Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It took me a while (Two days), but I was finally able to actually talk to someone though my radio, using a local repeater. Not just a short conversation, but actually a fair bit lengthy. I'm starting to see how propagation matters. When I tried to get on the nets, I needed 30W of power to communicate. Today, I was able to communicate with only 10W, just fine, using essentially the same set up.

The main person I talked with was a local by the name of Henry, K2BFY. He gave me a few tips on how to improve my performance, which seemed to work well. I learned about how he set up his rig to work in his car, which I will probably do at some point in time. I learned to not be fearful of running my antenna wires in the door, that they should be just fine when doing that. I also learned a bit about his interesting life, including being a radar technician for the Navy, working with design of satellite control stations, and quite a few other significant adventures. I even learned a think or two about vacuum tubes. I learned that the first satellite-to-satellite communication attempted was via the amateurs. In fact Amateur Radio has been responsible for most of the significant advancements in radio for the last 50 years, including things like digital signals, and the antennas used in most cell phones today.

I also learned that the 220 MHz might just be the unknown gem, at least, if you can get line of sight. You can talk for a long ways on the 220MHz if you have line of site, or so I've learned. I'll have to give it a shot sometime. Specifically, I was recommended the TYT TH-9000 radio, which is rather cheap on Amazon ($150)

This conversation was exactly what gets me excited about Ham radio. Talking to people who have been around for a long time, tinkering with fun projects. Learning about the "Magic" of antennas, which have a huge effect to almost everyone today. 

Along the way, I also let my daughter talk to Henry for a few minutes. She was nervous, but very excited, I think it helped to encourage her to get her license much quicker than she otherwise would!

I also learned that there is a kind of un-written rule in a conversation over the radio waves. Each person takes a turn, and you rotate around so that everyone gets a chance to speak. Try and remember to give your call sign every 10 minutes, but don't worry about giving it at every contact. Overall, it seems to work quite well.

Overall, I just find myself getting more and more excited, and just waiting till I get my next contact with someone, learning all sorts of interesting things.

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