I’ve been a ham for nearly 50 years. Ouch! It doesn’t seem that long. My interest in the hobby has waxed and waned over the years. I’ve been active on SSB, AM, FM and CW. During the sunspot maximum around 2000, I got tired of base station operation and set up a mobile CW station. I quickly learned about RF noise in automobiles. I ended up with lots of ground straps and ferrite chokes in my Pontiac Bonneville. I finally managed to get the RF noise down to a tolerable level. I gave up mobile CW when the sunspots went away. Incidentally, that is about the same time I got my Prius, also known as the world’s most noisy car from a ham operator’s perspective. RF noise generated by the switching inverter makes HF operation nearly impossible. The Prius is another story. I converted it to a plug-in by putting an aftermarket battery into it, increasing the battery storage capacity from 1KWh to 5 KWh. The summer mileage is about 60 mpg. In Dec., Jan., and Feb. it drops to about 45 mpg.
It’s 5 years later and I am currently back into the hobby and enjoying it tremendously, again. My current station antennas are an Off Center Fed (OCF) dipole for 160 and 80 attached to the top of my tower at 60 feet. I constructed a 2 element, ground mounted, 40M vertical phased array pointed NE and SW. It works well into Europe and the US, Japan and Africa not so well. The tower has a 3 element, triband yagi for 10-15-20 meters, a 3 element yagi for 6 meters, 11 elements for 2 meters and 6 elements for 440 MHz. At the very top is a vertical for 6, 2 and 440.
I was a paper log guy until October of 2012 when I downloaded DXLab. So, with a computer logging program you need to have a new computer. Well, not exactly new here. I took an old computer and salvaged what I could out of it and installed a new Intel i5 chip with an ASUS board. The i5 chip is great because it has a built in video processor which has enough processing power so you don’t need to buy a new video card. After a fashion (read lots of false starts) I was connected to my FT-2000D. Computer logging and rig control were a reality.
Next, I decided to try my hand at contesting. In Oct., I also joined YCCC. At my first meeting, they convinced me to get N1MM’s contesting software. Actually it was a conversation with the program’s author, Tom that convinced me. With the rig computer controlled, I downloaded and installed the N1MM software. This was the easy part. Now for the hard part. Both DXLab and N1MM programs have exceptional functionality. The hard part is trying to learn what’s there and how to use it. Fortunately, they both have very lively blogs and you can get an answer to any question almost immediately. I decided to learn only what I need now and increase that knowledge base as I decide to get into new things.
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