AMATEUR BIOGRAPHY OF
BARRY MURRELL ZS2EZ
LAST UPDATED : NOVEMBER 2022
I am an active amateur radio operator with QTH in Walmer, Port Elizabeth.
I received my restricted class licence in 1985 under the callsign ZR2AAB in Port Elizabeth. From 1987 to 1991 also held the callsign ZR6AMD.
After moving to Johannesburg in 1995 I changed callsign to ZR6DXB, and became very actively involved in VHF communications. I finally realised my long-held ambition of getting onto Amateur Satellites in February 2003. In September 2003 I relocated back to my home town of Port Elizabeth, and was issued the callsign ZR2DX. When restricted licencees in South Africa were granted access to limited sections of the HF spectrum in February 2005 I began HF operations, and had worked well over 100 countries before upgrading to my current Class A licence with the callsign ZS2EZ in July 2005. My HF station has become well established, and by the end of December 2011 had netted a number of operating awards, plus over 300 DXCC entities worked.
I am equipped for all-mode operation on all bands from 80m through to 10m. Operation is primarily on digital modes (mostly FT8, FT4 and RTTY).
My primary activities are HF DXing (Primarily Digital Modes) and Contesting (mostly in RTTY).
EARLY DAYS (UP UNTIL 2005)
I have been active on the 6m band since February 2001, when I made my first contact with 7Q7RM Ron.This was closely followed by EY8MM Nodir. After this I was hooked. The following month saw a total of 40 contacts into Europe.
In August 2001 I met Hal ZS6WB, South Africa's leading 6m DXer. Through his assistance and guidance I now have 75 countries and over 300 grids worked, and over 1500 50MHz QSOs in my log!
I have been involved with WSJT operations from the start in South Africa, and over Christmas 2001 activated 5 rare grids (KF26, KF27, KF28, KF36, KF38) for the SA gridhunters. On 13 January 2002 I participated in the second WSJT QSO on 2m between Division 6 and Division 1 (a distance of 1254km) with ZR1AEE. During the inaugural PEARS Digital Contest in 2003 I achieved third place overall, and completed 2m MS contacts with both ZS1NAZ and ZR1AEE during the contest.
Satellite operation began in February 2003, thanks to extensive
help from John Sygo ZS6JON. During a visit to John's QTH in 2002 I had worked
David VK5DG via AO-40, and this had rekindled my interest in satellite. During
December 1986 I had experimented briefly with the RS satellites, and had worked
using 2.5W on the uplink, and receiving the downlink on an FRG7 with a piece
of wire lying in the garden as an antenna! AO-40 was a different ballgame!
As I already had an Icom IC910H, I set about assembling the rest of a station
(downconverter, dish, 70cm crossed yagi and AZ/EL rotator). During my preparations
John kept my interest alive, and we made contacts via UO-14 and FO-29 along
the way. On 3 February 2003 I was ready, and worked DK1KQ for my first AO-40
contact. My first day on the satellite saw me log 12 stations (7 DL's, a GW,
an XE, a VE, an F and ZS6JON!). I was now well and truly running on satellite!
By the time I left Johannesburg ZR6DXB had been heard in 60 DXCC entities and
159 gridsquares. My application for WAC on satellite had been submitted, and
once all the cards are in I will submit an application for VUCC for that callsign.
The highlights of my satellite operations were undoubtedly working VP2EAG in
Anguilla (the only South African to do so) and contacts with ZL2ALP and ZL2MN
after several weeks of attempted skeds. ZL is particularly difficult from South
Africa due to angle and time differences, and when both John ZS6JON and myself
completed contacts with both ZL stations we were very satisfied indeed (it
was shortly before 1.00am local time).
Upon arrival in Port Elizabeth the satellite antennas were the first things to go up, even before my final move was completed. First contacts were made on 24 August 2003, with DL2MHO being the first call in the log. 11 stations were logged on a brief operating period over the weekend of 24/25 August, including the GB5FI Flatholm Island expedition. Operation began in earnest on 21 September 2003, and by the time AO-40 sadly went QRT there were 56 countries and 150 gridsquares in the ZR2DX logbook! Subsequent satellite operation on the LEO sats began again during 2008, with activity taking place on AO-51 and VO-52.
