Author Topic: How alive is HAM these days?  (Read 2909 times)

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Offline arno

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #50 on: May 25, 2020, 08:39:06 pm »
Hello,

luckily I could get my license in March this year, a couple of days before the lockdown here. And it was the best thing that could have happened, got a lot of time to do experiments now. I am not doing ham radio for competitions/contests but because there are so many interesting topics, so I strongly recommend it to everyone.

73 de Arno, DL2SSB
 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #51 on: May 26, 2020, 01:45:38 am »
For a comm engineer the technical exam is peanuts, however you should still google for exam simulation software specific to your country.  A few years ago I have had the surprise to find a few obviously wrong answers were counted as the correct ones, and if you answer correctly you will lose points.   :-//  No idea how this was possible, maybe something was lost in translation.  I didn't check if today those wrong answers are still considered the correct ones.

Other reasons that put me down:
- the obligation to make public some personal data like phone, name, location, HAM license

Your Ham callsign, name  & station location, but not your phone number, are indeed publicly available from Amateur Radio records.

The phone number is already available along with your name and address in the "phone book", or its online equivalent.
The local council you pay rates to has your name & address, as has the electricity company, the University you obtained your Degree from, & so on.
Quote

- a HAM license will automatically put one on in the upper half of any 3 letter agency list
Why would they really give a damn about a hobbyist?
If you were a spy or terrorist, you wouldn't care whether you are licenced or not.

Quote
- once registered, a HAM can be fined for various reasons, no idea how often this happens in real life
It happens very rarely, indeed, & you have to break the rules repeatedly for it to even come to the notice of authorities.
Licencing authorities have been radically destaffed in recent years, & are more concerned with commercial work----hams are just a bloody nuisance!
Quote
]

- recently here it was introduced a new law, and the HAM must keep an audio record of all traffic that was done remotely in the last year on the owned station(s)

Hardly a draconian ruling!
Most hams don't have remote stations, so it doesn't apply to them.
Even for those who do, recording equipment that can do such a job is pretty easy to obtain these days.
It's not as if you have to install a massive reel to reel recorder!

In the end, it probably protects you.
If someone hacks your remote station, swears their heads off, slanders prominent people, & so on, the recording will show it wasn't you.
Quote

- the HAM license must be periodically renewed

This is common in most countries.
"Renewed" doen't imply resitting the exam, it just means you have to pay the authority some money, just like you pay for your car registration & driver's  licence.(some countries have longer periods, & others no fee)

Quote
- inside a big city there is not much space for antennas

A valid reason, but many hams find ways to work around this.
Quote

- and the most important one:  I don't really need HAM radio communications, and if I want to experiment with an idea I would most probably experiment indoors, in the free bands and at very low power, so no need for a license.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 06:38:25 am by vk6zgo »
 

Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #52 on: May 26, 2020, 11:56:08 pm »
I live in the NYC metro area and I want to hear some ham activity above the 430-450 MHz band. I not infrequently go to where its my understanding there are ham bands and look as best as I can with a broadband antenna hooked right up to a good LNA. And either RTLSDR or hackRF - what do I hear, nothing. I am in kind of a valley without a direct view of NYC but I do hear a fair amount of stuff (non ham) on other bands such as public service bands from what seems to be far away, including lots of stff from NYC.  I want to hear hams talking on the high UHF bands. Do I need to get my antenna much much higher up (its on my second floor but unfortunately still inside a wood frame building with asphalt roofing)  The way it is now I dont hear anything at all from hams up there. Ever.  Actually, the roofing cant be that bad because I often can see Doppler curves from various satellites, I can receive APT at 137 MHz etc. My best radio directions are due south and kind of northish and eastish, but there there is a ridge which prevents me from seeing the NYC skyline unless i hike a bit to get a bit more elevation.  Id need a big tower to get a clear shot but it might be doable with 60 feet or more. It might be possible with a big fiberglass pole. . West is hopeless.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 11:58:15 pm by cdev »
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Offline tkamiya

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #53 on: May 27, 2020, 01:42:43 am »
Well, I am alive, but my ham station isn't.  I was active in 70s and 80s, mostly on 15 meters band.  Now, I have a long wire antenna and few radios but hasn't been turned on for quite sometime.

