Diversity in Amateur Radio

I am proud to say I support diversity in operating modes! Prior to gaining access to the HF bands all I wanted to operate was SSB. This was back in 1995, as I was studying for Element 2 in Arlington, Texas. Growing up I only recall my father [N6SV] operating SSB. While he did own a key and did pass the practical exams in order to be licensed as an Amateur Exam, his main focus was SSB.

While times have changed, some things don’t and many amateurs are creatures of habit and don’t want to move away from what they know and are comfortable with. Maybe you have your favorite 75M frequency or a 20M net you join every day. Interests could lie at the other end of the HF spectrum and have great fun with CW, working the world with 5 watts! Ham radio seems to offer something for everyone.

I feel lucky when it comes to my operating habits that I have tried a variety of different modes since being licensed with access to the HF bands. As a newly minted General I started out with PSK31. At the time my interest in computers was running high and I wanted to integrate their use into the hobby. PSK31 fit that bill perfectly! For nearly a year I made 14.070.15 and 7.073.15 my home and made quite a few QSOs.

But like things usually do, I began to get bored with the mode and wanted to find something new. I had played with RTTY, but had no success. Why? Because of a RTFM error on my part. Instead of using tbe LSB or USB mode on my IC-718 I was using RTTY, which was incorrect. I missed this in the manual and another -718 owner told me of my mistake. After that, I started making contacts, even participated in the OK DX and ARRL RTTY Roundup!

Through out much of 2008 I learned, studied and used Morse code, operating on the CW portions of the bands, concentrating most of my work on 20M and 40M. While I cannot send 20 WPM during contests I do use the electronic keyer that’s included with AC Log 3, it works very well. CW will be a continuing learning process. Learn to send faster and receive quicker, by ear, not by writing or typing received characters down. I have used MRP40 to my advantage when I have not been able to decode some signals by ear. Regardless of HOW I accomplish my CW I enjoy it. I enjoy being able to have access to the entire world on CW with simple station.

My interest in contesting was piqued at the end of 2008 and I started frequenting N6RO, the local big gun station in town. I feel very fortunate to have such an experienced group of operators who call this home during contests. I feel I will learn a considerable amount in a short period of time.

Thanks to Ken [N6RO], Iain [N6ML] and Chris [N6WM] I have started taking more of an interest in SSB. I participated in the RAC Winter Contest at N6RO and made some contacts. I enjoyed the experience so much I went home and continued to “search and pounce” making yet more contacts before the contest ended. Up to this point in my short HF career I had one SSB contact, with Hawaii.

I was also introduced to SSTV, Olivia and most recently Hellschriber. While I am still working on making that first SSTV contact I have met some great hams on Olivia on 20M and 30M. I got very lucky yesterday and made 4 QSOs on 40M using Hellschriber, when I fired up the ham shack in the middle of a Feld Hell Sprint.

So life is good at W6ONV! Since 2007 I have used six different modes of operation encompassing 5 bands. I continue to work towards my WAS, needing only Vermont and Delaware. I began the race to achieve my ARRL Triple Play award operating in the RTTY Roundup and the NAQP CW. I still have not worked all continents, still in need of Europe. As of yet I have not reached that portion of the world. So I have many achievements I am working on and some goals I have set for 2009. So far, I am making good progress.