An Ulsterman on the air in Chile

Created on Sunday, 06 September 2009

 

Though I now live in Chile I was born and grew up in Northern Ireland.  What follows is how an Ulsterman comes to be living K800_DSCN0061in Chile and operating as CE2WZ (Photo left of home QTH & TET antenna).

My interest in radio began in the 1960’s when I discovered the switch on my parents’ Murphy radio which changed the band from MW to SW and heard Radio Switzerland with the news in English.  Shortly afterwards I acquired a communications receiver and began to DX broadcast stations.  I built up a collection of QSL cards which I still have from such exotic locations as Iraq, Indonesia and Vietnam.  I listened avidly to such programmes as the Happy Station on Radio Nederland (see image directlt below).  Each week I purchased the Irish Press for its weekly DX column and scanned the pages of Practical Wireless for its shortwave DX tips.  I was never much of a radio constructor but when Iwas about 16 my parents bought me a Phillips electronics kit from which it was possible to make small radios, amplifiers and other electronic gadgets using the components which were held on the board by spring clips.  My experiences with the soldering iron have not been so successful. In 1969 on completing my degree Scan0003at Cardiff I went out on a three year tour to Zambia.  I was posted to a bush school 100 miles from the nearest tarred road.  Here the radio became essential as a means of keeping in touch with Britain and the world.  I bought an Eddystone radio in Lusaka and listened to the BBC World Service as well as Radio RSA, the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation and of course LM Radio – the Radio Luxemburg of Southern Africa.  In 1973 I moved to Northern Nigeria and spent the next six years working in education in Sokoto State.  That’s where I fell through a roof rigging a television aerial so that we could receive television from North Africa when the local Scan0004television transmitter went off the air.  A month in hospital with a broken pelvis taught me to avoid going up on roofs to erect antennas. So far I had only been a radio listener.  However in 1980 I changed continents and went off to Santiago to head up the language department in a British school in the Chilean capital.  Here was a new world of radio with Bolivian, Peruvian and Colombian stations on the tropical bands.  I also picked up QSL cards from them.  Soon after my arrival in Chile I got married to Linda, a Chilean girl (Photo below left), and persuaded her that she would enjoy becoming a radio amateur.  Love is a wonderful thing and together we went off to the Radio Club de Chile where we attended the courses and both passed our novice and general class licences.  I became CE3EYN and she was CE3EYO.....

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I bought my first rig a TS130 and got on the air with a dipole.  In came stations from all over the globe though mainly from USA.  I made some good friends on the air and one of them, Keith G4RZQ, became my QSL manager.  I also acquired an Elmer in the form of Dick CE3DWL, an American also living in Santiago.  Nightly he transmitted to me in CW on 10 metres as I prepared for my UK radio examinations.  The problem being that the UK did not recognise the Chilean licence so it meant taking my City and Guilds in the British Council in Santiago – specially sent out to me and later my morse test at the coastgards in Southampton.

By 1983 the economic situation was becoming difficult in Chile so we left to come back to the UK and I looked for a new job.  Shortly afterwards I obtained a lecturing post in Malaysia and off we set again this time with a TS430 and a TET triband antenna in the luggage.  I had also picked up a UK licence G4VHO.  We soon made contacts in Malaysia (Photo's above & right) and through them Linda and I were able to obtain local licences – I became 9M2DC (my initials) and Linda was 9M2LA.  Some local lads helped me put up the antenna and I was on the air.  I was soon building up QSOs but where were my QSL cards.  I contacted 9M2SS Sangat who was the President of MARTS and he took me into a room in his house which was stacked high with cards.  There was no one to sort them out.  Well the only way Linda_9M2LA_on_the_air_copyto get my cards was to sort the whole lot out so we made several trips by car and brought all the cards back to our house. Over a month I had them all stacked on the floor in piles – there were about 70 amateurs in Malaysia at the time – no one in 9M6 and only later one in 9M8 – 9M8EN.  I soon got to know all the active members and have fond memories of 9M2DW (Two Dancing Witches), 9M2CO Adrian – very active, 9M2FZ Leong and my lifetime friend 9M2BB whom we still affectionately call Two Bravo Bravo – now living in VK.  I made about 5000 contacts in Malaysia and sent out endless packets of cards monthly wrapping them in plastic bags from the local supermarket to protect them from the tropical rain.  In 1986 I ended my contract in 9M2 and we returned to the UK.

By now teaching jobs were getting more difficult to get and the XYL made it clear that she did not fancy three years in South Sudan even though the callsign would have been exotic.  So I retrained as a solicitor and took a teaching post at the University of Glamorgan near Cardiff.  Up went the TET tribander with the help of my friend Ron VK7RN visiting us from Tasmania and I was back on the air as GW4VHO. However my days as a ham were to be limited as my neighbour complained of TVI.  Unable to resolve it to his satisfaction I gave up the hobby for the next 15 years.

In 2006 I had reached retirement age and Linda and I agreed that we wanted to move abroad again.  After visits to different parts of Spain we finally settled on Northern Chile as the best place to set up home.  We returned in late 2006 sailing out on a container ship a journey of 46 days.  Shortly after our arrival we joined the local radio club and within six months I had recovered my licence.  I was back on the air as CE2EYN still with my TS430S and TET tribander.

In September 2008 I was invited to join the Atacama DX group and in ANTOFA_051October I was off to Bahia Inglesa (English Bay) with the group to operate CE1W in the CQWW contest.  We made 4000 QSOs over the weekend helped with Chilean wine of course.  The group will activate CE1W again this year.  I also help out the local radio club in contests – we usually operate as CE2LS and the club has a good record in contests. In December I applied to Telecomunicaciones in Santiago to change my licence for a 2 letter call.  This involved providing evidence of publications – luckily I had written an article some years ago in Practical Wireless – and at least 25 years operation as a ham.  The application was processed quickly and when we rang Santiago to ask on its progress we were advised that I had been granted the callsign CE2WZ which was much better for contest work.

As for the future I hope to be able to pension off the TS430S soon and replace it with something newer.  I have been working on my CW and hope to get on the air in that mode soon.   My favourite band is 10 metres CE2WZand I have been considering joining 10-10 International.  I just love it when 10 metres opens up and I can make QSOs to Europe and North America.

So if you hear me please give me a call particularly if it is on 10 metres. I qsl via LOTW and/or via M0OXO (M3ZYZ Qrz.com) and it would be my pleasure to both send you and receive your Qsl Card in return.

73 & regards,

David

CE2WZ

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