I enjoy having an ability to transmit, though I almost never do.  I enjoy buying up old radios from my days and repair them/restore them.  Once that's done, I lose interest and move on to a next piece.
 

Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #54 on: May 27, 2020, 02:03:11 am »
Once i a while when I am listening to hams I'll hear an interesting converation and wish I could join it. I can relate to the puzzle of fixing the radio. Also making antennas is fun. The higher you go in frequency the more gain you can get in a small space :)
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Online james_s

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #55 on: May 27, 2020, 05:30:49 am »
I think ham would have been really amazing prior to the 90s, especially a decade or so before that. I remember even in the 80s making a long distance phone call to talk to grandma was a special thing we got to do once in a while, talking to someone overseas would have been really exotic and very expensive. Making contacts over the air has a bit of "magic" to it even now, but it would have been so much cooler back then. Today I can hop on a forum such as this one and effortlessly talk to people all over the world, doing so by radio is a lot more effort.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #56 on: May 27, 2020, 07:07:53 am »
I live in the NYC metro area and I want to hear some ham activity above the 430-450 MHz band. I not infrequently go to where its my understanding there are ham bands and look as best as I can with a broadband antenna hooked right up to a good LNA. And either RTLSDR or hackRF - what do I hear, nothing. I am in kind of a valley without a direct view of NYC but I do hear a fair amount of stuff (non ham) on other bands such as public service bands from what seems to be far away, including lots of stff from NYC.  I want to hear hams talking on the high UHF bands. Do I need to get my antenna much much higher up (its on my second floor but unfortunately still inside a wood frame building with asphalt roofing)  The way it is now I dont hear anything at all from hams up there. Ever.  Actually, the roofing cant be that bad because I often can see Doppler curves from va rious satellites, I can receive APT at 137 MHz etc. My best radio directions are due south and kind of northish and eastish, but there there is a ridge which prevents me from seeing the NYC skyline unless i hike a bit to get a bit more elevation.  Id need a big tower to get a clear shot but it might be doable with 60 feet or more. It might be possible with a big fiberglass pole. . West is hopeless.

One good reason for not hearing much ham activity on the bands above 430-450MHz, is because there isn't much!

Most work at these higher frequencies is done by interested groups who set themselves up to try to extend distance records & the like.
"Ad hoc" contacts as we are used to on HF, & even 2 metres, are already fairly rare on 70cm, & pretty much non-existent on 23cm & above.
Even though mainstream manufacturers have made equipment for 23cm, the "take up" is very small, indeed.

At the end of the day, hams  can only do so much, within their bugetary & time constraints.
The commercial activity on the other hand, is available 24/7, as it is meant to make a profit.
 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #57 on: May 27, 2020, 07:53:26 am »
I think ham would have been really amazing prior to the 90s, especially a decade or so before that. I remember even in the 80s making a long distance phone call to talk to grandma was a special thing we got to do once in a while, talking to someone overseas would have been really exotic and very expensive. Making contacts over the air has a bit of "magic" to it even now, but it would have been so much cooler back then. Today I can hop on a forum such as this one and effortlessly talk to people all over the world, doing so by radio is a lot more effort.

Self dialled long distance (STD) & International calls (ISD) were mainstream in Australia by the late 1960s, except in fairly remote areas.
They came at a price premium over local calls, hence were not an everyday activity of individuals, except for calling "Granny" on a special occasion.
Many people used STD & ISD daily in their jobs, as businesses have bigger budgets, so talking to someone overseas was not at all "exotic" to such folk.

