Just passed my advanced exam!

Today is an exciting day day for me!  After getting off my bottom and finally sitting the ‘full call’ advanced exam, I passed with 84%.  For those out there who are looking to sit this exam, the Amateur Radio Victoria practice exams are really good.  They can be found here:  ARV Advanced Practice Exams

Although I didn’t really formally study as such (I sat the practice exams and did about 2 hours of revision / cramming), I have spent the last year or so reading pretty much continuously about radio as I am pretty much addicted!

I got a few silly questions wrong, mainly resistor color codes!  I can’t believe I stuffed that up, but to be honest even the assessor thought it was unexpected that it would be on the advanced exam.  The fact is, I’m a little intellectually lazy, and just refer to the color chart or my fluke DMM when working with resistors!

There were a few ‘give away’ questions, like what length a specific band dipole would be, so it is good to make sure you know that stuff off by heart before you sit the exam.  The truth is though, any keen amateur who plays with antennas a bit should find those kinds of questions to be bonus marks!

The ‘hard’ questions on my exam tended to be about linear amplifiers.  When they are needed, what the different classes are etc.  As I am really interested in linears, I found this a breeze!

So there we go, I’ve applied for my full call, and hopefully will have the call sign VK3AGA shortly.  It will be nice having a call that matches my Cambodian one, XU7AGA!




LoTW & Confirmed Totals :)

The ARRL has approved my LoTW application for VK3HXT (They’re still processing XU7AGA), and on first login I was greeted by 77 confirmed countries!  After including my paper confirmations, I’m at 81 confirmed countries!

For those of you who haven’t signed up to LoTW it is well worth it; it took a lot of effort to get 40 Paper QSL cards, but only one outgoing letter to get on LoTW!

Thanks to everyone who has participated in LoTW and made my 77 confirmations possible!  I have 16 to go for WAS on Digital, so I am also hunting that one 🙂

Good Luck with the DX!

What does it take to work 100 Countries? Not Much!

Even though I have a really modest station at the moment, over the last year I have been able to work over 100 DXCC Entities without too much difficulty.  Today I though I’d share the details of my basic setup; hopefully to inspire other would be Hams or current Hams who don’t use HF to give it a go.  The following gear is all you need to get your Basic Mixed DXCC (at least from Australia), and the total cost should be less than ~$1750 USD:

  • Icom IC-7200 Transceiver
  • Icom AH-4 Remote Antenna Tuner (a remote tuner significantly minimises loss in feed lines)
  • ~5 Metres of 1″ Aluminium Tube (for element)
  • ~100 Metres of 1.5mm^2 Wire (for radials)
  • 1 Star Picket for the ground
  • Miscellaneous insulating material and a few hose clamps.
  • 32 Ferrite Beads (for tuner control cable & feed line)
  • Coaxial Cable (I used Belden LL-195)

The Icom IC-7200 is a great value budget transceiver; it does everything a new Ham could want, and more.  Some standout features are: easy to use IF DSP with dedicated knobs, built in USB for CAT & Audio (digital modes are easy to use), control for Icom AH-4 Tuner, rugged and low cost.

The AH-4 is a wonderful tuner, and the fact it is mounted at the antenna means that loss due to high vSWR (which mostly takes place in the feed line) is significantly reduced.  Not only is it one of the smallest on the market, it also matches a very wide range, and works perfectly with a vertical element of a random wire.  I have found performance to be excellent when used with a vertical element, as the take off angle is a lot better for DX work than a low height random wire.  The only catch is, unless you put ferrite beads on your feed line and control cable, you may run into issues with RFI in the shack, although this is not an issue with the tuner itself.

All in all, the aforementioned basic setup has brought me a lot of joy; I also used a similar setup in Cambodia and managed 70 DXCC entities in 6 weeks.  If the aluminium tube is substituted for a fibreglass telescopic pole with a wire taped to it, the setup makes an excellent portable station, however these poles are best not used in a permanent installation as they will not last as long as an equivalent aluminium tube and are more expensive.

Here are a few photos of the gear (the radio photo I borrowed from Google Images, but mine is the same):

photo 320970

The moral of the story is you don’t need to be rich to enjoy DXing on HF!

LoTW, eQSL.cc, QRZ.com & ClubLog.org for VK3HXT & XU7AGA

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I have submitted the paperwork for LoTW for both my calls – VK3HXT & XU7AGA.  Once the ARRL has approved my certificate requests, I will upload the logs and anyone using LoTW will be able to get DXCC credit for working either of my stations.

I have already submitted the full logs for both calls to eQSL.cc, QRZ.com & ClubLog.org, and continue to update both those websites as the logs expand.

I’m not currently in Cambodia operating as XU7AGA, so no new QSOs will be added, but I hope to be back there early next year to participate in the 2016 CASS Award (see clublog for details).  New QSOs for VK3HXT are added to eQSL.cc, QRZ.com & ClubLog.org about once a week.

Lastly, thanks everyone who has either QSLed me directly or used one of the aforementioned websites – it is always nice to know a QSO has been confirmed, and many times I will QSL directly to stations when I know the QSO is good.



Bureau Cards from VK3HXT or XU7AGA

If anyone wants a Bureau card from either of my calls, please use the Clublog OQRS System.  I’ve got a few printing credits on Global QSL, and am happy to send out all Bureau card requests quickly and free of charge.  Once you receive a card, it would be awesome if you could send me one back through the Bureau to VK3HXT or XU7AGA via VK3HXT.  Cheers, Jarrad