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Realized I finally need to get around to updating this page...as you can see from my logs, at the moment I am running purely digital, and mostly JT modes. Being a computer geek, digital was a natural niche for me to be in ham radio, but I didn't start out that way. Growing up in very northern Montana, radio was a way that we connected with the outside world. As a small boy, I remember tuning in KMON, and being amazed that I could listen to a radio station 120 miles away.

From Montana we spent two years in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and I was introduced to shortwave radio and VoA and the BBC. On our return to the States, KG0CY introduced me to ham radio. I still remember spending an entire day at his shack and talking with a ham in Kansas. I was already hooked, but then when I got the QSL card a few weeks later...yeah...that did it.

Started studying, both theory and code. Now, the one problem that occured is that I was given a key with a sheet with dots and dashes that I was supposed to memorize. Since at the time the entry level license was a Novice, and I had trouble learning the code this way...that was my roadblock.

On my graduation from college, I found a radio store downtown. The ham there really elemered me, and I remembered a lot of the theory. Within a few weeks I had my Technician license, and I was off and running.  10 years later, but...

It was off and on from there. Limited to Tech at the time, mostly the local repeaters. I thought about taking the HT up on a skydive, but that never materialized.

Got the General in 2001 (seems to be a 10 year cycle thing going on here), and then started working digital at the club station at work. Really fell in love with the digial modes then, and started to work on setting up a digital station at home. I got...well, extremely close, and then things took a shift in life and I needed to mothball ham radio.

Years passed, and I managed to get a couple of motorcycles. Given the fact that you can't take phone calls or easily talk to your passenger at highway speed, I started to research communication devices. Settled on a Chatterbox, and found that you could use them with FRS/GMRS, and bought a few radios so my wife could talk to me when we were caravaning. Great...radios in hand...no, that didn't start the radio itch up again at all.

Then my son's Cub Scout leader says to me, "So, I see you've got amateur radio plates, are you a ham?" That turned into a request to host JOTA for his den, which I turned down intially because, well, shack is mothballed, and October is an insanely busy time of year for me. Then I started to investigate, and realized we could do it with EchoLink. Watching the Cubs faces light up as we talked to hams and Scouts in Brazil, San Diego, and Washington DC was exciting. 2 of the 4 kids, including my son, started to study for their license, and the itch was back. So I scoped out what I needed to do to get back on the air, got the needed equipment (tuner, antenna, power supply, and new digital interface) and on Dec 31, 2015, got back on the air from my own shack.

I had gotten the ARRL book Get on the Air with HF Digital for Christmas, hoping to learn more about digital in general and pick up some PSK31 tips, and ran across JT65. When I got home, got the software in place for it, and that's where I started listening and where I made my first contact from my own shack. The fact that it was straightforward and that I could easily see whether or not I was actually getting out was very appealing...always good to be able to tell that you aren't transmitting into a dummy load. Over time I added to the setup, including rig control, and became able to work from wherever I was as long as I had internet access. At this point the majority of my contacts are actually away from my shack.

Current software setup: HB9HQX for JT65, WSJT-X for JT9, and fldigi for all other modes. For JT modes, I cannot recommend JTAlert enough. That lets me log from both JT programs into Log4OM, which handles all the uploading to the various websites, including QRZ.com and LoTW. I started out logging manually into ORZ.com, changing modes and frequencies myself as well as pasting in all the signal reports and call signs. Getting all that set up so that it was automatic made things much easier.

Right now the JT modes are my mainstay, but I try to operate PSK31 whenever I'm in the shack. Olivia, RTTY, and getting back on CW are also my short-term goals, as well as getting my Extra license ASAP.

My goals for 2016 were:

  • Get attic dipole up
    • This isn't going to happen this year, and given the focus on outside antennas, may be questionable.
  • Get attic vertical (VHF/UHF) back on the air. I took the coax for this and used it for HF.
    • Cable pulled for this almost...
  • Have at least 1835 contacts
    • This is my goal of making an average of 5 contacts a day from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2016
  • Make one new HF contact every day
    • Achieved. Being able to operate JT65 from a cell phone was a lifesaver.
  • Document entire setup
  • Get Extra license Passed 2/3/2017, it hit the database on 2/22/2017
  • Get re-accredited as an ARRL VE 2/23/2017, right after the upgrade hit the database
  • Figure out RTTY and Olivia, and make contacts on both modes 
  • Re-learn CW and make one CW contact 4/15/2017

Now, some of the above will not get done, but there is progress on all of them.

2017 goals:

  • D-Star Up and active as of 7/15/2017
    • Getting the DV Mega to hook up to a Raspberry Pi for this one...
    • Gave up on finding time to do this, bought an OpenSpot so I can have it in time for Scouts this year.
    • Will get a wired to wifi adapter so I can pair it with my phone and use it traveling.
  • Outside verticals/other antennas
    • Get MFJ 4603 in the window to make outside antennas viable
    • I've got a Force 12 flagpole in the front yard I need to finish setting up, and considering an outside NI4L windom, a Cushcraft R9, or getting my AlphaDelta outside.
    • Also have a 6m/2m/70cm antenna on the roof I need to evaluate. This is back on the air as of 7/6/2017, and I can hit the W9DUP repeaters again.
  • Start consistently operating using CW
  • Test for the Extra (70 percent of the way there)​​
  • Become involved in VE testing Participated in my first VE session on April 7, working on setting up a VE team in the Joliet area.

​Other things I would like to do, but are not specific goals:

  • Satellite operation
  • APRS
  • Portable operation -- throwing a rig in the back of the motorcycle and heading out
  • Play around more with my Buddipole/Buddistick
  • DMR
  • Fox hunting -- am building a tape measure Yagi with my wife and son, who are working on their Tech

I am a Raspberry Pi enthusiast, and currently run EchoLink proxies on several Pis in my server room, on a custom version of Gentoo that I maintain. It takes very little power to run them, and this way I can give back to the amateur radio community.

I am also a menber of the DuPage Amateur Radio Club, and was thrilled when they ran the Special Event Station W9W at Windycon 43. There was a constant stream of visitors at the station of all ages.

Recently I started listening to podcasts as I commute. My current list of podcasts are:

  • ARRL Audio News
  • Amateur Radio Newsline
  • This Week in Amateur Radio
  • ARRL The Doctor is In
  • HamNation
  • Ham Radio 360
  • Linux in the Ham Shack
  • 100 Watts and a Wire I can no longer support this podcast due to the blatant sexism and objectification of women.

These are roughly ordered in most favorite to least favorite. If you have a podcast you think I should be listening to, please let me know.

Finally, since my son is a Scout, I work with the Radio committee for Rainbow Council in Morris, IL. We will be running JOTA again in Joliet in 2017.

See you on the waterfall!

8254002 Last modified: 2017-08-04 14:19:17, 10259 bytes

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United States Counties Award#2050
Granted: 2016-07-20 03:40:03   (N9MUF)

Endorsements:
  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 250 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
  • 500 Counties Mixed
United States Award#2246
Granted: 2016-06-12 01:30:02   (N9MUF)

Endorsements:
  • Mixed Digital
World Continents Award#12992
Granted: 2016-05-16 00:20:03   (N9MUF)

Endorsements:
  • Mixed Digital
Grid Squared Award#10769
Granted: 2016-02-26 23:17:25   (N9MUF)

Endorsements:
  • 20 Meters Digital
  • 40 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
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