Erection of my VHF antennas was finally completed in January 2004, with considerable help from Ken ZS2BWB (now SK) and Cyril ZR2H (now ZS2EJ). VHF operation on both 50MHz and 144MHz now began in earnest, and the first-ever 144MHz EME contact from Port Elizabeth was completed with W5UN on 9 March 2004. The equipment used was : Icom IC-910H (100W) into a single Cushcraft 17B2 17 element yagi mounted 11m off the ground, with an Icom AG-25 masthead preamp and fed by LMR-400 coaxial cable. Software was JT65B.
2004 saw a number of useful 50MHz and 144MHz contacts making it into the log, but by the end of the year damage to the 144MHz antenna saw it taken down. The shack was then moved from the outbuilding where it had been located since arrival in Port Elizabeth and was reassembled in my bedroom. This required a readjustment of the antennas, and the 50MHz antenna had a feedline of about 70m! With the prospect of HF access looming, a Hy-Gain TH3JRS was procured, and was initially installed on an aluminium mast along with a 10 element 144MHz yagi. The legendary Port Elizabeth wind however made short work of this installation, and bent the 5mm wall 50mm diameter pole as if it were a hot candle! Ken ZS2BWB once again came to the rescue, and provided extensive help in welding up and erecting a 9m steel tower. Peter ZS2PL (now SK) provided a vesconite bearing for the antenna mast, and the tower went up in March 2005. In 2007 the shack was relocated back to the outbuilding (along with a change to a bedroom adjoining the shack!) and the coax run from the HF radio to the tower became 40m!
ZR2DX was very active on the HF bands from the moment the regulation amendments were made official in February 2005, and by the time the upgrade to a Class A licence was completed had worked 122 countries from 889 QSOs. The majority of these contacts were on PSK31 and RTTY, as the band allocations on HF for ZR licencees excluded most of the general SSB band sections!
OPERATING AND CONTESTING (POST-2005)
ZS2EZ first came on the air on 15 July 2005, and wasted no time in racking up the countries on HF. With access to the entire range of the HF spectrum, contests became a popular hunting-ground. Many new and rare ones made it into the ZS2EZ log. By the end of 2005 around 180 countries were in the ZS2EZ log, and overall DXCC tally stood at 196. This increased steadily over 2006 and the first few months of 2007, reaching 237 by the end of May 2007. By May 2010 this had reached 287, and at the end of 2011 had reached 309.
During the latter part of 2005 the RTTY bug bit in earnest. After initial dabbling in RTTY as an occasional operator, I had a good run in the CQ WW RTTY Contest, and submitted my first-ever RTTY Contest log. I had used the MixW software in the contest, running AFSK RTTY via my Kenwood TS-570S. I began to read up on serious RTTY contest setups on the internet, and realised just how inadequate my setup was! I realised that I needed proper contesting software; as WriteLog was a bit pricey at $75, I decided to try N1MM Logger. Boy, was I IMPRESSED!!! This is a seriously good package, and all for free!! In January 2006 I made email contact with Don Hill AA5AU, the doyen of RTTY Contesters, and asked his advice on how to improve my station. After considerable input from Don, I decided it was time to upgrade my radio. I sold my trusty Kenwood TS-570S, plus my standby TS-830S, and bought a second-hand (but mint condition) Kenwood TS-870S. This coupled with a new amplifier (a mint condition Kenwood TL-922A) and a new antenna (a Cushcraft A3S) led to me posting far more useful scores in the major contests, and has seen a number of operating certificates on the wall! 2007 was an exceptionally good year for RTTY contesting, with a First in Africa being recorded in the CQ WPX RTTY contest, a Second in Africa in the JARTS RTTY event and a First in Africa in the WAE RTTY Contest, as well as a number of other certificates. 2009 saw another First in Africa being recorded in the CQ WPX RTTY contest (with more than 3 times the 2007 score!) plus a continental first in the SOAB HP category of the ARRL RTTY Roundup. 2010 and 2011 were severely disrupted by antenna issues, but this did not stop Continental firsts in the ARRL RTTY Roundup for both years, as well as my best-yet achievement - another Africa First in the 2011 CQ WPX RTTY event, with a new South Africa Record score! Sadly though life (and work) intervened - I started my own business, and that coupled with the punishing Port Elizabeth winds taking their toll on my antennas saw me gradually fade from the contesting scene. In September 2014 I sold my Kenwood setup, reducing my shack to just a Yaesu FT-847 (not a great RTTY radio!) and a small solid-state amplifier (max 300W, not suitable for extensive RTTY). This downsizing (along with changes in my personal life) effectively ended my contesting operations. In April 2015 I purchased a Kenwood TS-450S - an ageing radio, but one capable of FSK RTTY! This was then in turn replaced by a Kenwood TS-590S in November 2015.
