Today I started the day after breakfast by replacing my insufficient ground wire and rerouting some of the cables to make it somewhat less tangled and confusing. I also added a ground wire to the HF antenna, which hadn’t had one (it’s optional for this model) since it had been moved to the high tree. Coincidentally, the 20m band was extremely open today, and there were multiple QSO parties going on, so I made a LOT of contacts. The interesting contact was a gentleman in Belgium, who kindly asked me to hang on the frequency for a moment as he had other Europeans on frequency that would like to share the contact. He then passed me to a fellow from Spain, then a fellow from Ireland, like a cheap hooker. I felt used, but hey, they went in my logs too, so all in a day’s work.
I’ve been having a pretty good time so far this vacation. Quite relaxing. This morning was just about perfect. Woke up, had pancakes, went out in the pool for a while with the kids, came in, took a nap, woke up, had a beer, and now I’m out here watching Sabina swim for a while. No radio work yet today, but we’ll see how that goes later. I’ve already hit a number of countries from here this week, so I’m not under any pressure. Last night I contacted Bulgaria, Venezuela, and a ham operating a special event station at the Prince William County Fair back home.
On Friday at 5:30am, our family hit the road for Florida. I had moved my primary VHF/UHF amateur radio to its stealthy spot in the back of the car, with the head unit routed up front wher I can operate (and hear) it.
As we rolled southbound down I-95, I had first tuned to the local repeater, thinking there might be traffic to entertain me. There was none, so as we drifted out of range I switched to the national calling frequency. While amateur radio doesn’t enjoy the same widespread use as CB did in the 70s, occasionally a traveler still calls out for a random contact on the calling frequency, and we heard a few once we got farther south.
During the 15 hour ride, I used numerous tactics to establish or prepare for local communication. I would use the APRS received station list and look for repeater objects and QSY to them. Sometimes they would have foresight and include the PL tone in their status line, other times I had to guess. I don’t think this radio has a PL scan function the way a couple of my other radios do. Other times I would look for other traveling stations on the APRS received station list, and if they had the foresign to include their tuned frequency in their status line, as I programmed my radio to do, I would see their current station and be able to QSY directly to it with one button (if they programmed it in the correct format AND if I was in VFO mode rather than memory mode). I actually added a few qualifiers into this process. I was traveling southbound, so I didn’t bother to QSY to stations that the radio indicated were significantly north of me, knowing that I was probably already out of range, and unlikely to drift into range.
So for the most part, I got all the information I needed to communicate with local hams directly from the radio. The one time I did use the Internet was during the 301 South portion between I-10 and Ocala. There are a few known speed trap towns along that stretch — Waldo, Lawtey, Starke, etc., so I looked up the frequency for the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office just in case I could be alerted to anything useful along the way.
When I got within a half hour of my destination in Port Charlotte, FL, I used the above tactics to tune to the local repeater, and oh what joy, the local users were just about to open a net for the National Traffic System, which routes critical messages from hop to hop along various VHF radio networks. I listened intently, because the NTS is a tightly controlled net with specific protocols, and I wanted to participate. Turned out, by the time I could check in, we were in the driveway and everyone in my vehicle was talking way too much to allow me to even hear when it was open for me to talk, much less try to get a word in edgewise.
Saturday, I had an antenna delivered to the house in Florida. It’s a portable antenna, an MP-1 Super Antenna, it sits about 7′ off the ground on a tripod with ground radials coming off the sides. Despite positive reviews, I didn’t have a lot of expectations. How good can a 7′ antenna be, really, compared to the 53′ antenna I have 65′ up in a tree back home? I was wrong, pleasantly so. Within moments of lighting up my rig on the lanai, I was able to make contacts in Oregon and Germany in PSK31.
There’s another local net tomorrow evening, I might try to join in if it doesn’t cramp anybody’s style here.
Fun weekend, but I'm going to have to run extra this week to make up for it. Plus another 5-miler next Sunday. Zombie flash mob @ Quaker Steak was awesome!
All of these exposed frauds are conspiring to encourage the belief that there is nothing left to believe in.
Bet there aren't too many people on my G+ list who remember this… Mattel electronic football, circa 1977-78. There's one on Amazon for $100 now.