My Ham Radio HF Gear

Since I just started back into amateur radio I thought I would do a quick post of my gear. None of this is the ultra-massive and beautiful shacks that some Hams had, but so far it is working really well for me.

Antenna

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My antenna is very simple. It is a G5RV mounted in my attic. This is not ideal because more than half of the antenna is just laying on insulation in the attic since I ran out of room to full string it out. That being said I have had some good QSOs into Russia, Cuba and Italy.

I plan on trying out a Magnetic Loop antenna to see if I can get better performance with that in the conditions I have to offer. I am actually really hoping this antenna will do the job, but a little worried about its bandwidth.

Radios

ICOM IC-718

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The ICOM IC-718 was my first HF radio and came highly recommended from the community. In fact, I still use it! This is the radio that I plan on building a mobile communications platform around it so I can participate in field days and such. Love this tough little guy.

ICOM IC-7300

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I just recently updated to the IC-7300 as my main radio. This is ICOM’s entry into the Software Defined Radio (SDR) market and it took it by storm. Far cheaper than other rigs available and packed with features. I am still learning this radio and I am sure I will do a full write up later.

Stay tuned for a shack tour….. Once I have it tour ready.

Need an antenna solution

I am really enjoying my time back into Ham radio, but I am getting a little frustrated. I am going to have to do more research to find an antenna solution that will work with my limitations. If anyone has a suggestion besides move please let me know.

Playing with FT8 Digital Mode

I decided to play with some digital modes on the HF bands. This was interesting and very different from the things I have done before. While most people think of Ham radio as just voice and a bunch of noise, FT8 proves them wrong.

FT8 is great when the bands are in bad condition or you are running low power. The main point of this mode is to make DX contacts in horrible conditions. At this is shines above just about all else I have used.

FT8 does have its downsides. It is not really made for conversations or passing information. It seems best suited for those that are wanting to fill a log book. But it should not be overlooked how easy this is for new people who often struggle with getting started an need that little bit of extra motivation. While it is helping new HAMs get their feet wet it also teaches about band propagation. All this without being punishing.

There is another thing that makes this mode really fun and easy for new Hams. If you use WSJT-X and connect it to your radio. You can make the connections, almost, automated. Then you will need to be able to log those connections. I use JTAlert to log the connections and that is also automated. Pretty simple to setup and work.

Just to give you an example of how good this is. I don’t have much room in the attic to put an antenna and I cant put one outside because of HOA. That means I have a hard time getting out and receiving. FT8 cuts right through and allows me to make DX contacts.

If you are new to Ham radio HF and digital you should give FT8 try. It is really rewarding and fun. It is also much faster than other communication on the HF bands. I am going to put up a tutorial on how to connect this to your radio soon. So keep an eye out for that.

73

Fall – An Excellent Time Of Year!

One of my favourite times of year is Fall. When I was younger I didn’t appreciate this time of year the way I do now. Back then I was more interested in summer. But that all changed.

When I was a younger I longed for the days of summer. No school, swimming pools, girls in bikinis, and summer parties. Those were the things of every young man’s dream. Those southern summer nights were amazing. Cruzing with your friends meeting new girls, You always had a summer romance, fling or two. The heat didn’t bother us at all! In fact, it just meant that girls were going to be dressed in less. Summer seems to be made for the youth.

Now as I have gotten older I really appreciate the birth of spring and fall. That magical time of year when mother nature shows her true beauty. The fall colours were there all along just hidden underneath, waiting to show how beautiful the trees really are. The temperatures are dropping and there is a crispness in the air. It seems that mother nature is sitting, fighting off the bleak winter months with one last push of amazing beauty. The smells! Pumpkin spice everything.. ok well maybe that is not so great. But there is a smell to fall. Just before the cold of winter sets in and the holidays show up.

As beautiful as fall is it does lead to the death of winter. This is the point where mother nature goes silent for a bit and waits to wow us with another beautiful show in spring!

Getting Back Into HAM radio

I know this sounds really dorky, but I love HAM radio. I have held my license for some time and really fallen out of the habit of using my radion for communications. That is something I cant see me doing any longer. However, I have some limitations at the moment.