I think the appeal of calling CQ on a HF band has more of the Forrest Gump effect: "like a box of chocolates-----you never know what you'll get!"
Even if, say, you have a "sched" with a given overseas station in one country, another station from another country may "break in" & join the conversation.

On one occasion, I joined a conversation on 20m between another Australian (VK) station, a South African (ZS) station & one from New Zealand (ZL).
This was a very enjoyable contact.

Could anyone try to do anything like that with a cellphone?
The nearest thing to that is a forum like this one, or QRZ.com.-----& HF radio is "real time!"
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 07:55:19 am by vk6zgo »
 

Offline vk4ffab

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #58 on: May 27, 2020, 09:02:33 am »
I live in the NYC metro area and I want to hear some ham activity above the 430-450 MHz band. I not infrequently go to where its my understanding there are ham bands and look as best as I can with a broadband antenna hooked right up to a good LNA. And either RTLSDR or hackRF - what do I hear, nothing. I am in kind of a valley without a direct view of NYC but I do hear a fair amount of stuff (non ham) on other bands such as public service bands from what seems to be far away, including lots of stff from NYC.  I want to hear hams talking on the high UHF bands. Do I need to get my antenna much much higher up (its on my second floor but unfortunately still inside a wood frame building with asphalt roofing)  The way it is now I dont hear anything at all from hams up there. Ever.  Actually, the roofing cant be that bad because I often can see Doppler curves from va rious satellites, I can receive APT at 137 MHz etc. My best radio directions are due south and kind of northish and eastish, but there there is a ridge which prevents me from seeing the NYC skyline unless i hike a bit to get a bit more elevation.  Id need a big tower to get a clear shot but it might be doable with 60 feet or more. It might be possible with a big fiberglass pole. . West is hopeless.

One good reason for not hearing much ham activity on the bands above 430-450MHz, is because there isn't much!

Most work at these higher frequencies is done by interested groups who set themselves up to try to extend distance records & the like.
"Ad hoc" contacts as we are used to on HF, & even 2 metres, are already fairly rare on 70cm, & pretty much non-existent on 23cm & above.
Even though mainstream manufacturers have made equipment for 23cm, the "take up" is very small, indeed.

At the end of the day, hams  can only do so much, within their bugetary & time constraints.
The commercial activity on the other hand, is available 24/7, as it is meant to make a profit.

The other issue with VHF and up is the workable distance. On 2m with a 30w FM tranceiver and a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the house, i might have workable simplex range of about 10km. 10km not bad, but not good either. So draw a circle around my house with a diameter of 20km and there might be 30 hams in that circle, again not bad, l live in a city where there are lots of hams. But out of those 30 people, I know none of them and have had a qso with 4 of them and out of that only 1 of them more than a few times and a sum total of 0 contacts on 2m simplex.

This is not because people are not active, we are just active with very different things. So start making those workable distances shorter and shorter with higher frequencies and the chances of having someone to talk to become less and less. And to take your forest gump analogy, HF is a much bigger box of chocolates and its all about time verses effort. If i have an hour to play radio, will i play it where I have a couple of % chance or where I have 50% chance? This is why 40m and 20m are the go to bands for most people, the chances of success are greater than anywhere else.

And where you live and what the hams there are into really matters. If I wanted to play local, and I could play local if I wanted to, I would join the local club and do TV with them, or repeaters or Boy Scouts or microwaves, all things the local club is into that do not interest me at all. Oh and fox hunting, that is also a big thing at the local club. All good ham radio things, just not my things.
 

