Since I got my callsign, I’ve been having some fun with several aspects of amateur radio.
My primary motivation was mobile operation, and I’ve been most active in this area, largely because it’s something I do during otherwise “dead time” in the car. Most of my activity has been via local repeater stations – mostly GB3BN, GB3FN, GB3RD and GB3NE, though I often call into other repeaters when I’m further afield.
It’s a good exercise in preparation, since you pretty much need to have everything pre-programmed into the radio in advance to make sure you have the right frequencies and CTCSS tones set in advance – it’s too distracting to try and enter all the settings while on the move.
For the benefit of non-hams, CTCSS tones are inaudible tones that are transmitted along with your audio which identifies your transmission as being intended for that repeater, rather than just something that happens to be on that frequency. A typical repeater, using GB3FN as an example, has to be programmed into your radio with a transmit frequency of 434.975MHz, receive frequency of 433.375MHz, and a CTCSS tone of 82.5Hz. You can see why I have them all pre-programmed!
Most common contacts so far have been with Phil G1LKJ, Richard M3UVR, John G0NOK, Julian M3XPJ, Ian G8NXJ, MIke G4KFK and Pat G4OUC (I think I got all those callsigns right!)
For those interested, the mobile rig is a Yaesu FT-8900 and Maldol HMC-4 quad band antenna. Highly recommended by me, and seems to be highly rated by most people I talk to.
I’ve been less active on HF, largely due to the need to install a “proper” antenna at home. Some perseverance has got me a reasonable wire antenna in the back garden that’s largely invisible, which seems to work moderately well. I’ve made a number of contacts into southern and eastern Europe so far, with Transylvania being the SSB (voice) distance record so far. I’ve also got a portable dipole that I can set up in 15 minutes or so which will let me experiment a bit more.
Emergency and Event Support
I’m involved with the Hampshire and Berkshire 4×4 Response Group, and have been talking to the local Raynet groups about how the two groups can work together to improve volunteer response in the area. Encouraging comments so far!