I recently got an FT-817ND – a great portable low-power (QRP) radio that supports HF, VHF, and UHF.  I coupled this with a buddistick antenna, and in my first ‘fully portable’ outdoor operation on HF, I made a contact!  With 2.5 watts or so, I communicated (in a text mode) with someone in the Canary Islands, from Maine!  This was quite exciting – all of the equipment I used to do this – computer included – fits in a box a bit bigger than a standard briefcase!

First Contact

I’ve made my first HF contact, today.  A few days ago, on SSB (voice) – I had an ‘almost-contact’ with Chuck (KD8STF) in Northern Ohio, but he wasn’t quite able to copy my sign, so no go.

But today, on 20 meters at about 1800 UTC, using BPSK31 (a digital mode) – I was able to contact George (KA2QYA), in Williamsville, NY.  I forgot all of most of the standard ham shorthand in the moment, but it was quite exciting.  Without using the internet, I was able to “chat” with someone 470 miles away.  It feels great!  Thanks, George, for bearing with me.

Other, general news and progress?  From what I can tell, my radio has a fairly common problem with its antenna tuner.  With some luck, the replacement parts I’ve ordered (a few capacitors and diodes) will work out.  That should help me to be able to get on a few more bands, and I’m quite excited.

It was rather frustrating to make a trip to Radio Shack to try to buy an 82pf capacitor and fail miserably.  I don’t think there are actually any decent parts stores closer to me than You-Do-It,  which is a 3 1/2 hour drive.  I do like the store, but not that much.  This is of course just a symptom of the modern “disposable-everything” society.  I can’t blame  everything on the disposable world; the changes in how technology works are an aspect of this as well, but I think that we could have done a better job on making stuff repairable.  Alas.

I suppose that “dangit, modern stuff is too hard to repair” attitude is part of why people start to collect “boat anchors.”  Fortunately, I don’t have the space or energy to start collecting giant antique vacuum-tube radios.  At least, not yet.