I became an amateur radio operator in December 1976 as VK3YFG. In early 1977 I became VK3BJE after passing the Morse code examinations at 10 words per minute. My wife and I lived in Greensborough, an outer suburb on Melbourne and I was a member of the local radio group (unincorporated at that time). In June 1982 we moved to South Australia because of my work and the Department changed, at my request, my call to VK5BJE.
My interest in radio dates from my boyhood. Listening to short wave broadcasters and the occasional amateur on a dual band Kreisler mantel radio at night was a great ‘treatment’ for asthma! Radio and Hobbies was a magazine that transported me into the realms of radio and electronics and I built many of the simple receiver circuits published and always read with great interest the articles on amateur radio and short wave listening. A pair of S.G. Brown type x high impedance head phones, purchased for me by my father, was one of the great pieces of gear in my collection!
One of my early supporters was Athol Manning, VK7LR, (SK) who owned the local radio repair shop in Devonport. His willing service to a 12 year old (six inches of solder and a yard of hook-up wire; valves, transformers, capacitors, resisters and an occasional RF choke) enabled me to build my first receivers. I was delighted to have a contact with Athol on 7.124 MHz on 14th August 2001.
Another Tasmanian influence was Charles Harrison, VK7CH (SK). He was known as Snow, was a keen Morse code operator and my boss in Hobart during 1961/62. He encouraged my interest in amateur radio and I commenced serious study for a licence. However, a career change and a move to Melbourne were the reasons for a delay in reaching my goal. The years 1963 to 1968 were spent at University studies and developing my career.
In 1974 was able to pursue my interest once again. I enrolled in a course at the Victorian Division of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and I met two active and wonderful amateurs: Robin Clarke, VK3BCL (SK) who taught the theory and regulations components and Bert Hanson, VK3BH (SK) a Morse man extraordinaire: an ex-Naval radio operator! Eventually with work and post-graduate studies at the University of Melbourne I gained my AOCP (Amateur Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency). My first radio was a Uniden 2020 and I had many contacts and much fun.
In South Australia two amateurs stand out for me because of their untiring encouragement: Clem Tilbrook, VK5GL (SK) whose amateur television station was nearly always on the air, thus enabling tests, and whose crystals were used by most ATVers, including me, in their home brew transmitters on 426.250 MHz. The second, Ron Kelton, VK5ZR (SK) was a retired broadcast engineer and his superb AM signal on 160 metres was an encouragement to me to build my own and join in on 1843 KHz.
And then there were those who helped me erect my towers, fix problems caused by ‘Murphy’; and shared cups of tea (and 807s) with me in my journey – thank you.