Welcome to VK3HN’s amateur radio blog. My interests are radio craft, homebrew, QRP (low power communication), SOTA, repair, repurposing and ‘ad hoc-ism’ (making things from what’s available in piecemeal, bricolage fashion). I also like to write. For more ‘about me’ search up my QRZ.com page. If you like what you find here please leave a comment, no matter how brief.
‘Homebrew’ is an American term for user-designed and hand-made radios and electronics equipment. I have always built radios, mostly from scratch with whatever parts are on hand or could be scrounged, re-purposed or bought cheaply. I consider radio-making to be a kind of a craft, comparable with traditional hands-on crafts like model-making, tool-making, ‘Bush carpentry’.
Using homebrew radios and minimizing spend does not compromise my enjoyment of amateur radio — it is the basis of it. I choose designs and construction techniques not because they are State-of-the-Art but because they bring me engagement, enjoyment, or fulfill a whim. I have only one commercial transceiver (Icom 746Pro) which is mostly used for oscillator and signal monitoring. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just prefer to use my own project creations.
My projects are a curious mix of hand drawn/etched and manufactured circuit boards, surface mount and leaded components, analogue oscillators and Arduino micro-controllers and their software. I particularly like re-purposing a salvaged or liberated component, chassis, ‘found object’ or long-held piece from my (or someone else’s) youth. Because I make most of my own boards, I frequently cut them to snugly fit a corner, or layer them to achieve a pleasing or compact configuration. No two projects or even PCBs are ever the same. That’s why I call it radio ‘craft’.
I mostly build QRP SSB and CW transceivers from the late twentieth century, with digital oscillators and controllers but analog signal paths. Returning to radio making in 2015, I have found that it is now possible to build a transceiver with coverage and performance for less than $100 that I could only have dreamed about when I started in the late 1970s.
In late 2018 I started my first Class D 100 watt AM transmitter for 160 meters, with Pulse Width Modulation. This was followed with four more similar solid state PWM AM transmitters for 160, 80 and 40 meters. I have added a page of AM Transmitter Modules (on the blog menu) documenting a set of modules required to build one of the QRO transmitters, including JLCPCBs — this page has proven very popular with a new cohort of visitors.
Blogging and Vlogging
This blog is an open project and SOTA diary. I use it like a classic logbook, recording stories and narratives, design decisions, layouts, sketches, measurements, and reference material. All my SOTA posts include enough navigation information to help me or anyone else get back there in the future. I find I look things up here more than any other reference. Since it started in 2015, there have been over 350,000 views.
I use YouTube to supplement this blog. Video conveys so much information so efficiently it’s hard not to use it.
Summits On The Air
I do SOTA activations around VK3, using CW and SSB, mostly 40m, but also 160 to 20m. I use homebrew QRP rigs that I call ‘Summit Prowlers‘. SOTA is, for me, a form of leisure and recuperation that involves three healthy and enjoyable things — bush-walking, exercise, and portable low power radio operating. SOTA gives my homebrew projects a purpose. Here are some favourite quotes on the experience of climbing mountains:
It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks. — The 3 rules of mountaineering.
On respect for the mountains and the environment:
Take only pictures; leave only footprints. — Anon.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. — Sir Rannulph Fiennes
The choices we make lead up to actual experiences. It is one thing to decide to climb a mountain. It is quite another to be on top of it. — Herbert A. Simon.
On why we climb:
Its not the Mountain we conquer, but ourselves. — Anon.
Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains. — Jeffrey Rasley.
On mountain climbing as a metaphor for life:
Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain. — Anonymous.
To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top — Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
QSO Today interview
In April 2020 I was interviewed by Eric 4Z1UG for the 298th episode of QSO Today. https://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/vk3hn
History of VK3HN
In 2003-4 I re-licensed as VK3HN, a callsign distinguished by at least one of its former holders — J . McCandlish is engraved onto the Remembrance Day Trophy (with only 25 others) as an Australian amateur who lost his life in World War II (see the trophy and the list of amateurs here). He is listed in the text of the 1936 callbook at Sea Lake, north west Victoria.
The next holder (HJ NEWLAND, PO BOX 1134, BENDIGO) is a mystery to me and I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knew or worked him.
In response to my QRZ.COM page I received an email from David GW0OGI:
I was checking through old VK contacts and saw on qrz.com you asked if anyone had worked late VK3HN. My log shows contacts on 17m 16/02/93..21/03/93 and 08/10/93 all 59 signals both ways. Henry was a lovely character,full of wit and good humor,loved a rag chew.
So it seems Henry, the second holder of the call, was active up until at least 1993. More reports of Henry are most welcome!
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading, and please leave a comment or a ‘like’ !