My Ham Shack VE9BJK

After a lifetime of professional work in electronics and wired and wireless data communications research and development, it took until my retirement to find the time to join the radio amateurs as a hobby. I received the Canadian certification Basic with Honors in September 2015, and in January 2016 upgraded to the Advanced certification. Within a week I set up a basic ham shack in a spare room at home, and was on the air within days, so far mostly using digital modes (RTTY, PSK, JT65, JT9, T10, FT8, FT4 and JS8) on all amateur bands from 70cm through 630m. I am also working the International Space Station (ISS) and amateur satellites of thr ARISS group on the 2m band.

I used the call sign VE9BJK/VP9 in Bermuda (grid FM72ph) from 20-28 December 2018.

I am a member of the Fredericton Amateur Radio Club, the European Phase Shift Keying Club (#25648), and the FT8 Digital Mode Club (#6750).
my QRZ home page
QSL cards:
    Uploaded regularly to, and LOTW.
    Paper cards direct by mail: if I receive a QSL card by mail, I will return one to the sender (no money needed
    but self-addressed envelope is appreciated). If a QSL card is requested online through ClubLog,
    it is free via bureau but US$2 via mail (see the ClubLog form at the bottom of this page).
    If requested, I will e-mail a printable card, filled out by hand and scannned.
eQsl_AG-logo EPC_Member_Certificate FT8_Member_Certificate
My Station:
    Kenwood TS-440S/AT HF transceiver
    Transverter for 6m band (assembled from a kit by UT5JCW and modified to reduce frequency drift) and Linear Amplifier 30W (assembled from a kit)
    Transverter for 2m band (assembled from a kit by UT5JCW) and Daiwa LA-2035R Linear Amplifier 30W
    Transverter for 220 MHz band (assembled from a kit by UT5JCW) and rfconcepts RF3-22 amplifier
    Transverter for 70cm band (assembled from a kit by UT5JCW) and HYS amplifier TC-450U
    Transverter for 630m band (assembled from a kit by
    Baofeng UV-5R triband VHF/220MHz/UHF handheld transceiver
    KT7900D and KT8900D VHF/220MHZ/UHF mobile transceivers
    Signalink USB interface for TS-440S and EasyDigi for Baofeng
    Software: Digipan, fldigi, WSJT-X/JTDX and JS8Call for digital modes
    UISS V5.4.1 and SatGate 2 (iGate) for satellite work
    Echolink Proxy server on Dell GX150 mini PC
       Hustler 4BTV (10/15/20/40m bands) with 30/60/80m add-ons. Modified as a hybrid trap/fan type vertical by adding 12m and 17m vertical resonators,
          ground mounted in back yard with tuned ground radials for all bands
       Homebrew Helically-wound Vertical antenna for the 160m and 630m bands, ground mounted with 4 radials
       Homebrew J-pole antennas for 6m,2m and 220MHz bands
       Homebrew Cross-Dipole (turnstile) 2m and 70cm band antennaa for working satellites and ISS

Presentations on Ham Radio aspects:
    Slide Show in PDF format: Digital_Modes_in_Ham_Radio-Focus_on_PSK31
    Slide Show in PDF format: Clublog_DXing_Database_and_OQSR
    Band Plan Digital Modes in PDF format: Band_Plan_Digital_Modes

My radio setup
Industry Canada Amateur Radio certificate
QSL card
Hustler mods hybtid trap/fan
J-pole 6m antenna
Helically wound vertical for 160m
Satellite Cross-Dipoles 2m/70cm
Hustler 4BTV+30m+60m+80m, modified as
hybrid trap/fanantenna with additonal
12/17m WARC bands
Homebrew 6m J-pole antenna
Helically-wound antenna for
160m and 630m
Cross-Dipole 2m and 70cm
Satellite Antennas

eUK Mixed  award
QRZ UnitedStates50_award
C3 Expedition award VE9BJK

My Antenna History
Somebody once said that hams are spending most of their time experimenting with antennas. Nothing more true than that!

My first antenna was made by modifying an existing shortwave receiver antenna that happened to be unused in the attic for the past 20 years. It was turned into an end-fed horizontal random wire antenna 30 ft long for HF bands in the attic (N-S direction), with 9:1 unun matching transformer. The SWRs were horrible across the HF bands (3:1...8:1) and an antenna tuner was mandatory for each band. But this antenna got me started as a ham and allowed me to work my first stations in Europe and North America in the 10 to 40m bands.

In addition, I had an old 11m Citizen band antenna (5/8 wavelength) lying around, so I modified it (shortened it) to tune the 10m band. This antenna was mounted on a deck railing post along with two tuned elevated radials. It worked exceptionally well (SWR 1.1:1) in pulling in stations from Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and South America.

