The Licenced Years…

After moving from Schiermonnikoog to Deventer in 1996 I tried to do some packet radio in this new place. Living in a appartment in the old centre of the city and no space for a big antenna that was not really a succes. I did do a lot of shortwave listening on a small piece of wire but the noise levels were very high and lots of rattles and hums from everywhere. After a while I decided to buy a small receiving loop antenna, a Grahn GS2-SE. This was a really good choice as I was able to “null out” lots of noise. I was listening a lot, also decoding all kinds of digital signals with Code3.

Grahn GS2-SE
Grahn GS2-SE

In august 1999 I learned that in the nearby city of Apeldoorn the local chapter of the VERON was organizing a course for the so called C licence. With this licence you were allowed to use all amateur bands from 6 meter upwards, all mode. There was also the D licence, only 2 meter and 70 Cm. And the A licence, in fact the C licence extended with morse examination, you had to have in order to use HF bands. I decided to go for it and started to attend the course. I am not a really technical person but the trainer, Wim, PA0WAN managed to get me going. We started with about 12, after a few months only 6 were attending the training. One of them, Jille PA1DV had the full licence but did the training to refresh his memory. It was a hard battle for me but Wim and Jille kept me on the road..

Begin April 2000 there were examinations for the C and D licence. At that time there were only 2 examination sessions a year, taken by the Dutch Telecom. One in April and one in Oktober. I wrote in for both exams, C in the morning and when that would fail D in the afternoon. To my surprise I passed for C. I could not believe it and asked several people if I noted the given answers OK. My YL Neelma had driven me to Nieuwegein were the examinations were held and I called Wim and Jille to tell them I passed. We told you so was the answer… Right after that we went to Doeven in Hoogeveen, I had saved some money and I knew they had a second hand Yaesu FT-726 fitted with 6/2/70 for sale. Bought this rig and a V-2000 6/2/70 vertical. And i bargained for a triplexer stating I must have been the first newly licenced HAM of 2000 buying something at their store! That one was given to me for free. 🙂

Came home, put the antenna on the roof and started listening. I had to wait till about the 27th of April before the papers came in. I came home at 17:00 and made my 1st QSO as licenced radio amateur with Eric PE1RLF/M on 2 meters. It felt like my 1st CB QSO in 1976 with the 6 channel pony… On the 3th of May 2000 I worked my old friend  PE4BAS on 2 meter SSB. He was one of the CB buddy’s up North i knew before as CB1PTB on packet radio.

The Yaesu FT-726R my 1st “real” Radio…

Yeasu FT-726R
Yeasu FT-726R

In 2002 I learned that a collegue was also Radio Amateur, and he wanted to sell his Yaesu FT-736R and FT-767GX. I asked him to hold it back for me to give me some time to sell my FT-726 and some other gear to make money for this setup. He agreed and I sold my FT-726 and the Icom R-70. With some savings I bought the 2 rigs mid 2002. I was eager to get this 2 rigs as the word was out that the C licence might be allowed to use HF in 2003 as morse was no longer needed.At the end it was not before the 1st of oktober 2003 when we were allowed to use HF.

There was a special 80 meter net to welcome the “new” amateurs on HF at 24:00 local time. I did not attend that net as I was struggeling to get my antenna tuned on 80 meters. But at about 00:30 I had a good SWR and I made my 1st HF QSO with Frans, PA5CA from Warnsveld about 25 kilometer from my place. I knew Frans since 2000 we had a lot of QSO’s on 2 meter. Also we saw each other often on HAM fairs.

The Yaesu FT-736. Mine was fitted with 6/2 and 70cm.

Yaesu FT-736R
Yaesu FT-736R

The Yaesu FT-767GX.

Yaesu FT-767GX
Yaesu FT-767GX

Used for more than 1 year only as receiver till allowed on HF. Made some nice DX with this one but after a while it was getting erratic. It started with a completely frozen VFO. Could not turn it anymore. No fun. After “repairing” this issue (brute force and ignorance method) it was usable again… Then the blower was starting to get very loud. Eric PE1RLF and I fitted a computer blower in the rig so that was solved. Time for something newer!

I sold the 767 to someone who was searching one for parts to repair his one. It turned out mine was in better shape then his so he started to fix-up mine with his blower and VFO encoder. I could get a good price for my FT-736 and I bought a Kenwood TS-850Sat.

Kenwood TS-850S
Kenwood TS-850S

A complete other radio, far better compared to the Yaesu FT-767. I also bought an Icom IC-706MKIIG , mainly for 6/2 and 70 and also as extra HF receiver. It was not as good on VHF as the FT-736 but I was only using that one for local chat, I am not a VHF/UHF DXer. For my type of using this mobile rig was OK.

