Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ham radio with a low power radio

If you've been following my posts lately, you've seen more of a move from the "farm life" to the "ham life"...ham being amateur radio. I've re-kindled my interest in amateur radio. I sold the radio I purchased a year ago on ebay and bought a used Elecraft KX3. This is a truly modern software defined radio. It's quite the wonder...talk to the world with a radio that fits in your hand and an antenna made from 40 feet of wire.

Besides the technology differences between the FT897 I had before and the KX3, there's a shift in operational thinking. The FT897 is a 100 watt, bulky, mainly fixed based unit. Yes, you could mount it in the car and take it camping...but it certainly isn't something you want to pack around for a while. The KX3 is small - it fits in your hand. It is low power - 10 watts or so if you connect it to external power, but it shines running 5 watts or less off of 8 AA batteries.  While I do operate from my home office, I also enjoy sitting on the porch and listening for new people to meet.

In my few weeks of ownership, I've noticed a shift in my operating patterns. I'm spending more time doing CW (morse code). I'm still doing a little PSK. And I've made 3 voice contacts with a piece of wire temporarily strung up to a low tree branch. This weekend I worked a special event station in Georgia after hanging up my wire on my Mom's porch. It was pretty cool...

Sure, I can Skype all over the world. Need to get a message to a friend? Facebook or LinkedIn is probably my first choice. But when it comes to meeting new people, ham radio, and especially low power (aka QRP) operations are the way to go.