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Topics - John Galt

Digital Modes / Jumpstart me on PSK31...
August 28, 2014, 02:29:58 PM
I use a spotbot when I'm messing with the radio anyhow so I've got a Win7 laptop and a Yaesu FT-450D in front of me.  I guess I've got most of what I need to do digital modes but I'm not sure what's missing.
I'm thinking a SignalLink USB and some software?  I need to do my research/homework this weekend but does anyone know exactly what I would need to get started? 
Which software packages would be good for this?
General Discussion / Field Day: What to expect?
June 27, 2014, 02:28:15 PM
I haven't been following this closely but my understanding is that it's basically practicing emcomms at various levels by getting off the grid, using QRP, etc.  So how does it work?  Does everyone try to maximize the number of contacts not unlike a contest?  Is LoTW used for logging? 

I've never been through one so just wondering what to look for this weekend.  As for my station, if I take the float charger off my battery, I'm completely off grid.  Well, except for my beer fridge.

New To Radio / W1AW
March 14, 2014, 09:32:47 AM
As I have posted before, I have only made two contacts to date, one of them being KF5RHI.  I normally spend some time in the evenings in my garage just tuning around to listen to various conversations, nets, etc.  Recently, W1AW has been doing the centennial thing and is usually something I avoid because of the pile ups that ensue.

Last night about 6:30, I was spinning the dial on 15 meters and there was W1AW but without the usual pile ups.  He was "portable 7" but I didn't get his exact location.  Well, I hit the tune button and answered and he came right back!!  It was pretty cool hearing my call sign.

About 20 minutes later, I heard W1AW on 20 meters out of Arizona but with the usual pile up.  Emboldened by my earlier success, I went for it again.  It took two or three tries but I got through again!  And that's against all the stations running amps, etc.

I thought all that was pretty cool.  I've put all my "stuff" together without the benefit of an elmer - just what I've picked up from books and places like this forum.  So I felt a little validated knowing that my stuff actually works.
Antennas / Attic Antenna Suggestions?
November 23, 2013, 02:10:57 PM
I'm looking for some ideas for an attic antenna.  I currently only have an HT and a mobile rig.  I'm considering adding an all mode, all band HF rig for the house and as such will need to also add an antenna.
I know this will be somewhat of a compromise antenna but here are some of my constraints:

I have HOA restrictions so will need either a portable rig or, preferably, an attic application.
I have a 20x25 garage which is the only part of the house that doesn't have radiant barrier or other large metal systems such as HVAC components.
I intend to stay 100 watts or less for now.
Would prefer a single antenna to start so that I can at least play on numerous bands.  Maybe later I would consider a specialized application.

A couple products I'm considering are maybe a trapped dipole like the Diamond W8010.  I gets me a bunch of bands but at 63' it's going to have to bend around in the garage attic considerably.
Maybe a rotatable dipole like the Comet CHV-5X.  Again, it gets me a bunch of bands but there won't be a lot of room for rotation.
Or maybe a vertical like the Comet HVU-8.  At 8' tall it may not work but maybe something similar but shorter would.

Any discussion on the advantages/disadvantages would be appreciated.  I'm just looking for a good direction to continue my research.  Thanks!
New To Radio / First Contact - Pretty Stoked!!
November 02, 2013, 05:45:07 AM
As I wrote in my introductory post, I'm very new to ham and I'm on the steep end of the learning curve (or is that the deep end?).  So right now, I've got pretty limited knowledge and tools. 

Fast forward to last weekend I decided to go out to the ranch to do some chores, hunting, chillaxing etc.  I threw the Yaesu FT-8900 in the truck and off I went.  I hadn't heard much on 10 meter previously but it was pretty lively that weekend.  Anyhow, listening to 29.600, a CQ comes in pretty strong.  At that point, I have yet to use the PTT button.  Even back in the big city listening to 2m and 70cm with the HT, I haven't done anything but listen and learn. 

So I answer this station from my place outside BFE.  I actually talked to him briefly!  He never could pick up my call sign because my signal was weak.  I've got a Diamond CR-8900 on my truck and my mobile rig  only puts out 50 watts max.  Of course, I don't have internet or much else for that matter for comms out in the sticks so I had to wait to get back to town to look him up.   Enschede, Netherlands!!  By the German border.  5500 miles.  Holy crap!  This stuff works!   
New To Radio / Lone Star Greetings
October 21, 2013, 04:43:12 PM
Just thought I'd introduce myself.  The name is PJ and I only recently got interested in emergency communications.  I live in the Houston area but I've got a place in the middle of nowhere where cellphones only occasionally work.  After a little research, I settled on ham as my choice.  As a first step, I needed to get my license so I went ahead and got my extra.  Overkill, I know, but I was testing at NASA so had to keep up with Jones's.   ::)
Now to learn something about it!  Unfortunately, I don't know anyone into amateur radio so I'm picking up what I can.  I'm mostly interested in regional comms preferably without relying on repeaters, satellites, etc.  Power won't be critical so I'm planning on staying with phone or, should I say, not learning Morse.   ;)
Looks like this is going to be a great place to get answers to the questions I don't even know yet!