I just got word that Radio Australia & ABC Shortwave are both shutting down. Just as I was preparing to write this blog post. It made me think twice about the future of ‘amateur’ radio. But then I realized, that ‘amateur’ radio & shortwave broadcasters are two different animals in today’s world. I commonly see articles and posts all across the internet about folks worrying about the future of shortwave broadcasts. They are indeed fizzling away at an alarming rate (especially this past year).
I enjoy listening to shortwave broadcasts around the world. When they don’t intrude on amateur radio frequencies that is… lol. No, it’s all good because we have to learn to share the airwaves. They provide a critical service IMHO. Only 40% of the world’s population has internet access. Would it be safe to say that almost ‘all’ of the world has access to shortwave? A crystal radio can be made from next to nothing. The cost of a simple commercially made shortwave receiver is much less than that of a computer with internet capability – then again devices like the RaspPi, BeagleBone Black & ChromeBook are looking to change that!
The internet used to provide a challenge for tinkerers, but now its all just blasé. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that you have to change with the times, and technology is ever advancing. I just feel like there’s too much automation being placed into everything – but then again here I am in love with SDR! lol. It’s just sad to watch so many stations going off the air. I only feel as if my journey into ham radio has just begun and I’ve seen more than my fair share of stations going off the air this past year. Hopefully another service will step up where these other stations have gone off the air. How cool would that be to start a shortwave broadcasting station of your own?!
R.I.P. ABC & Radio Australia – you will be missed.
On a positive note, I was able to put the finishing touches on the mobile setup. So I took a trip out to my local park & attempted some late night CQ’ing on Sunday night, but no dice. I had one guy come back to me from 4 land, but couldn’t make out his call. I attempted calling CQ for 45 minutes. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in awhile, i’ll have a ‘zero’ contact operation. I know my mobile setup probably isn’t the most efficient on 40, but its always worth the try 🙂
I was able to use a RAM hourglass mount to hold the head of the TS-480SAT in where the cupholders used to go. (There’s no way I’m carrying drinks in the center console anymore anyways! there’s spare cup holders everywhere in this truck!) It does have a bit of shake to it going over larger bumps, but it’s plenty secure. RAM mounts are the bomb. I won’t trust my equipment to anything else.
I’ve also just begun to get my feet wet with WIRES-X. There’s a repeater here in Austin that just enabled their WIRES-X node, which is on 146.880 & located at the 3M plant here in Austin. Thinking about possibly joining this club, so I can respectfully use this cool service that club is providing!
This was the first time I had ever used that scary red button on the Yaesu… It’s what I termed the Yaesu “Infinite Improbability Drive” button. Get the reference? 😉
Now it’s no longer that scary red button I’m afraid to press! LOL. Now it’s just time to explore WIRES-X a bit more. I was informed of the WIRES-X Bible, so I’ve got a bit of reading to do… phew.. 200 pages? Maybe that’s some material for the holidays coming up! I basically just got a 5 minute rusty run down lesson on how to connect really quick, so I haven’t yet attempted a QSO. This to me feels a bit different than EchoLink in that your connection to the “node” is through an RF link (well, then again, come to think of it, your cell phone connection also uses RF 😛 ).
More changes are coming up to the mobile HF setup. I’m going to be experimenting with a mounting solution that isn’t particularly meant for amateur radio antennas, so stay tuned for some experimentation! I want to basically ‘center mount’ my antenna more. It currently sits on the right rear quarter panel, and as so is quite directional in terms of its radiated signal. The antenna is also incredibly unstable where it sits… constantly vibrating, moving back & forth due to the lovely city pot holes everywhere. I’ve had to sandwich copper tape in between my REP Design Toyota Trac mount just to get the antenna to stand ‘some-what’ straight, I’ve emailed the company to see if this is typical of these mounts to be so slanted.
I was thinking about having a custom mount made, but I think I’ve found a really neat alternative that’s worth trying. The Tacoma is definitely a challenge because of the composite material the bed is made out of. It makes it easy to cut into & attach to the frame, but it doesn’t provide for the best ground plane, so I’m going to have to try some different things. More to come!
Wishing you the very best in DX.