Where the Heck is VK7BEN?

It’s been quite a while between posts, and in fact this is only my second post since January. It’s not because I have been slacking off though. So I’ll try and give a bit of an update as to whats been going on.

Pa posing for the camera, Huon River

A couple of weeks after my last post, my Grandfather died 🙁 It was for reasons known about to family, but it always happens sooner than you would like and the loss has been immense. I was particularly close to my grandfather and even 3 months later the thought that I can no longer see him is very raw and hard to deal with.

“Pa’s” influence on me has certainly be that of love for Tasmania’s vast wilderness. When I am not playing with amateur radio, I love taking photography of a wild Tasmania, of which you can see many of these photos over on Flickr.

Pa also encouraged my technical abilities and was fascinated by the things I was doing in the radio space, from who I contacted via DX, to how light could be modulated with audio along to being able to broadcast Television. As I said, I’ll miss my conversations with him.

FSQ in fldigi

On the radio front, FSQ Fridays continues with our small group, with contacts made from VK7’s FB, NTK, HW, LXX, IS to name a few. I’ve had a bit of trouble trying to work on the VHF front due to having a radio that is not really digital interface friendly. For HF, we also seem to be hampered by propagation and skip distances. I believe last week Vk7LXX was able to successfully decode VK7KPC in the north of the state on 80m, which was good news!

TNCPi Shield for Raspberry Pi

TNCPi Shield for Raspberry Pi

Spurned on by an interest in using a Raspberry Pi for packet radio and a generous donation of a TNCPi kit by Justin VK7TW, I spent an afternoon assembling the kit (which is the most electronics I have done for a long time!) before setting up and starting operation. For now I’ve attached the TNCPi to my FT817 while I am not working portable, but I do have plans to make up a new  cable suitable for an IC-3200 I have spare.

It must be around a month ago that I visited Scott VK7LXX at his home in Buckland, helping get him back on HF by getting his OCF Dipole back in the air on his bush property. With plenty of tall eucalypts to choose from, a compound bow was used to launch fishing line impressive heights over limbs, acting as a leader for the stronger tying line. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to take video or photo of the afternoon’s activity (and possibly a good thing too given the number of issues along the way!), but needless to say the end result is fantastic!

There has been a lot of activity going on within the radio club too! Rather than reinvent the wheel, you can visit their web site. One thing not mentioned there (yet) is the arrival of NBN Internet to the clubrooms, which has opened up all sorts of possibilities including streaming presentations.

Speaking of Presentations, Next week I somehow forgot my birthday was on a Wednesday and volunteered to do a club presentation on LoRa Networks before realisation hit! This will be streamed on youtube as well, and information can be found on the events page of the REAST Website.

LoRa Presentation

LoRa Presentation

I guess it leads to what my plans are over the next few months:

  • Photography. I haven’t done a lot of it in the last 3 years and I want to turn that around. Keep an eye on my Flickr Page for new photos.
  • SOTA/Parks. I’m hoping to get out and do a little bit of portable operations, but the locations I am thinking about right now are covered in snow! Either way, I’d like to work on my portable operations a bit more.
  • Radio Contests. I’m planning to participate in the Trans-Tasman low bands contest along with the annual RD Contest. This year I think I will focus on VHF only for the RD contest.
  • Kits. I’ve been promising to put together the EFHW Antenna as a fundraiser kit for the club. I’ve now had Murray Vk7ZMS test my construction guide and now it’s a matter preparing the materials to sell.
  • Enjoying Life! Because isn’t that what we are supposed to do??