I participated in the 2020 FT Roundup ham radio contest. This was my first time participating in a ham radio contest. The results can be found here. I placed 21st out of 33 in California. I placed 455 out of 927 worldwide in the single operator category. For my first attempt at this, with my extremely meager compromised antenna setup and not operating for the entire contest period, I think I did pretty well.
Working from home during the pandemic has presented some unique challenges for my family. Lately the kids (and occasionally my wife) will interrupt me while in a meeting. I wanted some sort of way to indicate to them that I was in a meeting. Being an amateur radio operator, I thought an “on-air” indicator light would be fitting. I wanted to be able to control it remotely. I looked around online to see if there was one that would fit my needs, thinking I could use a smart switch to turn it on/off.
I’ve been dabbling with some of the log formats commonly used in the amateur radio world. One of those formats is the Cabrillo format. I built a parser in Go for reading Cabrillo formated contest logs, but I’m unhappy with one aspect and I think it’s a deficit in the Cabrillo specification. If the exchange field of a QSO is supposed to contain a space between multiple pieces of information, you have to know that ahead of time otherwise you can’t properly parse the log.
The µBitx v6 transciever I bought never really worked out for me. I should have listened to the advice to avoid low-power/QRP rigs as your first HF radio. I ended up buying an Icom IC-7300 and it’s been a good radio. I struggled for a while trying to make voice contacts. I started out with a Wolf River Coils silver bullet antenna, but I couldn’t really get my signal out with it, probably due to how I had to deploy it in my backyard.
I passed the Amatuer Extra class ham radio license exam back in November. I recently applied for and received a vanity 2x1 call sign. Find me on the air as AG6K. I’ve been looking at lots of HF rigs. I’d like to get a Icom IC-7300, but don’t yet want to part with the cash since I still have to set up the rest of my shack. I’ve instead decided to purchase a the newish µBitx v6 transceiver along with an MFJ-4230DMP power supply (something capable of powering a 100W HF rig for when I do eventually get one), plus some odds and ends like some power pole connectors and a crimper, some coax, and some wire to build a dipole.
After obtaining my technician class ham radio license back in August, I set my sights on obtaining a general class license. The general class license opens up a lot of capabilities on the HF bands. I grabbed the ARRL General Class License Manual and started studying. I successfully passed the exam on 2019-10-26. My sights are now set on obtaining the Amateur Extra class license. I’m planning to test for it on 2019-11-30.
The last year has been really busy for me and the family. In April of 2018, I decided that I wanted to get the 4Runner back on the road/trails. It had been sitting in a fenced lot in the Mojave desert for ten years and needed some love. I had it towed home where I started with the basics (tires, new gas tank/fuel pump/filter), and worked up from there. Took me over a year, but I finally was able to take it out on the trails.
Having a family with a couple of young kids who like electronic toys, we can go through a fair amount of AA and AAA batteries. I typically buy alkaline batteries in bulk from either Home Depot or Costco but the packaging usually leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve also started buying rechargeable batteries for things like flashlights and usually keep an extra set of rechargeable batteries per device. I try to keep the sets of rechargeable batteries together so as not to mix age/number of charge/discharge cycles on the rechargeable batteries.
I was fortunate enought to be able to attend AWS re:Invent 2017. I took the opportunity at the event to take the AWS Solutions Architect - Associate level exam and I passed! My goal for 2018 is to pass the Associate level Developer exam and the Professional level Solutions Architect exam.
I’ve been a pretty avid homebrewer for the last few years. I started with a small 1-gallon kit and worked my way up to a 10 gallon gas and electric HERMS system that I designed and built. If brewing is your thing, I occasionally blog about it over at Beta Test Brewing Company.