Amateur Radio Update

I have been quite busy since my last post. I have:

  • built an adapter that allows me to utilize inexpensive ATX power supplies for HAM radio use (more on this to come soon)
  • become the New Ham Board Member of SLSRC. I look forward to exploring how amateur radio can serve our community and developing new leadership skills as I serve in this role
  • built an emergency power backup so I can remain on the air during power outages (more on this to come soon)
  • received a Yaesu 7900R for Christmas. I do not current have much need for the additional power over my FT60, as I am able to hit most of the repeaters in my area with 5 watts, but I am going to start looking into digital modes soon
  • got my General Class ticket on December 30th, the last testing day of the year
  • many miles of driving to see family and friends over the holidays. I used this time to familiarize myself with repeaters available in the areas of travel and how to use my equipment when away from home

I have also been looking into a few things.

  • Inexpensive Chinese radios, mostly interested in the BaoFeng line of products. After returning my first radio to Amazon, I now better understand the limitations and capabilities of these radios after reading up on them. I may purchase a few models of these radios to try them out again for myself and put them in my vehicles for emergency use, or use them as (effectively) disposable kick-around radios. Not going to get another UV-5R, but maybe a UV-B5. I have read that they have better intermod rejection.
  • What HF radio to purchase. I have pretty well bought into the Yaesu product line already, so I am considering a Yaesu FT817ND or the Yaesu FT857D. I am primarily interested in portability and emergency communications so the 817 is currently my front runner. It certainly has it’s limitations, but I have not ruled out a  yet.
  • HF in confined spaces. I’m thinking I may have to do a random wire antenna out the window of my townhouse to a nearby tree to get on the air. I’ll have to make adjustments to this setup for the time being and look forward to a better setup when I purchase a house in the next year or so.

Problems with Intermod

I had to return my BaoFeng UV-5R+. Living near multiple kilowatt TV transmitters and multiple emergency response dispatches I have found that the radio electronics are just not up to the task of tuning a signal in such a radio dense environment.

At the Halloween Hamfest in Kirkwood I picked up a Yaesu FT-60R and have had no issues. There is still too much interference in my apartment complex to use it with a rubber ducky antenna, but I have had very good results using one of N9TAX’s Dual Band Slim Jim J-Pole antennas. They are available at for a very reasonable price.

Unlike the BaoFeng I have not needed the programming cable for the FT60 as it is very easy to program local repeaters and the automatic repeater offset is very handy.

KD0WWR On the Air

My amateur radio license has been processed and I am in ULS.

I made my first contact last night with my BaoFeng UV-5R+ on the SLSRC 149.94- repeater. The connection was very static-filled, but Tom was very nice.

Today, I spoke with Scott, K0ATC, on Echolink on the W9AIU 146.76- repeater.

I look forward to exploring all of the facets that this hobby affords.

Getting started with amateur radio

After listen to the local police and fire departments on a scanner, I decided I wanted to get into amateur radio.

It is something I have been interested in since I was a boy at summer camp and the staff used two-way radios to communicate. After speaking to a ham that was involved in our local Boy Scout Council we purchased a police scanner and listened in at events they held, at summer camp, and to the police and fire departments in my home town on a few occasions. Then FRS radios came about and the interest in getting a license died off, until recently.

When trying to tune in different entities on my scanner I started making antennas. I started with simple dipoles, and now have started making quarter wave antennas, and will be attempting other designs and purchasing things online that I find interesting or useful for the hobby.

For now I am going to start with an HT, the Baofeng UV-5R+, to get on the air with the local repeaters. It is far from perfect, but it affords the same basic functionality and power of a name-brand radio for only $40! That is an incredible value, and for that kind of money I can afford to have a few spares to kick around.

My goal is to have communications available in an emergency, should Internet and cell phones fail to work. I am also going to look into getting involved with Skywarn and ARES to provide storm spotting from the comfort of my home, and assist with emergency communications in the event of a disaster. There is also some interesting things happening with amateur radio with internet relays, digital voice, packet data, and mesh networks.

As time permits I hope to be able to post some interesting things I have found while pursuing this hobby.