Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No Code Hams

February 23, 2007 was a day that will live in infamy. To many an older ham this was the day ham radio took a turn for the worse. On this day the FCC eliminated the need for a prospective ham or a ham wishing to upgrade their license to show proficiency in receiving and sending morse code. Get on the air and tune around the bands. You will hear it as the topic of conversation in many QSO's. If you were licensed after February 23, 2007 you will find out that you are not considered a "real" ham. According to many, you, and I, might as well be talking on 11 meters (That would be CB frequency for you non ham educated readers). Probably the only thing the older hams hate worse than a no code ham is a CB operator.

I am not learning morse code to appease those who think no code hams are the reason there are so many LIDs on the air now. No, I am learning morse code as a challenge to myself. One thing I have found in amateur radio so far is challenge. I went from not knowing anything about electronics to learning a little while studying for my Technician license. My thoughts were to upgrade to General so that I could at least get on the HF bands and talk all over the world instead of 50 miles in most directions around Indianapolis. When I learned enough to pass my General exam I thought I would be content. That is when I felt challenged to see if I could pass my Amateur Extra exam. I accomplished that and now I look at learning morse code as the biggest challenge I could face in amateur radio. I can do it. I will do it. 

How far are you willing to reach? Oh yeah, you won't be calling me a no code ham forever!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

lovingBri

Today is a tough day. Five years ago my wife and I had to make a decision like no other, one that I would not wish on anyone. We had to make the decision to remove the ventilator from our nine year old daughter and hope that she would be able to breathe on her own. She could not. 3/21/2012 at 1412 p.m. our beautiful daughter Brianna Nicole became an angel.

Pediatric brain tumors are real and their research is underfunded. If you are of the charitable type and you would like to give to our fund to help research and provide smiles for the kids battling please take the time to donate by going to our page and giving a few dollars. You can reach it here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learning Morse Code

.-- . .-.. -.-. --- -- .  -.. .  .-- ----. -... .-. ..



A few weeks ago I decided to restart an adventure I began once before. I decided I wanted to learn Morse code. Like many others before I went into it motivated and got so frustrated that I gave up after a month or so. I have new motivation now and have found that I am doing better this time even though I am learning different letters than I did last time.

After reading the websites of a couple of well known "fists" it is quite obvious where my failure came from the first time around. I was spending too much time trying to count and not listening. By the time you try to count the dits and dahs the next letter is gone and you will never keep up. I still find myself doing this occasionally but now that I recognize it I can re focus and get back on task.

I have been using the code course by K7QO playing it on my cell phone while working, driving, and just sitting around. I realize that Chuck Adams (K7QO) says to get in a quiet room but I stay pretty busy and find time whenever I can to listen and learn. You can find the code course here.

My latest inspiration came from two fellow hams who decided to do a QRP WAS on 40m using only 2 watts max. Brian, KB9BVN, is running his newly acquired Heathkit HW-8 on a dipole in his attic. Ivin, W9ILF, is running a Small Wonder Labs SW+40 and an unkown antenna. Check out their blogs and enjoy the challenge. Brian can be found by clicking here and Ivin here.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

What Do I (We) Owe Amateur Radio?




Photo Credit: Doug Butchy




So what do we owe back to the hobby that brings us joy? This question is so loaded and I bet we would agree on many answers that others might give but in turn, I would also have to believe that we might be shocked at some of the answers. Not everyone is into amateur radio for the joy it might bring them. I have noticed during my brief adventure that for every ten good operators out there we have an idiot among us. But, giving them attention just provides incentive for them to work that much harder at being annoying so let us move to the subject of what do we owe amateur radio. I may have to revisit the LID situation down the road just to encourage the new operators to ignore these people but for now it is all about you, the good operator.

It is pretty simple really. We need to promote the hobby and encourage those who might be interested or newly licensed. We need to be elmers and not answer questions we have heard a million times in a condescending manner. We need to be courteous operators and follow the rules by operating in a manner that is in line with what we learn in our first studies of Technician license content. In other words, don't be a LID!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What Do I Want from Amateur Radio?



I want what this ham has. A smile on my face. I have truly found that so far in my adventure. I find enjoyment from listening in on a ragchew while I am doing work for my second job as Riding Academy Manager at Southside Harley Davidson in Indianapolis. I like to join in on those occasionally and I frequent the OMISS net to get a few contacts here and there. I get a thrill while chasing contacts on JT65, especially when it is a new state or country.

