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AB9IL dxing the digital modes.
Tying down cables and tuning for digimode dx...(circa 2005)
Captain Philip and skeleton.
Captain Philip and skeleton (circa 2011).

Around the year 1976, I was a young man growing up in Maryland, and unaware of the world of radio. Then, one evening, I happened to tune around on an older brother's multiband radio. It was a much underused device, part of the Montgomery Ward Airline series, which covered the so-called "marine band." There were time signals, VOLMETs, amateurs, and all sorts of other interesting signals fading in each evening. Before long, I had developed quite an interest but not much skill in mediumwave band DX listening.

A local ham, Marc KA3ARF, suggested I get involved in the amateur radio service. Back in those days, to get an FCC Novice class license, one had to send and receive 5 wpm morse code as well as taking a test on regulations and basic theory. Licensed originally as KA3BVX (later as KG2DH and AB9IL), my main interests were working distant CW stations and listening to various "utility" stations in the aviation, military, and maritime services. AM operation was popular then, and stations like WA1HLR and WA3UAN regularly held court on 3.880 MHz in my region of the USA.

I quickly discovered that most radio equipment designs were a balance of engineering tradeoffs. Stability vs tuning range, fidelity vs readability, features vs cost. Soon I was learning to modify my receiver in order to make it more sensitive, install better filters for better selectivity, and so forth. In my opinion, the best learning in radio is accomplished "hands on" experimenting, tweaking, testing, and refining. I learned that along with experience, studying the underlying theory and mathematics is essential for radio's advancement.

Working around the demands of career and family, I have just dabbled in radio through the last twenty years or so. Working as a jetliner pilot, I actually do quite a bit of HF and VHF operating, but it is mundane work: position reports, clearances, and other similar air band comms. I used to monitor these as a young utility DXer! My amateur experience consists of HF and VHF activity, with plenty of QRP operation. Enhanced single sideband operation has been a favorite interest of mine since the late 1990s.

After earning the Amateur Extra class license, my interests focused on commercial radio licensing. I studied, tested for, and earned the GROL + Radar, GMDSS Operator / Maintainer, and 2nd Class Radiotelegrapher certificates. Why? Because there is always another mountain to climb in radio! There is always another adventure and another aspect to master. Okay, there is another reason: airline careers are always subject to disruption, and it is good to have other skills for use during furloughs and between flying jobs. I've been tossed to the street a couple of times in corporate bankruptcies.

More recently, my activities have focused on software defined radio and digital signal processing. Signals can be both generated and demodulated in a computer with the proper software. Digital signal processing can do amazing for bringing radio signals up and out of the noise. In addition, radio networking technology makes it possible to send staggering amounts of data - enough to transfer in seconds what would take hours on voice or CW. That is pretty slick indeed! I regularly listen, from my apartment in China, to all sorts of HF broadcasts picked up in Europe, North America and elsewhere, transferred past the censors and state media via the internet. These signals are inaudible at my residence, as they are jammed fully to hell by the Firedrake Jammer from Hainan, China.

This site's aviation pages stem from my experiences as a pilot. I have flown the Beech 1900, Saab-340, Boeing 727, 737NG, 757, and 767 over a time span of more than 25 years. There is much worth writing about, and I have often photographed interesting things in the course of flying all over the world. Enjoy the photo galleries and articles here at ab9il.net.

As a result of living as an expatriate pilot in Asia, I've become an expert user of censorship circumvention tools. This website will carry content teaching how to unblock the internet and enhance privacy, enabling countless people to exercise freedoms of speech and connectivity while thwarting attempts to suppress such freedoms. Dictators and supporters of two bit punk governments will not like my website, but I am quite an "American Exceptionalist" hardhead and intend to promote liberation technology within these pages.

In my spare time, I develop Linux distributions which help people access worldwide over the air radio media (Skywave Linux) and also evade state censorship and surveillance (MOFO Linux). Be sure to visit my other websites if you have a spare moment!

- Philip Collier, callsign AB9IL. Comments Edited a few times between 12/2005 and 12/2016.

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