Offline imo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #59 on: May 27, 2020, 09:49:11 am »
On 2m/70cm band with a 4W handheld and 2 el. yagi you may easily make 200+km QSOs. It requires to go to an elevated QTH, however. For example the SOTA activity is your friend then (and good for your health as well)  :D

https://www.sota.org.uk/

And there are many 2m/70cm satellites flying around you may work with el cheapo equipment. And with 2.4GHz/10.5GHz equipment you may make QO-100 QSOs over the half of the globe..

https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geo/eshail-2/
websdr QO-100: https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

PS: the new digital modes are extremely popular today, especially among younger hams. For example the FT8 mode - with 5-20W into a crappy antenna you can make DX QSOs even under poor propagation conditions..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSJT_(amateur_radio_software)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 10:35:42 am by imo »
 

Offline imo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #60 on: May 27, 2020, 10:00:09 am »
..
The other issue with VHF and up is the workable distance. On 2m with a 30w FM tranceiver and a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the house, i might have workable simplex range of about 10km. 10km not bad, but not good either.
It is something wrong with your setup (or your QTH is really a poor one). With ~30W FM on 2m with a vertical on a roof (ie. X50 dual band antenna) and good cabling 5x longer range is pretty common in rather flat areas. With a 3-5 el. yagi on the roof and 50-100W people work over repeaters in ~150km distance.

PS: try with an yagi on your roof. Even a simple 2el yagi is better than a vertical.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 10:40:11 am by imo »
 
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Offline m3vuv

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #61 on: May 27, 2020, 11:11:00 am »
man after my own heart,most of my pleasure comes from restoring/repairing radios,it gives me more enjoyment than uswing them on air.
 

Online bd139

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #62 on: May 27, 2020, 11:16:40 am »
Exactly. That was the most interesting bit :)
 

Offline vk4ffab

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #63 on: May 27, 2020, 11:35:15 am »
..
The other issue with VHF and up is the workable distance. On 2m with a 30w FM tranceiver and a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the house, i might have workable simplex range of about 10km. 10km not bad, but not good either.
It is something wrong with your setup (or your QTH is really a poor one). With ~30W FM on 2m with a vertical on a roof (ie. X50 dual band antenna) and good cabling 5x longer range is pretty common in rather flat areas. With a 3-5 el. yagi on the roof and 50-100W people work over repeaters in ~150km distance.

PS: try with an yagi on your roof. Even a simple 2el yagi is better than a vertical.

Sure i can get 50 to 100km plus to some repeaters on mountain tops, but i was talking useable simplex in all directions, not just one narrow path that is optimal. I also live on the side of a hill in the shadow of mountains, so 10km west of me are mountains and 10km east is the ocean, 10km south is another mountain, mt cootha where the tv broadcasters are and 30km north of me are the glasshouse mountains. The east cost of Australia is not flat, its dominated by the largest mountain range in the world, the great dividing range. LOS range, Its all about geography.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 11:41:10 am by vk4ffab »
 
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Offline imo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #64 on: May 27, 2020, 12:17:48 pm »
..The east cost of Australia is not flat, its dominated by the largest mountain range in the world, the great dividing range. LOS range, Its all about geography.
Indeed VHF/UHF is about altitude.. With mountains around you may try with SOTA activity, many hams I know are possessed with that activity, activating hills every weekend..
PS: in country I live the top 7 activators are with 1000-4000 points :)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 12:35:23 pm by imo »
 

Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #65 on: May 27, 2020, 12:57:17 pm »
Ahh.. okay, that means that I won't be able to listen on a calling frequency and have much luck.  That answers my question, I'm not hearing people because there are't the kinds of QSOS there are on lower bands.

Okay so at least my equipment is okay. I think an investment in a NanoVNA will be a good one in terms of being able to make antennas work well. Then if QSOs exist, I'll likely have a better chance. It will pay for itself in savings. 

I may be able to improve my luck with some extra height. I can hear VHF weather stations a very long distance to my east away sometimes, depending on the antenna, (NOAA weather radio is 162 MHz here in the US) I may have even heard some from Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The ridge to my east isnt that high and its ridgeline is all trees, and the real ridge is quite a bit lower than the treetops. So I think that if I went up a bit, I might luck out.

It's certainly worth trying with some kind of temporary pole mounted omnidirectional antenna.

