Ham Radio

I’m radiating again.

Nothing is dangerous about that. I’ve been an amateur radio operator¬†since 1960 and have the Federal Communications Commission’s assigned call sign K3ORC. That third character is the letter “o” and not the numeral “zero”.¬†“Ham” is the common term for the hobby, although friends will tell you I cannot be cured.

With generous help from a friend, K3NDM, I set up a ham station in Annapolis home this summer and it worked beautifully. In the few weeks of operation, I talked to other hams in a dozen countries and even had a chance to speak a bit of French with hams there; there’s no better way to build a language. That station comprises an Icom 706 and a 40-meter dipole in the attic, fed through an autotuner. It’s simple, effective and invisible. The community rules prohibit outside antennas except for satellite TV dishes.

A few weeks ago, I decided to get “On the air” at our Mount Dora, Florida home. Nature graciously provided two tall trees separated by about 120 feet, so up went a dipole between them. This neighborhood has no restrictions on outside antennas, so this one is 102′ of wire up in the clear, fed by open wire line through a balun and coaxial cable to a manual tuner with the old Icom 725 transceiver in a corner of an upstairs room. Hams may recognize this antenna as the type called a “G5RV” after the British ham who invented it.

The path to operation has not been smooth here in central Florida, however. I’ve had problems with the audio which other hams have reported during contacts as “distorted”, “fuzzy” and “RF on the signal”. During these initial tests, I happened to contact a ham one block away (W4ME). By testing the radio on his antenna, I discovered that the fault lay in the microphone, not the radio or antenna. With that good news (microphones are much less expensive than entire radios or antennas), I’ll go to the Orlando Hamcation next week and buy a new mic.

That’s why they call it “Amateur” instead of “Professional” radio. It’s always a new learning experience and that’s a big reason I enjoy it.

— 73 (“Best Wishes”) de (“From”) Tom


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