  1. My current HT (Handy Talky) does not do digital modes and it seems that analogue is dying so I will have to upgrade
  2. I can’t put up a giant antenna array so I will have to stick to attic antenna or portable ones that I take up and put away
  3. I have way too many hobbies
  4. I am not a very patient person

I think the first two I can find workarounds for or fix really quickly, but the last two are real buggers.  I guess I am going to have to decide which is more important to me.

Maybe, just maybe, I should write a primer on how to get started on the digital modes and the joys of analogue to help those that are interested get started. Now that is an idea. I could make a post and then do QSOs with those that get into the hobby using my post.

Stay tuned for more on this one!

Sleepless Nights

I have far too many of these nights to when I can’t sleep. I have been/am on medication that should be helping, but I still can’t get to sleep. All I really want to do at the moment is write. I feel like I have a ton in my head and can’t get it out.

Let’s just hope I can fall asleep soon. Meetings come early in the morning.

Why I Hunt

As far as hobbies go this one seems really popular and really misunderstood. Some people think the only reason to hunt is to have a reason to get out of the house. Others see it as a way to commune with nature. While others see it as a way to get truly organic meat. Personally, I have my own reasons which I will explore a bit here, but will not even pretend to speak for the entire hunting community.

I have what Joe Rogan calls Adult Onset Hunting (AOH).  Meaning that when I was a younger I didn’t hunt at all. In fact, I went through a time in my life when I thought hunting was dumb. I thought that if you could go to the store and buy some meat why would you hunt? Obviously, this has changed as I got older.

The reasons why I hunt are pretty basic. As I have become older I have seen the need to become more self-sufficient in everything I do. That includes harvesting my own food. I want to be able to take the cleanest, healthiest, most organic meat possible. Not that I would quit eating store bought steak by any means. I still love my dead cow. It just means, that give the choice, I will choose deer over that cow.

There is also the relaxation part of the equation. There is something primal, relaxing and empowering about going into the woods and coming out with food for your family. Something, honest and wholesome about it as well. It takes our brain back to a time when this was how we functioned. There is also fellowship that happens in no other area. There is the cooking the harvest for the family and friends.

It also has to be mentioned that to hunt the way I like to do it requires me to exercise and make sure I am fit. It requires me to learn and sharpen my predator instincts.

Hunting is many things to many people. To me, it is a way to feed the family and friend, sharpen my mind, relax and have great fellowship. To others, it might mean something completely different, but it is hard to argue the quality of the food we get from this type of harvest of free-range game.

500 Words A Day

Recently, with the relaunch of this blog, I have decided to start writing at minimum 500 words a day. My thought was that this      would become more natural over time and lead to me knocking out posts much quicker. I read this someplace online and it seemed like a good challenge. Given the fact in order to meet the goal you must write.

Writing in and of itself has always been a friction point for me. I think this is due to me not feeling I am very good at it and I  suck at spelling. Accepting this challenge means that I will have to ignore all of that and just write. And Just writing is the     point. I will not be able to duck out of it or give myself an excuse. I will just write.

However, I don’t need these all to be in a blog post. Sometimes it might be beneficial to write in my personal journal. Others, in  my movie script. In the end of the day I will have written, got my thoughts on paper and made the world a better place… OK well   maybe that last part was a bit of hyperbole, You get the point.

So here is to me just getting off my butt and writing. I am not claiming I will be perfect here, but I will just write. This should be an interesting journey for both of us. Me because I will be forcing myself to write and you because you will never know what     will come out of my mouth next.

What will I write about? Well it reality it could be just about anything. I might work on my script and finally get this dang movie finished. I might write in my long neglected journal. I could fill the blog with post that are nothing more than drivel. You know   kinda like this one. In reality it will likely be a mixture of things. So sit back and enjoy.

ELR Training

I recently decided to start training for ELR (Extreme Long Range) shooting. As you might imagine, most of this is mastering fundamentals. There is a portion that I did not think off. I have to get myself into shape. And no, round is not the shape! I have to get my resting heart rate lower than where it is today.

I plan on starting to walk and run more. This should get my cardio under control and start lowering my resting heart rate. I hope to have it below 65 in two years.

If you have any suggestions please let me know.