HF

My initial experience with HF started before I received the Amateur Radio License. I was introduced to the wonderful world of listening to broadcast stations during my school days, using Akai AJ 500 Boombox and Telefunken Bajazzo sport Radios with a long wire antenna. I have listened to many Radio stations and sent reports in the SINPO format. Those days there was no email and I had to mail the QSL cards and also wait 30 days or more to receive the QSL cards from the broadcast stations. I have a great collection of QSL cards sent by BC stations from all over the world.

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  I appeared for the Amateur Station operators certificate examination in Bangalore in 1991 and received the  license in the same year with the call sign VU3TYG. In the meantime I was looking out for suitable solid state designs of transmitters for the 40 meter band as this is the most popular band in India. As a shortwave listener I had heard the signals of Vasanth, VU2VWN and wrote to him to send me the circuit diagram of his 7 watt AM/CW transmiter using BD139 in the final. Myself and my friend Ilyas,VU3MID built the transmitter in a weeks time and it worked on the first attempt. I completed the mandatory 40 CW contacts which was required  for voice endorsement. I enjoyed the setup of the VWN QRP transmitter,  my broadcast receivers and a dipole antenna to work many stations on 40 meters.

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 One day I in 1991 I was scanning the 40 meter band in the evening and heard a very strong station VU2UCY calling CQ on sideband and I  immediately called  him on AM and exchanged reports and then Basi,VU2UCY mentioned he was using a home brew SSB transmitter putting out about 30 watts. We had a long QSO and Basi explained to me very patiently about his design and the project. I wrote him a letter asking him to share the circuit diagram and all details which he promptly did and myself and Ilyas,VU3MID started planning to build the SSB transmitter. I was studying in collage during this time and shortage of money made us to source most of the components from old TV and Radios. I was lucky to get some critical components like the 9 Mhz filter from BEL, Amidon Torroids, MC1496G & MRF449A RF transistor for the finals by begging my father to give me some money for the project. We started designing the PCB using the IBM PC/XT in a local engineering collage.

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We built the SSB transmitter and after many rounds of test and calibration was able to put out a clean SSB signal on 40 meters. Then one day the transistor MRF 449A used in the PA failed. I did not have resources to buy the expensive transistor. I continued to use the VWN 7 watt AM/CW transmitter for sometime and ceased operating HF in 1995 as I had moved to Bangalore for a job.

Unfortunately I have lost all the photos of my early Ham Radio days and what remains are memories of how difficult it was to get components, collabration & information but still enjoyed every bit of this phase of the hobby. I am ever grateful to my my mentors during that time NilimaVU2OOX,Koprarde VU2OM,Vasanth VU2VWN, Basi VU2UCY, Ashok VU2ACK, OM VU2KOC, Prof Jayraman VU2JN Prasad,VU2PTT,Venkat VU2VNK, Raj VU2RJX & Yeshwanth VU2CAA, not to forget my good friend Ilyas, VU3MID who was my partner in all the projects.

I wanted to get started on HF again in 1999 but did not have the patience and the bandwidth to build anything on my own and started looking around for a used HF Radio, Jayanth VU2JBP was kind enough to give me a ICOM 745 for a nominal price, the radio had some problems related to a unlocked PLL and memory board. Manoj VU2EHY who has a very good understanding of the older ICOM radios helped me

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 in resolving the issues. I replaced all the trimmers and capacitors on the PLL unit and also installed the no fail memory board from PIEXX .I was again back on HF with the repaired ICOM 745 and a dipole antenna. The Radio is still operational and I love the performance of this vintage radio.

During the Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, Field Day in 2002 Kumar,VU2BGS introduced me to Digital modes on HF.I started initially with decoding PSK31,Packet, Pactor and SSTV signals on the 20 meter band and found this very exciting . I procured a sound card interface and wired the cables to connect to the Microphone jack  and speaker out of the ICOM 745 as this radio does not have ACC output.

Digital modes was fun especially on PSK31 and I was gaining good experience in this mode of communication. You can find me on PSK31 , JT65  frequencies on the HF bands.