In early 2008 I finally got myself onto the WARC bands in earnest when I added a Cushcraft A3WS yagi (with 30m addon kit) to my antenna lineup. This antenna was mounted on a pole some 8m in the air, and was erected with considerable help from Glen ZS2GV, Donovan ZS2DL, Basie ZR2BA, Mitch ZS2DK and Chris ZS2AAW. 17m has become a favourite band, and entity #100 was logged when I worked the VK9DWX Willis Island DXPedition in October 2008. 30m became the next target, with the magical 100th DXCC entity (T8CW) being logged in April 2009. 12m began to open up towards the end of 2009, and by the end of March 2010 stood at 142 worked, with the 100th confirmation arriving via LoTW on 31 March!!
2009 my antenna system saw a further upgrade when I added the 40m kit
to my Cushcraft A3S. This was a major step up from my trusty old wire
dipole (which had nevertheless netted 114 DXCC entities on 40m!). With
considerable help from Glen ZS2GV and Basie ZR2BA the A3S was lowered,
the addon fitted and was raised again. The difference in performance
was quite dramatic, and it made a considerable improvement to my 40m
Next phase was the erection of a 15m tower, which was obtained from Donovan ZS2DL some time back. Basie ZR2BA (a qualified engineer) added thrust bearings and a rotator plate, as well as designing a suitable cage for the base assembly. The concrete base was laid in March 2010 (with extensive help from Glen ZS2GV), with a massive 2 tons of crusher stone and 7x 50kg bags of cement used for the base. The tower was finally raised in October 2010, and supported both the Cushcraft A3S with 40m addon (at 50ft) and the Cushcraft A3WS with 30m addon (at 58ft), as well as a Diamond X50 dualband collinear and an 80m dipole. For more on the raising of the tower, see the Tower Project page.
Once the antennas had been installed, a problem showed itself : the 10m section of the A3S was faulty, probably as a result of a defective trap. Rather than go through the tribulations of lowering the A3S again, I decided to build a 10m monoband yagi. As a result of excellent results achieved with a 4m yagi (see below) I decided on a 4 element LFA monobander as designed by G0KSC. The antenna was built by Basie ZR2BA, and was assembled the day after Christmas. With help from Glen ZS2GV and Bill ZS2ABZ the antenna was erected on my old 30ft tower just in time to greet the New Year (raised on 30 December!)
During 2011 further changes were made; I added a set of 80m traps to my trusty 40m wire dipole, which was mounted on the tower in place of the old 80m dipole. I also added another wire antenna called an EZWire, purchased at Friedrichshafen during my trip in June. This is an unusual antenna - an endfed antenna with a large balun that covers 160-6m with the aid of a tuner. Furthermore with the assistance of Glen ZS2GV in December 2011 I lowered the A3S to replace a capacitance hat that had fallen off, and at the same time investigated and sorted out the problem with the 10m section of the antenna - indeed a problem with one of the traps. This was opportune as for a number of reasons it had become necessary to lower and remove the old 30ft tower. On 31 December 2011, with the assistance of a team of labourers, the 30ft tower and 4 element LFA monobander were taken down. The same team of helpers also assisted with the lowering of my 6m beam, with the plan being to reinstall this on a stronger rotator along with the 4m beam. Unfortunately during the lowering process the 6m beam suffered some damage, and was not reinstalled.
