Archive for the ‘ham’ Category

customer service

This is a story about a guy and some toys of his that broke, and how the people who sold these broken toys to him responded.

1st PLACE: ICOM AMERICA – I had a minor problem with my Icom IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF mobile transciever and, since it was still under warranty, decided to send it in sooner than later. The warranty card said to just send it in with a copy of the original receipt of purchase, showing the date, and a brief description of the problem. That seemed awfully easy, almost too good to be true. So I did. About a week later I called in and was told it had already been repaired and would ship soon. Not only did they fix the problem, but ran a comprehensive test and fixed a few other things, then gave the radio a complete alignment. All I had to do was pay for the shipping back to the service center, about $20 (UPS.) WIN!

2nd PLACE: OUTBACK POWER – I own a lot of Outback stuff; their components are the mainstay of my off-grid power system(s). They’ve always been good about replacing stuff under warranty. When the VFX3648 failed just the other day and I called in about it, the customer rep offered to just send out a complete board replacement kit. That saves us both the hassle of shipping the big, awkward, heavy unit back and forth and saves them a little tech time, and allows me to service my own equipment, which I’m all too happy to do in this case. WIN!

3RD PLACE: T-MOBILE: For the third time now, my G1 phone died. And it’s still under warranty, and insured to the hilt above and beyond that. Nevertheless, I have to submit to being treated like an unwanted visitor on a prison camp before I can get anything done. I have to spend my entire morning negotiating with chatterbots on T-Mobile’s customer-time-wasting phone labyrinth before I finally get the point across that my phone is broken. Then I have to answer a bunch of questions. I feel like I just got pulled over by a cop who doesn’t like men with beards or something, and insists on treating me like a suspect, even though I’m a paying customer. They make me give a lot of information about the phone, which I’m still liable for in case said info is later found to be incorrect. I’m perpetually at their mercy, always on the defensive. I hate it. Once the torture is over, I get an unsolicited call from T-Mobile asking me to participate in a survey about the professionalism of the customer service rep I last spoke to. Guys, your people are doing a great job: it’s your hostile, defensive policy towards customers in need that makes me sick. I wish I had a home version of your phone tree interrogation system, and could make you verify the last four of your Social Security number six times and your mother’s birthplace twice, after making you listen to a minute’s worth of irrelevant drivel while you cling desperately to the line, hoping an actual warm-blooded, sentient being will finally grant you an audience…. Fuck off, I hate you. I can’t wait until my contract with you is over. FAIL.

Field Day, 2010, Imperial County EOC (W6ICR)

W6ICR, Field Day 2010 from chasterus on Vimeo.

magic day

Yesterday was unseasonably cool and, in the morning, overcast with cumulus clouds, which blocked the sun occasionally, making it a perfect time to go out into the sculpture garden and get busy with some projects. The windmill’s tail needed to be re-mounted; the Tower needed to get its electric lighting started; ditto for the dome. I got all three done, plus a few sundry Tower modifications / repairs. On top of that, I got a good bit of maintenance inside the living area taken care of, and cleaned up the music room. Just the vacuuming took nearly an hour. The dust out here is brutal, and I don’t fight it very often, so when I do, it’s a real chore.

Windmill, repaired

While I was up on the top level of the Tower, I took a few photos of East Jesus below (click for larger image.) I got a little work done at dusk and will hopefully get more done soon, posting the evidence accordingly.

I haven’t tested it yet, but the dome should perform quite well as a counterpoise for the screwdriver antenna, and I got to thinking…. what if I set up the Mac as a sound capture / looper / processor / mixer and created live mashups of ham & swl radio signals, ergo Geodesic Dome As Radiophonic Musical Instrument? I was thinking of doing an extended work of sound art based on that idea anyway… whaddaya think?

Reminder: The Mammoth BBQ is Coming!

why ham radio is not dead (part three) – Amateur Extra, MARS, mobile operation and digital modes

Did you know that you can send and receive email to anyone anywhere in the world using just radio equipment? Even if all other global communication networks – including the Wide Web Interworld – are down for the count? I’ll get to that later.

Back to the books…. and the scientific calculator.

