Hardships of a radio amateur

Studies

We radio amateurs speaks about that ” to drive ” or "work" radio. It means that we thumbwheels around on our off the authorities allocated frequency bands and searchs up other amateurs to speak a while with.

Now, it is of course not only to run away and to buy an amateur radio station (transmitter and receivers) since the hobby is regulated in regulations. It applies first to study radio technology and especially traffic technology for an amateur radio certificate. With this in the hand you can apply for transmitting conditions at the authorities. One becomes then allocated one personal ” callsign ”, that tell who you are. This callsign is used in all radio communication as identification.

Swedish radioamateurs´ callsigns begin most often with SM, as a country prefix. From 2004 has also the prefix SA begun to be used for new amateurs. Then, a district figure follows. Sweden are divided in districts from 0 to 7. Södermanland, Västmanland, Uppland and Östergötland constitute for example one district and has the figure 5. Then, it follows for the individual amateur unique letter combination on two to three letters.

I will try to describe mine hardships which I had as a new amateur to come in the air with my callsign. After approximately a year's evening studies I had  coped with of the fire baptism and become validated of  The tele agency's sample stem more correct. It was one so-called T-certificate. Technical certificates as on that time permitted transmitting condition on higher frequency bands. These frequency bands, especially 144-145MHz and 430-440MHz makes possible communication on relative short distances. These radio waves are not reflected in different atmosphere stratum. One can count with that at normal radioconditions to reach just beyond the horizon. Compare the reach with common broadcasting on the FM-band.

The first a new amateur does, is to get a the small handheld tranceiver. With this can one have direct contact with other amateurs on relatively short distances. It means as a rule some 10 km or two. In order to increase the reach used often relay stations. Is also called for repeater. These stations are often placed in for example water towers or high towers in order to reach so far as possible with your transmitter. With the small handheld transmitter, you send to this high located station that repeating the transmitting.  One can then often  get contacts on 70 to 150km distances.

Antenna installations

After a while, I wanted to try to increase my transmitting range ability, So I put up an antenna on the roof. One substantial affixed on gable poking late and some metres mast tubes with a rotor. A rotor is as the name implies a small engine that do that one can spin the antenna and to align it in different weather directions. In this way can one concentrate all transmittied power in a certain direction and to improve on the transmitter range.

As all amateurs come one on that one must do aerial works during the winter half-year when it is that most difficult to climb on roof. Just before the first snow came I climped up and balanced on the roof and succeeded to put up "the entire glory" without to rutsch down on the frosty roof pans. Are you very interested and enthusiastic you sometimes.takes unfortunately big risks 

Well, down from the roof again,  I could not hold me a second, I had to check that the aerial could spin around. Splended, all worked! One and other neighbour came of course past and wondered.  - What can you look on with that, be standing the question. When I then explained what it acted about, I am sure that one and other thought that I am a tricky type. That is the life for a radio amateur you have to learn to live with!

The antenna was on-the-spot and moreover spinning bar. What a feeling, I can get the transmitted power to that precise direction I want! Fast in and press the ON-bottom on my radio station. Peak the antenna in the direction of southwest and listens in the two meter band. Halts there! What is this? Oh dear, it is the relay station on Kinnekulle that is heard with full signal strength.

As a small child, I sit and listens to two amateurs down in west Sweden that speaks with each other. No, now I can not hold me longer. I make a so-called ” brake ”, breaks in in their transmitting and asks about I sheep to last with on a corner. Of course, always fun with a DX (distance call) thought they.

They some adventure hours on the frosted roof felt in as a trifle. The equipment worked over expectation. Contact with stations more than 300km away.

 

 

 

 

An everlasting development

A radio amateur is always during permanent development. Not be I pleased with that ”only ” work radio on the the higher frequency bands. I wanted of course also to get possibility to use the short wave bands for international radio contacts. After two years' hard fighting with listening on cassets with telegraphi -/Morse signals had I learned in all charaters. Thanks to SM5IAJ, Dag for duplication of more than 50 cassetts and especially for the encouraging! The minimum requirement was on that time 40 chars per minute for a C-certificate.

Sweaty at Televerket

Ordered so time for examination at Televerket. I traveled a Saturday morning to Enköping and the radio control station. There met me an examinator to hold an examination. When I exercized home thought I that I had really good control on the situation. The transmitting went superbly, no problems. So, it was this with receiving. They had told me that it is very tough and that you can not do any errors.  All begun good, but so at the last two words traced it total. But of the context in the text  I could fullfil those two short words at my correction of the text. It seemed to be right, but entirely safe knew I not before I got my certificate/licence in the hand some week later. 

