Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Too many distractions

My bureau-workshop
I have sometimes seen comments to this blog that are disparaging towards the idea of stealth operation. I don't for a moment accept that stealth antennas are worse than the modest wire antennas many hams in the UK who don't have deep pockets, large gardens and amazingly tolerant neighbours use. RF doesn't care whether an antenna is visible or not, it's what you do to make the antenna invisible that might compromise performance and with the small gardens without trees that so many of us in the UK have, most of us have to live with compromise.

But the real test of a ham radio station is whether it allows you to pursue enough activities to maintain interest in the hobby. And based on that criterion I think G4ILO does very well. One of the best additions to the shack was to make a dedicated work area for construction in a bureau unit whose door drops down to make a work surface and which can be closed when I have done enough without having to put everything away. I have a greater interest in building stuff now that I have somewhere to do it.

In fact there are more things I would like to do, radio-wise, than I have time to do. Last weekend, for example, I would like to have tried making some contacts in the worldwide RTTY contest but of all the radio things I did that weekend, giving away some contest points was something I didn't get around to.

Today I was trying to finish up my homebrew SignaLink USB clone, but I made the mistake of turning the K3 on and leaving JT65-HF running and I kept on being distracted by seeing CQ calls from DX stations. In between work on the interface I made contacts with YV6BFE, N8ABY, AA1CZ and KD0AGX plus a couple of Europeans, all using 25W to the attic dipole. My signals were spotted in Japan and far eastern Russia, though I didn't hear anyone that far east. DU1GM, whom I worked a few days ago, was calling for most of the afternoon with no takers.

The SignaLink USB clone is just about finished and does work. After I made up an interface cable between it and the FT-817ND I made one solid PSK31 contact with F5TTI on 30m with it on the test bench. So now it just has to be put into its case and it will be completed.


Unknown said...

I feel the same, but I´m relatively new to the hobby, too many ideas in my head and not enough time. But time will come eventually. :-) BTW I got the same arrangement for construction space. It´s a must when you got a 1,5 year old.


PE4BAS, Bas said...

Hello Julian, I got the same problem as Eric, no time. I found your USB signalink clone interesting as I still got some USB audiosticks here. I actually wanted to sell them via the Dutch Marktplaats, but there is absolutely no interest in the nice little device. So I have to find something to use them for. Your project sounds good enough...I'm curious how it looks after you're finished. 73, Bas

Ed N4EMG said...

Every time the weekend rolls around I keep thinking that I'll get around to reorganizing the shack, which has been pretty much in shambles for nearly a year now. But my problem is that I always turn on the radio whenever I'm in there and I end up spending all of my time just pushing the crap out of the way and making contacts. I guess in the end that's more important than a neat shack anyway, right? Having a dedicated work area like you have is a great idea, though. It would sure cut down on the clutter in my case.
73 Ed

Jspiker said...

A few weeks ago, I also tired of belated blathering on blogs and placed a little "comment about comments" near the header of my radio web page. Among a few other things, it says "Opinions are like pockets on a shirt, everyone has one".
Agatha Christie once said:
"Most successful people are unhappy. That's why they are successes - they have to reassure themselves about themselves by achieving something that the world will notice... The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves that they don't give a damn".
To me, that's another way of saying a ham can be perfectly happy using a simple wire antenna along with low power. It also says it's a cockamamie idea to think, in order to be successful ham radio operator, you need a KW and a Beam. It's just not true.
I also live in close quarters and am forced to use the "stealth" mode of operation. But I love how I operate and the advantages it gives me with portable use.
I worked six stations today in locations covering the entire east coast. All were using a simple wire antenna with no gain. The last one was a former Navy chief petty officer sitting in his camper in Florida.
There’s probably someone reading this blog today that will make a comment like “ I worked Australia today with my KW and beam…what’s the big deal? My answer to that would be that I had just as much fun talking to a guy in a camper, does it make any difference?
I don’t need that to feel successful.
Your statement that: “the real test of a ham radio station is whether it allows you to pursue enough activities to maintain interest in the hobby “ is right on.

VE9KK said...

Yes Julian it's very important to keep the hobby fresh. I find by just trying to keep it fresh it does just that. As for a work space I too have a dedicated area for that. I have been in the process of trying to finish up an Elecraft KPA100. Once that's done there is the KAT100 that is next up to be done. I, like you have very limited space and my 20 meter attic dipole continues to amaze me. Got the KRX3 this week, installed it and am playing with it.....Julian there is just not 48 hours in a day!!!