I was first licensed in Sept 1986 as VK5ZWI whilst in Year 10 in High School and primarily operated ATV, VHF RTTY and AX.25 VHF Packet radio as well as Amateur Foxhunting from 1987 to ~2003. Then in 2004 I took a break from the hobby, maintaining only a basic 2m/70cm mobile station between 2004 and 2008. In 2008 I upgraded my callsign to VK5GR and slowly returned to the air, mostly on VHF/UHF. Finally in March 2016 I established a HF station at home, some 30 years after first getting my Amateur Radio License.
Within Amateur Radio I have been fortunate to experiment with a very diverse group of interests. In particular, I enjoy:
- Contesting (John Moyle Field Day, Remembrance Day Contest, Oceania DX Contest (through AREG) and several digital contests, notably the CQ WW and CQ WPX RTTY as well as Makrothen, Digifest, SPDX RTTY, Volta RTTY and some of the big PSK contests.
- High altitude balloon flights – doing flight operations and tracking/recovery (Visit the AREG Website for details of Project Horus)
- Community event communications – RPM200 Canoe Marathon event communications network design and coordination (with AREG)
- HF Digital Mode Operation (the more exotic, the more fun!)
- VHF/UHF Mobile (find me on the VK5RSB repeater in Adelaide on 439.900 -5MHz 91.5Hz CTCSS and shortly 53.750 -1MHz)
- APRS (I run VK5GR-9 mobile and VK5GR-1 as a weather station (both off air due to faults at present)
- Foxhunting (vehicle based variety)
I also run a DXCluster for VK5 via Telnet to gate.vk5gr.id.au:7300 (and when I get new VHF antennas on 147.575MHz 1200 Baud packet as well).
How did I get into HF?
It wasn’t until I started getting interested in HF Long Distance communications that I discovered the fun to be had chasing the rare ones. I can directly blame the VK0EK expedition for this, as only a few weeks after putting my first HF station to air I was lucky enough to work them on 40m RTTY (incidentally my only contact with them). That also ignited an interest in the RSGB IOTA program, which led me last year (September 2016) to dip my toe into the world of running simple expeditions.
2016 – IOTA OC-139 – Kangaroo Island
I took the family across to Kangaroo Island (IOTA OC-139), roughly 150km SW of home (and accessible by car ferry from the main land). Operating from OC-139 lit the fire for bigger and better things. Then, inspired by my good wife Sharon VK5FSAW, we decided to ‘go for broke’ and try something bold. Having always enjoyed visiting the more out of the way places, and considering it was a South Pacific Island that I hadn’t heard anyone operate from since I had been on the air, the idea to visit Niue was born.
2017 – IOTA OC-040 – Niue
My next trip was a little bolder, now dealing with airlines, customs and international reciprocal licensing. It was off to the Island Nation of Niue for 2 weeks in the South Pacific. Still running as a holiday style expedition, we had a LOT of fun and made over 2500 contacts over 12 days. Now I was really bitten so bigger and grander things are now being planned!
2018 – IOTA OC-035 – Efate, Vanuatu
More antennas and more time on the radio! In fact a little too much time on the radio with 8 hours a day in the seat, 8 hours a day with the family and 8 hours a day asleep. Now I know I need a team to come with me. Even so, I made over 3300 contacts in 12 days on air.
2019 – IOTA OC-049 – Tongatapu, Tonga
I finally am branching into setting up and running a full on expedition. There are 4 team members, even more antennas, multiple stations and multiple contests and activities. We will be out on Tonga for 14 days and on air for 12 again. Wish me luck. At the same time, this might be the last expedition for a couple of years for me. Self funding these is simply not sustainable. Even with the sponsorship we are receiving on Tonga we are still investing substantial amounts of our own funds. So it might be 2022 before I head out again on a new project of my own. Then again, never say never 🙂
Other HF Activity
I am also enjoying chasing DX and IOTA – having confirmed my first 100 islands in 2017 as well as qualifying my 3 band DXCC and reaching almost 230 countries worked.
I am also having loads of fun contesting and am slowly plotting a way to get onto 80 and 160m from home. That is a project for later in 2018!
Wish me luck and good DX – de Grant VK5GR / E6AG!