Welcome to VK3HN’s amateur radio blog. My interests are radio craftsmanship, 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 ‘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 amateur radio homebrew (radio making) to be a kind of vernacular design language and its practice a craft, comparable with traditional hands-on crafts like tool making, ‘Bush carpentry’ and black-smithing.
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) and it is currently packed away. 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 transceivers from the late twentieth century. 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 E 100 watt AM transmitter for 160 meters. Top band, Class E and Pulse Width Modulation are new challenges to me that I hope to pursue with more QRO AM transmitter projects.
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 53,000 visitors.
I use YouTube to supplement this blog. Video conveys so much information so efficiently it’s hard not to use it.
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.
To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits. — Sir Francis Younghusband.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. — John Muir, The Mountains of California.
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.
If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. — Edmund Hillary.
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.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading, and please leave a comment or a ‘like’. !