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I grew up building crystal radios (from scratch; a sprinkler arm rubbed against a coil of wire for tuning and I made my own condenser, now known as a capacitor) and one and two tube regenerative receivers (from kits). I am now amazed at the reception I would get with a long wire antenna. I recently learned that the shortwave listening I did from ages 9 to 19 were during Solar Cycle 19, the best for radio communications in recorded history. I used to take the sun filter off my homemade telescope and count sunspots with no magnification. We are currently in Solar Cycle 24, "It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750."  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle_24) Was the reception better overall when I was younger? Absolutely, it was. One of my sayings I have come up with to make sense of life is, "Things always make sense later, sometimes much later." I started teaching high school electronics when I was 34. The previous teacher left a ham radio (he later retrieved it) and, although I hated morse code, I was determined to get my ham license. I was shocked when I passed my General Exam, because of the morse code requirement. I couldn't afford a rig at the time, but I fixed a two meter rig a guy had unsuccessfully built from a kit. I spent 2 weeks testing it for him. I passed the advanced exam, but I knew I would never be able to pass the morse code requirement for the extra license. I retired from education in August of 2014. My hobby has been writing non-best selling books. The thrill was fading from that quickly, so I bought an FT-991 to get back into ham radio after a 35 year hiatus. I was using a TW2010 antenna because of condo restrictions. Evidently I could transmit further than I could hear; I would often hear one side of a conversation. UPDATE: I recently traded in my FT-991 for an IC-7300 and purchased a used Ameco PT-3 preamplifier I had to rebuild. I can now hear hams who cannot hear me. I did pass my extra exam recently since the morse code requirement has been deleted. I have been involved with computers since 1979 and was the Director of Technology for a local school district. To me, ham radio on the hf bands is much more challenging and rewarding than the internet. I consider myself a novice extra. The top bar on my antenna was 10 feet off the ground, was almost directly under some power lines, and was 35 feet from my metal roof. UPDATE: I just worked VK1TX in Australia; my world has expanded and I don't even have my amplifier yet. Later the same morning, I worked VE7SZ in Canada; happy days are here. If you have run out of reading material, all three of my books (my other hobby) are listed on www.mashiach.ws. I am working on my fourth book so slowly, I cannot predict a finish date. My TW2010 antenna is designed for 10 through 20 meters, hence the name. I bought an MFJ-939 tuner in hopes of working 40 and 80 meters. Even though the tuner matched impedances, no one could hear me because the antenna efficiency was so low. In desperation, I put up a temporary G5RV antenna just to work the lower bands. Because of my small condo back yard, I arranged this antenna in a 102 ft square, about 25 feet per side. I worked 40 meters and even 80 meters. I guess something is better than nothing. I know I can buy a box for the TW2010 for each lower band, but that is too expensive and inconvenient. If you are cramped for space and low on money, put up a square G5RV. And this G5RV was 5 feet off the ground, below fence level. Oddly, my wife asked me to take the G5RV down after I warned her not to be near it while I was transmitting. I bought the FPA-20F-OCF antenna from Force12 just before they sank like the titanic. The TW2010 was traded in for an antenna analyser. I have a review of the FPA-20F-OCF on eham under vertical antennas, Force12 Flagpole Antenna. I love the antenna as I live in a condo complex. With the LDG tuner, I've been able to get the FPA-20F-OCF to work on 6 meters.

I have recently discovered that some of the unidentified sounds I hear on the HF bands are a result of my old switching power suppy. I replaced it with a MFJ-4035MV, which has a linear, not switching, power supply. 

I have recently switched to JT65 and FT8 modes. JT65 is a little more sensitive than FT8, but it reminds me of watching grass grow. Joe Taylor is a true American genius on the order of Thomas Alva Edison. WSJT-X is so great for me because it works with my Mac computer. 

The number of countries i've worked has grown from 7 to over 70 since I started using digital modes (JT65 & FT8). 

Below is my current layout : 

8496237 Last modified: 2017-12-06 16:18:09, 6143 bytes

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United States Award#3825
Granted: 2017-12-13 12:18:02   (W1KE)

United States Counties Award#7998
Granted: 2017-12-01 12:12:01   (W1KE)

Endorsements:
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
Grid Squared Award#17751
Granted: 2017-11-22 03:34:02   (W1KE)

Endorsements:
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
World Continents Award#18890
Granted: 2017-11-15 08:38:02   (W1KE)

Endorsements:
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
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