In 2012 I started my own business again - doing computer support and service - and this has left me with much less time to spend on radio. I still try to work the major expeditions, but it impacted quite heavily on my contesting and general activity as I need to be available to my customers 7 days a week. In September 2014 major changes took place - my office (which included my shack) and bedroom were swopped around, and my shack equipment was considerably downsized. In addition, in June 2015 I my girlfriend accepted my proposal of marriage, which took place in August 2016. She supports my interest in Radio, encouraging me to get on the air when I can!! This led to a major revamp of my shack in November 2015, with the acquisition of a Kenwood TS-590S and an Ameritron AL-811 amplifier (amongst other equipment!) and planning for a major antenna maintenance exercise (scheduled for early 2016 but postponed due to Glen ZS2GV undergoing medical treatment). These equipment changes did however signal the end of my Satellite operations, as well as 4m allmode capabilities - to fund the new purchases I sold off my entire satellite setup and Yaesu FT-847 transceiver!
A severe windstorm in March 2016 (winds in excess of 100km/hr) gave rise to my next major overhaul project : my venerable Cushcraft A3S's driven element snapped in the wind! As I had been contemplating upgrading my antenna system for a while, this prompted me to purchase a (second-hand) Hy-Gain TH-7DX 7 element tribander. In addition, Basie ZR2BA constructed a 5 element 50MHz LFA yagi for me, to replace the 4m LFA on the tower. On Friday 26 August 2016 the work began : Glen ZS2GV climbed the tower, removed the damaged A3S and the 4m LFA, and mounted the 6m LFA. This antenna proved to have a flat SWR over the entire 6m band! Early the following morning the work party assembled to raise the TH-7DX : Glen ZS2GV would again be on top of the tower, while Donovan ZS2DL and myself (assisted by my Agricultural Assistant and his brother) maneuvered the antenna into position. Raising the 7m long, 7 element monster into position was a major task, and took some 2.5 hours to complete. The antenna is now sitting 50ft up, and has flat SWR across all 3 bands.
Another new addition to the shack is my first foray into the world of SDR : During August 2016 I persuaded my new wife that it was time for me to add to my station by incorporating an SDRPlay SDR receiver, to be deployed as a Panadapter/Second Receiver for my TS-590S. This was followed by the acquisition of a Cross Country Wireless SDR-4+ HF Receiver and an RTL2832U USB Dongle (for AIS Ship Tracking). An additional RTL2832U Dongle has subsequently been added as a NOAA Weather Satellite Receiver.
September 2016 saw my long-delayed return to RTTY Contesting, in the CQ WW RTTY event. This did not quite go according to plan though - minutes into the contest my amplifier quite literally blew up, forcing me to compete as a Low Power station. As of January 2017 I had been unable to source the required capacitors to repair the amplifier, so the 2017 RTTY Roundup was also entered in Low Power. This has been an uphill battle!! However despite poor conditions and a lack of power, I really enjoyed getting back into Contesting!! The 2017 CQ WW RTTY event saw me back to running High Power (as explained in the paragraph below) - a year after the amplifier failure! This time the AL-811 ran like a dream - over 700 QSOs running 400-500W the whole weekend without missing a beat!!
