Reminiscing…(from an email to Aja)

My radio hobby started off back in NZ in the 60’s when my brother and I would SW DX on old valve radios we scrounged off farmers or the local mart for a dollar or 2. Steve could fix them up up but I could only wreck them more. The years went passed and we got into tramping in our early teens and the thrill of standing on top of Mt. Egmont (2,600m) with a half watt Autocrat AM 2 channel handheld and have someone break in from Auckland (a days drive away then) was mindblowing. Made a few antennas out of coax and worked some more stations and I was hooked.

Then came work, travel and before I knew it I was Married with 2 kids, it was 1979 and we were living in Perth. Next door neighbour was a chatty lady and started complaining about the Indonesians on the CB radio that prevented her from talking to her husband driving around Perth in his van. Hello hello. Wife was Indonesian and I needed a way to keep the phone bill down. Went out and bought an SBE console V, some coax and a station master half wave antenna. On credit too I might add. Could have paid cash but the offer of credit was too hard to pass by! In a couple of days I had a West Ausi call sign..WAU something and away I went on SSB for the first time. First thing I was told was to get a handle and a callsign. The house number was 18 and my initials are DD. DD18 was born. Still alive and kicking in the form of 91DD018 and 91SD018 the two call signs I use today. The SBE console V was a base rig with a woodgrain cabinet and a forward facing speaker. 18 channels, 12 watts out, a scan function, pretty good receiver and good transmit audio from all reports. First Indonesian contact was into Bali and would you believe it a friend of the family. I still remember the squeals from mother in law as the voice on the radio listed the names of all her kids! Conditions were in to Indonesia every afternoon and after a 5 el yagi went up on the house in surabaya many contacts were made. Poor neighbour didn’t have to worry about interference from Indonesia any more. Indonesia was next door splattering over the whole band. Unfortunately I don’t recall the phone bill going down as whenever the skip died before the conversation was through the phone would be picked up to finish off! However we made many contacts around Indonesia that we would meet up with when we returned later that year.

The oil rig I was working on finished up in Aus and was on its way to Egypt. I decided to go with it and shipped the family back to Indonesia while I went to the middle east. Stayed with the rig for the next 2 years working 28 days on and 28 days off in Indonesia. Had nothing much to do on my days off so spent a lot of time on the radio mainly talking to aus on 27195. We had a whole group of us from PNG to cocos keeling, Miri and all over the top end and down as far as Inisfail in Queensland. Conditions would be wide open every night till about midnight. Eventually the rig went to Ireland and I got a job in Singapore and moved up there for 3 years. DD18 continued to operate but most did not know I was in Singapore and I would not say so. Kept a small 3 el hygain beam I bought off Jonny in Miri pointed South East. Same group on 195 but with the addition of Murray in Jakarta. He would come through Singapore quite often and we would visit. Wonder what he is up to these days? Ruth and Dick WA 4 and 5 from Geraldton also came by. Conditions were good down the west coast of WA. Made lots of contacts and by this time had a 30 amp power supply and a 200w amplifier to help things along. Had to go quiet for a while when the authorities came by one day and took all my gear away. Neighbour accross the road had dobbed us in. I denied everything and said I had the gear in to be fixed. They can’t have turned it on to check or noticed the 3 el beam on the TV  mast, because after threatening me with a ten thousand dollar fine and the cane if I confessed, (I kept up the denial!) after three months they returned the gear…..The guys were not really serious about it and I am sure had better things to do like arrest the billy boys who were starting to be a problem. I would hear them screaming from the cells when I went in to be interviewed. They were not beiing tortured or anything but they knew if they made a lot of fuss the cops would send them home quickly. I guess it worked.

We moved shortly after I got the gear back. To a great spot up on Hume heights right under the huge 300m TV towers opposite Bukit Timah Hill. Just past what is called the Japanese steps on Bukit Batok. No neighbours to speak of and heaps of room. One of the old black and white houses from pre war days. No aircon just open the windows and turn on the fans. Magic. Lawn was so big I would take a day off work every couple of weeks just to mow it. The gardner wanted way too much so bought a masport rotory and did it myself. Mangos, rambutan and manggis in the garden and lots of annimals from the nearby forest. Lots of snakes so we got a dog and that seemed to keep them away, monitor lizards, monkeys and squirills. Often found little scorpions about the place but not much bigger than a cockroach.

Singapore was great but after 3 years life was getting boring so quit the job (Stupid stupid stupid) and moved back to Indonesia. Life wasn’t boring anymore but no work so we moved to Perth in 85 for almost 2 years while the kids went to school. We lived in Karrynyup and had a 4 el V quad at 75′. What a beast! It was on a crank up tower and I would lower it when the storms came in during the winter. Wasn’t much skip about but it got it’s share of what was going. Bought a citizen base CB radio to put on the shelf and kept the amp and TS440 out of sight. About this time started running into problems with one of the neighbours. Never had any TVI in our house or the lady that lived in the granny flat at the back but she was having TVI and it was wiping out the picture. Instant snow. No soapies. I popped over to have a look and sure enough it looked pretty bad. Climbed up the roof to look at the antenna and found the foil from the coax eroded away completely and no contact with earth at antenna. Told her she needed new coax and then we would have another look. It certainly wasn’t my fault at this stage. She wasn’t hearing any of that. "It only happens when you are on the radio so it must be your fault" Hmmm. She had a point but I wasn’t going to buy her new coax and I wasn’t going to stop transmiting! Actually it only happened on the quad and only when pointed at her. Pity she lived to the North West where most of the skip was coming from.The RI’s started coming around. They were always polite and just looked at the radio. Didn’t even turn it on. Once the 30 Amp power supply was sitting on the bench but nothing was said. I explained my point of view and the condition of the coax. They asked me why I needed such a big beam. I can’t remember what I said but I think it was illegal back then to attempt to communicate overseas on CB from Australia. May be still is? Once they were on the doorstep moments after I had given a call. Luckily I was using the CB radio barefoot and the extra channels were on the ANL/NB switch so not too visible. They soon stopped but the neighbour was always on my case and would ring up and abuse me if she was wanting to watch something so I would stop. I believe today it costs A$80.00 to file a complaint with the radio inspectors. I guess they don’t get too many complaints any more!

