All Out of Ham

With my wife in continued pain and suffering from her back surgery and not moving at a rapid pace, the last thing I should be thinking about is amateur radio. I already passed on the RTTY Roundup last weekend and will end up missing NAQP CW this weekend. In reality, it probably won’t be until April or May that I have a fully functioning shack. Priorities being what they are, my wife comes first along with her rehabilitation.

That hasn’t stopped me from stealing a corner of the garage in our new place so I can use it as my shack. The raised floor is now in place and I am hanging faux wood paneling (again). I like the look and and feel of it, reminds me of my dad’s shack (N6SV) down in Poway, CA. Although I just found out today I have 2 dead 110v outlets and the closest 220v outlet is on the other side of the door that leads in the laundry room. Not sure I will be running my Alpha 76PA when all is said and done.

I did come across a helluva deal today from K6EQR, who made mention in a reflector e-mail to the NCCC that another ham was selling a 55′ crank, tilt over tower in Folsom for $300! I did not hesitate to jump on the e-mail and make an inquiry. While I am not so sure about setting up at this house a tilt over, crank up tower fits the bill for me. The tower was raised in 2006 and had a 3el SteppIR on it. This would be perfect for my 5 band hex beam and maybe even the 6-meter beam I have.

Still much work must be done in order to get back on the air. It’s been very rough the last 18 months for me and ham radio as time has not allowed me much opportunity to get on the air. I have achieved a few awards, some personal, some from contesting. Hopefully I can beat my April/May deadline and be back on the air. Now to check with the city to see if I can erect something like this tower in my backyard.

Young Hams: Part 2

It’s the same old story in ham radio. The hobby is dying because the youth of today are not interested in amateur radio. You see it as a dominant topic today on sites like eHam and QRZ, OM posting comments and stories about the “lack of interest.” I just started reading comments from current hams regarding, ‘Bringing Youth into Amateur Radio‘ and while I shouldn’t be surprised it’s rather amazing of the attitudes of some hams in regards their hobby.

Maybe it’s the attitudes of the OM that frustrate me more than the fact that fewer “young” people are introduced to amateur radio. Of course being a “no-code” Extra Amateur I am already frowned upon by many for the “dumb down” requirements I had to fulfill in order to achieve my current license. I consider myself “young” when it comes to the supposed median age of an operator being 55 years of age (I’m 39).

I was indirectly introduced to amateur radio prior to the advent of the home computer, gaming consoles, mobile phones, iPods and all the other wonderful technology that draws young people away from an “old” hobby. I still remember hanging out with my father (N6SV), Glenn, K6NA and Jim, N6RJ during the 1970s participating in contests.

I was in awe at the lights, buttons and dials of the radios, as well as the “noise” and voices I heard coming through the speakers and headphones. Unfortunately, as drawn as I was I did not take an interest in becoming licensed. I do recall attempting to read a licensing book that was from the 70s, but I never really got past the first few pages.

Then it happened, the PC computer was introduced, as were gaming consoles and the interest in radio continued to fade into the past. My father slowly started to get out of the hobby and turn his attention to the new technology.

My son is approaching his 3rd birthday (30 Nov.) and he spends time in my shack when I am in there. He walks around with my Kenwood HT, talking into the microphone. He wants to push buttons and turn dials on my radios. He is interested, albeit too young to really get much out of his shack experiences. Will he take to in the years to come? I don’t know. I would like to think as long as I am active and “playing radio” he too, will take to it.

There are other distractions that will take away from these radio experiences, such as PC gaming, Xbox, the Wii and mobile phones. But these are all things I am involved with, so my son gets a variety of experiences. This doesn’t guarantee anything, but he is exposed to ham radio, which should provide him an introduce that will hopefully further his interest.

Like many other hobbies I don’t feel amateur radio is going anywhere. The new testing requirements are a start, regardless of what the grumpy OM crowd cries. Any hobby is a learning experience from day to day, ham radio is no different. If a young person shows interest then by all means help them experience what ham radio is, not what you perceive ham radio to be because of requirements from the 1950s or the fact that testing requirements have been decreased.

I have said it before on T6F, as long as my son keeps an interest in playing with my HT and playing with my mobile rig in the truck, I will continue to foster this interest and hopefully get him licensed as young as possible. Hopefully other hams will take that active interest when approached and do their part.

6-BTV is Erect!

Yeah, that is right, I said erect! After a few weeks of waiting until I had free time and a spare set of hands, I finally got the Hustler 6-BTV up in the air. Actually that happened last night, but it was not until today I was able to finish it up by adding a few radials on 15m and 20m. Although, as I sit here, both frequencies are dead, unlike last night when I landed a ZL (New Zealand). Although that might be classified as falsification, since I didn’t make contact with him, but heard him nice and loud on 20 meters!As for the 6-BTV, I had not heard a damn thing tonight. Of course maybe this is what I get for going against the HOA and their damned CC&Rs. Would serve me right, but the vertical has been up for about 6 weeks and there has been no comments of any kind made, either in written form or passing of a neighbor. So I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I continue to bounce questions off my father (N6SV), now granted he has not worked any of the bands since the mid-1980s, but he is still a wealth of information, dated but most all of it still relevant. He said, “you have to make use with what you got.” And I don’t “got” a lot in terms of space, which is technically what I need in order to make this vertical working better then it currently is. Hopefully when the solar cycle brings better conditions I will have better luck and maybe more radials. But for now, I will see what comes my way. I am still rotating the dial and watching some of the “spots” web sites like DX Watch to see where some of the most recent activity is. Regardless I am thrilled to finally have my first HF shack online. Now to work out the new problems!