About VK2XOR

Hi there!

Thanks for looking me up. Name this way is Max. First licensed in 2008 as KF7OLU in beautiful Montana, USA, I now reside on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia.

(This is also available over at QRZ.com.)

I was interested in Amateur radio from a young age. A combination of the ruggedness/vastness of Montana, my father exposing me to the idea of ham radio, and wonder drew me in. Growing up with not-always-connected dial-up internet, expensive long-distance calling, and very sparse mobile phone coverage, I loved the idea of being able to communicate over vast distances with radio.

So, somewhere in my early teens, I attempted to read my dad’s 1993 copy of “Now You’re Talking!” from the ARRL and Radio Shack. I attempted to read it several times over the years. Usually getting a little further each time.

My exam and license would not come until I was in university, however. At some point, I was discussing my interest – and slow progress so far – in obtaining an amateur radio license with a coworker or acquaintance who were already licenced. Thankfully, they offered this kind advice: Just study the question pool, pass the exam, and then learn hands-on as you get into the hobby with your new licence. What a great idea! So I set forth and studied the Technician class question pool for a week or two until I had it down quite well. This was just in time for an upcoming examination session run by the local club. Because I had an extra day or two before exam day, I took a peak at the General class question pool as well. Interestingly, I learned a number of things whilst studying the question pools. The evening of the exam came and I finished my Technician a fair bit before any of the other ham hopefuls. Passed – pretty sure I missed one question at most. I was glad and excited, but before I could leave, the examiners asked if I’d like to sit the General class exam since I had so much extra time. “Nah, I didn’t study for that one.” They convinced me that I had plenty of time and that there was nothing to lose, so I may as well give it a shot. Okay. Sat that one as well. This one took me a fair bit more time. I hadn’t just drilled the question pool for this one. I really had to think – and guess! There were many questions that I really hadn’t gone over or learned about. But there were also some that were review or re-application of parts I’d learned for the Technician exam. To my surprise, the result came back Pass! I must have only passed by about one point. The examiners asked if I wanted to take the Extra class license as well. I laughed, declined, and thanked them very much for the session. Knowing I only just passed that exam, and with the evening getting late, I knew there was no way I would pass the Extra exam, and didn’t want to spend more time there in the attempt.

[Image of ?]

I didn’t apply for a vanity call, and received the auto-allocated callsign KF7OLU, which I still have at the time of this writing. The next step was to get on air. I deliberated about radios for quite some time. The first was to be a hand-held vhf/uhf transceiver. The prices seemed way beyond my “poor college student” budget, even for some of those on the used market. After doing a lot of reading and searching, I ended up buying a Quansheng TG-UV2. This was when one or two of the Chinese manufacturers were just starting to make a name for themselves and gain a positive reputation of not being absolute junk. And the price was right! I still have the TG-UV2. It’s a fantastic little radio, great build quality, great interface. My only gripe with it is that it has no built-in DTMF encoder. Of note is that it has a proper heterodyne receiver, as opposed to the direct-conversion receiver found in today’s cheap Baofengs and similar.

[Image of TG-UV2]

And then came the thing that happens to many new hams. That hesitation of pressing that PTT key. I remember that happening, but I also remember getting on with it and participating in the local club weekly nets, and calling out to acquaintances over time. I can’t remember how long that hesitation/nervousness lasted or when/why it went away. Once I was on the air on the repeaters and meeting more local hams, I got a little more into the hobby. I quite enjoyed going on weekend fox hunts once or twice a month, and at some point, it was time to get on HF. There, I was struck again with the problem of cost. Again, after much searching, I bought myself the RockMite kit for 40m. I believe it cost me about $30 shipped. The RockMite needed an antenna and somehow, I came across the PAC-12. I built one cheaply, with parts from the hardware store and RadioShack. I think I had to order the telescopic whip online.

[Image of Rock Mite 40] [Image of PAC-12]

Current main areas of interest:

  • D-Star
  • Packet Radio & APRS
  • HF QRP & Morse Code
  • Off-grid comms, including JS8Call & Winlink

I’ll be updating this page soon with more information and photos. Stay tuned!

73, VK2XOR