I'd like to try my luck with temporary setups. (cheaper!)

One good reason for not hearing much ham activity on the bands above 430-450MHz, is because there isn't much!

Most work at these higher frequencies is done by interested groups who set themselves up to try to extend distance records & the like.
"Ad hoc" contacts as we are used to on HF, & even 2 metres, are already fairly rare on 70cm, & pretty much non-existent on 23cm & above. Even though mainstream manufacturers have made equipment for 23cm, the "take up" is very small, indeed.

At the end of the day, hams  can only do so much, within their bugetary & time constraints.
The commercial activity on the other hand, is available 24/7, as it is meant to make a profit.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 01:40:35 pm by cdev »
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #66 on: May 27, 2020, 01:23:35 pm »
..
The other issue with VHF and up is the workable distance. On 2m with a 30w FM tranceiver and a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the house, i might have workable simplex range of about 10km. 10km not bad, but not good either.
It is something wrong with your setup (or your QTH is really a poor one). With ~30W FM on 2m with a vertical on a roof (ie. X50 dual band antenna) and good cabling 5x longer range is pretty common in rather flat areas. With a 3-5 el. yagi on the roof and 50-100W people work over repeaters in ~150km distance.

PS: try with an yagi on your roof. Even a simple 2el yagi is better than a vertical.

Sure i can get 50 to 100km plus to some repeaters on mountain tops, but i was talking useable simplex in all directions, not just one narrow path that is optimal. I also live on the side of a hill in the shadow of mountains, so 10km west of me are mountains and 10km east is the ocean, 10km south is another mountain, mt cootha where the tv broadcasters are and 30km north of me are the glasshouse mountains. The east cost of Australia is not flat, its dominated by the largest mountain range in the world, the great dividing range. LOS range, Its all about geography.

Still, Rob, there is damn all between you & New Zealand!
During the tropospheric ducting season, "all bets are off", so you may, if you are there at just the right time,  work a ZL on 2m!

You are not in the good position of many of us in VK6, where  there is a very long coastal plain, with the Escarpment running parallel to the coast, for a long way.

I can usually communicate simplex out to around 25-30km.
I sometimes log into the 2m SSB net here in Perth, & even with the 20dB penalty from cross polarisation, (I am using my vertical) I can work most of the stations involved.

Of course, a couple of stations are up on the Escarpment, so they "romp" in!
I haven't done this for a while, as I had a break from most stuff after I was fitted with a "pretend knee"! ;D

Ducting is the big winner on 2m, though.

Each Summer, stations trigger repeaters very long distances away, sometimes followed by simplex contacts, but, sadly, sometimes followed by nothing----- the one or two hams in a town are at work, on another band, or "having a life outside ham radio".

When TV was all analog, at the Bunbury caravan park, I remember watching Perth TV stations from ch2, up to & including SBS on 528MHz one Summer, using the TV set "rabbit's ears.
Bunbury is about 200km from Bickley where the TV Stations were.

In the very early 60s, when the only TV stations in WA were in Perth, people in Southwest towns would invest in horrifically complex & expensive "phased arrays" mounted on 50ft popup masts, in the hope of seeing a noisy signal from the city stations.

They did get usable signals a lot of the time, & great ones in the Summer!




 
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Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #67 on: May 27, 2020, 01:54:45 pm »
I just remembered I have the program 'splat' installed. (under Linux) I had this working great a long time ago.

https://www.qsl.net/kd2bd/splat.html also, this looks interesting!

https://onetransistor.blogspot.com/search/label/SPLAT

I have to find the various files it needs which are scattered around my hard drive .


This should be exactly what I need

My situation is a bit like your situation, vk6zgo where I am kind of in a bit of a valley.  I should double check the elevation of the actual stone ridgeline that is blocking me with a good GPS.


 a telescoping pole might be affordable?

