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I am relatively new to the hobby--December '07 passed tech--in fact got into the hobby completely by accident.

I was considering buying my son a police scanner and went to the HRO located in Oakland. Instead of looking at scanners I started asking questions about the radios and what it took to get a license. I ended up walking out with Gordon West's tech manual and took the Technician exam a couple weeks later. Was issued the call KI6NKM. Two weeks after that I took and passed the General exam and applied for a vanity call--K6CAK. (My initials)

I travel a lot for work and rather than being bored in hotels I decided to study for the Extra. I have absolutely no background in electronics--nor did I have any friends in the hobby. When I first picked up the book I was completely intimidated and put it away for a couple months. On one trip I threw it in my bag and decided I would try to tackle. Given that I have no foundational knowledge of electronics it was one of the most difficult intellectual exercises I've ever undertaken. After two months of studying the book and taking every online practice exam possible, I took and passed the Extra exam. That was in April '08. In January '09 I decided I wanted a 1X2 call and spoke to the late, great Fred Maia at W5YI. He was fantastic to work with and helped me to get my current call, W6FQ. (let me just acknowledge to all the folks that have been in this hobby a long time---I'm the beneficiary of a simplified licensing system and don't have--and probably never will have even half the knowledge of all of you)

I threw myself into the hobby and just started to play. I had lots of fun--mostly listening--but in January 2009 I bought an Icom 91AD handheld and became immediately hooked on D-STAR. The digital technology is fascinating and the sound quality is great. I quickly sold all of my radios, 3 VHF/UHF mobile setups and 2 HF rigs and completely invested in D-STAR equipment.

I joke with my friends that, "I'm one radio away from happiness," unfortunately there is more truth to that line then I'd like to admit and certainly more than I'd like my wife to discover. I really am a fan of VHF/UHF and my equipment is testament to that. In terms of D-STAR equipment I now own a DV3K Dongle and an Icom 92 which is typically connected to my  DVAP/Raspberry Pi. Digital is my favorite mode and DMR (digital mobile radio) is my new passion. In terms of DMR radios I own a Motorola XPR 7550 UHF handheld and a Motorola XPR 5550 UHF mobile.  To go along with these two rigs I also have the Hytera X1P.   In terms of traditional analog only radios, I have the Alinco DR-235mkIII which is coupled to a fantastic Elk antenna and two Wouxoun VHF/220 handhelds which I really enjoy and think are the best "bang for the buck" in the amateur market.

In March 2011 I took my amateur radio experience to a new level. With the help of a few friends I installed a Motorola XPR8300 repeater at my home. It's a UHF MotoTRBO system, its call is N6TRB (NorCal Trbo) and its frequency is 440.6500. DMR technology is fairly new in the amateur community as it's really made for the commercial radio market. The radios are expensive and they don't offer the convenience most hams require. Most notably the ability to program the radio from the faceplate. Additionally the programming software is not widely available and if you can get approved to own it, (yes, approved) it's relatively expensive. So why did I do it? Because I love the digital mode and I wanted to join some of my friends experimenting on the cutting edge of our hobby. In the Bay Area we have embraced the technology. Since November 2010 we have installed more than 40 repeaters on the "Norcal System". In addition to the superior quality of transmission MotoTRBO offers great linking capabilities. All of our systems are connected and we're making use of the UHF band. Most of the systems are low level meaning they will not interfere with Beale AFB's Pave Paws radar system. The radios have a great "roaming" feature meaning they search for the strongest signal from all our linked repeaters and automatically switch the frequency. So while we have lots of machines they operate seamlessly to the end user. We're combining cutting edge technology and a little ham ingenuity to make use of a band many thought we had lost in Northern California. As you can imagine, we're having alot of fun!

I'd like to acknowledge some great folks in the Bay Area that have been very helpful in getting me up and running. I'm very appreciative of Tim Barrett, (K6BIV) who has spent countless hours answering basic questions from folks like me. Additionally the members of the Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club have also been of great assistance. MDARC is the largest club west of the Mississippi for good reason---its membership roster is comprised of kind and gracious folks and it operates one of the greatest analog repeaters in the country---W6CX at 147.060 and as of February 22, 2011 the W6CX D-STAR repeater at 145.000.

Probably more on me than you wanted or needed to know. Anyway, 73s to all...




6754655 Last modified: 2015-10-03 20:38:59, 5669 bytes

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