Re: (Re) Introduction

Paul Blundell

This outlines where I have come from and where I am at.

Over the past 20 years “hobbies” have been a major issue for me. As a teenager I became heavy involved in the radio scanning hobby, which lead me to UHF CB and then to me obtaining my amateur radio ticket (ex VK7FPGB) which I let lapse about 8 years ago due to a lack of time / equipment and a location suitable to do this. I also started the original “Launceston Scan” Yahoo group which grew to become the “Scanning Tasmania” website and forum which is still active today. It has been over three years since I was last a member of this forum and now have no connection to it at all. In early 2008 I was getting a little bit sick of the radio scanning hobby and the issues associated with this, which in part lead me to try my hand at photography. Very soon after starting with this I found I had some talent and a passion for photography. In late 2008 I decided to get back in to radio scanning in a small way which then grew again and this lead to me focusing on this and photography taking a back seat. Over the next 5 years I changed and moved between both these hobbies plus I also tried my hand at creative writing, computer animation, programming and I also became heavy involved in the LEGO Technic hobby to the point where in early 2013 I ran a LEGO expo in Launceston called “Brixhibition” and following this I was elected the vice-president (North) of the Taz-brick Collectors Club.


By the middle of 2013 things had come to a head and after much soul searching I decided to leave all my other hobbies behind and just concentrate on the ultralight DXing hobby. Late in 2013 Gary DeBock offered to build for me a Tecsun PL-380 with this famous 7.5” Loopstick mod, when I received this in the mail my interest and passion for ultralight DXing really took off. In early 2014 I again returned to the LEGO Technic hobby, by late 2014 I had again sold off all my LEGO and this has been a really good decision on my part. I have also suffered from some health issues over the past 9 years and these mean that sometimes I am unable to get out and do things that I would like to do, ultralight DXing is a good reason to go out when I want to / can and it is also just as enjoyable if I am stuck at home too. Since the birth of our daughter in late 2014 I have found a new way to combine my ultralight DXing hobby with family life, often when I take her out for a walk I throw my ultralight DXing kit in the pram and take the chance to undertake some portable sessions when I am able to.


I find the ultralight DXing hobby to be a really good fit for me; this is for a number of reasons as it combines a number of my previous interests in to one hobby:


Radio Communications:

Back when I first got interested in radio as a teenager one of the things I most enjoyed was listening to distant stations on the AM and Shortwave bands. This was something I have not done as much over the past few years and I have missed it. The cost of equipment is quite low and it is easy to source locally or via the Internet. Where as a scanner can start at $200 and go up in to the thousands, broadcast receivers are much cheaper and unless you want to get very serious a basic $60 radio will do 95% of what you need. I have been very happy with how well my AR1733 and modified PL-380 work.


After 15 years in the radio scanning hobby on and off, it had lost some of its appeal to me; you can only hear so many taxi drivers calling for jobs or a rubbish removal company talking about bin pickups before you get sick of it. As I work during the day my scanning time is limited to a night time during the week or of a weekend, while you can sometimes hear interesting things during these times most of the radio traffic I am interested in happens during the day, while I am at work. As shortwave and medium wave broadcasting is a 24/7 business at any time of the day or night I can be comfortable that I will be able to pick up something of interest. In late 2013 I was quite sick and this has seen me take some time off work, even with having the whole day to myself for a couple of weeks on and off I still was not happy with what I was able to hear on my scanners. If I was not happy in a situation like this when I have the time to do it then I finally decided that I never really would be happy in that hobby.



My various portable ultralight DXing sessions have allowed me to take some photos / videos which I have found really enjoyable. This also gives me a chance / excuse to get outside which is a positive for my health.


Computers / Programming:

I have always had a serious interest in computers (it is also my job) and programming. Ultralight DXing lets me continue with this due to my database I have created. I also enjoy the data analyst side of the hobby and again this is something I can do from home when I am unable to go out.



The ultralight DXing hobby gives me a good reason to continue writing as I produce my reports from each of my sessions. I also communicate with various people online via forums and Yahoo groups and run my blog.


It was not until late 2013 that I really got serious about this hobby, the kindness and support I have received from many on the ultralight DXing group and other groups / forums have been very much appreciated. This is especially true for Gary who is a real asset to this hobby, even to the point of modifying radios for people all across the world including myself.


Ultralight DXing is the perfect hobby for me, it combines a number of my interests and it has been one of the main reasons I have been able to drag myself out from my illness and become the person who I used to be again.


On Wed, Jan 2, 2019 at 3:45 PM D1028Gary@... [ultralightdx] <ultralightdx@...> wrote:

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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