Amateur Radio Station ZL4KF


A little history – part 2

While studying for my licence and practicing for the 15 WPM (words per minute) Morse code test and with the help of ZL3ABZ I built an 80 meter AM transmitter. It would run about 60 watts or so and after gaining my license I did manage a few contacts, mainly around the South Island with one contact to the Chatham Islands which was a bit of a struggle for poor Lester ZL4PO/C!

Anyway, it didn’t take too long for me to realise that 60 watts of AM was not going to get me around the world on 80 meters! A dipole at only 30 feet high wasn’t helping much either although I didn’t realise the importance of antenna height at that time. I took the plunge and bought a Yaesu FT200 in late 1971 and soon after, a Yaesu FL2000B amplifier.

A tower followed and soon I had a 2 element homebrew quad up at 60 feet and was working the world on 20, 15 and 10. Every evening I’d work into Europe on the long path on 80 meters – all SSB. I can honestly say that in over 50 years of ham radio I’ve never had a CW contact! Of course my location was helping me.. we lived on a 1,000 acre farm and as luck would have it, the house was on a hill with the ground sloping away in nearly all directions but especially good towards the north east round to the south east. I erected a vertical antenna at the end of the ridge and soon followed that with a second vertical and this pair of phased verticals on 80 proved to be quite a good antenna, especially into Europe in the early evenings.

The FT200 was replaced with an FT101 and the FL2000B gave way to a Heathkit SB220. The Quad was replaced by a homebrew 3 element monoband 20 mx Yagi on a 26 foot boom and that proved to be a good antenna also. Various wire antennas were built for 40 meters, the best being a 2 element wire Quad beamed long path to Europe. I did a lot of experimenting with the 80mx phased verticals and with the considerable help of my friend Les Moxon G6XN built a variable phasing unit which was fun to play with and although I don’t think it improved the gain much it certainly was possible to tune for very deep nulls and high front to back ratios on receive. I put up another tower in 1976 – 112 feet high and experimented with antennas for 160 and 80. The most successful antenna I had on that tower was a full size 80 meter wire beam pointed towards the USA and that worked extremely well. Alas, it only lasted a few weeks before a big wind tore it apart. Various slopers, delta loops etc. were tried but nothing worked consistently better on 80 than the phased verticals. I was heard in Europe on 160 SSB long path using a full size vertically polarised delta loop but never made a QSO.

Anyway, 1979 I sold the farm and moved to Gore, definitely a mistake from a ham radio perspective! By now I had a Yaesu  FT901DM and the old SB220 but spent a 18 months living in town and hating not having anything even remotely resembling a decent antenna! After nearly 20 years of working DX with relative ease moving to town came as a bit of a shock. It was hardly surprising that before long the urge to buy some land and put up antennas induced a property purchase in Alexandra, Central Otago and after the move  I was at it again!

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