$ splat

       --==[ SPLAT! v1.4.0 Available Options... ]==--

       -t txsite(s).qth (max of 4 with -c, max of 30 with -L)
       -r rxsite.qth
       -c plot coverage of TX(s) with an RX antenna at X feet/meters AGL
       -L plot path loss map of TX based on an RX at X feet/meters AGL
       -s filename(s) of city/site file(s) to import (5 max)
       -b filename(s) of cartographic boundary file(s) to import (5 max)
       -p filename of terrain profile graph to plot
       -e filename of terrain elevation graph to plot
       -h filename of terrain height graph to plot
       -H filename of normalized terrain height graph to plot
       -l filename of path loss graph to plot
       -o filename of topographic map to generate (.ppm)
       -u filename of user-defined terrain file to import
       -d sdf file directory path (overrides path in ~/.splat_path file)
       -m earth radius multiplier
       -n do not plot LOS paths in .ppm maps
       -N do not produce unnecessary site or obstruction reports
       -f frequency for Fresnel zone calculation (MHz)
       -R modify default range for -c or -L (miles/kilometers)
      -sc display smooth rather than quantized contour levels
      -db threshold beyond which contours will not be displayed
      -nf do not plot Fresnel zones in height plots
      -fz Fresnel zone clearance percentage (default = 60)
      -gc ground clutter height (feet/meters)
     -ngs display greyscale topography as white in .ppm files
     -erp override ERP in .lrp file (Watts)
     -ano name of alphanumeric output file
     -ani name of alphanumeric input file
     -udt name of user defined terrain input file
     -kml generate Google Earth (.kml) compatible output
     -geo generate an Xastir .geo georeference file (with .ppm output)
     -dbm plot signal power level contours rather than field strength
   -gpsav preserve gnuplot temporary working files after SPLAT! execution
  -metric employ metric rather than imperial units for all user I/O
  -olditm invoke older ITM propagation model rather than the newer ITWOM

« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 02:20:10 pm by cdev »
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Offline imo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #68 on: May 27, 2020, 02:02:36 pm »
Try 50MHz these days. There are openings and you can make 1500-2000km SSB QSOs (first hop) with a dipole and 20-50W. With FT8 on 6m people are DXing almost every day (EU here).
 

Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #69 on: May 27, 2020, 03:05:34 pm »
Really?

Arggh..  I have two receivers and it seems as if both are so very noisy at 50-54 MHz. with so very many birdies.

Time for an upgrade, perhaps.
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Offline imo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #70 on: May 27, 2020, 04:57:16 pm »
Really?

Arggh..  I have two receivers and it seems as if both are so very noisy at 50-54 MHz. with so very many birdies.

Time for an upgrade, perhaps.

You may tune your rig to 50.313 or 50.323 USB and run the FT8 WSJT-X, with an external mic close to the rig's speaker you will get the messages. When you enable the "pskreporter" you will see all stations you've received on a map.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 04:58:53 pm by imo »
 

Offline cdev

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #71 on: May 27, 2020, 06:00:05 pm »
After a little experimentation, its obvious to me that I need a better antenna, one thats cut for the 6M band.. and I need to make a little band pass filter using RFSIM99. It doesn't have to be super fancy.

I have no right to whine until after ive done that and failed. It's also high time to get a ham license and then a better radio.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #72 on: May 28, 2020, 05:19:27 am »
Perhaps folks will find this interesting, particularly page 24 on.

http://brisbanevhfgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Qld-VHFer-Issue03.pdf
 

Offline vk4ffab

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #73 on: May 29, 2020, 03:56:22 am »
..
The other issue with VHF and up is the workable distance. On 2m with a 30w FM tranceiver and a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the house, i might have workable simplex range of about 10km. 10km not bad, but not good either.
It is something wrong with your setup (or your QTH is really a poor one). With ~30W FM on 2m with a vertical on a roof (ie. X50 dual band antenna) and good cabling 5x longer range is pretty common in rather flat areas. With a 3-5 el. yagi on the roof and 50-100W people work over repeaters in ~150km distance.

