New Video, New Channel

So, I decided to make a ham-centric YouTube channel instead of uploading Ham and non-Ham stuff to my general account. I copied the two radio videos that were already uploaded over to the new channel, and added links to avoid anyone thinking there was content-theft involved, and updated the embedded videos here to point to the new channel versions.

The new channel is HERE.

And to celebrate, I uploaded its first video, a tour of my Shack:

Moral: Doing stuff is fun.

Across the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard

Where the Booming Heavens Roar

I may have mentioned previously that I like the chatty digital modes. One of the things that encouraged me to get back on the air a few years ago and upgrade to General was the various digital modes that had surfaced over the years. And this was before FT8 took over everyone’s attention.

To date, my favorite mode has been Olivia. It has several variations, but is robust and easy to use, and its sending rate is just slow enough that I can type ahead while transmitting. I’ve had several pleasant ragchews on Olivia over the last few years.

While I’ve had a few opportunities to play with other related digital modes, Olivia is certainly the most popular of its kind. But the other night, while I was about to call out on Olivia, I saw something unusual– multiple THOR signals.

One was in a QSO and using a higher width that I can’t remember, and two others were using THOR-4. I began googling to see if there was some sort of THOR event that day, but found none. Then I responded to a CQ, and had a nice conversation with someone who used to live almost in my neighborhood.

During this conversation, I got to see the power of Mighty Thor. There were considerable moments of signal fading going on, reducing the incoming signal to inaudible to my ears and dim on the waterfall. But THOR’s Forward Error Correction stayed at 100% through it all and I didn’t lose a word, or even a letter, and I didn’t get any errant characters.

When I finished that QSO, another fellow called me and I had similar results. I am now completely sold on THOR’s amazing anti-fading power in situations that would make an OLIVIA QSO have holes.

THOR, like any other mode, is not perfect. The main drawback with THOR-4 is how slow the character rate is. At one point, I finished typing a response and added my BTU macro at the end, got up, went to the restroom and got some drinking water, and returned to my radio desk to find my transmission about 75% complete. It’s not for people in a hurry.

But it *IS* quite fun, and so I shall be calling CQ on THOR much more often.

Moral: Beedlebeeboobeeboobeeboobeeboo

The Simplex Things in Life

Years ago, when I was a little ham, and my only radios were an Alinco DJ-162 and a Radio Shack HTX-212, I was very happy on just 2 meter for a long time. The reason is a group of people I knew. Just before I first got my ticket, a friend, who was an Amateur Extra, told me that he and some friends hung out on a simplex frequency most of the time instead of talking on a repeater. I got the Alinco handheld while I was studying, and while I was waiting for my license to come in the mail so I could transmit, I started listening to them.

By the time the license came, I knew who all of them were (I actually knew the aforementioned Extra and another guy in the group from, well, another radio service). They were a very funny crew. Dry, biting humor, silliness, and best of all, a complete lack of regard for the pomp that was (and still often is) popular on repeaters: saying every call sign in the conversation every time you finish a transmission, worrying about who’s turn it was in the rotation, etc. Just a group of people hanging out and talking. One habit they had, which I still have to this day, was taking pauses between transmissions. Before wisecracking, pause and give someone a chance to break in.

Anyway, other than a drive to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wherein I and a friend decided to see just how far away I could drive before I wasn’t hitting the BIG repeater anymore, hanging out ragchewing on 2 meter simplex was the most fun I ever had on 2 meter.

Well, this week I got tired of the bad recieve and terrible microphone audio on the cheap UHF/VHF radio I was using, and got myself one of these to use as my base station:

That’s an Icom IC-2730. Yes, that’s a D-104/TUG-9 desk mic behind it, and yes I hooked the D-104 up to the 2730, but the audio is all wrong for FM.

Not only does it receive repeaters I couldn’t get through the noise on the old radio, but people say the audio sounds great when i transmit. So of course, I wanted to try it on simplex as well. I got on 146.520, the national 2 meter simplex calling frequency, and just started occasionally calling out. I was pretty casual about it. Stuff like, “Hey, is anyone hanging out on simplex today? This is W8NAT”.

It wasn’t long before I got an answer, which led to a nice long conversation with a fellow about 8 miles away who makes it a habit of having his radio listen on 146.52. I had a blast.

So, I will also make it a habit of monitoring .52 when I’m around the radio. Repeaters are fun, but simplex is more funner.

Moral: nostalgia can be a good motivator.