Yes, it’s already Spring, 2017. Time to get organized and make some plans for the upcoming hiking season, including some outdoor radio fun. While I can’t call this past winter boring, I’ll simply say, “I never even had my snowshoes on.” It was the Lost Winter of 2016-2017! I’ve been cleaning up/out my office, making room for my Ham Shack in the corner – dedicated space for radios and ancillary equipment/supplies. I’m getting organized! It will be nice.
I got an update from the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) a few days ago, advising that the trails were still snow packed and icy, but muddy in a few areas. It’s sad to think of ‘muddy’ as being promising, but that’s where I’m at! It sounds like another three weeks minimum until I head north with my backpacking gear and radio. Needless to say, I’m getting anxious to get out on the trails again! I’ll check back w/ SHTA in a couple of weeks for an update on trail conditions.
Last weekend I attended the 36th Annual Midwinter Madness Hobby Electronics Show, aka the Buffalo Hamfest. I drove out to the Show with a couple of Ham friends, and met more friends at the Show -all members of two radio clubs I’ve joined in the past year. I was a big spender and bought a magazine and a book, but I also did a lot of window shopping and talking with folks. As for my purchases:
The February 2017 issue of CQ magazine included many articles dealing with various aspects of QRP/low-power radio operation, using HF, VHF/UHF and several modes:
– A QRP Backpacking Adventure in the High Sierra Wilderness, by K6MTS
– Guerilla QRP Portable, by Z35M
– Homing In: Results of the 2016 CQ World-Wide Foxhunting Weekend, by KØOV
– Wire Antennas: A Primer, by W6BNB
– CQ World Wide: Australia Dominates the Headlines, by AA6TS
– Emergency Communications: The Tools You Carry, by WA3UVV
– Learning Curve: Propagation, Eggs and Beacons, by KOØZ
…and much, much more!
ARRL’S HF Digital Handbook (Fourth Edition), by Steve Ford, WB8IMY will be my introduction to the world of HF Digital. I’ve heard a couple people speak about digital and I have interest in PSK-31. All I need is a dedicated laptop, a sound card and some software …I think. Several knowledgeable people in my radio clubs have recommended this book, and it was a steal at $4.
And of course ARRL’s General Class License Manual for Ham Radio has also been keeping me busy in my spare time. 🙂
I’m planning to attend the Brainerd Area Hamfest on April 22 at the Brainerd National Guard Armory from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I’m looking forward to meeting some radio folks (hopefully hikers too) from the Brainerd area.
Then, I’d like to get up on the SHT and put on some practice miles carrying weight, as I’ve got a trip planned to backpack the Presidential Range out on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire later this summer. Radios will accompany me on all these outings.
I’ve been hiking around the city lakes and going to the gym regularly, trying to get back in shape after my heart surgery in December. Things are looking very good and I’m feeling great. But I know the Presidential Range will be work, and I want to be ready for it. I’ll probably get up on the SHT 2-3 times prior to heading east!
Earlier this week I got over to Radio City, our semi-local radio retailer. I went with my friend, my Elmer, Don KCØTJ, the former President of one of my radio clubs. [For you non-radio folks, an Elmer is a radio-knowledgeable teacher/facilitator for newbies to the hobby.]
I’ve been shopping headsets the past few months, thus our trip to Radio City. I’d decided to get a Heil Pro 7 Headset (headphones w/ attached microphone) to facilitate my radio communications. I wear hearing aids, and have significant hearing loss (acoustic and traumatic hearing loss and tinnitus) in both ears. I feel this headset will help me immensely. It will also reduce the sound of wind on mountaintops, and various other distracting noises. I’ll report back on how they perform.
[On a related note, the digital mode PSK-31 uses typed communications that are then sent via radio waves to another person using the same digital mode. The bandwidth required is much less than with voice communications, thus being more energy/bandwidth-efficient (more bang for the buck, or more communication per watt output.) And it eliminates poor hearing as a limiting factor in the communication process. There is no question about what is being communicated because there is a written record of the entire communication. Being radio-based, PSK-31 allows communication when the telephone or Internet systems are not functioning, similar to voice-based radio.]
I’ve been looking at various mobile radio unit options for my vehicle over the past few months, and Don has been very helpful. I’ve looked at single-band, double-band and quad-band units, but haven’t yet decided which way to go. I’ve thought a 2 m unit would be nice, but so would a four-band, or a two band – you get the point. More on that in the future. One thing I do know, I’m anxious to get beyond my HT (handheld radio), and back on the trail again with my 817ND! But I may just carry the HT in the mountains out east! Go figure!
73 de Mike, KEØGZT