PS: try with an yagi on your roof. Even a simple 2el yagi is better than a vertical.

Sure i can get 50 to 100km plus to some repeaters on mountain tops, but i was talking useable simplex in all directions, not just one narrow path that is optimal. I also live on the side of a hill in the shadow of mountains, so 10km west of me are mountains and 10km east is the ocean, 10km south is another mountain, mt cootha where the tv broadcasters are and 30km north of me are the glasshouse mountains. The east cost of Australia is not flat, its dominated by the largest mountain range in the world, the great dividing range. LOS range, Its all about geography.

Still, Rob, there is damn all between you & New Zealand!
During the tropospheric ducting season, "all bets are off", so you may, if you are there at just the right time,  work a ZL on 2m!

You are not in the good position of many of us in VK6, where  there is a very long coastal plain, with the Escarpment running parallel to the coast, for a long way.

I can usually communicate simplex out to around 25-30km.
I sometimes log into the 2m SSB net here in Perth, & even with the 20dB penalty from cross polarisation, (I am using my vertical) I can work most of the stations involved.

Of course, a couple of stations are up on the Escarpment, so they "romp" in!
I haven't done this for a while, as I had a break from most stuff after I was fitted with a "pretend knee"! ;D

Ducting is the big winner on 2m, though.

Each Summer, stations trigger repeaters very long distances away, sometimes followed by simplex contacts, but, sadly, sometimes followed by nothing----- the one or two hams in a town are at work, on another band, or "having a life outside ham radio".

When TV was all analog, at the Bunbury caravan park, I remember watching Perth TV stations from ch2, up to & including SBS on 528MHz one Summer, using the TV set "rabbit's ears.
Bunbury is about 200km from Bickley where the TV Stations were.

In the very early 60s, when the only TV stations in WA were in Perth, people in Southwest towns would invest in horrifically complex & expensive "phased arrays" mounted on 50ft popup masts, in the hope of seeing a noisy signal from the city stations.

They did get usable signals a lot of the time, & great ones in the Summer!

Actually that is true, ZL is certainly an option as is up and down the coast when conditions allow. Here is a little secret, I am working on a 2m WSPR transmitter/ Beacon to add to my things to do though summer. Do not tell anyone I have gone and done such a thing HAHAHA. I would add 6m as well, actually it will have 6m capability, its just my license does not allow me to use that part of 6m and will have to wait until I have upgraded. I am looking at say 5 to 10w into a low gain vertical, so I don't expect to see great results, but it will give me something to do and give that antenna some use.
 

Offline vk4ffab

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Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #74 on: May 29, 2020, 04:04:46 am »
..The east cost of Australia is not flat, its dominated by the largest mountain range in the world, the great dividing range. LOS range, Its all about geography.
Indeed VHF/UHF is about altitude.. With mountains around you may try with SOTA activity, many hams I know are possessed with that activity, activating hills every weekend..
PS: in country I live the top 7 activators are with 1000-4000 points :)

I actually used to participate in WWFF quite a lot. SOTA is not really a thing in VK4. The summit points are low and the difficulty of doing many of these 1 and 2 point summits are very high. So the effort and reward are quite low. I have done a few of the more drive up and short walk peaks, but as for locals answering on VHF, even with a lot of self promotion the only person I ever spoke with was Rick 4RF and i dont think he is even doing radio anymore. Even with the WWFF, very few VK4's took any interest, so i would time my activation's for openings to VK2, 3 and 5 on 40m to try and have some success.

For the last year, i have pretty much been homebrewing non stop and not doing much radio at all. I now have some stuff built that I want to put on air and now the lockdowns are stopping, I will start getting out with some of the gear I made and do some WWFF activation's. Oh and I am not fit enough to do any real SOTA climbing, I have arthritis and walking on uneven ground is difficult.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 04:08:20 am by vk4ffab »
 


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