I’m a radio amateur based in Chelmsford, Essex. Radio Amateur’ing is a communications and technical hobby enjoyed by many and endured by the rest. Making contacts by radio – either direct, via repeaters, through satellites or bouncing signals off the moon is what we do.
In the Shack, I use a Kenwood TS-590SG with an 80m Doublet, 20/15/10m Fan-Dipole and a 40m/30m 1/4-wave vertical. VHF/UHF is taken care of with a 6m 3ele yagi and a V-2000. On HF, I tend to use CW and datamodes such as JT/PSK/RTTY the most.
When the weather is good, I venture outdoors to operate portable with either an Elecraft KX3 or an FT-857D. I typically use a 10m fishing-pole to support a Linked Dipole in an Inverted-V configuration. When /P, it’s a mixture of CW+SSB – either QRP with the KX3 or the full 100w with the FT-857D. I usually call at 16-18wpm, which is my comfort-zone for a typical QSO – but will adjust my speed if requested.
We Hams love our logs, lists, charts and stats – for this I have written a few logging programs: If you’re looking for an all-in-one logging and digimode application, you can download PZTLog (free) plus the more advanced PZTLog Pro. A more basic (and free) solution is uLog and there’s support for Android tablets by way of tabLog – this is used for my /P activities and can import into most other logging apps via ADIF. It even has its own Callsign/Name/QTH database (imported from PZTLog) so that information from previous QSOs can be auto-filled while you are in the field and away from the interwebs.
For some educational fun and demonstration purposes, my Morse Mouse program is a handy program to have at a club event.
It’s designed to demonstrate Morse Code to youngsters (and the young-at-heart) at events. By sending a series of letters in Morse Code, the program aims to encourage an interest in the mode through skill as well as memory.
A random letter is played in Morse Code and the user has to press the corresponding letter/key within a set time – The fun element is that each correct answer moves the Morse Mouse closer to the cheese, an incorrect guesses move it further away.
My interest in amateur radio started when I was 12 with lots of listening on HF+2m along with learning CW – and managing to catch the peak of solar-cycle 22. Originally intending to take the RAE in 1994, it wasn’t until I turned 20 that I got my “ticket” after passing what was then known as the City & Guilds RAE and the Morse test to get the old Class A licence.
Between 2004 and 2008, I was pretty much “QRT” from the hobby save for the occasional repeater QSO. Things changed when I decided that HF deserved a better look after having not bothered with it during the first few years of being licensed… an FT-817ND was purchased – bigger/better radios followed which, traditionally, have all been Yaesu but as of April 2016 the main Shack radio is a Kenwood TS-590SG which was followed a month later by the infamous Elecraft KX3.
I don’t belong to any “traditional” radio club – after some years in the hobby I don’t feel it a requirement to be a part of one (or three), and most of the local ones cater for a demographic that I’m a generation away from… There are some exceptions, but most clubs out there are set in their ways, unable to adapt, refuse to embrace new ideas or flaty have no interest in putting on “operating” events. Those that refuse to adapt will die – taking this hobby with it!