Ardi Ounapuu
Dayton, OR

QCWA # 37943
AA1AO - Ardi Ounapuu
Former: KD7ZXK, ESØRGE, and UR2RGE

My interest in radio started during the late seventies when I spotted my parents trying to listen to HF broadcast stations such as Voice of America (VOA), Radio Liberty (RL), and Radio Free Europe (RFE). Living in a Soviet-occupied country meant that listening to, or talking about, such "evil Western propaganda stations" was illegal and dangerous. Therefore, it was even more exciting for a school boy. RL/RFE programming was jammed by short distance white noise HF towers. Getting ideas from more experienced classmate listeners, led me to building directional antennas that allowed reducing the effect of radio jammers. I also got interested in radio electronics. Consumer receivers available in the Soviet Union did not have broadcast bands shorter than 25 meters. So I spent time trying to modify our radios for 19m and 16m bands. Living close to Finnish and Swedish borders made it also possible to watch TV programs from those countries. That was not illegal but required powerful directional antennas. They were not available so I started building yagis. Aluminum ski poles were excellent material for the antennas. TV receivers from the West were not available either. So our Soviet SECAM TVs had to be also modified for the PAL system.

Studying Physics and Radio Electronics at Tartu University allowed me to learn more about electronics and understand the theory of radio propagation. In the early 80s, I found out about amateur radio. To my surprise, it was allowed in the Soviet Union. HAM radio was one of the very few options to reach outside the Iron Curtain, and all the transmissions were closely monitored by KGB, GRU, and other agencies of the occupying power. Getting amateur radio license was time consuming and complicated. Paperwork had to be submitted in Russian and approved in Moscow. I finally got my first license in 1988.

After many years of "radio silence" I returned back to the hobby in 2002 and got more actively involved again. Currently my main interest is digital voice over DMR/Brandmeister networks. I am also a member of ARES, and recently joined QCWA. I currently host a Brandmeister hotspot, an APRS iGate, and intermittently an Echolink node. In 2014, I also became an appointed host for flightradar24 service, call sign KMMV-1.

February 17, 2019