My Quest for Ham… Part 2

IMG_2197It’s the “big one,” the Cascadia Subduction Zone has finally unleashed its fury with a 9.0 quake! Not really, but I got to see what it might be like if it had…

Scientists believe that the Pacific Northwest is due for a big quake. FEMA is making such an event the focus of a tri-state Pacific Coast simulation this summer and to prepare, the State coordinated one too. I was fortunate to be allowed to watch, as the Union County ARES/RACES team practiced communicating across the state in a grid-down scenario.IMG_2195

Like the mushers in the wilderness, they could communicate farther, and send email-like messages through the use of HF (high frequencies). This capability wasn’t really available to my level of license, so I undertook the task of an upgrade. I studied using that same app on my phone, and learning a major concept here and there. It took about a month until I was ready, and I passed with flying colors.

IMG_2264I started my home upgrade with an antenna. I had been using my mag-mount stuck to the back porch, with the coax wire running through the door. To alleviate that inconvenience, I purchased a common antenna that everyone swears by. While I was on the roof, stuffing plywood in the attic, I spent a little more effort and attached it to the peak of my roof. (I didn’t take many pictures, though.)IMG_2260

The coax sat outside, neglected for a few weeks as the weather got worse, and I got sick. Twice. Once I was on the mend, I decided that I could go no further without first ‘fixing’ my office. I rotated the bench that is my desk, transforming the space from a ‘galley kitchen’ style to an ‘L’ shape. After setting up my computer and accessories, I installed a shelf above with some manly tool-brackets I acquired at a yard sale. This made managing and hiding cables easier, and connected my two work surfaces.IMG_2267

Next, I installed my mobile radio, and was free to remove the mag-mounted tether I had been using for so long. At the test, another local ‘ham’ had mentioned that he had some more advanced gear for sale, so I inquired. He offered to let me “try before I buy” so I met up with him, and brought home everything I needed to get started with HF. A radio, antenna, tuner, power supply, coax, it was like shopping at a retailer! He offered me a screaming deal with one request. “Keep going, get your Extra & VE credentials, so you can proctor exams!” IMG_2273

I came home like a kid from a candy store, buzzed on sugar. Since snow was now decorating roof and ground, I decided to do a temporary antenna. I erected the dipole, hanging the center from an eave, and staking each side down in an “inverted V” configuration. I ran some more coax, hooked up the radio, tuner, a meter set, and got it online!

Granted, it’s going to take me some time to figure all this stuff out, and my setup is definitely less than ideal. However, winter is setting in, so I’ll have more time indoors, and everything I need to get started. Wish me luck!

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One response to “My Quest for Ham… Part 2

  1. Pingback: I can hear California now! (Ham Radio Upgrades) | Josh 'n' More

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