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VK2GEL Australia flag Australia

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Gday, a tribute to my Australian born Father, who travelled to England to fight WW2 in an RAF Squadron

The genesis of my interest in radio and radar was hearing 7HT, an AM broadcast station many miles away in Tasmania, on my Father's bedside clock radio one night in Sydney. I was also amazed by black and white TV skip during Summer.I then started listening to SSB on an AM only shortwave receiver whilst holding down the transmit button on a 27MHz walkie talkie.Then Dad took me to see a ham with a Kenwood TS-520, and the rest as they say is history. Little did I know that Dad had just introduced me to the world's first electronic social network. It used to be rare to have a two way radio on your person or in your vehicle. Now everyone has a radio (cell phone) in their pocket ! If we could see radio waves, we wouldn't be able to see anything else.

I have always been fascinated by the sky and our ability to conjure morse code, voice and music out of thin air. I find myself looking up for antennae and contrails wondering what the view might be like from up there.

Aircraft are built on some of man's greatest discoveries, such as physics, metallurgy, plastics, physiology, internal combustion engines, computers, radar and radio, etc., and aviation has become my life work. I have been licensed as cabin crew on the Boeing 737, flight engineer on the 727, Captain on the 767, and am currently a Captain on the 747. I have flown the 747-100, -200, -300, -400, SP, ER and combi models.

The 747 has been flying since 1969, before the first moon landing, about 1500 have been delivered, and to my knowledge there have only been 2 hull loss accidents attributable to the design. The original model had 6 million parts, 274 kilometres of wiring and 971 lights, guages and switches. It was designed and built in 29 months, using pencil, paper and slide rule. No computer aided design. It is known as the Queen of the Skies. The Wright brothers could have fit their historic first flight inside a 747 economy section.

My Father retired on the 747 in 1978 and with any luck I will retire on it as well. All 3 males of my immediate family have flown the 747, and Mum was a stewardess on DC-3's.

Current ham radios are IC-7000, KX2, and TH-D72A. Interests include SOTA, VKFF and CW. Please visit my Sydney Reverse Beacon Network node, ship AIS Receiver and Tuneable Receiver (free sign up).

Flying started here, career in photos follow:

A typical 747 has 32 radios: 2 x 400 watt voice HF's, 3 x 25 watt voice/data VHF's, 2 x 100 watt 9GHz radars, 2 x GPS, 1.5GHz 60 watt voice/data satcom, 2 x 75MHz marker beacons, 3 x VHF LOC localiser, 3 x UHF glide slope, 2 x LF ADF automatic direction finder, 2 x VOR VHF omni directional range, 2 x 1GHz 600 watt transponders, 2 x 1GHz 700 watt DME distance measuring equipment, 3 x 500mW 4.3GHz radar altimeters, 3 x 406MHz EPIRB's.


Inside nose radome: From the top, Localiser, Weather radar, Localiser and Glide Slope x 2

Forward roof: TCAS in front of red beacon, transponder/low gain Sat/VHF and GPS behind

Aft roof: ADF (black), Sat high gain, EPIRB

Vertical stabiliser: 9' shunt fed slot type HF in lower leading edge (silver), VOR/LOC in top

Belly aft: VHF

Belly mid: Marker

Belly forward: Radar altimeter x 6, DME and VHF, and TCAS

Special 747's:


Satellite LauncherOne



Reportedly has a 5 mile long wire antenna for sub comms, and still has analog instruments for EMP protection


Other photos

Last flight, landing on a short runway


Lest we forget

My second career choice would have been road safety. Some road safety messages from New South Wales and Queensland:

The Fatal Five

1. Fatigue


2. Impaired


RBT = random breath testing. Note the licence plate in memory of Senior Constable David Rixon, murdered during a traffic stop



3. Speed

Note the licence plate in memory of Senior Constable Jim Affleck, murdered during a road spike deployment

List of speed enforcement equipment used in Australia

Digital speedo


and Radar

Radar or Lidar evasion

results in...

4. Distracted

'There is no excuse' for illegal mobile phone use


5. Seat belts

'Double The Consequences' and 'Think Twice' refer to double demerit points on some public holidays. Deaths on NSW roads have reduced by a third during holidays since the introduction of the double demerit points scheme.


