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.


Paul Kimbrel said...

I'll have to take a look at the Elecraft. You can do voice as well?

Michael Brown said...

You sure can. 160m - 6m. It is a bit expensive but not as bad on the used market. I found mine on the qrz.com swap meet forum. I can bring it to work someday and we can operate from the courtyard!