November 1, 2002
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Let's meet SP3GEM
I heard of and met Jurek SP3GEM for the
first time exactly 10 years ago. I visited my homecountry Poland then and I
heard the rumours: "there is a guy who manufactures yagi antennas and puts
them to test in contests in western Poland". At
that time I avoided Polish ferry boats. I prefered boats between Germany and
southern Sweden so visiting someone in western Poland was actually en route ; I
was anyway driving through this area.
| Jurek SP3GEM in front
of his house in 1992 together with blackdressed Bogdan SP3RBI (not to be
confused with Bogdan SP3RBR)
Jurek managed to get the contest
callsign SN3A and gathered a group of eager operators. Suddenly a station from
Eastern Europe made top scores in world wide contests. Some of "his"
operators are now top bananas in Poland, for example Bogdan SP3RBR and Andrzej
SP8NR. At that time, a manufacturing business in this part of the world was a
very risky enterprise in general. Manufacturing antennas was simply suicide. The
supply of aluminium tubing was erratic, some customers did not know what they
wanted and most of them could not pay. Amateur Radio contesting is not a
profitable pastime, on the contrary, it is a very expensive and demanding
sphere. Most of his friends and neighbours could not understand his passion for
SP3GEM at his vintage Kenwood TS830
in September 2002
But Jurek was not a newcomer to
contesting. At the end of the 70's he had gone to Venezuela and was lucky to get
an assignment of building and maintaing a competetive station for YV3BFR,
besides a full time job of teaching at the local college. He often manned the
host's station and was quite sucessful in contests (known as Jorge). When he
returned to Poland and re-gained the licence after the martial law years, he
started building a station of his own. One of his goals was winning the
Venezuelan Contest. Which he did.
| A few plaques, among
them one for Concurso Venezolano, and a home made amplifier
The second time I met Jurek it was last
year, September 2001.
The antenna manufacturing business is going slow; not many customers want
single band competitive long yagis. Imported multiband short arrays are
in greater demand. SP3GEM sells more of his own 5-band spider Quad antenna than
yagis. His own activity is limited to 15 meters and LF bands. For 15 meter band
he has two arrays of 6-over-6 yagis of own design. His very efficient vertical
for160 and 80 meter bands works very well thanks
to an elaborate counterpoise system.
On the right, the Low Band Vertical. One
set of 6-over-6 15meter yagis silhouetted by the setting sun.
Jurek belives that the antenna is what
counts and does not update the rig as often as most of us do. He still has an
ancient TS 830 and a home made amplifier. Participating in contests in single
band category, and this is what SP3GEM or his guest operators using the SN3A
callsign, have been doing in the couple of past years, does not call for many
instant band change functions offered by modern rigs. A second VFO is necessary,
|SP3GEM on the air, but also
sometimes connected to the web. His e-mail address is email@example.com
Antennas and the spirit of contesting
that Jurek spread in Poland of early 90's stirred a lot of activity. One of the
better known "customers" of SP3GEM was and still is Kazik SP2FAX.
Jurek designed and manufactured antennas that are in use at SP2FAX. But there
are hundreds of amateur and commercial antenna arrays in use throughout this
part of Europe that are "made by SP3GEM".
|Another view of SP3GEM's
The purpose of this presentation is not
to nominate Jurek to the Contest Hall of Fame. Not yet, anyway. The purpose is
to give an example of people who actually influence groups but never get the
credit they actually deserve. People who are both courageous and broad minded,
unselfish and generous. I despise big mouths who never actually do anything but
steal from others. Jurek SP3GEM did very much to stimulate serious contesting in
Poland. Let's hope that he will keep on setting good example himself and will
not decrease his own on-air activities. Supporting family and taking care of his
business is of course time consuming.
What actually prompted me to write this
story was meeting Ken K1EA in Finland during the WRTC2002. I was taking a
picture of the winners, before the official results were announced, and Ken was
talking with them. I got him on film and he said "Well, now you also got
the man without whom so much could have been done". Which was of course
modesty and self irony. Ken K1EA, the CT creator,
has influenced contesting worldwide in the past decade.
The Spanish CQ Magazine
(http://www.cq-radio.com/) showed some of Jurek's antennas on its cover in May
2002. On the left, a 5-band Quad and on the right another set of 6-over-6
cover photography: Henryk Kotowski SM0JHF
Text and all photographs by Henryk Kotowski,
August 7, 2002
by SM0JHF on August 8, 2002
Mail this to a friend!
I have just looked closer at the pictures and discovered my mistake: one array is 6-over-6 but the other one is 5-over-5... I have to get me better glasses and a calculator.
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