About VK1DA

Early Amateur radio experiences

  • Started experimenting with crystal sets, radios, amplifiers, from age 11
  • Got interested in amateur radio when the maths master at Lyneham High School (Canberra) announced the establishment of a Youth Radio Club. That teacher was Ken Mattei, VK1KM. The club got a callsign VK1LS.
  • First licenced as VK1DA at age 16 in 1965. Used CW a lot on 40 and 80m. The antenna on 80m was a folded dipole at a peak height above ground of about 25 feet.On 40m we had a 16 ft centre loaded whip, mounted in the centre of the metal garage roof.
  • With older brother Roger, then VK1RD, I was a member of the slow morse practice sessions panel conducted by the NSW Division of the WIA, in the period from 1964 to 1968 (approx) which transmitted 45 minute slow morse sessions on 3550 KHz each night of the week.
  • Later another brother Chris gained callsign VK1DC (later changed to VK1DO) again as soon as the rules permitted. There were no novice or foundation licences then.
  • Built a compact AM/CW transmitter for 160/80/40m with a 6DQ6 output. It worked fine.
  • Built a DSB/CW transmitter for 80m to try a new mode in 1966. Worked OK and gave me a taste for SSB.
  • Built a SSB transmitter based on a 5.4 MHz crystal filter made from surplus crystals – never got it going well though.
  • Used 2m FM in 1967, before there were any 2m FM repeaters anywhere in Australia.
  • Used the first Australian 2m FM repeater, 146.1 in, 145.854 out, at Mt Canobalas near Orange in New South Wales during the period 1968 to 1970.
  • Operated from Queanbeyan, near Canberra, as VK2BAD for about 6 months in 1970, on 6m AM/CW and 2m FM
  • Participated as an organiser or operator (usually both) in many National Field Day contests and RD Contests held during the period 1967 to 1987.

Canberra Radio Society and Wireless Institute of Australia (ACT Division)

  • Was Secretary of the Canberra Radio Society for several years (about 68-73)
  • As Secretary, was a foundation committee member of the ACT (VK1) Division of the Wireless Institute of Australia, which was admitted to full membership of the Institute in 1974
  • As Secretary and Editor of the newsletter, played a major role in VK1 WIA affairs from 1970 to 1981, held position of President for several years and attended numerous Federal Conventions as a VK1 delegate or observer
  • Was founding editor of the Division’s newsletter “Forward Bias”


  • Operated successfully in several DX CW contests, winning “best VK1 score” in most contests I entered (ok, there were not too many other entries! – VK1 is pretty quiet in a CW contest)
  • Wrote several articles on various aspects of amateur radio for the national magazine, “Amateur Radio”.
  • Supported the establishment of the first VHF beacon for VK1 (built by Ed VK1VP)
  • Worked for 3 years in Brunei and operated from there as V85DA from June 88 to Feb 91, making about 8000 contacts, mainly on CW (morse) and almost 1500 contacts on 50 MHz. Issued over 5000 QSL cards for V85DA. Confirmed about 140 countries on HF bands. Was “first V85” for heaps of other hams.
  • As V85DA, confirmed over 200 Japanese cities on 6m and all Japanese prefectures on 6m. Continents worked on 6m from Brunei included Africa, North America, Oceania and Asia.
  • In November 1989, assisted JA1UT in his 9V1ES operation, which was specially licenced for 6m operation to coincide with the SEANET (South East Asia Net) convention in Singapore. Normally that part of the spectrum is not available in Singapore because Malaysia has some low band TV services, just across the causeway.
  • Competent contest operator on voice and CW modes. Preferred CW speed for contesting is 25 – 30 wpm. This makes 1 or 2 contacts per minute feasible with good operators at each end.
  • Enjoy field day operations preferably VHF/UHF.
  • Visited ARRL headquarters and operated W1AW for an hour or so in December 2005. A great thrill to see the ARRL HQ having been an associate ARRL member since the mid 70s.
  • Getting interested in microwave bands. I built a transverter for 2400 MHz in 2008 based on some encouragement and ideas from Ted VK1BL who provided some of the building blocks and built some of the modules. It still is used for field day contacts on this band. Wrote an article for AR magazine about this transverter published in June 2009.
  • joined the VK9NA dxpedition in January 2011 to assist with operating and gain some experience on the microwave bands while enjoying 10 days of holiday in a great location.


  • Have a degree in Computing Studies from the Canberra College of Advanced Education, completed in 1979.
  • Working with SAP Enterprise Portal, Financials and HR/payroll
  • Accredited as a SAP HR consultant (1998)

Amateur radio experiences with VK1DA

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