As usual, radio silence in the blogosphere has indicated extreme radioactivity in meatspace. I have been busy. The fruits of my labors have culminated thus: upgraded to Amateur Extra (the highest amateur radio license class, with privileges on all frequencies,) became a full MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) member (Department of Defense meets amateur radio for whatever emergency or disaster comms may be necessary – not only do they train you in military-style radio operation, you get a nifty glow-in-the-dark decoder ring,) conducted my usual radio business for three days from my car out in the middle of nowhere and finally, today, after weeks of trying and failing and troubleshooting and tweaking and adjusting, began operating in digital modes. MT63 and WINMOR, to be precise, both of which are used in MARS. There are about a dozen others I’m dying to get my hands dirty with – RTTY, PSK31, Olivia, etc. – but these two, being the ones I need to be able to use on a daily basis, were what I chose to start with.


One day I found these in my P.O. box…

WINMOR is a protocol under development primarily for use with Winlink2K, that radio-only email system I mentioned in the beginning. Needless to say, complex systems under development are not the most user-friendly. I am pretty sure that if I hadn’t given up alcohol for the coming hot summer, I wouldn’t have had the patience or sharpness of mind to get it all working properly. In fact, my attention span has expanded immensely since I put down the whiskey. Never fear, dear reader, you’ll hear none of this “sobriety” gibberish from me – I hate that word and I don’t care for 12-Step programs (one step is all I need, thank you) and I will someday return to my infamous and invariably amusing, hard-drinking ways, but first I need to lose about 40 lbs and survive a long summer in the Slabs without dying of dehydration. In the mean time, I reasonably expect to get about ten times as much done as usual.

MT63 is another digital mode which performs quite well under poor band conditions by dividing its content into 64 tones stretched over time. In fact, it’s so immune to noise that you can use it without any fancy interface between your radio and your computer. Assuming your ‘puter has a built-in microphone, you can just let the audio from the radio’s loudspeaker get into the mic and under normal conditions this should work fine. For some reason, though, I had trouble receiving through a MacBook Pro’s internal sound card (which I understand is actually par for the course,) so eventually I just decided to put a dedicated computer in place and use a ham-radio-friendly sound card for interfacing. Since $300 buys an awful lot of computer these days, it wasn’t too big a deal. The robustness of MT63 still amazes me – my first trial reception with the new setup yielded 100% copy under just about the worst, noisiest HF band conditions possible.

HF/VHF/UHF mobile installation… in an art car.

Now, all this began around the time I was wrapping up my training for MARS and eyeballing an upgrade to the Amateur Extra license class. I had ARRL’s study guide for the latter collecting dust somewhere and one day grabbed it and started studying. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but by no means the toughest, and after about ten days of dedicating three to four hours per day (sometimes a little more) to working through the question pool and filling in the gaps in my knowledge, I was passing practice exams in my sleep and figured it was time to take the plunge, scrape up $14 and go for the real thing. Not too surprisingly, I passed, though when I returned from the rest room as my answer sheet was being graded signed, some of the examiners were muttering things like, “It’s OK, he can take it again on the 24th….” within earshot, just to yank my chain.

Of course, I haven’t had a lot of time to go play radio on all the new elitist real estate within the ham bands that is the exclusive domain of the Amateur Extra – nope, I’ve been potty-training computers and sound cards, building a chicken coop and moving some actual poultry into it, moving trailers and art cars around to make room for new, and finally getting those disgustingly heavy and huge Pb/Ca batteries into their permanent home:

700lbs of lead-acid love….*each*… and 24 of them.

hf, or why ham radio is not dead (part two)


You can spend thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands on this hobby. Some call it a rich man’s game. I got into it more for the thrill of cobbling together circuitry for under $20 using scrounged electronics, Altoids tins and scrap wire. Nevertheless, the seduction of fine equipment is stong. In my irrational exuberance following receipt of my FCC license, I treated myself to what I thought was some reference-quality HF equipment – for reference purposes, of course – to help in the design, construction, testing and operation of the aforementioned Altoids tins crammed full of hand-wound coils and transistors stolen from abandoned TVs.

The expensive stuff never really worked. Well, at least not terribly well. I spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of the mighty Yaesu FT-1000, even the features I never thought I’d use. I spent nights scanning the bands during the long lull between sunspot cycles 23 and 24, when the airwaves were practically dead from 160m all the way to 6m. Whether it was just the absence of sunspots, the antenna or the transceiver I’ll never be completely sure. At nine months old, the antenna – an MFJ 1798 multiband vertical – took wind damage and seemed to have given up its ghost. The transceiver may have been damaged at that point, too. I’m sure at one point I tried the automatic antenna tuner which, if activated without an antenna connected, would have certainly put the final hurts on the Yaesu. In any case the HF rig sat in disuse for about a year before I tired again in vain to receive any signal using a variety of antennas and finally realized its front end was shot.

