My Amateur Radio Station

New Location : Kingston SE. South Australia

Lat : 36.8707S    Lon : 139.8215E  Alt : 4m.

GRID : PF93vd


Call sign :  VK5ZAI



A little about myself (The good bits !!)

   My association with electronics goes back as long as I can remember, starting with simple valve audio amps when in Primary School. Later I became interested in the ex military radios that the local rural fire brigade used on 2.836 kHz after W.W.2, which I ended up maintaining and upgrading to new units when money became available.  At this stage I became interested in  Amateur Radio.

    In the early 80's along with Gordon VK5CC I became involved with community FM broadcasting and started 5TCB in the SE. of South Australia

   My other interests are river boats and sea fishing, I used to do quite a lot of SCUBA diving however for health reasons I have all but given it up, favoring Amateur Radio instead for relaxation.


Satellite Activities

I obtained my Amateur Radio License in 1960 and was given the call sign VK5ZAI. Shortly after I became interested in satellite communications. The first satellite that I became involved with was OSCAR-3 which was launched on the 9th March 1965.   It created a lot of excitement at the time amongst Hams and sent out "HI" in Morse, quite a simple device compared to today's standards and back then we had to calculate the orbit passes with a pen and paper, no computers, not even a 4 function calculator but we managed.  The antenna that I used to track it with was a twin Helix turned  manually by the XYL, a rather crude arrangement but it worked. 

    Since then I have been involved with many satellites, both voice and digital and have done 2 school linkups with the Mir Space Station and did the phone patch for Andy Thomas during his 4 months on Mir so he could speak to his family when over Australia.   

    In Nov. 2000 I was invited to join the telebridge team for the ISS (International Space Station).  This team consists of nine amateur radio stations around the world set up to support crew members wishing to speak to their family members during the mission, 3rd. party issues, or technical concerns, as well as making possible educational school contacts with the ISS. through Amateur Radio on board. 

View of my Amateur Radio Station

Main transceiver is an FT-736R extensively modified for satellite work. A phone patch unit has been adapted to suit as well. Antenna tracking and Doppler correction is controlled from a SATTRAK-3.  For 9600 bd. I am using a PacComm NB-96 TNC. and running Wisp software on a Pentium 2 PC.  Also use Instant Track software. For voice and 1200 bd packet I sometimes use an FT-4700.with either a Baycom modem or an MFJ-1270B and on odd occasions I press into service an 80 watt amp. The satellite antennas both have home brew pre-amps at the base.


Antenna Details

All the antennas & towers are home brewed.   The satellite tracking system is computer controlled, EL. and AZ. are driven with 12v. windscreen wiper motors geared down.  The 2m. ant. is a 10 turn helix and the 70cm. ant. is a 21 x 21 crossed Yagi, both have preamps at the base. RF is fed  via approx 70ft of  LDF-550 co-ax.


The reflector behind the antennas measures 4m. x 2m. with just enough room in the middle for a 2.4gHz dish which I hope to install shortly.


The tower is approx 60ft. high and supports 70cm. 2m. & 6m. Yagis on a rotator at the top with various other antennas mounted down the side for access to the local repeaters.


The tower also supports  80 & 40m. inverted V's 


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Copyright © J.A.Hutchison