Amateur Radio

It has been a challenge having radio of any kind in the valley where my home is. The hills on either side are so steep and tall that very little radio gets in or out. Even AM/FM is a challenge: only some evenings can I tune up that sleepy NPR monotone we all are so familiar with.

I first tested for my Technician ticket in December of 2010. I mostly listened to the VHF repeaters outside of Seattle for more than a year before my first-ever QSO. At the time, I had an Icom 2200 2m I was given by my uncle Fairbanks. His promise was, “If you get your license, I’ll get you a radio.” That hand-me-down mobile has been great. I still have it.

A quick, but well-needed review: Due to a ‘packaging error’ on my part when I put the 2200 in storage, it sat in a box that had been near a very leaky window. The plastic bag that I poorly wrapped the radio in caught the rain water and was almost filled. The 2200 sat in a full bag of water…for two months. Catching myself on the way to the dumpster, I figured I might as well try the unit just to see the sparks fly before I chuck it. I opened it up and let it dry in the sun for a few days. It turned on. It transmitted. It appeared to be functioning perfectly! I am afraid to transmit on the air with it, but I am going to keep it and test it sometime – just in case. Maybe this isn’t as much of a miracle as I think it is, but I still find it neat. I am worried about a few drops from my jacket sleeve falling onto the screen of my Kenwood – and here is the Icom still working after soaking for two months.

In 2013 I completed my General. I currently run barefoot on an Icom 735 (usually around 35w) into an MFJ 102′ dipole. An MFJ auto tuner completes the HF system. A 440w solar system keeps the house battery topped off.

I have a Yaesu 2900 that I have kept in the house but I am not impressed with it for a variety of reasons. There is a Kenwood 218 in the truck that also isn’t doing too well. It is rated as mil-spec for ruggedness, but I think the dust has taken a toll on the circuity. An Icom V-80 sport rounds out the amateur equipment showcase. I am not impressed with this unit as a whole, but this is my “Baofeng”. It does perform the job I bought it for. (Maybe I just can’t be impressed with any radio?)

As of May 2016, I am now an Amateur Extra. After reading that damned green book cover-to-cover (twice) and help from online study tools, I successfully completely the Amateur Extra test just under the wire for the new question pool.

I am excited for the future of amateur radio on the homestead. Currently, it is not far from a duct tape production. As equipment is upgraded and better systems are installed, I’ll be sure to update this section someday.


To read more about the homestead and other adventures, please consider my book  Poorman Living