenna QSO's were made with 139 DXCC entities and all continents mainly using CW, my favourite mode of operation.

PA0WLB

In January 2007 I replaced the ECO antenna with a 8 metre wire antenna suspended outside and in parallel with the balcony in combination with a CG-3000 automatic tuner. This tuner matches the wire antenna on all ham radio bands between 1.8 and 30 MHz. Since then I'm QRV on all bands from top band up to two metres with my balcony antennae.

Encouraged by the unexpected achievements with my modest balcony antennae I got more and more interested in DX-ing and I felt the need for a radio with DSP capability and a better ergonomy i.e. dedicated buttons for important functions like changing CW keyer speed, receiver bandwidth, setting split frequency offset etc. instead of having to go through a menu structure as is customary with compact radios like the IC-706. In that respect the purchase of an Icom IC-7400 in May 2007 was quite an improvement. In february 2012 the IC-7400 was replaced by an IC-7410. The IC-7410 is now my HF/50 MHz radio while the IC-706, in combination with a B-310-G 100 watt lineair amplifier, is being used for 144 MHz operation, mainly during the Sporadic-E season.

Since April 2011 I also have an MFJ Magnetic Loop Antenna in addition to the HF wire antenna on my balcony. Initially I used the high frequency version MFJ-1786X covering the bands between 10 and 30 MHz. Practical experience revealed that loop antenna outperforned the wire antenna on the lower bands while above 18 MHz the wire antenna performed equally well or sometimes even better than the loop. That's why I replaced the MFJ-1786X in September 2013 by the low frequency version MFJ-1788X (7-21 MHz) giving me also a better performance on the 7 MHz band compared to the wire antenna.

Antennae PA0WLB

Since March 2005 I've worked 219 DXCC entities on the HF bands with my balcony antennae and achieved various awards including DXCC (CW), WAE I (CW), RDA-100, VUCC and IOTA-100. Check my website for more information about me, my hobbies, former professional activities and the area where I live.

Although I use LoTW and eQSL I still prefer paper cards. Each first QSO on a particular band/mode will be automatically confirmed via the bureau.

QSL Cards PA0WLB

If we had a QSO before and you haven't got my card yet you may check my log and, if you're in, send me an email with QSO details and I will send you a QSL card via the bureau. Bureau cards go out once a month. Cards received direct, including SWL reports, will be answered direct. Although an SAE will be appreciated, there is no need to include an IRC or green stamps because, unlike rare DX stations, I don't have to deal with numerous direct QSL requests and moreover I appreciate your card as much as you (hopefully) appreciate mine as the final courtesy of our QSO.

 

6168013 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:20:52, 9047 bytes

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