Anticipating, however, that I would one day start riding the low HF bands again, I spent a rainy day picking through some bits I had been collecting over the months, components of wire antennas – insulators, romex wire, antenna rope, and a flagpole pulley, cleat and halyard – and whipped up a simple 80m dipole. I knew at some point I’d just break down and buy another HF transceiver, probably something portable to augment the heavy, base-station-only FT-1000.

At the Yuma hamfest I had spotted some interesting (and affordable) screwdriver antennas and asked the designer to demonstrate one. We went out after closing to the RV camping area, a few acres of mobile stations of all kinds bristling with roughly a bazillion antennas reaching for the zenith. He showed me how the antenna was mounted, how the motor controller was controlled by an aftermarket antenna tuner that was, in turn, controlled by his HF/VHF/UHF radio: an Icom IC-7000. I watched in amazement as that small antenna, just a few feet off the dirt, tuned itself to perfect 1.0-to-1 SWR on any frequency I could name – from 1.84 MHz all the way up to fifty-something. Granted, you had to tune it again every time you dialed in a new frequency, but the worst SWR I saw was about 1.2-to-1, which was far better than most anything I had ever used. I was sold. the next day I bought a complete copy of that rig: radio, antenna and tuner, plus some mounting brackets and adapters I needed to stock up on.

Back home, somewhat exhausted from absorbing so much new information all weekend, I crammed through the IC-7000 manual and did a smoke check on it with the 80m dipole – straight, no chaser, no tuner. I was blown away by all the signals I was hearing now, many of them on bands that this particular antenna shouldn’t even be receiving at all! Let the fun begin! I listened to everything from domestic and Mexican AM broadcasts to 80m, SW (Taiwan, Portugal, The Vatican, Cuba, etc,) and 40m, 20m, 17m…. With a CW contest in progress, every band seemed to be gushing waterfalls of Morse code. I was tempted to make a call out but decided to just go to bed, let the magic of a good night’s sleep do its work on my weary hippocampus, and take on the world the next morning.

The following day brought some landmark events. I made my first HF QSO with a station over 600 miles away (somewhat embarrassingly, this took place at a frequency my General Class license does not permit me to transmit on, which fact was gently and politely pointed out to me by the others,) and promptly checked in to two local ARES / RACES HF nets (with less-than-perfect signal reports, but who said the first time had to be perfect?) immediately afterward. Next was the big hurdle, the actual driving force behind my race to get back onto 80m: a MARS training net at 0100Z.

MARS (which stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System, a long-standing symbiosis between the various military branches and participating volunteer amateur radio stations) uses frequencies not regulated by the FCC; they are administrated by the Department of Defense. Your garden-variety amateur radio equipment is typically tx-blocked at these frequencies to prevent “accidents.” But acceptance into the MARS program, even as a trial member, costitutes permission to *legally* hack your radio to allow transmission on non-ham frequencies. You’ll just be dealing with Military Police instead of the FCC if you do a no-no.

I knew the out-of-band mod for the IC-7000 was fairly straightforward – removal or at least disconnection of a single diode. I quickly found the necessary info online and effected the tx-unlock with only a few cuss words and moments of head-scratching. Since calling for a radio check on military frequencies was something I wasn’t sure I was authorized to do, I’d have to wait until the training net began to know if I’d hit the sweet spot or not. To my great relief, everything worked fine. I checked into my first MARS net, was able to read all stations but could only be heard by a few. The protocol is quick and dry and business-only and not something I was yet used to, but I seem to have gotten through it OK.

So, four “firsts” for me in HF operation, all in one day. That ain’t bad. Oh, and I think the point I was trying to make was this: all of this was possible due to a hastily thrown-together, UN-tuned, UN-tweaked, simple wire antenna made of about $15 worth of parts.

hf, or why ham radio is not dead (part one)


Yuma Hamfest 2010, Yuma Fairgrounds: one by one, military aricraft make their landing descent just above our heads as we look up, perhaps with the same curiosity and bloodlust as NASCAR fans at once dreading and anticipating a deadly crash. Last year someone in military garb passed out leaflets at the hamfest, giving bogus orders to keep transmission power to 50 PEP or below on all frequencies. An exhibitor with one side of his family tree in the Marine Corps and the other in the FCC, told them politely, and quite rightfully so, to kiss off, unless this directive came from the FCC or a state of martial law had been declared. They seem to be punishing us as a group for last year’s transgression. Without fail, all day long, all weekend long, we must cover our ears every five minutes.

