Spirit of Radio

Invisible airwaves, crackle with life / Bright antenna bristle with the energy / Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength / Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free — Rush, “Spirit of Radio”

Quite a few things happened recently. Maybe I should start posting here more often instead of doing rehashes of the last few days every time I come on. That *would* make more sense. But then when have I ever made sense? :>

Let’s see… last Monday, I went up to the Mercer County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and handed in my paperwork to join the local ARES/RACES group. It’s a group of hams that have interest in emergency communications, and should something happen we may be called in to supplement the ’emcomm’ systems already in place, such as the state’s 800MHz trunked radio system. The group meets at either the EOC, or the county Red Cross station, and the statewide net takes place that same evening. This is where each county in the state checks in to make sure their radios are functioning properly, etc. I personally think that more traffic handling should go on, instead of just “checking in”, as it would give the operators a chance to pass traffic as one would in an emergency, but that’s just my opinion. Perhaps there’s reasons for doing things they way they do (such as time constraints), I’ll have to ask around I guess.

This past weekend, Stephanie did a craft show down in West Deptford (where we used to live), and my father and I drove down to HRO. I talked with Bob again, and told him the radio I wanted (the Yaesu FT-7800R) but that I wasn’t sure about antennas. He steered me towards a Radiall/Larsen dual-band antenna that doesn’t sit too high off the truck (my one main concern right now), and a magnetic mount base for it (until I drill “the hole” sometime this summer). Figured out a mounting location Saturday afternoon, mounted it in the truck Saturday evening, and routed the antenna and power connections Sunday. Now, if you’re in the area, you know we had some pretty lousy weather on Sunday; lots of rain, some thunder, the works. If you’re at all into radio, you also know that there’s an old adage, “An antenna put up in good weather never works right.” Meaning more that the antenna will always require a repair when the weather is lousy. Well, the fact that I installed the radio almost in the dark, and routed the power and antenna connections in the rain, this sucker should work forever and never have any issues :>

I’m running low power on it right now (5W), only because I routed the antenna a little strangely (had some leftover wire, and wrapped it back onto itself once to take up the slack) and don’t want to find out after dumping the full 50W into it that it’s reflecting too much back at the transmitter and blows it up. But even at 5W, it works great. I can hear every repeater that I had programmed in the handheld, and then some; I can actually hear people on simplex now and then as I travel; and I can make both of the immediately local repeaters with no trouble. What do I think? I love it!

I’ve chatted with a few new people recently; Stan (KC2JRJ) helped me with testing the rig when I got it online Sunday, and I’ve talked with him a few times since then as well. Bob (AF2Q) and I chatted this morning on my way in to work. Good thing QSL cards aren’t usually exchanged for FM repeater operations, I’d already have a backlog of cards to start mailing.

Oh well, until next time I guess. Club meeting is next week, and I may meet up with Gary (K2GW) before then to borrow his SWR meter and check everything out on the rig. Depends on his schedule, he said he might be available today through Friday, so I’ll probably drop him and email and ask him to pick a time.

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