And, I want a challenge. I find challenge in learning a new mode or method of operation. I am trying to learn the nuances and protocols of PSK31. I plan to work heavily on QRP adventures over the summer. My daughter plays fastpitch softball all over the US and this summer I will set up the Buddipole in the outfield and run the FT857D and see how many contacts I can make. We have a tournament the weekend of ARRL Field Day so I plan to work from there.

I am also in the process of learning morse code. I believe that knowing this may pay off in the long run. As frustrating as it is, I find great enjoyment in it and believe it will just add to the fun factor I take away from ham radio. The coming posts will probably deal alot with my learning adventure. It is going to be a fun ride.

So, what do you want from amateur radio? Take the time to throw it in the comments and let me know. A little food for thought for next time...how can you give back?

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Quick Step Forward



Hello All! I wanted to step away from my adventure up to this point and take a moment to be in real time. After being granted my Amateur Extra license I became a VE (Volunteer Examiner) with 2 groups. WD9BSA Bert Johnson Memorial Amateur Station VE Team and the Indiana Elmer Network VE Team.

Last night the IEN team conducted testing in Indianapolis and we had a 100% pass rate. Four new Technicians received their callsigns this morning, and with inclusion in the ULS on the FCC site, can now legally transmit on the bands that give them privileges.

Congratulations to:

KD9ICG John
KD9ICH Jared
KD9ICI Charles
KD9ICJ Noah

All these gentlemen took the time to give the General exam a shot as well but none were successful. If you take an exam and pass at that level what do you have to lose by taking the next level? Great job guys!

We also had one gentlemen make an attempt at his General upgrade and was very successful. Congratulations to Cary KC9NEF.

If you are in the Indy metro area and you want to test follow the links above to the two teams and check out our test schedule. Both teams provide free testing so you have no excuse!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Equipment History

I thought I would tell you about the gear I have owned and the gear I currently have my eye on. Like many people who get interested in ham radio I bought a cheap China made HT (handy talkie) made by Baofeng. These radios are popular because they offer the opportunity to listen in, and transmit, on the cheap. I purchased the UV82 prior to ever receiving my ticket and monitored the local repeaters for about a month until I tested. Baofeng gets bad mojo from hams who consider them cheaply made and they have also been tested and found to have spurious emissions, a no-no in amateur radio.

After a couple months I used some Christmas money and at the end of 2015 I purchased my first mobile unit, a Yaesu FT-1900R. This little 2m rig packs a might punch through my 5/8 wave Larsen BM-150 NMO mount antenna. I still run this radio in my car and talk daily to the morning and evening rush hour crowds on the 146.700. It is really fun and consider many of these guys close friends now. It is almost like a bunch of old guys sitting at the local Hardee's in the morning drinking coffee. HaHa.

My first HF rig was purchased in September of 2016, four months after gaining HF privileges by passing my General exam. I was interested in voice and getting on JT65 so my purchase was the excellent entry level HF rig Icom 718. I also picked up the LDG IT-100 automatic tuner and a Signalink USB Sound Card Interface to run digital modes. The 718 proved to be exactly what a new ham like me needed. The simplicity of setup and operation was amazing. I had a great time running this rig starting out for a month or so on JT65 and finally making voice contacts. Did I mention I logged contacts in North and South America from a homebrew 20m dipole strung up on my bedroom walls? I love this hobby!

Icom IC-718


Being the gadget geek that I am I soon wanted to upgrade to a different rig. My choice? You guessed it if you picked the Yaesu FT-857D that you see in the header of this blog. Out went the 718 and the IT-100 and in came the 857D and LDG Z100 Autotuner. I kept the Signalink and continue to run both voice and JT65.

My current shack as of 3/9/2017



I also recently purchased a Buddipole Deluxe package so that I can operate portable. I will eventually take the 857D out of the shack and make a portable solar powered setup. When I do, I will replace the 857D in the shack with either the Yaesu FT-991A or the Icom 7300. Right now I am leaning towards the 7300 for superior receiver. So, what plans are beyond that? None at the time but remember, I am a gadget geek.

Next time we meet up I will be discussing my favorite operating modes and my latest attempt at learning something new in the ham world. Keep the adventures coming!!