Early 2017 brought home to me a wonderful illustration of the spirit of comradeship amongst Amateur Radio Operators (and specifically the RTTY Community) : after requesting assistance in locating the necessary parts for the repair of my amplifier on the RTTY Mail Reflector, Pete N4ZR and Steve K4FJ came to my assistance in a way far greater than I could have hoped for! Pete sourced the components directly from MFJ, and advised a cost of around $100 including postage. As this was more than I could afford at the time (December/January are always difficult months when self-employed!) Steve stepped in and offered to pay for the components - a wonderfully generous action, for which I will be forever grateful!! Pete arranged the parts, and posted them to my friend John ZS6JON in Johannesburg (parcels sent via our Postal Service to Port Elizabeth have a nasty habit of being massively delayed or going missing between the Central Hub in Johannesburg and here!). John forwarded the parts via courier and Andre ZS2ACP completed the amplifier repairs for me. I tested the amplifier during the 2017 CQ WPX SSB contest, and thankfully everything worked well!!
During the 2017 CQ WPX RTTY Contest I happened to try listening on 80m - as usual, on my 80/40 trapped dipole I could hear NOTHING. By chance I happened to switch to my EZ-Wire antenna - despite high SWR on 80 I was clearly hearing stations! During the lull on the Saturday morning I dug out an old balun from my drawer, measured out some 2.5mm insulated wire and put together an 80m fullsize dipole. I put this onto an 8m (25ft) pole and put this pole up on a wallbracket about 15m from the shack. A quick bit of tuning and I had a dipole resonant on 80m. Conditions on the Sunday morning were poor, but I could now copy JT65 signals well!! Having always ignored 80m (at this stage I had a grand total of 39 DXCC entities on this band!) I now found myself working New One after New One - 10 in the first 5 days!! After working XT2AW for my 100th Entity in October 2017 the last few confirmations were gathered in, and on 2 November 2017 I finally got my 80m DXCC verified (and with it my 5BDXCC!!).... With the help of Glen ZS2GV I converted my 80/40 dipole into a 40m inverted Vee, and moved the 80m dipole onto the tower at 47ft, also as an Inverted Vee. During July 2017 I resurrected my old Cushcraft MA8040V vertical, and buried 25 radials of either 10m or 5m lengths. This antenna was slightly stronger into EU than the dipole. This antenna unfortunately had to be sacrificed when we erected a new wooden cabin on our property in 2018.
During 2017 VHF Dxing finally received some attention, albeit short-lived and ill-fated! During July 2017 Transverters for 144MHz and 70MHz were added to the shack. As my Kenwood TS-590S has a Transverter Menu Option which automatically switches the output power to 5W and adjusts the frequency display of the radio to show the transverter output, this effectively converted the radio to a 13-band multi-mode station! It also allowed me to make use of the radio's built-in TXCO and the connected MicroKeyer II with all it's facilities. The 144MHz transverter was connected through my Mirage amplifier, giving it an output of around 150W. The 70MHz transverter was connected to a 50W amplifier supplied by Andre ZS2ACP. The 10-Element G0KSC-design LFA Plus-2 antenna was mounted on the tower between the two HF beams, but suffered some damage when raised. This will have to be taken down for repair - not an easy task! The 5 Element 4m LFA beam and 5 element 6m LFA beam were mounted on a 6m pole above a Ham 4 rotator, and this was when disaster struck! During one of Port Elizabeth's notorious heavy winds (and due to latent corrosion) the lower mast clamp of the rotatator broke, resulting in the antennas crashing down into the Neighbour's back yard! Both antennas suffered extensive damage. What with the damaged 2m antenna and the now-destroyed 6m and 4m antennas, that was the end of my attempted return to VHF! The difficult economic situation in South Africa in 2019 then resulted in me selling both the 160W Mirage 2m Amplifier and the 180W Tokyo Hi-Power 6m Amplifier.
FT8 is the latest Big Thing on the HF bands, taking the world by storm - and I was quick to get in on the action! As of early March 2018 I already had over 3 000 QSOs logged, and had worked over 150 DXCC Entities. The activity levels are amazing, and it has become my main mode of operation. By March 2019 I had over 9 000 QSOs in the log, and had worked over 200 entities! May 2019 saw me top the 10 000 QSO mark, and I ended 2019 with over 13 000 QSOs! During 2019 an even faster variant - FT4 - made it's appearance on the air. Whilst primarily aimed at Contesting, it has also found some support as a daily-use QSO mode. I have spradically used the mode, accumulating a little over 1000 QSOs, but overall find it requires FAR too many repeats and is nowhere near as robust as FT8.
