In 1953 the Korean War ended with an armistice agreement. The last of the war veterans returned home and I was just a youngster in primary school. Three of the vets who had been radio operators during the war, decided to get their Amateur Radio licenses. Remember that back in those days, radio was on the cutting edge of technology and you could buy all this amazing military surplus gear for next to nothing. My mum saw the advertisement they put in the local newspaper saying that they were starting a group with the aim of getting their licenses. These wonderful guys took me under their wing and I managed to get my Amateur Radio License at the tender age of 12 years old, one of the youngest licensees in the country. I could never repay those men for their kindness to me.
This is what my very first radio transmitter looked like. It only transmitted in code. It was only later that I graduated to an AM voice transmitter.
Yes I was a fully fledged geek. Radio was my entree into the world of electronics and a life long career as an electronics engineer. So when one of the boys from The Boy’s Lunch asked me last Friday if I had a radio, I had to admit that I had one but it was in my workshop, not on the ESPcat.
To make matters worse, one of the other Boys, Vaughn, chastised me even further by pointing out that the Coast Guard folks get really pissed off when someone gets into trouble but can’t even ask for help because they have no radio. I decided to act. Gallagher had already given me a VHF marine radio for my birthday.
I went out and purchased some test equipment from China to go with it.
The meter on the left is a power meter with an SWR function that allows you to see how well your antenna is matched to the transmitter. The cylindrical thing on the right above is a dummy load that acts like a perfectly matched, 50 ohm antenna for test purposes. Now all I need is an antenna to test so I made one.
Here it is running up the wall. Yes it looks like a piece of wire but I can assure you blog buddies that it is much more than that. What you are looking at is a 3/4 wavelength, collinear vertical antenna with a gain of 3 db. This antenna also has a balun to match the balanced load of the antenna to the unbalanced coax feed line to the radio (something most VHF antennas don’t have).
One nice thing about having the antenna inside is that you don’t have to worry about it blowing away in a storm when you need it most.
Ok it doesn’t look like much but this antenna works very well. All the boaties can be heard making their trip reports from all over the Hauraki Gulf. I called Coastguard for a radio check and they responded with a “loud and clear” report. I even tried it again on low power (1 watt) and still got a “loud and clear” report. Thank you again and again to those Korean War veterans. You are fondly remembered.