Yamaha FJR 1300




Other links

Personal distance records:

Ship at 1313 nautical miles from Dampier in162MHz marine band across the Indian Ocean near Cocos Islands:

Ship at 1129 nautical miles from Port Macquarie, NSW in 162MHz marine band across the Tasman Sea to the East of New Zealand:

Ship at 936 nautical miles from Dampier in162MHz marine band across the Indian Ocean, North of Java, Indonesia:

24 hour AIS ship plot in 162MHz marine band from Dampier across the Indian Ocean to Timor and North of Bali, Indonesia:

ADS-B heard up to772 nautical miles, across the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand:


HF data link:

Sites that I use:

Maritime mobile on Bertram 28, note PAR end fed 10/20/40

Home made and commercial beams:

Slim Jim AIS antenna made from 300 ohm TV ribbon inside 25mm conduit:

7km 2.4GHz wireless link to a less RF hostile site in Sydney, using Bullet2's that connect directly (no coax) to 18dB panels, and UHF beam:

Sydney harbour Terma radar

Note IP switch in grey box for remotely interrupting DC to an unresponsive Windows laptop, then restart with wake-on-LAN


Wellbrook loop

WSPR beacon:

Top shelf is a Yaesu FT-817 as a frequency hopping beacon. Bottom shelf is an active coupler switched with an RF sensing antenna switch and Icom PCR-1000 available for tuning

WSPR antenna, a PAR end fed 10/20/40

and a 24 hour trace of the results using 500mW


Inside my ride from top left: Logitech C910 webcam, 10GHz radar detector detector, 24GHz radar, GPS antenna, Icom 7000 remote head, laptop based in car video http://www.curioustech.net/

Nagoya UT-108 magnabase

Lighthouse weekend 2011, inverted V on day 1

7m squid pole vertical due wind on day 2, 'slinky' antenna and SGC237 auto tuner:

Lighthouse day 2012 Hornby light, Sydney harbour

Photos from work trips:

London, MI6

Heathrow ATC radar

Metropolitan Police vehicle and HQ


I enjoy contrail spotting. Predictions here

Standing on either side of prime meridian (zero degrees longitude) at Greenwich

Bletchley Park

Mount Cook, New Zealand


Los Angeles



Hong Kong


Unmarked Prius, note GPS antenna and Motorola quarter wave on roof


Ham shop

Scaffolding Hong Kong style


Close to Antarctica

Johannesburg: ATC, never seen so many stacked dipoles

On the way to somewhere, note landing lights on at low power to keep them warm


Me walking around Perth:

Some scenes that took my eye, most photos are mine, all credit to their owners:

L band TARS  and more here

On the engine cowling is Virgin Galactic's time line on the history of flight. Note the 747 before the moon lander, and then X prize

Sydney airport coffee shop

Boeing 787 Dreamliner visiting Sydney

Sydney Mode S Terminal Radar renewal

Sydney airport X band surface radar (photo courtesy Kurt Ams – Sydney Airport Message Board – yssyforum.net)

Gold Coast ATC radar

Willis Island (off Cairns) weather radar


Northern New South Wales repeater

Remote ATC and ADS-B

Courtesy OL7M

Asian influence in Broome Western Australia

Lightning protection arc gap between balls on VLF tower (photo courtesy VK6HV)

Too much wind

A good earth

Other contrails

VH-NLK B737 Melbourne - Norfolk Island

Singapore 281 B777 from Singapore to Auckland

VH-VNJ A320 Brisbane to Melbourne crossing contrails


a day at a similar office

24 hours of world air traffic

Canadian aurora cam http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/auroramax/connect.asp

Around world in space station http://vimeo.com/michaelkoenig/earth-timelapse-iss

Square kilometre array

Over the horizon radar

Climbing a 1700' tower (not me!) http://file.qip.ru/embed/139653439/bb7b65c3

Another coming down http://fmtvdx.eu/zendmast/smilde/hoogersmilde06.html

Free music

Who said pilots can't sing http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=yA36wU4jgj4

There's nothing you can't do..These streets will make you feel brand new..Big lights will inspire youhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qHagigQRKqU