2019 proved to be a very difficult year for my station. During the course of the year I suffered several equipment failures - Firstly, due to what proved to be multiple issues, my Ameritron AL-811 amplifier was out of action the whole year! The first issue was found to be a failed Tx/Rx Relay. I ordered a replacement part as per the Part Number in the downloaded manual - after waiting several months the parts that arrived proved to be totally different! It then turned out that Ameritron had changed their Relay system! Upon obtaining the correct Part Number, we ordered the correct part, which again took several months to arrive. Big thanks to Sam Ford ZS6BRZ of Radio Accessories in Johannesburg for his help!! Finally once the new relay was installed, Andre ZS2ACP identified a further fault with the rear Wafer Switch. Through some clever bypassing, Andre finally got the amplifier working again until a new Wafer Switch can be obtained (via Sam) from MFJ! The amplifier was just the start of my problems - midway through the year my venerable Cushcraft A3WS WARC beam developed SWR problems, and the BN86 balun on my Hy-Gain TH-7 also decided to fail! I managed to source a replacement BN4000 high-power balun for the Hy-Gain TH-7, and due to Glen ZS2GV being unavailable I called on my old friend Chris ZS2AAW to help me out. Chris climbed the tower and fitted the BN4000 balun, and at the same time identified the problem with the A3WS - this antenna has a W2AU Beam Balun fitted, and after 10 years in our Coastal climate and heavy winds one of the jumpers between the balun and driven element had corroded off! As this antenna sits some 4m ABOVE the TH-7 on the tower, it is out of reach via conventional methods. This is going to be very challenging to repair! Furthermore, to add to my woes, in November 2019 my rotator stopped working - I went away on business for a few days, and before going "parked" the antennas pointing North (side-on to the prevailing winds). When I arrived back I tried to turn the antennas, only to find that there was no response from the rotator!! Glen ZS2GV came to check for obvious problems, but could find nothing visibly wrong. We subsequently established that the transformer in the controller had failed. Basie ZR2BA replaced the single transformer with 2 units (one for the motor and one for the electronics) but when connected up the rotator only turned through 180 degrees! After only a few days of operation the new transformer also blew, leaving us convinced there is a problem up in the rotator motor.
proved to be another challenging year, thanks largely to the COVID-19
Pandemic turning everyone's lives upside-down. Just before Lockdown
started Basie ZR2BA managed to repair the rotator controller again -
and we established that the root cause of the blown transformer was my
modified sine wave inverter! Since taking the controller off the
inverter circuit it has been fine, although the rotator still only
turns through 180 degrees! Lockdown also meant that a further lengthy
delay was inevitable for the shipping of the amplifier's wafer switch.
To make matters worse more heavy winds caused further damage to several
of my antennas - including causing the Driven Element of my Cushcraft
A3WS to become detached and dangle by the element support rope! As Glen
ZS2GV was regarded as an Essential Service Provider he was able to stop
in and bring the driven element safely to ground level. This is now
still lying safely awaiting some way of restoring it to the antenna.
Currently I am running 17m/12m using a ZS6BKW dipole at 26ft and 30m
via an inverted V at 40ft.
In September 2020 the wafer switch for the amplifier finally arrived. Andre ZS2ACP fitted the switch, and the amplifier is now fully operational. The problem now is that my Kenwood AT-120 tuner is only rated to 100W! With finances and income severely affected by COVID-19 (our economy is effectively destroyed, and making ends meet is a major issue!) upgrading the tuner will NOT be easy!
The economic effects of COVID-19 ht home even harder during October 2020 - due to financial issues I was forced to sell my Icom IC-735 and my Comet CAT-300 tuner, and my Transverter Set for 2m and 4m followed shortly after. With my 6m LFA beam damaged beyond repair, this effectively brought an end to VHF capability.