As soon as I reach the dirt parking lot of the fairgrounds, I recognize Hector’s Mexican call sign on California vanity plates, XE2K (while on American soil, he must sign as WT6J; the Mex call on US plates is a subtle irony.) I’m glad to see he’s here. Hector designs and installs antenna systems of all flavors for a living – data, ham, police, whatever – both in Mexico and in the U.S. Every time I meet him, I get at least one moderately mind-blowing lecture on some aspect of radio I never even knew existed. It’s exhausting, like a 3-hour workout in the gym is exhausting, but the long-term effects are invaluable. To quote a favorite line from a favorite movie, “The man’s enlarged my mind.“ And I’ve barely known him two months. Useful things, like how to use a satellite dish to improve cell phone reception by up to 20dB; how to set up a wireless internet bridge over tens of miles; how to get wire in the air and make it talk. Despite our scientific domestication of the electromagnetic spectrum, antenna theory still has the bulk of its wisdom cloaked in murky black magic. Hector is a brujo. His hidden agenda seems to be to get me active on 6m, the Twilight Zone of the ham spectra. On the elusive cusp of HF and VHF it’s neither fish nor fowl, but it swims and flies.

I don’t really know what to expect. This is my first ham thing. A weekend of overweight, aging men (mostly) and awkward, pimply boy scouts peddling everything from CB garbage to newfangled, sparkly technology some NASA engineers are probably envious of, with the feel of a mad scientist flea market and an American Legion spaghetti dinner, with ambulances, cops, military personnel (retired, for the most part) and a few “young” and bright-eyed freaks like me all played out on the virtually abandoned but carefully manicured fairgrounds that point to a recent past much more prosperous than the present uncomfortably stepping into its shoes. Permanent buildings for livestock, “the arts,” Shriner Clowns, 4H Club, etc. with vast, trimmed green lawns and desperately empty parking lots.

The call-in frequency seems to be dead, but a dutiful yet friendly woman’s voice comes right back at me when I toss out a casual request for a radio check on my HT. Someone has set up a repeater on 2m just for the fest. My first walk through the grounds takes me past several tents with stuff for sale – some antique keyers, decrepit hard drives, a drill press, a shiny Yaesu FT-1000; one large setup has a complete selection of Pb/acid batteries in more shapes and sizes than I even knew existed, plus cable, connectors, tools, vacuum tubes, variable capacitors, military surplus oscilloscope probes vacuum-packed in mylar bricks. In five years, about half the items I see today will be scientific heirlooms worthy of awe and wonder. Today they are still just junk, except to the discerning (and caring) few. Like the portable microbeam scope, ca 1947. Belongs in a museum, but you can have it for $25 without haggling.

In the main hall, I’m guided by some inner force to a vendor selling connecting aluminum/fiberglass poles. $2 each. What? I’ll take all of them, I tell the seller. While he’s busy talking, still trying to sell me on an item I’ve already bought, another buyer grabs the bag out from under me. Too late. I still have a chance to purchase ten of them in a loose pile, just enough to get the two ends of a pathetically low-to-the-ground 80m dipole (my first home-brewed antenna, by the way) a bit higher off the lossy ground. Exactly what I needed, and for twenty bucks.

I’m hooked.

It’s Friday, and the big day is tomorrow. I’m just here to get a basic feel for the event, and to double-check the seminar schedule. There are three or four seminars I’d like to attend tomorrow: Satellite Communications on 2.5mW; Kraft-Ebing Psychopathology of Disaster Sites; Introduction to Deadly Orgone Radiation; Hazmat & You, Post-9/11; Emergency Preparedness for Massive Electromotive Disruption. And of course, there’s the annual Buzzard BBQ.