Lightning hitting aircraft http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVzOENacg6E&feature=player_embedded

Clipper Ocean Pearl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaStEgS59bw&feature=related

St. Maarten from inside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksmDuXO_k6E

from outside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfQwDizpRo

departure http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu91oZ2_Vag&feature=related

If you like engines, turn up the volume http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWu72EQn0Lw

Too many nuts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TZlqaExdhM&feature=player_detailpage

CW tools: News reader http://morse-rss-news.sourceforge.net/andQSO direct over net http://www.mrx.com.au/d_cwcom.htm

A great book about radar, from war to peace http://www.amazon.com/INVENTION-THAT-CHANGED-WORLD-PIONEERS/dp/0684835290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345690885&sr=1-1&keywords=buderi+the+invention

The Bruneval raid

iPhone apps:

Australians invented the 'black box' flight recorder and aircraft DME distance measuring equipment

Some info on Australia, by Douglas Adams of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy" fame:

"Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom
half of the planet. It is recognizable from orbit because of many unusual
features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting
sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology
and plate tectonics, but they still call it the " Great Australian Bight "
proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory but
they can't spell either!

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the
place. Where other landmasses and sovereign lands are classified as either
continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically,
it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be
divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of
the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous
arachnids, Australia has all of them. However there are curiously few
snakes, possible because the spiders have killed them all.

But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful
to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet seats (before
sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this

At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus - estranged relative
of the mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs,
detects its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric eel and has
venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical'
Australian attributes into a single improbable creature.

The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants. First, a short history:

Sometime around 40,000 years ago, some people arrived in boats from the
north. They ate all the available food, and a lot of them died. The ones who
survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man's proper place in
the scheme of things and spiders. They settled in and spent a lot of the
intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north. More
accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and stupid
people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in Autumn (failing to take
account of the reversal of the seasons when moving from the top half of the
planet to the bottom), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It is
interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves
vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat,
steal, and litigate (marks of a civilised culture they say) - whereas all
the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast
red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on Extended
Holiday and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by
the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person
can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their
essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside your
boots every morning for fatal surprises. They also picked up the most finely
tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up
stories. Be warned.

There is also the matter of the beaches. Australian beaches are simply the
nicest and best in the entire world. Although anyone actually venturing into
the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a
fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock and has
venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the pain)
and surfboarders.

However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk. As a result of all this
hardship, dirt, thirst and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a
dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful and always willing to share
a kind word with a stranger, unless they are American!

Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile
disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been
performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string, and mud. Alone of all the
races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is Greener on the
other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is,
in fact, the other side of that fence. They call the land "Oz", "Godzone" (a
verbal contraction of "God's Own Country") and "Best bloody place on earth,
bar none, strewth." The irritating thing about this is they may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveler, though. Do not, under
any circumstances, suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are
comparing it to another kind of Australian beer. Do not wear a Hawaiian
shirt. Religion and Politics are fairly safe topics of conversation,
(Australians don't care too much about either) but Sport is a minefield.

The only correct answer to "So, howdya' like our country, eh?" is "Best
(insert your own regional swear word here) country in the world!". It is
very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will 'adopt' you on
your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian Beer is served.
Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse. It is a form of initiation rite.
You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul taste in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes.

Your hosts will usually make sure you get home, and waive off any legal
difficulties with "It's his first time in Australia , so we took him to the
pub", to which the policeman will sagely nod and close his notebook. Be sure
to tell the story of these events to every other Australian you encounter,
adding new embellishments at every stage and noting how strong the beer was.

Thus you will be accepted into this unique culture.

Most Australians are now urban dwellers, having discovered the primary use
of electricity, which is air-conditioning and refrigerators.

Typical Australian sayings:-

* "G'Day!"

* "It's better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!"

* "She'll be right mate."

Tips to Surviving Australia :

* Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason WHATSOEVER.

* The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think
it is.

* Always carry a stick.

* Air-conditioning is imperative.

* Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist
and extremely good in a fist fight.

* Wear thick socks.

* Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are
people nearby.

* If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at
all times, or you will die.

* Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always
a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore."


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