Amateur Radio - Fri, Sep 13, 2013

Got my ticket in 2001 with the call KG6EYC.  Bought a FT-817 which I used for QRP PSK31 along with a Buxcomm soundcard interface.  Graduated pharmacy school in 2002 and bought a shiny new IC746Pro.  The VFO encoder died so I shipped it back and got it fixed (and a few hundred dollars poorer).  Used it for field day the next year and it died AGAIN.  Shelved it for about 6 years just disgusted at it and the hobby in general.  Everything used serial ports in a USB world, software was klunky and stupid, and PSK31 was the only common-place digital mode out there.

Fast forward to the Japan earthquake/tsunami event.  Decided that maybe I should get back into amateur radio for the emcomm aspect.  Dug out the 746Pro, paid a few hundred bucks to get the VFO fixed.  Strung the G5RV Jr on the tower.  Realized that software for amateur radio had evolved to the point where it was actually awesome.  USB CAT was standard, and the serial port had finally died a horrible death.  My FT817 worked well, but lacked DSP (which is needed here in the city).  My 746Pro had DSP but the interface was kludgy and hard to adjust the filtering on the fly.

Saw all the hype about the Elecraft KX3.  Ordered one.  Fell in love with not only the interface but the fact that it was entirely firmware driven (yay upgrades with new features), and the owners of the company actually frequented their mailing lists/yahoo groups taking real life feedback and making their products what the customers wanted, not what they wanted.  Plus its made in Aptos, CA vs some other country.

The first part of 2013 I took the CWOps academy to learn morse code after studying on my own and not really going anywhere.  Began to “get it” more and more as the classes progressed.  Saw the limitations of my 746Pro and how 10 years even in radios makes a difference.

Saved my money to buy a K3/100.  Since its the big older brother to my KX3, the learning curve was almost zero from getting it to using it.  Realized that the K3 is pretty much everything I could ever want in a radio especially digital modes and the ability to add on filters, goodies, etc.

Joined a bunch of ham radio clubs like SKCC, Fists, NAQCC, FPQRP.  Made my first CW contact with KD2DEJ on 3/14/13 using a straight key.  The CW operators in all these clubs are super understanding to us slow newbies, so that helped grow my CW confidence on the air.  Joined the Second Class Operators Club and realized how awesome they all are.  Applied and got the SOC Club Call K6SOC to represent the Second Class CW Operators of California.

In April of 2014 I decided to get the P3/SVGA and the Sub-Rx for the K3.  Having used an LP-Pan2 for a few months, it was nice to not have the shack PC go into overdrive every time I wanted to use the panadapter.  Here are my thoughts on the differences between the two for those who are torn.

**Update 2015**

After meeting a bunch of fine folks over in #redditnet (and getting into some trouble over there for my blunt/foul mouth), we decided to branch off and create our own club.  FBOM International/N5NOM.  Here we foster the younger/non-retirement age amateur radio population by focusing on digital modes and helping people get on those modes.  Our IRC channel/blackmail from public office is #FBOM on  Yours truly is the president of FBOM as well as QSL manager.

Great group of hams.  Come from all walks of life and all have experience to share to both young and old.  We all believe in sending QSL cards to contacts as well as pushing the technology boundaries of amateur radio by building go-boxes and using maker-spaces to 3d print stuff.  Although we may be a bit crass and raunchy on IRC, all have something to give back to amateur radio.


**Update 2017**

On 8/8/17 I was finally assigned a 1×2 call after months and months of trying.  So from here on out I’m known as N6QB.