ICOM IC-706MKIIG
ICOM IC-706MKIIG

Nice little rig, mine had a small SSB filter and DSP.

But then I came across a Yaesu Ft-920. It was used at a JOTA station and I played with it for a few hours. Although the Kenwood was very good I liked the looks of the FT-920 better and I wanted to have a FT-920. So off again to Nijmegen at PD0JAN’s place where I bought the 850. I bought a nearly mint FT-920 with FM module.

Yaesu FT-920AF
Yaesu FT-920AF

I still like this radio. Very good looking. Good noise reduction and I loved the High and Low cut filtering. I had bad luck with this one, after a few months the complete righthandside pushbuttons were not working anymore. I could not change bands anymore, menu and clarifier were not usable. I could use the rig using software but it had t be repaired. Off to Nijmegen again, I had warranty on the set so no problem at all. And I am sure, even when the warranty was passed, Jan is to much of a gentlemen to let someone down. It was not my intention but it turned out I left Nijmegen with a Icom 756Pro instead a repaired FT-920.

Icom IC-756Pro
Icom IC-756Pro

The Icom IC-756Pro, a good rig but it could not hold my attention for more than 6 or 7 months. I don’t know why but it is not my type of rig. I had set my mind on a Yaesu again, this time it could be the FT-950. So I called Jan in Nijmegen again, about the price and what we could do with my 756. It turned out that Jan did not have any 950 and did not expect to get stock soon as Yaesu could not produce enough to keep up with the demand. But he did have some FT-2000 on stock. I knew Frans PA5CA had a FT-2000 and he told me it was not the rig he expected. Frans is one of the PA6Z contest crew and he told me the rig was not behaving well in strong signal environment. But he also told me that the ergonomics of the rig were to beat and for normal use the rig seemed OK. So I spent some time on the internet, read some reviews and despite the reviews were not all that positive i decided to buy a Yaesu FT-2000.

I sold my Icom 706MKIIg to make some money smiled to the XYL for some more and went of to Nijmegen again with my partner in crime Eric PE1RLF who always drove me overthere when I asked him. Or could it be because Jan serves a good coffee with cake?

Yaesu FT-2000
Yaesu FT-2000

The Yaesu FT-2000. I compared it side by side with the IC-756pro I owned and I could not believe my ears. The 756 was good but this one runs circles around the 756. And that was 4 months before the famous software upgrade PEP 2000 came out. Yes, it did have some quirks but almost every software update made the rig better. Yes, Yaesu missed it with an update or 2, so I had to go back to an older version of the EDSP but overall it is a very good rig. I do not have very big antenna’s, do not experience the overload some talk about and love the ergonomics of this rig.

As I sold my mobile rig I did buy a Yaesu FT-817 for that. It is mainly used for local VHF / UHF work and offcourse when on holiday. Made some nice mobile contacts with it to. Despite only 5 Watts…

Yaesu FT-817ND
Yaesu FT-817ND

Fits about 24 times into the FT-2000?  😉

In August 2010 my FT-2000 gave up on me. Both the receive pre-amps were blown out. I still had 1 month warranty on the rig, brought it in for repair but after talking to my dealer PD0JAN I decided to go for something else and bought a trusty Yeasu FT-920 again and a new Icom IC-7200.

ICOM IC-7200
ICOM IC-7200

The IC-7200 was a big surprise, very good little radio, good DSP filter and easy to use. The noise reduction of this rig is superb, the best NR on a rig I ever used. Also a nice rig for digimodes as it has a USB sound codec. So you do not need any other connection than one USB cable. CAT and sound will go to the same cable.

In November 2010 I saw the Kenwood TS-590 for the first time at a HAMfair in Apeldoorn. I heard very good comments on this new radio from some people there who had one allready and that kept me busy for a while. Eric PE1RLF bought this rig a few days later and was very happy with it. Eric and I tend to do some contesting and we are having our own competition so I have to keep up with him. HI.

I read a lot of reviews on Internet, watched some video’s on YouTube and on 23-12-2010 I decided to call my dealer PD0JAN to see if I could buy one. As always we could make a deal I could live with and the next day Eric PE1RLF and I went to Nijmegen to get the TS-590

Kenwood TS-590S
Kenwood TS-590S

Compared to the most of the radio’s I had this one is fairly small so I do have some free space on the shelf… I wonder what to put there…

Well, there fitted a nice Yaesu FT-857D. I Bought that one in 2011 so I can get some more power in the air when mobile or when on holiday.

Yaesu FT-857D
Yaesu FT-857D