Jack RAC
Jack Askew - VA7JX


I have been a licensed Amateur Radio Operator Ham since May 1959.  Prior to moving to Vancouver Island with my family in 2006 I was VE4JX.  My family and I lived just 10km North of Winnipeg, Manitoba.   Although like many Hams, my first interests were talking to other Hams all over the world on the HF bands.   However, my main interest over these many years has been in building my own VHF and UHF equipment.   In 1964 I built a 50, and 144 MHz station from the ground up using a HB 20 meter phasing exciter, followed by HB transverters.  For 432 MHz, I modified an old tube type Dew Line transverter which was driven at 50 MHz.  The last driver stage before the big linear was also a modified DEW Line unit using a single 4CX250K capable of putting out in excess of 100 watts.  After months of hard work building several Yagi antennas, another power amplifier and a couple of pre-amplifiers, the time was near to try some EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) or  Moon bouncing communication.  In September 1975 and with the assistance of Barry Malowanchuk VE4MA, we successfully achieved our first attempt at  Moon bouncing on 432 MHz.   We were able to hear our own echoes off the Moon using my steerable array of 8-13 element Yagi (K2RIW type) antennas and a 1KW input linear amplifier, also a K2RIW design.  Our first two contacts were with Cor Mass, VE7BBG in Duncan B.C. and Dr. Allen Katz, K2UYH in New Jersey.  The Yagi had both azimuth and elevation control.   The 1st stage pre-amp originally consisted of a MRF901 transistor with around 1 db noise figure, which in those days was considered not bad.  That was soon replaced by a better lower noise transistor donated by Dr. Katz.  Stations were worked all over the world from Japan, Italy and a some U.S. contacts too, only to mention a few.  Later on I built a 20' 432 MHz dish, but unlike the Yagi, you had to go outside and manually aim the dish just ahead of the Moon each time you wanted to receive or transmit.  The feed at the focal point consisted of a pair of dipoles each switchable from the shack.  The reason for having two dipoles was because of the change in the polarization of the signal coming back. This is caused by what is known as Faraday rotation.  This occurs when a linearly polarized signal passes through the ionosphere and the electromagnetic wave interacts with the charged particles and the Earth's magnetic field, its plane of polarization is rotated.   When the rotated signal has been reflected back from the Moon and re-enters the ionosphere, it will be rotated some more in the same direction - Faraday rotation does not 'un-wind' or cancel out!   This means that even your own Moon echoes can return rotated by 90°, so you don't hear them.  In these conditions, EME communications between stations anywhere in Europe with fixed horizontal polarization will be very difficult.  Faraday rotation can not be predicted in advance, you have to accept whatever it is at the moment!   Although the signal only seems to arrive at a polarization angle between +90° and -90°, the wave may in fact have undergone many complete rotations. Faraday rotation is proportional to the electron density, integrated along the path through the ionosphere.  When the path through the ionosphere is longer, at your local Moon rise and Moon set, there will be more rotation.  Also there is more ionization in daytime.  Faraday rotation is about 10 times more severe in daytime than at night, and it is likely to be changing more quickly around sunrise or sunset at either end of the EME path. Communicating with other stations using the Moon as a passive reflector was not an easy task as it is easier with two people operating the antennas and equipment than one.  Barry, VE4MA, use to come over and assist in working stations and aiming the dish every few minutes.
The echoes off the Moon using the 20' dish were far better than using the Yagi array with the lower gain, especially when you couldn't change polarization with the Yagi.  
Within a year, Barry built his own huge array of Yagi antennas for his EME station and was soon working stations all over the world on EME.  It wasn't long before Barry worked all States and continents on 432 EME, and continued on with all the higher bands, building and designing better dish feeds for the microwave bands including 24 and 47 GHz.   Barry has actually worked RW3BP, AD6FP and W5LUA on 47 GHz EME back in April 2005, not an easy task, congratulations to all of them.  

In the early 90's I continued to enjoy building my own equipment such as transverters for 50, 144, 432, 1296, 3456, and 5760 MHz, including 10 GHz, as well as pre-amps for each of those bands.  
Now that we have moved to Campbell River I'm looking forward to getting active on the higher bands again soon.  
Since retiring from Magellan Aerospace Corp.in 2006 and moving to Vancouver Island, I have been experimenting with a whole different part of the spectrum called LF, (Low Frequency) which is 135.7-137.8 KHz.  The World Radio Communication Conference (WRC-07) in Geneva has approved 2200m as a world-wide amateur band as of December 2009, Canadian amateurs now have full access to 2200m without the need for special operating permission.
I have been inspired by people like Steve McDonald, VE7SL, Scott Tilley, VE7TIL and the VA7LF group for the tremendous work they have done in pioneering LF in Canada.   In April of 2006 the VA7LF group (as always) heard the New Zealand station ZM2E.  The ZM2E station positively identified VA7LF but unfortunately the sun was almost over the horizon on Pender Island and their path vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.  Up until near the end of 2007 Steve and the VA7LF group were given special experimental license to operate in the LF band.   There has been a limited number of LF experimental stations operating in Canada in the last few years.  Another active station is Joeseph Craig, VO1NA, Joe was heard in France by F1AFJ on January 21st 2008 on 1600 metres (184.005 KHz). Another station in Canada is John McCreath, VE3EAR / VE3WZL.  Mitch, VE3OT has been active since June 2000 and worked VA3LK establishing a Canadian first for two way QSO on 2200 metre band. Jay Allen, VY1JA in Whitehorse YT, has been active on LF also.
Following the World Radiocommunication Conference's (WRC-07) approval of the 2200m band as a world-wide amateur band, as of DECEMBER 2009, Canadian amateurs now have full access to 2200m without the need for special operating permission.  Amateurs are limited to 1W E.I.R.P. and narrow-band modes of emission. Hopefully there will be more interest here in Canada now that the band has become available to us all.  It is also my hope that new upcoming Hams will be encouraged to try and build and design their own equipment, as this is one important aspect of Ham radio that is unfortunately becoming a dying interest.

JA7NI (DFCW30) and VE7TIL (DFCW60) completed a trans-pacific QSO on 2200m September 28th, 2010, a first between Canada and Japan.  CN89dk to QM09fl is 7162km.  Congrtaulations to you both!