Sep 28, 2013

Esoteric hobbies

I should have known HAM was going to be a rabbit hole.

Started with the mindset of, "It'd be nice to have the 2m/70cm stuff for aw-shit."

Then I started reading about HF and DXing (outside-the-US contacts), and realized the General exam isn't much of a jump from Tech.

Now I'm reading about QRP (how far can you reach on as little power as possible) and finding things like the SmallWonder Rockmite.

And SOTA (Summits On The Air).

There is something decidedly nifty about the idea of wandering up a hill/mountain with a half-watt CW transceiver and reaching out to someone a thousand miles away.

My Yaesu 7800 is here. A coworker has offered me some of his used gear, including a FT-90 ... which looks to be a nice size for a desktop/kit box setup.

Yep. Dangerous.

Except now I need to learn CW.


Wally said...

Yes, rabbit hole indeed.

2/70 is great for local and sorta local especially if you have a decent repeater net around.

HF is great for being able to reach out.

I'd advise against jumping into QRP though. It can be frustrating at best, right up to completely daunting for a new key. Don't hestitat to get a 100W rig and turn it down to 2W. That way you can seek some relief by increasing the output power :)

I have a FT90 in the pickup, it's a great rig. The only thing that I can fault this one for is a less than ideal connection from the mic to the rig, so sometimes the mic buttons don't activate the radio controls. Or IIRC the up button becomes down, or some such silliness. That said, few years back I did drive cross country with only the FT90 for comms.

Old NFO said...

Oh boy, ANOTHER rabbit hole... :-) But a fun one!

ZerCool said...

Wally: I don't expect I'm going to go right into QRP. LONG learning curve to get there, with CW being high on the obstacle list. I'm constantly amazed by videos of people who are GOOD on the key/paddles; it sounds like gibberish to me!

I suspect I will pick up the FT-90 from him at some point, just a matter of finding a mutually agreeable price and the free cash. I'm leaving the HF rig alone for the time being; learn the basics on 2m and repeaters (plenty reachable with 50w out here in the flatlands) and then move up to 10m+.

NFO: Minutiae and details... name of the game. :)

Wally said...

Concur on getting yourself up to speed on UHF/VHF before even thinking about moving past it.

2 & 70 will be practical, somewhat local (rang of a few counties) and a great point to learn. The advent of the E-link (et al) give some real power to U/VHF too, assuming there is an internet link working...

HF, for me, is more interesting in concept than in practice. I have a rig at the ready, ginormous antenna too, but it sits idle. That said, SHTF, I'm going to like it a lot more.

Hmn, lessons learned from the tornados through here a few years ago - I do need to extend the antenna connections so I can pick them up from the bunker... I see a weekend project here.

Richard Brown said...

Or Slow Scan TV on FM or HFSSB.
Computer, JVFAX pgm software and the build it yourself interface device attached to your transceiver.

Note, you can just use the soundcard in your computer for rec only.

14.230 & 14.233 MHZ SSB are 2 freq's to listen for SSTV broadcasts.


mhaithaca said...

Have you run into N2IKR on the air yet?

ZerCool said...

MHA: Given that N2IKR is no longer a valid call, I have not. I also haven't run into KE1ML... :)

Right now I only have a short-range setup; at full power I might reach 30-45 miles without a repeater... that is, if I had a valid license.

No microphone on my set yet. Not going there until I test (next Saturday) and have a valid callsign - which may be delayed thanks to government shutdown.

Julie said...

Interesting, CW is no longer required for any of our certs here.

ZerCool said...

Jules - CW isn't required for any of the license levels in the US either. But when you're talking narrow bandwidth/low-frequency/low-power transmitters, CW is the way to go.