Happy 2017 Everyone!
The New Year is about beginnings for many, so it seems as good a time as any to share my story about how I started in amateur radio.
I was introduced to Amateur Radio in the Early 1990s by Charles Payne, VK7PP. I met Charles when I was tracing back the history of my Heron Sailing Dinghy, Sobraon, at the time and which he and his son Andrew built in the 1970s. When he took me up to his study to find some photos, he pointed out all his amateur radio gear and showed me how to make contact. After that I visited several times over the next 2-3 years to explore amateur radio after school, before leaving for college meant that it was too difficult to visit.
I had maintained an interest in electronics at high school and this continued in to college with the electronics courses on offer at Rosny College. It was here that I met Reg Emmett VK7KK who was my electronics teacher. I’m not quite sure how I came to know how Reg was an AR operator, though I suspect I may have spoken about my experiences with Charles. At some point Reg offered to start a Amateur Radio Station at Rosny College.
In due course the callsign VK7ACR was procured. the requirements back in the day dictated that “VK7A*” was issued to clubs/associations. CR for College, Rosny was chosen over RC, as when pronounced Reg was concerned it may sound like “Arsey”.
Initial contacts occurred using a small Yaesu VHF Handheld. We used to makes contacts through VK7RHT(?) that was originally located on Mount Wellington. I remember at the time RHT used DTMF to link to other repeaters around the state – a predecessor of IRLP. Keying “11x”, where x was a number 0-3 would result to switching in links to repeaters in the north, 110 closing the links.
I recall that I used to make regular contacts with members of what was thing the WIA Tasmanian Branch through VK7OTC the club station. Along with the club station, I would almost always have a conversations with John Rogers VK7JK, Kevin Davis VK7KV, Richard Rogers VK7RO, Bill Gwynne VK7KBG, Bill Reid VK7WR, Dave Marsland VK7DM, Mike Jenner VK7FB, Trevor Spargo VK7TS. There are perhaps many other callsigns that I cannot remember now. I particularly remember being anointed the name “Gentle Ben” by Kevin on one of my first visits to the WIA clubrooms.
Later, Reg was able to lend to the college an Kenwood TS-520 to get on HF. This meant as part of the electronics class he had myself and a friend build an 80-40 fan dipole that was placed on the roof of Rosny College. This was all a little bit exciting being one of only a couple of students allowed on the roof of the college.
The TS-520 was set up in the plant room of the college. It wasn’t overly noisy, which meant it was quite comfortable to set up a table and work there. I remember Reg having to teach me how to plate tune the 520, by dipping the grid and adjusting the drive. God knows if I could do that again now. I also remember having to log every contact. Unfortunately I cannot remember any of the contacts made.
VK7ACR operated between 1996-1997 and as far as I know was disbanded after I left college.