After learning more about antenna design and realizing that I am limited by space in the back yard, I decided to build a vertical antenna. It was a low-cost antenna made up of PVC electrical conduit pipes and speaker wire as resonators. It was initially designed for the popular 20m band, but quickly it was turned step-by-step into a fan-type antenna adding vertical resonators for 15m and 17m. It was also mounted on the deck (opposite to the 10m vertical) along with a pair of elevated tuned radials for each band. The performance of this fan-type vertical was surprisingly good (SWR 1:1...1.2:1) and extended the reach of my ham activities all across the western hemisphere and beyond.
The homebrew fan antenna had to endure its share of climatic events. The first ice storm of the winter had it bend from the deck to almost to the ground. It was then strenghtend by braces and a few guy wires and made it sucessfully through our harsh Canadian Winter. But finally, during a Spring wind storm a tree crashed down on the house and on the antenna, bending it again by 90 degrees. In each event the PVC antenna mast straightened itself perfectly after the ice had melted or the antenna was untangled from the fallen tree. The construction prooved itsef as truly indestructible.

Each antenna had its on feedline brought into the ham shack where an antenna switch was used to select the appropriate antenna. The automatic antenna tuner built into the Kenwood TS-440S/AT rig managed to tune all three antennas on their respective bands. I use exclusively RG6 coax cable as feed lines (cable TV coax) due to its very low loss, low cost and availability in local hardware stores. Even though its impedance is 75 Ohms, by using cables of a lenght that is a multiple of 1/2 wavelength on (almost) all ham bands (e.g. a lenght of 55 or 110 ft, as reduced by the VF factor) the transmission properties are almost as good as those of the expensive 50 Ohm coax cables (just a loss of 4% power).

This antenna farm was the mainstay of my ham activities until recently when I acquired my current commercial Hustler 4BTV 4-band antenna (10/15/20/40m). One-by-one I added a 30m add-on trap and 60m and 80m resonators/whips. The antenna is ground mounted in the middle of our back yard along with a pair of tuned ground radials for each band. Based on my past experience with vertical fan-type antennas, I added two vertical resonators for the 12m and 17m WARC bands along with a pair of tuned ground radials for each additional band. This turned the initial 4-band Hustler antenna into a 9-band vertical antenna. A single feed line is used and no antenna tuner is needed at all (SWRs 1.0:1...1.2:1). This hyprid trap-fan-type antenna is now the mainstay of my ham activities.

Recently I added three J-pole homebrew antennas for 6m, 2m and 220 MHz, which are mounted on the roof facia with no radials needed.

In order to meet a new challenge and try the activities on the 160m band, I constructed a 160m band antenna. After researching the various antenna designs with a small footprint, I opted for a ground-mounted helically wound vertical antenna (suggested by K6MM) that fits into my small garden at the back of the house. It took a while to really understand this design: one has to forget everything about quarter-wave verticals and look at the antenna as a Tesla coil made resonant by the intrinsic capacitances in the surrounding air space. A few modifications were needed to make this design work for me with only 2 radials of 70 ft length, such as adding a whip on top of the capacitive hat. The antenna has a SWR of 1.5:1 at the digital section of the 160m band and can be used without an Antenna Tuner.

The next low frequency band missing was 630m. I have no more space in my backyard for another big antenna, so I modified the 160m antenna so that it can be used for either the 160m or the 630m band. This was accomplished by adding a large loading coil at the bottom of the antenna. This coil is constructed as a variometer so that the resonant frequency can be adjusted without re-tuning the 160m antenna section. Using a pair of remotely operated relays in a weather-proof box, the loading coil can be inserted or taken out of the original 160m antenna, which is very convenient during the cold and snowy winter months in our northern region when the MF bands are mostly alive. The tuning and matching of the 160 m antenna segment has not changed, and the 630m antenna combination shows a SWR of 2:1 at the digital part of the band at this first attempt, calling for a matching transformer to be installed later.

What does a Ham do after having worked fellow hams around the globe? He looks up into the sky. I decided to try out satellite communication. I needed an antenna suitable for working satellites and the International Space Station (ISS). I decided on a dedicated antenna for the 2m band and built a cross-dipole antenna (turnstile-type) with one set of reflectors for this purpose. The first attempts to digipeat APRS messages via the ISS and PSAT amateur satellite were encoraging.

Wire Antenna 01
15-17-20m vertical fan antenna 10m vertical antenna 6m J-pole antenna Ice storm
Fallen tree
Random Wire antenna
in attic
15/17/20m fan antenna
on the deck
10m vertical antenna
in the foreground
Homebrew 6m J-pole
Ice storm
Fallen tree

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Last updated: 19 October 2020 Bernd