Sunday, February 28, 2016

HF Here I Come

I've been puttering around on 2m and 70cm since getting my Technician license in January.  It's nice to hear other hams chat about their radios and ragchew on the local nets.  It has been a great learning experience and a fun way to get my feet wet.  That's pretty much all I can do anyway with the little HT I have.  There are parts of 6m and 10m that are open to Technicians, but I really wanted to hop on 20m and 40m so I can try my hand at DXing.  Bouncing radio waves off the ionosphere half-way around the world is what has always excited me about amateur radio.

I knew I couldn't get too complacent with a Technician license and had to keep going to get on HF. Back to my two favorite learning resources I mentioned in my last post for some General studying. I'm excited to have passed my General on Superbowl Sunday, 02/07/2016.  That day was full of good news, as I got home and turned on the tube to watch my favorite Denver Broncos win the Superbowl. What a day!

Next up...researching HF rigs.  I've already started looking, and I can tell you I've probably already put more research into HF radios than I have my last car.  HF transceivers are ridiculously expensive.

The Shortlist:

Home/Portable Radios:

  • Kenwood TS-480SAT
  • Yaesu FT-450d
  • Yaesu FT-867d
  • ICOM IC-718

QRP Radios

  • Yaesu FT-817d
  • Elecraft KX3
As I've mentioned before, I really like the idea of portable rigs.  Having young kids and an urge to get outside more often makes me lean toward the QRP radios.  They'd be great when we're travelling or camping as well.  I'm a big fan of light and simple.  In case you're not familiar with QRP, it is amateur radio limited to low-power, typically 5W or less.  I'm a believer...I don't really think you need to blast 100W to have fun. Don't take my word for it, I really enjoyed Cliff N4CCB breaking down Why QRP Works on his QRP School YouTube channel.

KM4QID - Ham it up!

After many years of interest in amateur radio but never quite putting in the time to get a license--I finally did.  I passed my technician test on January 3rd, 2016 and am offically a "ham"! After almost 2 weeks of waiting, I was assigned my call sign "KM4QID" on 01/19/16.  I like it.

Why now?  Because I was given a Baofeng UV-5R5 handheld transceiver by my father-in-law this past Christmas.  I had put it on my Amazon wishlist a while back, hoping to buy it when I got my license.  It was a big surprise to receive it for Christmas!  That was just what I needed to buckle down and pass the test.

I'll admit having some experience homebrewing electronics as a kid probably gave me an easier time than some on the test, but there was still a vast amount of information I wasn't familiar with.  There were two resources I used exclusively to pass the test.  The best was HamExam.org Amateur Radio Practice Exams. If I wasn't in front of a computer and wanted to get some studying in, I really liked the Android app Ham Test Prep.  Best part is that both are free.


The Baofeng UV-5R5 has been pretty good.  I've been able to hit local repeaters, sound quality reportedly is fine, and battery life is excellent.  I added a Nagoya NA-771 antenna (pictured), which helps greatly with reception.  As you can see, I like taking advantage of the portable aspect of the HT. I have a feeling that's going to be my favorite part of the hobby.

I'm pretty excited to be a ham.  Shortwave listening was fun, but I'm stoked to be able to make contacts.

73
KM4QID Craig