November 2020 saw the final and complete demise of my venerable Cushcraft A3WS - in strong winds the boom snapped, roughly where the driven element had worked loose. With the director element and part of the boom dangling by a remaining piece of the support rope from the 30m addon kit (which fell off some time before) we had to wait for suitable conditions for Glen ZS2GV to rescue this piece before it came crashing through my roof! Finally on 3 December 2020 the weather co-operated, and Glen went up the tower. We had to use a hacksaw attached to an aluminium pool brush to reach the piece of rope, but eventually the damaged piece came down. After removing the damaged 144MHz LFA beam, we decided it was time to cut my losses with the A3WS and shorten the pole - this would bring both the remaining piece of boom and the reflector down. Using an angle grinder (and a rope over the piece of antenna remaining) Glen shortened the pole to a reachable height, removed and refitted the Diamond X50 collinear and then lowered the remaing piece of the A3WS. With only the TH7DX and the X50 now atop the tower, it looks somewhat less imposing!
During 2021 I suffered another setback - my rotator stopped working. As by this stage due to a change of employment (and family matters) Glen ZS2GV was not available to climb the tower, this has left my beam stuck and unable to turn.
November 2022 brought about another downsizing of the shack - due to economic struggles I was forced to sell my Ameritron AL-811 amplifier. As by this stage my operation had become almost 100% FT8 (chasing DX Marathon on Digital with the goal of beating the ZS Digital Marathon Record) I had not used the amplifier in well over a year. Upon testing before delivery to it's new owner it worked flawlessly - making selling it even harder!
Outside of RTTY contesting, DXing has become my major interest. Thanks to my friendship with Donovan ZS2DL (a keen DXer on both SSB and CW) I began dabbling with CW as well, using my PC with CWGet software for decoding and WinWarbler for keying. Using this combination (plus the addition of the excellent MRP40 software decoder) I have logged over 300 DXCC entities on CW!
2013 saw SARL members granted access to two dedicated frquencies in the 60m band for propagation experiments. During some routine antenna work Glen ZS2GV installed a 60m dipole antenna for me at a height of approximately 40ft on a standoff from my tower, and shortly afterwards I made my first contact on 60m with Ben ZS6ANZ, on the banks of the Vaal Dam. Due to the channelised nature of operation however I made only a handful of contacts between 2013 and 2014, before abandoning the band. During 2018 however (subsequent to WRC-15's allocation) ICASA (the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa) allocated ALL South African Amateurs a 100kHz band segment from 5350-5450 kHZ. As this includes the FT8 "watering hole" on 5357 kHz I immediately became active on 60m FT8, with my first DX contact being with DK7MD on 19/08/2018. By the end of 2019 I had over 500 QSOs on this band, and had logged over 80 entities. During 2020 a number of New Ones on this band moved me to 102 entities by the end of the year!
June 2011 saw
another highlight for me - my first visit to a major Amateur
Convention. I was very privileged to attend the event at
I travelled in the company of my good friends John ZS6JON (trip organiser) and Paul ZS6NK. Accompaying us were Mike ZS6BDD and Brian McCoy (a non-Ham and friend of John's). We met at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, and flew to Zurich via Munich. From Zurich we travelled by train to Friedrichshafen, which lies on the shores of Lake Constance. We spent a wonderful weekend at the Convention, and met a number of wonderful people. On the Friday night I was fortunate enough to attend the annual RTTY Gathering, where I met several very familiar callsigns - I had pre-arranged to meet up with Phil GU0SUP at the event, and enjoyed a great evening with Phil and his XYL as well as Andrea IK1PMR and Claudia PA3LEO, Casper HB9AWS and several others. We stayed at the Waldorn Hotel, along with Tjerk ZS6P, and also made a couple of really good friends in the shape of Lins PA3CMC and Frank PA4EME, a pair of EME enthusiasts from Holland. A truly wonderful experience which I sincerely hope I am able to repeat at some stage in the future!!
