I have been interested in electronics for all of my life. I built my first radio from a kit at age 9. Shortly after that, a neighbor gave me an non working AM tube radio thinking that I might enjoy taking it apart. Instead, I fixed it. Here is a video showing my subsequent visit to the doctor
I've had "The Knack" ever since.
In the '80s I wanted to get into packet radio and started studying morse code for my ham license. Somehow I never managed to get good enough to pass the test. In 2009 after the morse code requirement was dropped, I took the technician test and became a ham. Later, to encourage my son to take the technician test, I studied and passed the general. A couple of months later, the local ham club had testing, so I decided to try for Extra class. I had done a bit of studying, but not much. I still managed to pass the test.
To get my feet wet on HF, I started with an FT-817 which has a maximum output power of 5 watts (3 watts if working high duty cycle modes). I soon found that on SSB it was difficult to find anybody willing to work me down in the noise, so I soon switched to digital modes because even with 3 watts and a wire dipole, I can work anywhere in the world.
I really enjoy JT9 because it can decode a signal down to about 28dB below the noise. Just to give you a comparison, using SSB your signal needs to be at least 10dB above the noise before you can be reliably received. JT9 has nearly a 30dB advantage over SSB. That means that my 1 watt transmission on JT9 has the same punch as 1 kilowatt on SSB. I prefer JT9 over JT65 because JT9, takes one tenth the bandwidth and has a bit more sensitivity. JT65 was designed for VHF moonbounce, and JT9 for HF. JT65 can only give signal reports below 0dB. JT9 can give positive as well as negative signal reports. When using JT9 and you receive a signal report over -10dB, you really should turn down the power. Your huge signal makes it hard for the poor guy trying to dig out that rare DX 150hz way from you.
You might come across me on the air activating a mountain peak for Summits on The Air (www.sota.org.uk). This is an activity where hams attempt to make contact from mountain summits around the world. This is similar to the Islands on the Air activity, except that it is mountains instead of islands. this is a fairly new activity in the US, but is gaining in popularity. Hams that climb to the top of the mountain are called "Activators". Hams that talk to activators are called "Chasers". both activators and chasers earn points for each contact. If you talk to me on a summit, be sure to go to the SOTA website and log your contact.
Here I am with my portable HF station activating Half Dome in Yosemite.
Here I am on the summit of Mount Shasta W6/CN-001 on June 30, 2015 where I made 13 SOTA contacts
Another of my interests is APRS. I often backpack and I carry my portable APRS system with me. I have several different configurations of APRS systems. My main portable system is a FDC-160 radio with an Argentdata opentracker+. I usually use a modified rubber duckie antenna with a tiger tail counterpoise. The tracker and GPS are both powered by the radio battery. If I'm in an area with poor aprs coverage, I have an Open Stub J-Pole that I strap onto my backpack. It is huge and heavy, but has significant gain over the stock handheld antenna.
Even though J-Poles are sensitive to the surroundings, I find that this antenna works amazingly well in this configuration. The biggest problem is that I keep getting hung up on low branches.
Here I am at Little Duck Lake in the Russian Wilderness of Siskiyou County. With my J-Pole hanging in a tree, I could easily hit a repeater 30 milesaway and check into the weekly net for the local ham club.
Here is the APRS track recorded during my Mount Shasta climb in May 2015
The entire Mount Shasta Amateur Radio Club was tracking me the entire way waiting with 'bated breath for a chance to make contact with me once I reached the summit. I managed to make 13 SOTA contacts before my radio battery faded from the cold.
I am the author and maintainer of an APRS-IS auto responder called WXBOT which listens for APRS messages, and sends a weather forecast in return. You can read more about WXBOT at https://sites.google.com/site/ki6wjp/wxbot. To try it out, send an APRS message to WXBOT, and it will return a weather forecast for your location.
Here are the various APRS SSID stations that I use:
Most likely, you will see me on aprs.fi driving around as ki6wjp-9, or hiking as ki6wjp-7.
I upload my logs to LOTW after every session, and I reply to all QSLs no SASE required.
7761831 Last modified: 2016-12-15 19:09:47, 6620 bytes
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