 

So, it was time to get a radio station for the shortwave bands. The family said that I could be worthy of a radio after all work.

The first contacts on the short wave bands

An aerial, so-called Windom antenna, a wired aerial, I already had since many years back in the garden. It had functioned good as receiving aerial. After little review would it prove that it also had ability to transmitt radio energy. After to studied the thick manual of the radio station and got familiar with all 72 (!) buttons were the day's to hit a first CQ with the telegraph key. CQ becomes if it is spoken in English ” seek You ”. This letter abbreviation is used at telegraphy in order to call general calls and then followed with the own callsign.

After a while, I got an answer and it were luckily one Swedish station that replied. In slow novice speed I keyed away name and QTH (location) and a signal report to the other station. Succeeded also get away a message that I was novice within the hobby (if he did not heard it!) and that he would reply in same speed back. As I remember, so succeeded I enough to write down almost everything he sent back. Well, some sweaty  I remember that it was.

So, I were then in the business on the short wave bands. Now I would get possibility to more international contacts.

The C-certificate gave still a great part of restrictions in what I might do. Telephony, common speech, I might only transmitt on the highest frequency band on short wave, 28MHz the the so-called ten meter band. On these frequencies it pay off to use big bar/rod antennas. It is aerials that looks as big/big television antenna. The problem was that a so big antenna could I not put up on my small tower on the roof. The longest antenna element  measures over eight meter between the ends. If the antenna shall emit the radio energy on a good way should it also up on least ten to twelve metres' height for the ten meter band. That means a wavelength's height.

 

High plans for garden decoration

So came the day to sitt down at the kitchen table and convince the family that it was entirely necessary to line up an antenna tower with least twelve metres' height in the garden. The first reaction became. ” father, we may scare the life from us if you put up a so big scarecrow in the garden.” After having assured that there will be a vacation travel also that year, I got the family council to set the spade in the ground.

Informed so carefully my neighbours about that their neighbour now been hit by ”brain lip” (is called so in this days) and had highly flying plans for the gardendecoration. Now the neighbours no longer need to wonder, they now know that he is a tricky person, that radio amateur.

I began now to look more like a plant worker than a radio amateur. After to located an off all validated place to begin dig for a foundation, it was most only perspiration and muscle pain it acted. It became to dig by hand a hole about one meter deep. As an office rat  I to, my big blessing, that it felt that the arm muscles were aroused to lives. After some evenings' work and general muscle pain was time to casting a foundation. The calculation for the whole plant has to be hold at a reasonable level. Therefor it was to intermix all concrete by hand . I did not understand what it would mean to intermix one and a half cubic meter concrete for hand. Do not do it, is the unambiguous urgent request. It will never end!

After casting the foundation came some spring weeks with an intensive doing a puzzle with screwing antenna elements and mast parts. When everything is well assembled you can wonder how many screw units there are.

 

Tower rise

When it was time to rise the tower there were no problems to get help. Neighbours lined up willingly. Maybe they wanted to get rid of aerials and tower that had blocked the street as soon as possible. One of the neighbours, had a truck with a smaller hydraulic crane on. With this traveled we the tower, that is affixed with hinges at the foot, with all aerials assembled. Who wants to climb outside on a tower in order to mount up antennas? After some fumbling experiments to find correct direction, sow went the tower slowly up. It felt satisfactorily to see the tower stand up after all work.

  The tower came sufficiently up while it still where a lot of sun spot activity. When the sun has a lot of sun spots, what happens with approximately an eleven year cycle, it is additional good radio conditions for higher radio frequencies. Within some days  I had contacts with amateurs in many countries. It was a success.

 

 

Interesting radio contacts

That summer I worked my radio intensively and met many interesting people. I remember a Russian that had heard me in a speech with an another amateur and called up me after this. This Russian spoked somewhat as would can to be referred to as scandinavien. He had on his spare time entirely of own interests learnt Swedish, but had a pronunciation that low somewhere between Norwegian and Danish. On the question how he learnt the language and if he worked or visited Skandinavien, sow said he that he never been abroad. He was entirely alone learnt. Well, with a little consideration can one wonder what he had for background...

Another amateur was an older gentleman emigrated from Sweden and sunbathed on more southern latitudes and enjoyed in full the wine grapes'. He had a lot to tell from his travels around the ball.

It was a special feeling for the first time to etablish contact with Australia.

The time went by and I felt that it was time to increase my certificate class. Of course, I wanted to exercize the telegraphy so that I got the highest certificate class and unrestricted access to all traffic methods and bands. I  trained intensive listening in the car each morning to the work. It became approximately 45 minutes every day. So held I on in a year's time and I exercized moreover approximately once in the week together with other in the local amateurclub. So, I were up in 60-takt, i e 60 letters or figures per minute that on that time gave the highest certificate class. Now low all amateur bands and traffic methods entire open for me.

