Monday, August 4, 2008

On the Air

Well, I spent the better part of two days sorting out and setting up the radio station. I tried to follow plans and suggestions found in the ARRL Handbook. It shows how a station should be set up for best performance. As much as possible, I followed it and then sat back to admire. It doesn't look all that impressive - as compared to some Hams. Once it was all hooked up and everything in place it was time to give it a try. The evening and into the night of the second day I listened and hunted for someone to converse with. There are several "nets" found on the lower frequencies. and I listened to them carefully. One operating here in Texas was sounding strong, so I tried to jump in. Now, the jump in is usually welcomed if one follows custom and manners in doing it. One announces ones self by giving the call sign (in my case its KD5MSW) and waiting to be invited in. I made several calls with no response. I tried a couple more time and then two different Hams said they could hear someone trying, but the signal was not strong enough for them to get a good "copy." I was a little discouraged, but decided I needed to work on the antenna to get it "up to snuff." The next day I went out in the heat of the day and added additional wires and cleaned all the connections. That evening I listened again. The background level of noise from thunderstorms halfway around the world, electrical devices in my house and in the neighborhood and other stations a long way away almost covered the same group from the night before. Still, I listened and tried to jump in. No one heard me. I guess my little vertical antenna, ground mounted, was not putting out enough. I was supposed to be transmitting with the maximum power the radio is capable of, but maybe it wasn't getting all the way into the "ether's." Maybe what I was doing was "heating up the atmosphere." That means all I was doing was putting radio waves into the surrounding to no avail.

What I need at this point is for some knowledgeable and experienced Ham to come over with some test instruments and check out the antenna and radio. Make sure the radio is putting out, make sure the antenna cabling is not damaged and is passing the electrical energy, check to see if the antenna is defective and shorted in some way. Maybe it just my location. There are places on earth where radio signals seem to get lost. Sounds mysterious, but its really a case of local ore deposits, level above ground, surrounding buildings, and a lot of other variables. Maybe I'm just in one of those places. I hope not. If that's the case, I'll have to set up as a mobile operation. Not necessarily in a car, but able to take my station to the top of a hill, or open flat area away fro buildings and electrical noise. I'll up date at some time in the future on how it turns out. C U later


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