Radio upgrades?

Now that I’ve had my VX-8DR for a couple of months (and even used it a few times), I think it’s time for some upgrades.

After a recent road trip, I’m thinking it needs more antenna because getting a signal from another handheld radio that was more than a mile away just wasn’t happening. Being inside a big metal box on wheels probably didn’t help things much either. There aren’t too many quad-band antennas out there, but I did find a Diamond SRH-999 that would probably work. I’ve seen mixed reviews about it, but generally favourable.

I’ve also been researching making my own antenna and looking at different Yagi designs. Small portable ones are pretty easy to make and there are a lot of plans for them out on the web. I think building my own Yagi will be my first radio project. If I do it right (by which I mean if I remember), I’ll even make it so that I can use my monopod as a stand for it.

I’ll also probably need to build some kind of wall mount to hold all the portable Yagi’s I’m eventually going to build.

Then there are the radio accessories that I’m deciding I want now, like the handheld speaker/mic and the GPS attachment, because it’s always nice to know where you are.

Soon I’ll be ready to upgrade myself to Extra class, and then it will be time to start thinking “ham shack”.

Weekend radio fun

Thanks to Tom/AJ4UQ, this past Sunday I got the chance to play radio once again on the USS Yorktown operating as WA4USN. This time Connie/NR4CB/@Bionic_Nerd was there and we managed to work almost 40 contacts from 4 countries including St. Croix and Croatia (Connie was doing most of the working). I think 4 or 5 of the contacts were me operating. Whenever Connie got on the air there would be people piling up to make contact.

I also got on the air using my own call sign, but wasn’t getting any responses back. Still working on getting used to talking on the radio, but Connie was a big help with prompting me on what I should say.

It was a lot of fun getting to play HF radio again. Looking forward to getting my own rig set up one of these days.

Yaesu VX-8DR X-ray Take 2

Radiographs of my VX-8DR that show the innards a little better. 81 kV, 5 mAs, small focal spot.

The battery (which is actually two batteries)

The radio itself

The antenna. If you look closely, you can see some internal structure now, compared to the fluoro image from earlier.

Yaesu VX-8DR X-ray

Put my VX-8DR under a fluoro unit I was testing today. Fluoro generally doesn’t provide the greatest resolution images, but enough to see what the innards of my radio are like. Will get a regular radiograph later.

This is the antenna. Not a whole lot going on aside from a lot of metal.

I’m playing radio!

Tom (AJ4UQ) managed to catch me playing radio this morning for the last half of Field Day. I spent a few hours logging, and then finally got onto the radio to make some contacts on the 20m and 40m bands.

I operated the radio for a few hours and managed to make a dozen or so contacts from Ohio, Georgia, south Texas and as far away as eastern Massachusetts and Vermont. This was the first time I actually played radio and did any transmitting. It turned out to be a lot of fun and it didn’t take long for me to get too caught up in finding people to contact to be nervous about being on the radio.

The second half of Field Day was noticeably less crazy and frantic than the first half. 20m was still pretty busy, but not nearly as crazy as it was yesterday. 40m was relatively quiet compared to yesterday, and after a few hours it felt like we had run out of people to contact, because we kept running into the same ones while sweeping through the band.

I did manage to catch W1AW (ARRL’s station) on the air and tried to get them in the log, but I’m not sure they were able to receive me, or else I was just too caught up in their pileup. Also tried to see if I could get Bionic_Nerd too, while she was up in the Boston area on her road trip, but no such luck. She did manage to hear me calling part of the call sign I was using (WA4USN belonging to CARS), but I wasn’t able to pick her up at all. Maybe another time.

Field Day wrapped up at 2PM with just over 200 contacts logged at the phone station. Not sure how the other stations did. After spending a couple more hours cleaning up, putting things away and loading various vehicles it was time to call it a day.

Field Day turned out to be a pretty fun experience on the radio, and there’s nothing like a baptism by fire to get you involved in something.

My pictures from Field Day are up in the photo gallery and also on Flickr.