I currently have DXCC Mixed, Phone, CW, RTTY, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m awards, as well as WAS RTTY, using LOTW exclusively. I prefer LOTW, but finally in June 2015 plucked up the courage to submit ALL my outstanding credits (some 368 of them) for DXCC verification, sending them via Postnet Courier to our local card checker (Tjerk ZS6P) in Pretoria! (Our local postal service has a diabolical reputation for "losing" parcels!). This submission lifted me to 328 Mixed (325 of the current list)! I also have my WAZ RTTY certificate (an achievement that I am very proud of) as well as my WAE I (mixed) award. I also hold the SARL's two primary awards, the WAZS (300 Level) and AA awards. During 2020 (by tuning my 80m dipole to 160m!) I completed the SARL Top Band Certificate via FT8 QSOs.
The CQ WAZ Diamond Jubilee Award was successfully completed in March 2010, with Award #38 being issued.
The last remaining Primary operating goal for 2010 - the ARRL WAS Triple Play Award - was finally completed on 16 December, when I logged SD on SSB. Issues with the LoTW system however meant that this award would only be processed in the New Year.
My latest goal has been chasing WAS on various bands. So far I have completed 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m. I am on the verge of completing 80m (only need NV and AK!). 60m (although not an official WAS band) is coming along nicely - only 2 to go! (HI and ND)
I am also looking at submitting applications for WAZ mixed, phone, cw and satellite, as well as WAC on all modes and WAE I (RTTY)
Another goal was achieved early in September 2017 with the completion of my JT65 WAS, with the logging of KB7Q in Montana on 40m. This had been a long time coming, and I then shifting attention to FT8 WAS. As FT8 has only been around since July 2017, I thought this would take a while - but by the end of September I needed only 3 States (ND, RI & VT)!! A week later only ND remained outstanding... and completed on 13 October 2017 when logging WC0G in ND on 30m! Finally got around to applying for the Endorsement stickers for both JT65 and FT8 WAS at the beginning of March 2018. In late December 2020 I finally completed my FT4 WAS, and the official endorsement application was finally submitted in March 2021!
The flurry of DXPeditions in early 2016 saw a number of operating goals finally reached, the most significant of which is being the first ZS station to reach 300 entities verified for DXCC on Digital (formerly RTTY). This is a significant milestone for me! I also topped the 300 mark on 17m, and reached 300 worked on Phone as well. CW reached the 310 mark, and mixed DXCC total reached 331 - 328 without the Deleted entities. As the DXCC List total was currently 339, it meant that I was now only 2 short of the Honour Roll entry at 330!!
During the 2017 running of the JARTS Contest in October, I moved another step closer to DXCC Honor Roll when I logged A31MM in Tonga. This took my Current List Total to 329 - one short of the entry level for Honor Roll! The addition of Kosovo changed this goal slightly, but thanks to the Z60A operation this was rapidly overcome. The abandonment of the 3Y0Z Bouvet operation was a HUGE disappointment though.... However in July 2018 Baker & Howland Islands came on the air in the form of KH1/KH7Z. Timing was not great for me - the day the operation began I was discharged from hospital having had double surgery only a week prior! Despite being VERY weak still, I managed a solitary 20m CW contact on the very last day of the Expedition. This took my Worked total to 331, and confirmation was received via LoTW on 16 July 2018 - finally taking me onto the DXCC Honor Roll! In June 2019 I moved another step up the Honor Roll when I worked the 3D2CR Conway Reef Expedition, taking me to 332. This was confirmed promptly via LoTW.
6 August 2016 I finally tied the knot - at the ripe age of 50 I married
my soulmate Tracey. We live a quiet and contented life with our 3 dogs
(a Border Collie and 2 crossbreed "Rescue" dogs) and a
cat, and are actively involved at our local Methodist Church. We
are also members of our local Emmaus
Community. We live in the suburb of Walmer in Port Elizabeth, some 6km
from the sea, in a cottage at the back of my family home (the house has
belonged to my family for 62 years, and upon my father's passing in
2001 reverted to my brother Greg).
In March 2020 we became Grandparents when Tracey's son Tanner and his partner Kara brought little baby Isla into the world!
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