The Land Down Under–Finally

I’m amazed that nearly four years into the wonderful hobby, I still find myself getting ‘as giddy as a schoolboy’ with some accomplishments in the amateur radio hobby.  Of course, this is just a reminder how how truly awesome this hobby of ours really is.

My very first amateur radio contact This was on on

My first QSO as a licensed ham was made on 18 August 2008 on a local 2m repeater with WA0DFW.  I had only had my license a few days, but had spent time listening on the local repeater.  I took the advice of Gordon West and clearly stated, This is KD0BIK looking to make my first contact as a licensed ham.  Mo came back to me and we had a nice QSO.  Within about 5 minutes the rest of the afternoon repeater crowd had joined in and I was ‘smack dab’ in the middle of my first roundtable.   Mo was kind enough to invite me to send him a QSL card, which he would reciprocate to mark the occasion of my first ham radio QSO.  By the way, I made my first HF contact a little over a month later during a 10m DX contest.  The station was ZW5B (a contest station) in Brazil. 

If you have followed my blog over the years and also listen to my podcast, The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast you know I live in an HOA restricted neighborhood.  My restrictions state no outside antennas other than satellite and small digital TV antennas.  The policies also state permission must be received from the architectural review committee so they can approve placement of these antenna types.  So how do I operate HF?

I think the answer to that question is probably best answered in a future blog posting, so please stay tuned and I’ll add that to my long list of items to blog about.  I’ll just add that my antenna setup is as stealth as I can get it and do most of my HF operations on a 20m hamstick dipole.  This hamstick dipole has gained me many DX stations in my logbook.  I also have a Hustler 6BTV vertical which I use for 10, 30, 40 and 80m.  The 20m hamstick dipole really outperforms 20m from the vertical.  But I’ll save that discussion for another time.

I grew bored with what was on the “boob tube” (TV Set) and decided to go down to the shack to see what I could conjure up on the HF bands.  I had been working JT65-HF earlier in the evening and decided to see what was biting.  Within a half hour I had answered about four CQ’s and decided I should probably turn the radios off and head upstairs to read and study for the extra class license I’m working on.  My self-control just doesn’t allow me to study in the ham shack. Before I know it, I’ve turned on a radio or two and have Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all up and I’ve wasted time I could/should be using to study.  But before I shut down I decided I would answer one more stations CQ.  After all, why work just four stations when you can work five?

Much to my surprise the next station I saw calling CQ on JT65-HF was a VK station.  Without hesitation, I double-clicked on his entry and hit the “Answer CQ” button.  A few seconds later my Yaesu FT-897D started the 50 second transmit cycle.  This was one of the longest 50 seconds of my life and of course I would need to wait another minute to learn if the VK station copied my signal.  While I’ve worked many DX stations before on SSB, PSK, RTTY…this would be the first DX station using JT65-HF.  Fingers crossed, the next thing I would see would be his report to me and after his transmit cycle I wasn’t disappointed.  He had copied me and gave me a signal report of –20.  The complete JT65-HF QSO was complete a few minutes later after I sent his report (-16) and the final 73.  VK3BM became my first Australian JT65-HF contact and I was very pleased.

It wasn’t until this morning I realized the JT65-HF contact I had made with VK3BM was actually much more impressive.  VK3BM became not only my first JT65-HF contact in Australia, but my first Australian DX contact and of course my furthest contact ever made from my home QTH station at a distance of 8,760 miles.  I’ve been as ‘giddy as a schoolboy’ ever since realizing this.

While I know my station has been heard many times in and around Australia from using WSPR (this was also exciting the first time), I’ve never actually managed to have a true two-way contact until now.  While JT65-HF may not be a voice mode and it doesn’t provide for “rag chewing” QSO’s, it does provide an exchange of callsigns, locators, and signal reports all in real-time with an operator on both ends.      

Remember, you don’t need a tall tower and high priced amplifiers to work DX.  Also, just because someone says “no you can’t have an antenna” doesn’t mean you still can’t get on the air and work DX stations like I do.  You just have to be smarter and have a lot of patience.  Yes you can do it.

So….what’s stopping you?

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “The Land Down Under–Finally”

  • Charlie wx4cb:

    i was the same, the dabara.org newsletter (the first edition) has my article on JT65HF, I also did the same, vk, i agree i was as giddy as a kid in a candy store when i got that, but my situation was siimilar…

    50 watts into a 10 by 8 porch window frame and I got it myself with similar reports.

    keep going, I think I have worked you a few days ago (have to look in the log when i get home). hope to work you again

  • K8BEC:

    I will have to agree about the VK’s. I tried for almost three years before I was able to work them. I got really lucky and was listening on 20M one night about 2am and low and behold I heard a few VK stations and then ZL. I was able to work both in one night on SSB nonetheless. Now working on trying to get Asia. It will keep getting better. There will always be a new country to work for.

  • Richard KJ4ZIZ:

    Hi, I also get a smile when I work VK or ZL stations. I only work DX with phone but may try some didital modes someday…..
    2 days ago I worked Tonga and last night I worked my first ZL…what a thrill.
    I really enjoy ham radio and am also working on my extra…

    Good luck and happy dxing…73

  • k8gu:

    Jerry, I’ve been a ham for 18 years this month (actually, this coming Wednesday is the anniversary)…and I have to say that those ‘giddy’ moments keep on happening! My first VKs were on 40 CW…your post brought back awesome memories…

    I just installed WSJT yesterday, but I have not had a chance to try it yet. Another day, another project!

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