I make a point of visiting every booth, if only briefly. Most of the exhibitors seem all too eager to tell me everything about every single product or service they’re hawking. Perhaps they’d tell me all about their spouses’ colonic biopsy or a buddy recently gone Silent Key (the most elegant and noble euphemism for death in any field I’ve come across.) But along with the sense that many here are clinging to a long lost glory I can never understand, I can smell the funky, fertile manure of a future about to emerge, bloody and screaming, from the teenage transhuman uterus of the present. In this boneyard of outmoded crystal oscillators, manuals for long-deceased radio circuits and analog forgottenhood, the mind-bending fungus of The Inevitable is developing with a will of its own, the nascent nervous system of an undocumented and unexpected Singularity: a global nerve net consisting of technologically fluent, warm-blooded human beings who know how to communicate, who know how to build transmitters from spare parts scrounged from burned analog TVs and who play well with others, with total strangers, be they from foreign countries, different generations, or distant galaxies.

to be continued….

background noise

HE was 44 when he first heard the voices. They could be heard, in his mind’s ear anyway, hovering in the background noise whenever an engine was running. He would turn his head to face the perceived source, and soon realize it could not possibly have come from there. Understanding the cognitive nature of this auditory “aliasing” illusion, he nevertheless decided to investigate the matter further. In other words, he asked himself what parts of his mind were generating these creepy, internal voices of Rorschachian ghosts.

THE voices sounded, for the most part, like song fragments on a transistor radio near a noisy fan – they would emerge and disappear, like odd, darting specimens in an aquarium. At times he was sure he recognized them; one was Patti Smith, another a friend from high school. There were many others that he did not recognize or never heard for long enough to foxhunt through his memory. In a dark corner, various 8-ohm loudspeakers from different technological epochs known as decades danced to the buzzing shimmy of filtered radio signals, his hallucinations dancing with them, seducing them, chiding them, turning his head this way and that, and always leaving him to his preferred silence when the last tarry fragments were evacuated from his lungs, and his metabolism had made short work of the toxins therein.

ON this particular evening, they had receded. He contemplated his [tape ends here]

East Jesus 2.0

…slowly, sometimes painfully so, but gradually, progress is made…

a new (to me) 40′ high-top Tex container with an added roll-up door should be here in a few days. the shack, tronix lab, office and recording studio are moving into it, then the Monster Battery array will take its place in the fiberglass container, the heart of East Jesus 1.0. not like i really wanted to take on yet another huge pile of work (it’ll be weeks of building workspaces, storage shelves, adding doors, windows, insulation, A/C etc.) but the batteries would prefer to be pampered at temperatures cooler – much cooler – than the 120 degrees F we experience out in this here desert, and the fiberglass container is ready to go with its superior insulation and A/C already built in, and is the perfect size for the batteries

the long, grinding drive to LA is always a drag, but once i was there in the middle of a vast valley of 1000s of shipping containers, i was overcome with the feeling of swimming in the heavy water of the truly surreal. it was an unusually clear day; i wish i had taken a few photos.

rumor has it the copper connecting bars were found in the powertainer housed at NIMBY and have made their way to the Shipyard, where they may actually fall into someone’s hands who will kindly send them my way. today i began researching desulfators and ordered two Solar Converter BD-2′s to play with on the 12V arrays. it’s cool to be able to glean so much about a battery’s internal health by letting a desulfator pulse away and looking at the waveform on an oscilloscope. at maximum i can connect 4 of them to the final 48V array, and i’m still not sure that’s going to be enough. perhaps i’ll have to homebrew something more powerful.

in any event, the next few months are going to be characterized by pantloads of work, and a lot of heavy moving. at this point it’s looking very much like i’m going to need a box truck or a large pickup with a trailer. over half the items on my shopping list won’t fit in my Honda Civic. i think in the USA this is one of those mysterious, ancient rites of passage for a man: his first truck. i guess i’m a late bloomer.

anyway, everything’s been growing and expanding here so rapidly it really feels like a new world. East Jesus 2.0.

Monster Batteries vs East Jesus

After two shippers had accepted the job and then – big surprise! – realized this was a hazmat load (I mean, really, do I need to tell people who do this for a living that used batteries are hazmat!?) and declined to transport it, one professional operator stepped up to bat and got ‘er done.

C&D MCT II 5000-AH cells

C&D MCT II 5000-AH cells

There are 24 of them. Each weighs 700 pounds. Altogether they weigh 8.5 tons. I don’t know how many bathtubs full of sulfuric acid they contain. By the time they’re ready for retirement, I may be able to recoup my investment just from the lead.

When new, the array had a rated charge capacity of over 200kWH. They used to belong to those mad scientists, Jim Mason and crew, at the legendary Shipyard / All-Power-Labs in Berkeley. Why they got rid of them? TOO HEAVY. For them, that’s saying something. Besides, they (finally) are enjoying grid power these days, so all the PV and battery power is a tad less sexy for them than it used to be. While in use there, the batteries kept a three-phase machine shop running. Before the Shipyard, they are presumed to have been installed as a telecom UPS and were maintained and fussed over accordingly. Their duty cycle is 20 years.

