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My first shack..

Address P.zza Albert Einstein 7
59100 Prato (PO)
WWLocator JN53NU
Timeframe December, 1990
June, 1994
HF Radio Kenwood TS 940S/AT
HF Antennas Hy-Gain TH3 3el 10/15/20
Dipoles for 40m and WARC
VHF Radios Kenwood TM732
Kenwood TH77
VHF Antennas Vertical 6/8 VHF / 2x5/8 UHF
Accessories TNC KAM All Mode
Computer 386dx 33 MHz


At that time I was 16 and lived in Prato: when I realized I passed my ham examination, I immediatly began thinking on how to set-up my station, keeping in mind that I was still a boy and so I rely completely on my parents (again, thanks!).

While I was waiting to get my temporary license (in those days, in Italy you could wait up to an year between the examination and the ham license, so in the meantime the Italian Communication Office released a non-renewable six months temporary license) I played, mainly listening, with an handheld VHF radio which EDO IW5AXC borrowed to me. This period was very important because I was able to listen and learn live from other operators (of course, I listened many QSO on HF, but most of them were the typical "English" QSO .

So, when I got my desired license (November, 1990), I installed a VHF station (less expensive than HF): I still remember that I received the license on Saturday, just in time to go at the local shop to buy the radio and the antenna; otherwise I had to wait an entire week before my father could help me to remove the old CB antenna and install the new VHF vertical on the roof. On the same weekend, I was active on 144 and stayed there for about one month.

Kenwood TS940
The first love...!

Of cource my thoughts were looking elsewhere: I wanted to grow (from an ham point of view, of course!) moving on HF. After one month (Christmas 1990) I finally put my hands on my first HF transceiver: a Kenwoood TS-940 (a beautiful radio which still works in my shack); by the way, I had to sell my beautiful receiver R-5000: altought I now regret this, at that time it was the only way to get another radio since I was no more than a student!

And the Antenna? I neglected the well known motto "1 $ fot the radio and 10 $ for the antenna" so I owned a big radio without a proper antenna! THe only answer I had was the classic multiband dipole (a single line feed joined to multiple wires, one for each band): I must admit that my first homemade antenna was not working very well (SWR > 1.8 on 10, 15 and 20 meters) but luckily the transceiver was equipped with a good antenna tuner! By the way, to add a second antenna on the roof (the first one was the V/UHF vertical) I needed to deploy another coax cable: this was not so simple because cables were put inside the kitchen's chimney!

My first shack
My first shack

I used this station up to the end of my temporary license, then I unplugged the transmitting antenna replacing it with an 80m folded long wire, used to listen lower bands. I stayed all time on 137 KHz where a germany station was broadcasting newspaper photos using slow-scan fax which I can decode using a simple clamping interfaced connected to the serial port of my computer (my first PC: a 386sx with 1 MB of RAM!).

When I finally got my final license, I stumbled again with the antennas: I installed dipoles and this time they worked better ( experience counts!): but it was an hard life when, at friday, I went to the local ham club listening other hams disscussing about big Yagi! It was at the local ham club that I started to talk to my parents regarding a better antenna: if I remember well, it was Danio, I5OYY (called "the lighthouse" because he is always present on all HF bands and always knows what's happening) that one evening told to my father "This guy needs a REAL antenna..." (thanks Danio for your support!).

The antennas

So, in December 1991 I became the proud owner of a Hy-Gain TH3JR (by the way, it's still in service and still works great .. those stuffs from Hy-Gain have a very long life!), together with a full size dipole for 40 meters. Every morning, before going to school, I did some QSO with Australia on 20 meters (it was a good propagation period): I can assure it's really a good way to start your workday!

Some years later I discovered packet radio and begun a Co-Sysop of a local BBS IK5MEP, starting my experiments on data transmission, where I encountered for the first time another big world: the one related to TCP/IP protocol.

P.S.: Sorry for the bad quality photos, but I took those shoots just to "end the film" in my camera, without paying attention to the quality. Moreover, those pictures were not well archived and also have been scanned to show them in this site. Unfortunately, they are the only ones I have regarding my first QTH.

© IK5PWC Luca