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I heard of WINLINK [Global Radio Email] from Gopal VU2GMN during a Hamfest and wanted have this capability in my station. I was aware that the key requirement  was a  TNC (Winmor was not available during that time) and saw many using Pactor III capable TNC which was very expensive and out of my budget . I also observed some Pactor 1 TNC can also be used and started to lookout for Kantronics KAM Plus TNC. After asking around I came to know that Subbu,VU2ZUB whom I know for a long time had one and I called him to explain about this mode and if he will sell me the TNC. He agreed and handed over the TNC at a nominal price. All the required cables were prepared and hooked to the TNC and ICOM 745 and installed and configured the Airmail software. My first attempt to connect to VU2GMN PMBO on 7.053 Mhz was a success and I sent some test emails to myself thru the Winlink system and it worked great. I have also installed and tried  Winmor which is a software TNC and it works great but slow.

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All this while I was using a simple dipole antenna for 40 and 20 meters with ICOM AT 150 antenna tuner. I wanted to try the higher bands and started building a multi band dipole for 80/40/20/15/10 meters bands. This time I included a Diamond BU 50 1:1 balun in the antenna.

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The new antenna was installed as Inverted V due to the lack of horizontal space on the roof. The feedpoint is ~25 feet from the roof and 65 feet from the ground. The SWR was very high on 80 meters and I badly needed an antenna tuner in the shack. I obtained a beautiful Drake MN 300 vintage antenna tuner which helped me to tune the antenna’s to the operating frequency.

I had heard and worked some stations who always had great Audio and was wondering what makes them sound so good. Then finally one day I had a long QSO with Sabu, VU2ELJ on 40 meters, he patiently explained me about HiFi Audio and the requirements. I also read on this topic on various websites to enhance my knowledge.  I met Sabu,VU2ELJ during the Hamfest at Pollachi and we had a good discussion after which I was bit by the Audio bug. I did not want to invest big money on the Audio gear and wanted to have a modest setup. My good friend Miku,VU2WAP sold me his W2IHY 8 band EQ and I hooked up a AKG condenser microphone and started experimenting. W2IHY, Julius helped me with the cable for my ICOM 745. Several on the air testing was done with the help of Sabu,VU2ELJ and we arrived at optimum settings on the EQ. I also adjusted the carrier oscillator in the ICOM 745 for the desired audio. This modest setup has helped with good audio when I am on the Air. I have also tried using  Heil PR781 microphone but finally settled for the MXL V67G.

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 I am a die hard ICOM fan and have always admired their Radios and wanted to replace my Primary radio and hence started looking out for some good used Radios. I found  mint ICOM 737A and ICOM 746 and quickly got them before someone would take them away. Both these radios are now operational in my station and are used on a daily basis. An LDG AT600 Pro automatic antenna tuner has replaced the Drake MN 300 thus eliminating manual tuning of the antenna.

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Due to lack of time I can be heard on the HF bands using sideband and digital modes during weekends and holidays. I have taken some interest in contesting and  participated in some of the contests conducted by Amateur radio society of India and the CQ WW. To enhance the reach of my signals,work DX and better results in contests I have completed building a five band Hex beam which I will be installing shortly. The details of this project can be found in the project page of this website.

Moved to a new home from April 2015 and had to setup all the antennas. Replaced the 8 year old multi band inverted V dipole with the W5GI mystery antenna covering 80-10 meters. I have used a fiberglass telescopic pole from “The Mast Company” as the center support and the feedpoint is 140 feet from the ground. The antenna is working great and tunes very well from 80-10 meters.

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Getting ready to the CQ WW SSB contest 2015 and installed a Tri Bander HF yagi covering 20/15/10 meters, the antenna is ~120 feet from the ground on the roof of the elevator room. Initial reports are very encouraging and I am able to hear stations which I am just not able to hear on the other HF antenna.

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It has been a great journey until now learning all the way, meeting new people.

Give me a shout if you hear me on HF, See you on the bands ,  73’s