 

The second lift

That frequency area or wavelength bands that is most favourable for international contacts, is the twenty metre band  (14MHz). In order to get the best power in my antenna for this wavelength band the aerial and tower will be built up to least eighteen metres' height. I went home into the garden and speculated if it would be worth  felling the tower and hooking on further six meters to the twelve I had. By chance  there was another amateur that had a similar fifteen meter tower lying unused. Now, I did not need not more than six meters, but it cost practicly nothing to buy this, compared to six new meters. It would later prove to be a successful purchase when I got hold of fifteen meters tower.

This time I counted in that it would become one limited work to extend the tower with six meters. The felling went without problems. Some weeks later was time for the tower rising. It was considerably heavier to rise eighteen meters than the previous twelve. Everything went according to the plans. With eighteen meters tower, I realized that it would be the best to stay. We stayed on nine as well as eighteen meters'  level.

So, I was once more in the air. At once I got better power in my signals and I got through better at so-called pile ups. One pile up is when many amateurs calls on the same station and you need to be heard to establish contact.

Now, I had my aerial plant completed and it corresponded reasonable requirements on expectations. Neither economy nor place in the garden permit bigger arrangements. Now all I had to do was "honk and drive”.

 

 

Things happen

The autumn came with poor and stotmy weathers. One of the last days in October I got a call from one of our neighbours at work. He told me that "unfortunately your tower has fallen down!"  No, it can not be possible is my first reaction. ” Well, it lies beautifully across your roof."

 

Luckily no one was hurt and the house looked fairly intact.  I quickly got into my car and went home to find out what had happened . Most important was to pick down the aerials that wobbled outside our kitchen windows.  Luckily the aerial park landed only a few decimeters from our kitchen windows. The only bigger damage on the house turned out to be two broken ridge pans. The pictures of the aerial speak for themselves.

The following weekend I got help to dismantle the tower and areals from the roof.

 

In this situation, the question pops up, will the insurance cover damages like this? After some survey with the insurance company  I was told that only damages on the house were entitled to a compensation . Two ridge pans were of course not a lot to fight about! 

Why?

How could this have happened?

As a tower construction worker I could consider myself an amateur in double sense. There were two interacting reasons why the tower fell after a longer time stormy weathers.

 One of the stays  I had fixed in the ground by having hit down a tube approximately a meter deep next to a probably one cubic meter big stone. It had to be secured when it was newly done, . After a time this foothold had clearly  loosened itself and begun moving. Also, the biggest mistake I made was that of the handmixed concrete of the foundation. Moreover, I had been stingy both on concrete and reinforcement. Without adequate stay from one direction, the foundation was broken exactly where the bolts for the tower ended, approximately 40cm down. The concrete showed itself to be poorly mixed precisely at the fracture place.

 

 

Shame on him that gives up

There I stood without tower and aerials. Will I have the energy to repair the scrap,  buy new equipment in order to get up the tower again?

The family and all friends told me: you will get up the gadgets again. It was now it turned out successful that I bought a second-hand fifteen meters tower . The towersections that became scrap could be replaced by the new sections.

During the following winter I begun planning the work.

 Out with the car from the garage and in with every tower section in order to screw all the parts so that it would become eighteen fresh meters again. So far everything looked good. I had to make a new foundation. I  dug an entire new hole beside the old one. This time nothing would be left to the hazard. The hole was finished in May and filled with concrete. Almost two cubic meters that were devoured in the hole. To that, I had also dug holes for stay footholds where another number of hundreds kilos concrete were dumped.

 The bolts for the tower foothold are thread bar, one meter long, and welded on a bottom plate. To this comes a lot of armoured small irons. Just below the foundation surface, an armoured net lies.

 

After some weeks, the day had come for rising again.

After some hours, the tower stood once more on-the-spot and we all could drink the beers.

When the guys went I got the call. - tell us next year, when it is tower rising again!

- No, now, I hope I will get much pleasure of my radio equipment.

The antenna park 

3 elements yagi for 14, 21 and 28MHz

 2 x 6 elements yagi for 144-145MHz

 Groundplane antenna (GP) for 144/145 and 430/440MHz

 Wired antenna for short wave type Windom FD4

 Wired antenna for short wave type G5RV

 Wired antenna for short wave type W3DZZ

 Follow this link and you can see where my mobile amateur radio station is presently located !

 

 ©2001 2004 Anders Svensson