Nick Peckett G4KUX / YA4F
On 30th October 2019 We were delighted to welcome Nick Peckett G4KUX / YA4F from Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham to describe his experiences working in Afghanistan during and after the Taliban government, rehabilitating the telecommunications infrastructure of the country.
Nick opened by mentioning that he had started his career working for Ferranti at Crewe Toll in Edinburgh.
Nick was persuaded to work in Afghanistan to rehabilitate the national telecommunications infrastructure which was disrupted during the civil war in the country in the 1990s. He worked in almost every region of the country.
This report contains a selection of about 30 slides out of the 193 that he showed at the LRS meeting.
Nick's work involved designing and installing 8GHz networks using a variety of sizes of parabolic dishes.
Initially Nick lived and worked in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan.
Another view of Kabul.
Nick in Bamyan.
The roads infrastructure in Afghanistan was very poor at that time so Nick and his team made full use of this aircraft to reach the more distant locations.
This manual telephone switchboard was symptomatic of the existing telephone network.
Nick's Switch Room PABX and VSAT terminal.
Communications were via 8GHz microwave stations using towers on convenient hills.
In Kabul, air pollution was becoming extreme, with very limited visibility ranges.
Sadly, many of this group are no longer alive.
Look at all those shell-cases.
Interior of Taliban taxi with firearm visible.
Bomb damage everywhere.
Tower under construction at Darunta for the link to Lataband. Dish in foreground.
The clear path profile for this link.
You want to have these guys on your side!
Have you ever experiences 45C with high relative humidity?
Meet interesting people!
Nick obtained his Amateur Radio callsign YA4F and operating privileges by direct negotiation with the Minister of Telecommunications, with whom he also had business dealings.
Nick chose to operate on the 50MHz band as the country had already been well-worked on the HF bands.
Between 2002 and 2008 he worked 61 DXCC entities worldwide using mixed modes, including Vietnam, Zambia, Malaysia, China, UK, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Christmas Island and Hong Kong, all with this 4 element yagi.
Back to business - one of Nick's projects was to communicate over the Hindu Kush Mountains.
A tunnel had been constructed under the Hindu Kush during the Russian occupation but this had subsequently been blocked at both ends.
In this Russian map, the tunnel is shown in broken double lines and Nick's microwave route in yellow, including one repeater station at Salang near the highest point of the mountains.
Constructing the foundations of one of the microwave towers.
Health & Safety had not yet reached Afghanistan!
The Salang tower up and running.
It may be 45C in the desert but up in the Hindu Kush it was challenging in the winter.
Nick with friends from the US military at Qalat.
Dust Devils were a hazard in the desert.
This well-built 30m microwave tower was demolished by a Dust Devil.
Interesting flowers Afghans grow in their gardens!
After retiring in 2008 Nick moved back to Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham and set up a well-equipped station in an ideal VHF/UHF location.
Nick has a fine array of VHF & UHF beams and a great location.
Nick's QTH is located at 300m asl, giving a clear take-off in most directions.
Pete Bates GM4BYF, who introduced Nick at the LRS meeting, has worked him many times.
Many thanks to Nick for a most interesting talk, beautifully illustrated by many photos.