Tuesday, 3 November 2015

My Radio History

My first exposure to radio was as a small child, my uncle Peter was in to CB radio and radio scanning. I have fond memories of talking on his radios and walking up to the Talbot Road lookout with him and a hand held 27MHz CB to chat to his radio friends. As a 7 and 8 year old, being able to talk to people all across the city was amazing and something that sadly with his passing in 1990, I never got to continue with him.

As I grew up, I had an interest in anything technical including computers and electronics. At college I studied electronics and became fascinated with the technical side of radio. My interest in this really started in October 1999 when I brought a Tandy brand 100 channel handheld scanner that  covered from 66 MHz to 956 MHz, I used this almost nonstop from the day I had  it, after getting some good frequencies from my electronics teacher at college.  After using this radio for about 6 months I had saved up enough with a bit extra money from my 18th birthday to buy a brand new scanner, I got a Uniden UBC9000xlt base scanner in March 2000. 

I totally feel in love with scanner at this point and thought I had found something I could stick with. I then got an external aerial installed and that greatly improved the number of frequencies I could hear and the quality of the signal. During March 2002 my beloved Tandy handheld got damaged by an accident at my work place while it was sitting on a bench. This meant I had to buy a new handheld scanner; I got a Uniden UBC3000xlt handheld. 

This was constantly with me whenever I was away from home and I spent many nights listening to my scanners as major events have unfolded and spent many hours listening to what's going on around my city. Around October 2002 I got interested in being able to listen to the state-wide EDACS based radio system that the police and our power company use. After searching the internet I came across the Uniden UBC245xlt trunk tracker ii scanner. I put one on lay by hoping to be able to pay it off as a Christmas present for myself. 

As it happened 2 days before I was to pick it up, my car got broken in to at work (I left a door unlocked for 20 minutes while loading boxes) and my UBC3000xlt handheld got stolen. I pick up my new 245xlt in 2 days’ time and after a shaky start  programming it for the EDACS system, I was rewarded by getting it to work It is all ways with me and I loved it.  The way that it allows me to follow transmissions as they move frequencies is amazing and a real benefit after having to use a normal scanner to try and listen to it. Over the time I have had my scanners (listed at the bottom of this), my interests have changed many times, starting off with the Air band and emergency services, moving in to the business users and I liked listening to the EDACS system and the fire service for many years in the mid to late 2000’s.

I played around with UHF CB and then obtained my amateur radio ticket (ex VK7FPGB) which I let lapse about 9 years ago due to a lack of time / equipment and a location suitable to do this.

As I work in ICT support, computers have been a big part of my life and I have also been looking at ways to integrate them in to the radio scanning hobby, including the use of the internet. Back in early 2004 I had been involved in the radio scanning hobby for a few years and as a result of this I had been in regular contact via email with a few other radio scanning enthusiasts in the Launceston area, after exchanging emails over a period of time I decided to start a Yahoo group to enhance the sharing of information between each other. This group was known as “LauncestonScan” and I was the original creator of this group. We used this group to share information and I got to know a number of people who also shared an interest in radio scanning and radio communications in general. I got to known one of the members very well and he took on the co-owner role with the Yahoo group.

After a period of time he assisted with building us a website, this allowed better sharing of information. Our little group kept growing and our focus was changing from Launceston to Tasmania in general, due to this the group name was changed to “Scanning Tasmania” which was a name that reflected what we were doing, this was anything to do with radio scanning in Tasmania. Not long after this we discussed where the group was going and what we wanted to do, due to a lack of a single good resource for radio scanning in Australia was decided to take this on and the group name was changed to “AusRadio”.

“AusRadio” was started with the best intentions but due to most of our members being based in Tasmania and the radio scanning hobby in general suffering from a reduction in people being part of it during this time, we wrote this off as a mistake and again returned the group name to “Scanning Tasmania”.

In late 2007 the “Scanning Tasmania” Yahoo group had grown to the point where we had some limits on what we could do as  Yahoo group, this lead us to moving “Scanning Tasmania” to a forum under the direction of the co-owner of the group with me assisting where I could. Over the next few years the forum grew, the website was rebuilt and we became more and more popular. This period was also when I started to suffer from some mental health issues, this lead to me making some bad decisions and as such I left the forum on more than one occasion, only to return a period of time later. In late 2010(?) this all came to a head and I have not held any position with the Scanning Tasmania forum or website since then.  I spent a few years “finding myself” and recovering from my health issues, this included trying a few different hobbies (some multiple times). Even when I have been away from the radio scanning hobby, I have kept a keen interest in it. Recently I have been able to return to the radio scanning hobby and now have a much clearer mind and understanding of why I have done some of the things I have done in the past.

Even though I am not a member of the “Scanning Tasmania” forum anymore, I am still very proud of “LauncestonScan” and “Scanning Tasmania” and what they have grown to become. The current leadership of the forum and website have grown it in ways that I could never have imagined were even possible when I first started “LauncestonScan” back in 2004, simply as a way to share radio scanning related information.

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.

In mid-2016 I again came back to the radio scanning hobby, this time with a new found focus and desire to enjoy it for what it is, a relaxing hobby which I enjoy. I run a blog related to this where I share my postings and this is something I really enjoy.

Now in 2017 I am really enjoying using my Uniden UBCD436-PT to log / record various frequencies, hunting out new frequencies and making great use of Close Call while going about my daily life.