Mixed Signals from Yaesu

This just in from the Things That Make You Go Hmmm Department: the amateur radio portion of Yaesu splits from Mother Motorola while the land mobile portion stays. This is right on top of an announcement that Yaesu will pursue a digital amateur radio offering based on land mobile technology (i.e., definitely not D-STAR).

The K0KDS blog has a post about the split, so go there for the full story. The ARRL has this news item about the organizational change. Here’s the paper that Yaesu published about their move into digital technology for amateur radio.

73, Bob K0NR

Don’t Get Stuck On 2 Meters

When I first got started in amateur radio (many years ago), one of the engineers that I was working with at a summer job told me “Don’t get stuck on 2 Meter FM”. At the time I was a college student and felt lucky enough to have 1) found time to pass my Novice exam, including Morse Code test, 2) found time to travel 150 miles to the regional FCC office and pass my Technician exam, and 3) scraped up enough money to buy a basic 2 Meter FM mobile rig. I was in Technician ham heaven, playing around on 2 Meter FM, both simplex and repeaters. Oh, and we had this cool thing called autopatch that let you make actual phone calls from your car. I really wasn’t worried about getting “stuck on two”.

Even though my discussions with this Old Fart Experienced Radio Amateur revealed that he didn’t see 2 Meter FM as Real Ham Radio, I could see that he had a point. Two meter FM is only small part of the ham radio universe and it would be easy to just hang out there and miss out on a lot of other things. I was reminded of this recently by K3NG’s post: Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Young Radio Artisan. I agree with most of his comments with the exception of this one:

Don’t get your start on 2 meter repeaters.

This took me back to the comments from the Experienced Radio Amateur from years ago. I get the point — starting out on 2 Meter FM and Repeaters can give you a limited view of ham radio — but I see it as the perfect platform for getting started. Here’s what is working in my area with new Techs: get them started with a dualband FM rig (usually an HT) so they have some on-the-air success. This also puts them in touch with the local ham community, where we not-so-subtlely expose them to other bands, modes and activities. They hear the other guys talking on the repeater about working DX on 10 Meters and start thinking about how to pursue that as a Tech. From there, it just expands out to all kinds of bands and modes.

Just for the record, I guess I did follow the advice of the Experienced Radio Amateur and managed to not “get stuck on two” (i.e., I’ve worked all of the bands from 80M to 10 GHz, earning WAS, WAC, DXCC and VUCC.)

73, Bob K0NR

ARRL 10 Meter Contest

Usually I don’t focus on the ARRL 10 Meter contest, especially when the solar activity has been so low. However, band conditions have really picked up and 10 Meters is alive and kicking. We have quite a few new Technicians that are discovering the wonder of worldwide HF propagation with even a modest station.

I decided to operate from our cabin up in the mountains. I haven’t been happy with the performance of my trap dipole on 10 Meters, so I wanted to try something different. I pulled a twinlead J-pole antenna out of the basement and strung it up in a tall pine tree. This basically gave me a 1/2-wave vertical on 10 Meters and I was pleased with the performance.

I had a great time with the 10 Meter contest, operating for part of Saturday and Sunday.

You’ve got to like a contest that has:
– Only one band, so no fretting about which bands to focus on
– CW or SSB, take your pick or do both
– Lots of DX
– Work anybody anywhere
– You can sleep at night and not miss anything

I mostly searched and pounced around but did manage a few runs with my mighty wire antenna. Not being a real CW operator, I did decide that I would push myself to make 10 CW contacts. Most of those guys are going way too fast for me, but I got it done.

ARRL10M Score Summary Sheet
Start Date : 2011-12-10
    Band Mode QSOs Pts Cty
      28 CW    10   40   8
      28 USB  254  508  72
 Total        264  548  80
Score : 43,840

73, Bob K0NR

Summits On the Air Taking Off in Colorado

The Summits On The Air (SOTA) program was launched in Europe in 2002 but is just now making its way to the United States. Recently, there has been a surge of activity in Colorado as the program gains traction here.

The basic concept of SOTA is an award program that rewards the radio operators that activate summits and the radio operators that chase summits. For those of us that enjoy the mountains and enjoy ham radio, this is a great fit. I won’t go into all of the rules here (Warning: There Are Lots of Them), so check out the SOTA web site for the complete details.

Steve WG0AT (World Famous Alpha Goat) just published another one of his Rooster and Peanut videos that capture his recent activation of Mount Herman. I managed to work Steve on 2 Meters and I make a cameo appearance in his video below as I make my first official SOTA contact.

Steve has been activating SOTA summits for a while now and others are joining in. Here’s a video from Pikes Peak with Mike, KD9KC and Ron,WT5RZ on North American Summits On the Air weekend.

Recently, Jerry KD0BIK succumbed to the SOTA addiction, activating Mount Herman and  Green Mountain (click on the mountain names to see his blog postings). Chris NW5W has also been active…check out his web site here.

There are numerous SOTA videos on youtube from all over the world.

The SOTAWatch web site is dedicated to posting future SOTA operating plans (Alerts) and SOTA activations in progress (Spots). The North American SOTA Yahoo! Group is another great source of information.

See you on a summit soon.

73, Bob K0NR