After almost 2 years in Perth I was getting bored again. Every body I knew seemed to be in debt to their eyeballs. House, car, furniture even the holidays! Wife was sick of having to do the house work with no help and I was sick of the moaning. It was time to leave. Sold the gear to Lloyd from down Fremantle way and headed back to Indonesia to start again. Didn’t know what, but it had to be better than paying taxes to an overstuffed government whose main aim was ‘how to legally get the most money they could from the working public’.

That was 20 years ago now and another long story. Kept the trusty TS 440S in my bag and back to Indo I went…The next 15 years were all work, heartbreak and not much play but we eventually surfaced on the radio again in about 2000. 440 was packing up after 15yrs of no use and was replaced with an IC706MKIIG then a Kenwood 570. Still have them both and working well. Lee of RF Electron in the US built me an all band 1kw solid state amp and away we went  with a 10-30mhz log periodic antenna at 15m. For a while had a 6 el Signal Engineers dual polarity quad on another tower but a residense change meant only room for one tower so the log got the spot. Enough for now and on with the email………

 Thanks for tip on the mag mounts. Never really used big power in the car (ie more than 200W) and in the past have always prefered fixed mounts. I remember when I was in Perth in ’84 I could drive down the road in my VW Golf and talk back to the Indo QTH with a couple of hundred watts and my Ham International Concorde III which incidently I bought in Skipol airport back in the early 80’s when I crew changed thru there once. Had quite a few hours layover and it looked the best CB set I had ever seen! Waited around till the shop opened and bought it. Don’t even remember how much. Around US$200 if I am not mistaken. Brilliant little radio and I kept it for many years as my mobile till I sold it in Perth just before heading back to Indonesia in 86. Decided I didn’t like living in the west and have stayed here ever since! About that time I also bought a Japanese 40W CB called an SA 280. A very nicely put together radio. Simple but very quiet receive and nice audio. Never seen another one since but they were popular in Indonesia. I think they must have been the first of the 10m rigs. Unfortunately I have never been on the air during a sunspot max since 78 when we would turn on the set in the morning (SBE Console V in those days) and aussi would be in all day untill midnight. We had a 6 el yagi about 12′ high off the roof from the house in Surabaya. Back then I worked offshore on the rigs out of Egypt and then Brazil and would have 28 days off in Indonesia staying with the inlaws. Not a bad deal but the radio was my only link to the english speaking world. TV was all in Indonesian and very basic. There was a guy in Miri, an Aussi in jakarta, (Murray Hunter, heir to the australian Hunter soaps and detergents family. Was over here trying to clean up Jakarta but got cleaned up himself by an unscrupulous Indonesian woman. Dunno how he got mixed up with her. Heard her and her Mum travelled down to Melbourne to to have another dig after he woke up one day and ran her off. The Hunter family lawyers soon sorted them out! I wonder what happened to Murray since. Ran an Icom 720 like most people.)
Then there was ol’ Rege in Kunanarra in the North West. he drove a grader for the WA roads board and would be on the air every night till the skip faded. Had the most gravelly voice you have ever heard. Tony in Cocos keeling island…I remember the day his kid got swept out to sea on his surf board and they thought he was gone for good till a dolphin came along and pushed him back to shore. amazing! he sent me the article from the newspaper to prove it. We could each talk with each other and it was quite a happy family on 16 lower (27.195) most  nights. I only had an 18ch Aussi rig (SBE). Remember when the aussis would monitor ch 9 with a vengeance? If I was wondering where the skip was I would put out a few calls on channel 9 test test test etc and in no time an authoritive voice would come back demanding to know if I needed assistance and if not, to get of the emergency channel! Usually I could get a report off them. He he he. Still remember the morning I turned on the set and for some reason the scan was activated and it stopped on ch 8 and a guy was calling mayday. He sounded freaked out. I had a feeling this was for real. Went back to him wondering what the heck I could do for him and this guy and his son were in a sinking yacht several hundred km north of Darwin and were just about to abandon the boat and get into the liferaft. I asked him for a bunch of information because I knew without some sort of proof , No one down there would take it seriously. He was a bit pissed off about that but gave me some names and addresses and phone numbers to verify his story and that was the last I heard of him. Went to channel nine and put out a call and Sydney station responded. Passed the info over to them and that was about it. I subsequently heard they checked up and there was supposed to be 2 people of that name in a boat up there and the Orion went out from Darwin and found them. They were in the liferaft still tied up to the yacht which was almost totally under water. Next step was a bit harder. They found a Taiwanese fishing boat about 60 miles away and tried to get it’s attention but for some reason the boat was not co-operating and turned tail and pissed off. The plane dive bombed it repeatedly till they made radio contact and it steamed over and picked them up. Big article in the Northern Territory News about it except it said I was a Ham out of singapore not a CB operator in Surabaya! Saved them a few cold nights at sea I guess….
Enough rambling..
Take care and catch up with ya later…the AR’s are with the doctor as we speak.

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One Response to Reminiscing…(from an email to Aja)

  1. 299 says:

    Thanks for the story Dave! It fills in a few missing parts at least! – Have also been involved with rescue sagas via the radio over the years…. more on mine later.Does the term \’Bush Colonel" ring a bell?

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