Ham Radio History
I have been a licenced Ham Radio operator since 2002 - but I have been interested in Radio since 1981 when I was lucky enough to be able to operate HF radio pretty via my schools Army Cadet training course.
Then (1980-1984) I used a C13 - which was considered one of the better radios available to cadet Signals groups.
For slightly easier comminucations we also carried A41
- I think I remember the official documentation saying they had a 1-1.5 Mile range - I managed to work another school in Cubria 35 miles away.... Mountain top to Mountain top.
I sat and passed my UK R.A.E. City and guilds in Oman - home study and reading as much as I could. I was very happy when I got the news that I could now get an (old system) Class-B License.
Alas I was living overseas - and I did not want to present a Class-B licence in case it was rejected - so I straight away started learning Morse - asked the RSGB if one of the most expierienced Radio Ops in the gulf was eligable to examine me for CW - they agreed and within 2 months I had passed my 12 wpm Morse Test.
I now was a UK Class-A licence holder.
The process is not as painful as you may imagine - a few forms, matbe a quick chat (to make sure you are not looking like someone who would setup a Reggae portable FM station), photos and a lot of patience.
First Proper HF Rig
I had been using the A4 club gear - which at the time was a Yaesu FT920 - so of course I bought a FT920, used from a nice gentlemen in Cornwall. I think it only took 6 months to stop reaking of the Cigarettes he had been smoking.
The 920 was a decent rig - and with the assistance of an Hy-gain TH7 (the house was about to be demolished - I just relocated the tower and antenna to speed up the process) I had quite a lot of contacts in a short time.
With the discovery of Contests - I then had a yearning for power - around then a old and much abused Drake LB-4 appeared locally - and I now had power !!
The Drake was a magnificant amp - solid, dependable - but very slow to change bands with - and despite a large dummy load - it was the type of thing in a contest that used to make me say "I want a solid state linear" - followed by "if I could afford one"
If transmit power was like an addiction then maybe there would be more challenge working QRP, and so a small FT-817 ended up in Muscat.
5W may be great in the US or in the EU - but with the nearest contact easily 3,000 kms away - QRP and me in 2004 fell out big time.
In 2003-2006 I was very active in CW - trying my hand at lots of the contests that about. The old working week in the Middle East Sat-Wednesday always meant that I missed 16 hours of any large contest - and the lack of a low band antenna usually meant that when it went dark I stopped operating.
But CW was (and still is) a great way to conduct a QSO - alas the FT-920 was wide open with no filters - and poor image rejection.
I popped in a Colins filter 400hz I think - which helped, but it was time for a new rig.
Ok for some mobile/camping work - but I never got on with this radio - too small, too many menu's in menu's ... It was a mistake on my part - and one from which I went QRT... for 6 years.
But (as the song goes).... I'm back (I'll let you google the rest of the lyrics)
If you insist Alien Song
Wow the world of radio has moved on - more rigs, more features - more cost !!
I was tempted by SDR - but the computer requirement rather dulls that enjoyment although I believe SDR will be the future of most Radio.
The big Yaesu and Icom stations looked great - but I wanted something a little more individual - plus with great performance.
I had been using some Ten-Tec radio's for some research projects - and did look at their current ham line up, but nothing really caught my eye; I had been aware of Elecraft for some time - and now my attention focused on their products.
It is difficult to know which radio to start with - they all looked appealing.
I like the idea of building a radio - it's just I know I would make a mess of it.... and asking someone to build it seems a lot like cheating.
This looked interesting - normal controls but with SDR functionality, 10W (now up to 15 on low bands) - so a little more power than the Ft-817 expierience.
Good CW capability - and the ability to send and receive PSK and RTTY - sending using a paddle.
That was it - I needed to try this.
10 days (and a slight argument with Elecraft regarding the eligibility of me importing a radio into Oman - of course you can... you just need paperwork & patience)
It was a great expierence. The manual was simply excellent - I made 1 stupid mistake (due to me not reading the manual correctly) - and apart from that - no issues.
It is a push-together not solder kit. And from beginning to end probably took me 4 hours, I paced myself 2 hours each evening.
No magic smoke !! Always a good sign.
Operating was fun - great receive - transmit was always going to be a little difficult as I then had not decent antenna system.
With a BuddyPole and a Car battery - I managed to rattle off quite a few QSO's ranging from Indonesia, Russia, Spain as well as some southern EU countries. Being by the sea for sure helped - as did a resonant antenna.
With the try beore you buy project of the KX3 a success - and a milestone birthday just approaching - the K3-S and some power were ordered.