Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nearing the close of my first decade with HAM radio...

Nearing the close of my first decade with HAM radio

The title would imply that I've had a lot to say about a decade in Ham radio but in actuality I haven't really talked about it at all because I was only active for the first few years before all this free blogging stuff came about...

Let's backtrack

I love to learn new technical stuff and play with electronic toys. HAM radio seems to fit the bill but it hasn't been all roses and kittens for me...

I was encouraged by a co-worker W4BPJ to go get my Technician ticket back in the mid 2000s. Easy peasy... I got a 2m mobile and an HT and participated in a couple of nets and paid repeater club fees. I volunteered for Helping Hams at a few events. Attended Skywarn training and sent in some spotter reports. I got my FEMA certifications and had a "go-kit". I was doing all the "ham radio stuff" that you can do with a Tech ticket.

I really wanted to get into HF. I had a difficult time learning "the code" even at the measly 5wpm that was required at the time for a General ticket. Morse just didn't come naturally to me at the time (learning from tapes) and I just squeaked by my code test. Due to my poor CW skills I didn't have many successful contacts after I got my General ticket and I became frustrated with CW so I went the route of SSB ragchewing and digital modes.

I went through a few radios. Here's a few rigs...

QRO station ICOM 735

ICOM 746-Pro (fancy, fancy)
Yaesu FT-857 had it in the truck as a mobile and later in the shack

I didn't have the sort of rig or antennas or QTH that lent itself to contesting so HF became a bit mundane after some early thrills. After a mishap with my only outside antenna (my wife "accidentally" cut through it HI HI) my interest waned and I eventually sold my last HF radio. I stayed active for a while in emergency prep-ops on VHF/UHF but with no activations that interest waned as well.

The tinkering side of the hobby didn't work so well for me. I'm all thumbs with a soldering iron and generally have to re-do a project at least 3 times before it has some semblance of working. I even accidentally sliced my index finger to the bone building a "simple" J-Pole a few years back. No one told me amateur radio could result in so much blood loss...

I took a 5 year hiatus from radio other than turning on the HT once every couple of months to see what folks were talking about on the 2m nets.

Ten-Tec 4030 QRP radio with Bencher paddle 

2015 Interest is re-kindled...

I've recently been drawn back to the hobby in the past couple of months with a renewed interest in CW and QRP.   I resurrected my Carolina 40m Windom (I nearly fell out of a tree in the process) and borrowed a friend's QRP radio. Then I began listening, listening, listening. I used the wonderful LCWO website to re-learn CW and now I'm doing practice CW QSOs with a local elmer AA4XX. 

I hope to be back on the air in the guise of a CW/QRP OP very soon.

Listen for me to mess up my call on a band near you

SKCC Number: 14276
72s Richard

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