Q & A Interview - Meet 43 Division's New Power Station!  
  Submitted by 43SD054 Darren on 28 August, 2005 - 7:59pm. 43SD054 Darren's picture  
      With the entire Oceania/ Pacific region imprisoned by some sort of DX dungeon at the moment, one 43 Division operator in particular has continued to carry the Southern Cross flag with distinction and do his DX mad compatriots proud. 43TR299 has ridden the highs of 11m DX in Australia - when Oz CB Groups flourished and overseas contracts were made with relative ease; and also the lows - when the 27MHz mic was swapped for a mouse and modem and radio hobby participation in general became minimal. Fortunately, for the hobby, though, he remains on the 11m DX front as active as ever, working rare activations such as 234SD/0 and chewing the fat with radio mates from his simple shack in the remote Top End.
  This month, the world's best on-line DX magazine, '11m DX Activities Oz' goes one on one with Australia's new power station, 43TR299 Geoff, in a tell-all interview about his life as an 11m DX'er.

Q. Let's start off with a simple one...What's your name?
A. Geoff

Q. How old are you?
A. 49 years old

Q. One more year till the big one, huh! I hear you're planning on flying in some DX personalities from around the country, such as yours truly, for a massive 50th birthday bash, is that right?
A. Err...not the partying type, sorry Darren. Might lash out with a few coins
 and a couple of crown lagers down at the casino though!

  Q. In what state/ city/ town do you live?
A. Darwin - capital city of the Northern Territory

Q. Wasn't that the place wiped out by a massive cyclone a couple of decades ago?
A. Apparently! However, it recovered nicely and the buildings have been beefed up somewhat! Darwin is a much bigger town than we expected when we turned up here back in 1994.
Q. How did you get involved in radio communications?
A. I'm from the 'old days' when we lived on a property in country South Australia. My parents had a valve radio complete with short- wave bands and a long wire antenna strung up between the house and shed. Those radios did not have in-built antennas. It was interesting to listen to the many Aussie A.M. broadcast stations which came in, particularly at night on the 'sky waves' along with shortwave stations from around the world. We also worked with hand-held 2 way units from time to time, and also learnt a little about the capabilities of 'ham' stations.

 Q. What was your first ever transceiver and who bought it for you?
A. My first ever radio was a 23 channel A.M. set self bought. My first ever QSO was with locals and they showed up for an eyeball
- a bit scary, huh!
    Q. On the 11m band, which callsign/s do you use?
A. 43TR299 only.

Q. How long have you been a member of the Tweed Radio DX group?
A. Was independent until talked into joining the TR group way back in 1992.

Q. Looks like you've been around for a while then... How long have you been on radio in general?
A. Since 1977 - about 28 years. In 1975 a visiting work colleague from Victor Harbor showed me his Midland SSB rig and demonstrated its capability with a QSO to another operator in northern New South Wales. He was also the owner of a 4el Quad and passed on a few tips. I managed to get my first 2 el quad up and running back in 1978!

Q. Gee, I didn't know that radios existed back then, lol! You must have seen a few changes in the hobby... Any that stand out?
A. Back in the early stages there was a lot of QSL card collecting going on around Australia etc. and a lot more mobile stations about.
  Q. Assuming you're still not stuck with an old crystal set, lol, what are your present working conditions (i.e. transceiver, antenna, amplifier, microphone etc)?
A. Currently, I use an Alinco DX70 transceiver with a standard microphone and a 3 element quad antenna, homemade in 1992.

Q. How many DXCC have you confirmed?
A. Not many - about 65. I'm more interested in the talk side of DX rather than card collecting. Last count, I'd worked about 130 divisions and have about 1500 different DX stations in the log - not counting more than a few from 43 division of course!
  Q. Even though guys in Europe have tallied up huge numbers of DXCC's, that's pretty standard for us poor sods in Oceania wouldn't you agree?
A. Yep - they have many divisions within the sporadic E skip whereas Australia (almost the size of Europe has relatively few.

Q. Okay, so life as a 43 Division DX'er isn't always hunky dory ...What keeps you interested then? What keeps the heart pumping and the blood racing?
A. The magic of propagation with the ability to talk with people almost anywhere with low power.

Q. That's it? 'Magic' isn't a word that I would normally use to describe propagation, lol! More like unpredictability or fickleness...
A. I guess that depends on where you are. Here in the tropics the propagation is a bit more predictable I think. Further away from the equator the propagation is certainly less predictable and much less forthcoming!
Q. You seem to me to be a bit more complex than the everyday Aussie CB'er... Other than communications, what are your interests/ skills etc.?
A. Computers since 1980 (working with graphics and web designing etc.); minor home renovation; photography (but not real serious stuff); educating the dog; technical skills come from long-term work in a technical/electronics field; and finding out why we are here.
  Q. Complete this scenario: "The perfect DX scenario is ..."
A. Spending plenty of time in the shack here with a few months of excellent propagation to Africa, along with plenty of rare activations to work.
    Q. What do you regard as the best DX contact you have ever made?
A. One of the best was to South Africa back in about 1980 using 12w and a Ringo half wave antenna. Another would have to be with 38 Division - back in 2001 with a little 'cueing' help from friends in Western Europe!

