August 25, 2020:
Revised: v3.3

An Introduction to Andrew ZL2PD

Some information about the person behind this website, if anyone is even remotely interested!
I have been an amateur radio ("ham") and electronics enthusiast since the age of 13 when I built my first one-transistor radio with help from my uncle, also a ham.

About 12 months later, I passed the New Zealand amateur radio theory exam, and got my first amateur radio license, one of the "No Morse" Technician class callsigns, in my case ZL3TIX. (The letter "T" indicated it was a Technician class license)

Like many hams back then, I built my first transceiver. It was a 2m (144 MHz) "Southland Branch" VHF AM transceiver. Back in the early 1970's in New Zealand, AM on VHF bands was a very popular mode. Amateur radio use of FM on VHF and UHF bands was still several years away. When FM finally did arrive, it swiftly took over. I made the change by building one of the more popular local FM transceiver designs, a "Wellington Branch Walkie" portable 1W VHF FM handheld. Everything was crystal-controlled in those days.

After a few years, and with a move to another city, I passed the amateur radio Morse code test, and received a new  callsign (ZL1AQW). I graduated from university as an electrical engineer, and moved to work in another new city where I received my current callsign, ZL2PD. That's the callsign I still hold today.

Electronics and ham radio have been (and remain) great hobbies. I've been fortunate to turn my hobbies into a professional telecommunications career. I spent my first years working in civil aviation on HF ground-to-air design and build projects, mostly around the South Pacific. One project involved updating HF facilities in a remote Pacific island. I spent 7 weeks doing the installation of two 1kW transmitters, a new HF/VHF comms control system and tower facilities single-handed.

I'd taken my Icom IC-701 transceiver with me, and in the evenings from the hotel, with just a simple dipole out the window, I could get a serious 'pile-up' on 20m from hams all over the world calling me. I also had the opportunity over a few weekends to use the recently decommissioned HF rhombic antennas at the island's transmitting station. These antennas were up on 30m masts and 100m long, or more. They had incredible gain. 
I've never seen signals like those before or since. Great fun!

A few years later, I moved on to a new job in Fiji, an island group in the South Pacific. A few years later, somewhat abruptly following the first of several military coups in Fiji, I returned to New Zealand to work for a mobile radio manufacturer for a number of years. Fast forward a few more years, and I moved to a new job for a US-based multi-national network operator, leading the design and rollout of a number of large mobile radio networks all around the world.

That eventually led to my becoming a telecommunications consulting engineer. I spent some years travelling all over the world, helping to design, build and operate a variety of new telecommunications networks. Eventually that led to a lengthy period working in the Middle East
as an advisor for a large telecommunications regulator.

Surprisingly, despite all the time spent working and living in that Middle Eastern country, I was never able to get a reciprocal amateur radio license in that country despite working for the outfit that issued them. Yes, a reciprocal license was available. (Countries that support reciprocal licensing issue local licenses based on documented proof of the applicant holding an equivalent license in their own country) No, first I had to pass their local amateur radio written exam, in Arabic. (An English exam was made available several years later but by then, I was about to leave) My amateur radio equipment also had to have full regulatory type approval certification (Nothing home made was permitted), even the power supply, and my antenna also had to be purchased from a recognised supplier and inspected prior to use.

As life became increasingly difficult for expatriates in the Middle East, I returned to New Zealand. I have returned to working as an independent telecommunications and regulatory consulting engineer. Theoretically, that means I'm living
in New Zealand. I still doing a considerable amount of international travel for clients, well, up until COVID-19. 

With three grandsons and a granddaughter, spending time with the family also places demands on my spare time. That's led to more time spent on the construction of a new HO-scale railway layout. For the grandchildren, naturally. An earlier Z-scale layout proved to be too delicate for little hands. I built the new HO-scale layout just in time for their most recent extended visit during the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand in 2020. 

I really enjoy designing and building stuff more than being an active ham radio operator on the air. That hopefully will change a little when I finally get a bit more time away from work and other distractions. I'm keen to use some of the transceivers and other ham radio gear I've designed and built. When that (finally) happens, look out for me on the bands!

Andrew ZL2PD

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