I’ve been playing with a bunch of new technology this past month. Andy KE5KOF bought one of those amazing Android phone plus UHF FM and DMR radio combinations and has been having lots of fun with it. I get to play with it for short intervals when I can get it away from him. This may be the future of HTs! ICOM started it, I think, with the ID-31 and then ID-51 Dstar radios. You can load the entire USA Dstar repeater list into files on an SD card, and then pull up code plugs (programming files) and load them into the radio whenever you like. Plus, the radio has GPS and you can have it search for and create a list of the nearest repeaters. Very cool. I have one of the original ID-51’s – it’s about five years old now.
This new Android phone/radio combination goes a step beyond. It uses either WiFi or a cellular data connection (LTE) to access the RFinder database and show you the current nearby DMR and FM UHF repeaters. So it’s always up to date.
Many of you may be familiar with the various “spotter” networks operating on the HF bands. These are beacon and reverse beacon setups, and also listening stations that report to a web site whenever they hear a—usually digital—station. You can go to the web site to see where your signal is being heard, which gives you an idea of what countries or States you can work.
Some of the newer radios and control software suites can access these networks. With those tools, you can go straight to the bands and stations on the air and start working them, reducing or eliminating all the searching around to find out which bands are open. Pretty amazing stuff.
Speaking of the bands, I’ve been working Australia on 20m with 0.2 watts of power. Yes, 200 milliwatts. Please don’t tell me “the bands are dead.” Hogwash. More challenging? For sure. Dead? Not so. Some nights 6m is absolutely insane. This is the time of year for Sporadic E. There was an article in a recent ham magazine about “airplane scatter” communications and the summertime phenomena of tropospheric ducting. All very cool modes to try. And remember, technician class operators have phone privileges in the 10m band. You just have to get on the air and try! Go ahead, put down your knitting needles or whatever else you are doing, and get on the air! Hundreds of depressed hams are tuning around in “listen” mode moaning about the bands being dead, just waiting you to put out your CQ! You might just create your very first pile-up.
In other news, the “By-Laws” committee met and great progress is being made. Should be just a few more months and we’ll have something for the Board and membership to approve.
See you at the meeting!