(Re) Introduction

Gary DeBock

Like Phil B., I thought that a re-introduction might be a good idea. I'm exactly the same age as Phil (65), and also worked extensively in sonar systems in my original career-- except on the "business end," as a Navy Sonar Technician during the Vietnam War.

As a teenager I became interested in DXing around 1966 in Puyallup, WA, when I built a cheap Heathkit "Ocean Hopper" regenerative shortwave radio and found that I could hear shortwave stations from around the world with it. In 1967 (at age 14) I was moved to iwakuni, Japan as a military dependent, and found that this was an ideal venue to chase Asian Medium Wave DX with hot new Sony portables (and learn basic Japanese conversation). After returning to the US in 1969 I built a Heathkit GR-64 tube receiver, along with joining the IRCA and tracking down some interesting AM-DX from the east coast.

During the Vietnam War the U.S. had a "draft lottery," and of course my birthdate was one of the first in the Army induction priority. Before being drafted I joined the Navy in July of 1971, and was fortunate to receive advanced electronics training, free travel to most of the Asian countries (as well as Pakistan, Kenya, Mauritius and Diego Garcia), including a brief visit to Hong Kong to meet a cute Chinese girl. As a Sonar Technician I was trained to repair electronic equipment out on the ocean where decent repair parts were not available-- a skill (known in the Navy as "WestPac Jury Rigging") which has proven most useful in violating portable radio warranties by installing fanatical loopsticks.

After leaving the Navy as an E-6 (STG1) in 1982 I became a Washington real estate broker and fanatical amateur radio QRP operator, concentrating on working the world with a 2-watt Heathkit HW-8 CW transceiver and 2-element cubical quad antenna (all homebrew). After receiving QSL's from over 100 countries with this barebones gear I thought that the same minimalist approach could be applied to the AM-DXing hobby, where in 2007 the mindset seemed to be stuck in "doom and gloom" over the new IBOC menace. With the focus on operator skill, propagation knowledge and ocean beach enhancement the new Ultralight Radio Boom took off like wildfire in the USA and Canada in 2008, led by the Master of Organization Dr. John Bryant, fanatical DXers Rob Ross, Allen Willie and Richard Allen, and expert administrator Kevin Schanilec. After complaints that we were "hijacking" the IRCA list we moved off to form our separate "Ultralightdx" Yahoo group

In early 2011 we suffered a major loss with John's unfortunate accident, but around the same time the U.K.'s Graham Maynard introduced a strange new ferrite antenna-- which eventually would be developed into a super sensitive (and super compact) ocean beach performer. The compact performance of the new FSL antenna led to the discovery of ocean cliff "hot spots" such as the Rockwork cliff in Oregon, offering enhanced transoceanic DX propagation to certain areas. In early 2017 the FSL antenna was shrunk down to a "travel friendly" size, launching the fascinating new genre of "Frequent Flyer" transoceanic DXing. During the latest Kauai, Hawaii DXpedition with this 5" (127mm) TSA-friendly antenna, AM stations were received from Oman, Egypt, Iran, India (2), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam (5) as well as multiple stations from Taiwan and the Philippines. How can the hobby possibly get any more exciting? Anyway, have a Happy New Year, everybody, with lots of exciting DX in 2019!

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)



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