Q. In your experience, what is the hardest continent to work?
A. South America would be the continent least heard here.

Q. If you had the opportunity to conduct an activation anywhere in the world, what and where would it be?
A. Somewhere in the tropics I guess - too cold anywhere else. Maybe Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii or Guam Island...

Q. Well, if you ever want to go, I'm putting my hand up to accompany you, right! I'll even supply the beer!
A. Looks like my choices make a bit of sense then! You can come along if you're good at smooth-talking the locals out there ...for food supplies and so on!

Q. Whom would you MOST like to sit next to on a plane from Darwin to a small island in the Pacific for a DX-pedition?
A. Probably Vic 43SD152... I don't know much about Vic and I am interested in the topics he raises on this forum!
  Q. You're kidding aren't you? They bore the crappers out of me, lol. I would have thought you'd say a stunner like Elle McPherson, Drew Barrymore or Julia Roberts...but bloody Victor? I bet you've never seen him dance, right?
A. What would any of the celebs know about DX I wonder? No - I haven't seen Vic dance  ...but I don't dance well either, hihi
  Q. Besides your radio gear, what item can't you do without in your radio shack?
A. The computer.

Q. I agree, Geoff. You can't beat a good porn site, huh, lol?
A. No porno ... I make use of the net to keep in touch with what's going on around the place. Not long ago we bought magazines etc. regularly.

Q. What annoys you most about 11m radio?
A. Operators who never seem to learn!

Q. Can you elaborate on that one?
A. For instance, there are operators who don't understand that radio only works one way at a time - not like a telephone. It's also annoying when in mid QSO, another station keeps trying to attract attention after asked to "stand by".

Q. In one word, describe yourself as a DX'er:
A. Active.

Q. What are your 11m goals for the future?
  A. Designing and making antennas and building up the card collection. Encouraging the interest of younger operators or else there won't be anybody on the band in the future.

Q. If you'd just won the lotto and could buy the best radio gear possible, what would you buy?
A. Hmmm .....money is one thing that helps but it doesn't always buy happiness/ satisfaction. A rig with DSP would help I think. Maybe also purchase some of the other nice yagi antennas etc. just to compare them ... I would also get a cherry picker with about 20m height capability to mount the antennas on!
    Q. You're right about money not buying happiness ... I once took a YL on an expensive holiday to the Gold Coast for a few days, shopping, dining out at top class restaurants, staying in a first rate hotel etc. But she left me a week later saying I didn't cater for her needs... What is it with YL's and money, Geoff?
A. Read the signs I think! All part of the great 'learning curve of life'! Sometimes, for example, one has to spend money like that to find out things. If someone gives happily, they can be sure that they will receive much more back eventually!

Q. Is there any truth to the rumour that your dog Max (Shown as your profile pic) is the real brains behind your DX achievements, lol?
A. Max the Jack Russell is now 3 years old. He really belongs to my XYL but loves all of the family. The XYL has back injuries etc. and was very depressed when it happened. When Max came along he brightened things up for us all immensely - plenty of laughs etc. - so he is worth his weight in gold. Max spends plenty of time in the shack also.
  Q. A DX Group for pets! Reckon we could pass on the idea to young Jordan. He might be interested in getting something started...
A. Don't think so  ...Jordan is suffering from a lack of dx propagation I think. He'll be right when the skip cycle improves!
Q. Time for some self-indulgence now... Why is '11m DX Activities Oz' the hottest site on the net in the world right now? (Remember Geoff: Any smart ass comments will be edited, lol!)
A. If it is, it would be due to the interest in Australia by people in other countries. It fills in some of the gaps left when the Aussie radio magazines disappeared a couple years ago along with its interactive ability I think. Some of the other 43 division sites tend to cater for club members only rather than the general DX community like this site does.
  Q. I see you've got your own site at http://www.users.bigpond.com/tr299/ Can I say it's one of the most interesting home sites that I've ever visited...
A. Yes, it's just a bit of fun! Thanks for the link!

* Interview conducted by 43SD054, Darren for '11m DX Activities Oz'. A big thanks to 43TR299 for his enthusiastic participation!
  (from 11m DX Activities Oz (more of that site can be viewed via internet Wayback Machine. A pity the site was lost!)  
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