Posted By RichC on November 30, 2013
My friend Jeff and I had a chance to get today Friday afternoon and catch up on life. We enjoyed our semi-regular Mexican lunch and talked about work, church, family and our mutual amateur radio hobby. He’s been a Ham (N4XKJ) since we went to our first HamCation back when he was living in Orlando in the late 1980s (???) … I think? At the time we regularly met to go hiking and backpacking at a halfway point somewhere along the Appalachian Trail and besides thinking we could talk via HF from Ohio to Orlando someday, we could use mobile or HTs when we were hiking (such was the plan). So, we both were suppose to be studying Morse Code and taking our exams … but I failed to focus and didn’t follow through, something he never lets me forget. Of course I used the excuse of work and family, which was all true, but I’ve always felt that I let him down in not “sticking with the plan.” Now a few decades later I have a little more time to pursue self-interests and hobbies and I did follow through with getting licensed. have sort of re-ignited his interest in radio (disappeared as cellphones and Internet use expanded).
Besides playing with my HF rig from the boat (IC-718 above is now at home) and my 2 meter Yaesu FT-2900 radio in my car, I’ve recently added a cheap dual band 144/440 Chinese Baofeng UV-5R HT (photo at bottom of post). It is pretty impressive for $37 and a puny 4 watts with all the repeaters in my area. It was cheap enough to also trigger Jeff to buy one and so we decided to go to what he calls the “candy store” – R & L. His goal is to start building a better antenna for his apartment just to see what can be done. For those reading this who are not involved in amateur radio … the pursuit is pretty much ridiculous considering how much simpler it is to just pick up the cellphone or jump on the computer (unless you are a “prepper” … but that’s another story).
We’ve both recently added an inexpensive higher gain 15” Nagoya NA-771 antenna to our HTs in order to reliably connect to the local repeaters and they do make a difference (the stock stubby is questionable). Unfortunately we are not able to simplex for much more than the line of sight driving down the highway and I’m not even sure if adding an adapter in order to use my 5/8 wave magmount will help. For now I’ll wait and see what Jeff builds before I consider a small 2 M beam project or rigging up a long wire and antenna tuner (hoping to pick up one used?) as I wait for my Pactor modem to come back from Farallon and a new vanity call.