This is the third and final component of a grand power conjunction: these batteries; an Outback VFX-3648 inverter; and the ~4kW of photovoltaic panels recently rescued from destruction and donated to the East Jesus power grid, bringing the solar capacity up to over 6kW. I may need to add a much larger generator than I have now, just to equalize the batteries. We’ll see. First, though, I have some reading to do. The IEEE has specifications on the care and feeding of these behemoths, and I know I’m going to have to do things right or possibly suffer very messy, explosive, corrosive consequences. Until then, I don’t even have the guts to unwrap them.

Meanwhile, KI6RRX is now equipped with a mobile/base VHF/UHF rig – very pleased with the Kenwood TM-D170 and the Diamond X300A (about 30′ up.) I’ve been enjoying lots of QSO with other PAPA members, picking up APRS beacons from as far away as Holbrook, AZ and hearing a lot of activity on 2m and 440 that I simply haven’t jumped into yet. Cross-banding is now possible with the Yaesu VX-8R HT – I can talk to PAPA while bathing with carneys and nudists at the hot spring, using the base station as a repeater. Kinda cool.

Finally, in other, completely unrelated news, I have been approached by a museum that wishes to acquire my collection of paintings and drawings by convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and email scammers tried to convince me that the UN Foundation had awarded me $500,000, presumably for outstandingly surrealistic lifestyle that may better the world and all humanity…

KI6RRX reaches PAPA network on 5W from East Jesus

yesterday morning it was cool and foggy. i was up early, about 4:30am. seated by a fire, i was listening to the early bird Slabs chat on CB23, and had my Yaesu HT tuned to PAPA-7. i’ve tried a few times in vain to hit that repeater, about 40 miles distant, with the HT, but there simply isn’t enough power – that is, under normal conditions. perhaps it was the fog clinging to the ground, but when i inadvertently pressed the PTT, i heard a “beep-boop” come back at me. “wow,” i thought to myself, “really?” i tried it again, with the same result. i went ahead and transmitted my call sign, still hitting the repeater, but no one responded. there wasn’t any activity at that early hour usually, anyway, so i waited a while for some PAPA user to come on.

eventually Gary, W6??? (sorry, i’m even worse at remembering calls than i am at remembering names!) came on and i replied. he thanked me for the comeback but said i was unreadable, and advised me to increase power. as the HT was already fully open, i climbed up to the top of the shack container and tried transmitting again. this time my signal came through clearly, and we had a pleasant, but short, QSO – my first on the PAPA system.

knowing weather conditions wouldn’t always be like this, but encouraged by the QRP success, i decided to finally invest in a 2m/70cm mobile/base station – one powerful enough to easily reach PAPA 7 and capable of serving as a home repeater to my HT, and an antenna. i always want to build my own antennas, but i like to start out with something that’s quite likely to actually work. i chose a Kenwood D170A and a Diamond X300A antenna. i expect to build a 70cm yagi eventually and aim it straight at Toro Peak, but this setup should at least get me on the air well enough to become acquainted with the PAPA system and hopefully get some further advice.

this was the first time i had ever made an unlikely QRP contact on any band! i’ve been completely inactive on HF since my MFJ multiband gave up (and was subsequently cannibalized.) for once i got to feel a little tingle of excitement at making contact under unusual conditions, and i look forward to much more activity on VHF/UHF very soon.

Addendum, 2009.12.11.1808:

Propagation remains favorable under cloudy skies, high-ish relative humidity. I located Toro Peak (location of the PAPA-7 repeater) and from here it’s virtually a straight line traversing the long NW-SE length of the Salton Sea (salt water is a kind of magic RF mirror / amplifier,) explaining some of this. Still, covering about 50 miles on a 5-Watt HT is not trivial, especially with glowing reports of signal clarity and strength. Thanks, Yaesu, and thanks to all you PAPAites who indulged my “quickie” propagation checks. Today, a year and a half after my FCC licensing, I graduated from listener to operator. The incoming 2m/70cm setup should be more than adequate for comm with PAPA-7 under merely normal conditions!

Addendum, 2009.12.13.1221

That was Gary, W6MAT, whose call I couldn’t remember.

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