As you all know, after all you are following this blog, i am suffering from PLC noise in my house. This makes it virtually impossible to make any contacts on 11m. Yesterday, despite the bad conditions on 10 and 11m, i started to listen to and follow the cluster for 10 meter activity. After all, the PLA’s around me are all notched for 10m.
10 meter suprised me. My first contact was with TY1AA, Benin country. That was surprising since a lot of people were calling and, as you know, i am running very minimal conditions (12W output and a mobile antenna).
This actually motivated me to make a few more contacts. Was quite fun. There is actually something out there besides 11 meters. Although it was again the regular “EA3HOE, your 5-9, 73″ it was better than nothing.
Maybe i have to start to look for a decent HF set again…
Many times i ask myself this question. “Is HAM Radio a hobby that is going to last until the next sun cycle?” Looking around on the internet i see that i am not alone in asking this question. So here is my opinion, not truth, opinion.
First of all i hear everywhere that we never had as many licensed radio operators as in the last years. More licenses have been granted than any cycle before. Fact. Great.
But…., if i listen on the radio i hear NOTHING. Now, i must say that i only operate 10 and 11 meters and listen a bit to CB. And there there is nothing. Bad propagation? Probably. But there is more.
When i go to radio meetings i only meet people that are older than i am. And i am 50 years old. Am i going to the wrong meetings? Probably. But, at least here in Spain, there are hardly any radio clubs anymore and the only meeting worthwile going to is the national radio meeting. Lots of interesting speeches, lots of second hand stuff, but mostly broken mobile phones and memory cards for PC’s nobody uses anymore.
What is happening to the hobby?
- Is it because we are using basically obsolete technology? Communication for the sake of transferring information is more effective when using mobile phones, Skype, WhatsApp, whatever.
- Is it because it’s expensive and requires a big antenna to get into HF?
- Is it because a certain percentage of hams are still pushing Morse code mostly because they are running out of other people who know it?
- Is it the hams that still believe that “the wrong sort” need to kept out? I operate on both 10 and 11m and when i tell my colleague pirates they are proud of me, but when i tell my colleague HAM they dispise me. This behavior doesn’t really create the cooperative ambient a newbie needs to get going. You will be told off unless they have a HAM license, which in theory means that you should be able to hold your own.
- Is it that it’s overwhelmingly old people who tend to die or become incapacitated? Fact of nature. We cannot dispute that.
- Is it because it’s time-consuming, and just gets more time-consuming as fewer people connect with fewer people? Every hobby is and should be time-consuming, no?
- Is it because it requires the ability to talk to people, rather than talk at them? Hello, Facebook!
- Is it because the vast, vast majority of people under 40 simply never experienced a time when two-way radio was vital and common?
- Is it because a lot of the people on the air are cranky, anti-social, and cliquish?
- Is it because at the end “EA3HOE, 59″ all the time gets boring?
- Is it because the bands are more and more splattered with industrial and home electronics garbage? Regulations to keep the HAM bands free? What regulation? What are regulations without control?
- Is it because CB, the band where everything starts, is still not free to use and experiment on? At least, here in Spain it isn’t.
I can go on and on and on. What is a fact is that on the most common local bands, 70cm, 2m, 6m, 10m, 11m i hear nothing. Well, most activity is still on 11m, but that’s probably because these pirates only have one band to go to.
Recently i have gotten the opportunity to test my Wimo QRM Eliminator against the TimeWave ANC-4.
The ANC-4 is a little bit more feature-rich than the Wimo. It has two AUX antenna inputs where the Wimo only has one. Furthermore is the build wuality of the ANC-4 much better than the Wimo. Where the Wimo has the typical “hobby project” build case, the ANC-4 is built inside a heavy-duty black metal case. This is where you definitely notice the difference in pricetag.
Both devices contain a VOX circuit. On the ANC-4 this circuit works perfectly, on the Wimo barely. Basically the VOX only works on FM and AM, on SSB the internal relais rattle when you are speaking in a low voice or when you are not speaking at all. The Wimo solves this issue by using its external PTT input, something the ANC-4 doesn’t have or need.
The Wimo has two phase dials, the ANC-4 only one. The ANC-4 however has two range selectors for gain and phase which the Wimo doesn’t have. In my situation i had both selectors on their widest range. When dialing in the two devices i prefer the Wimo. Using the two dials you have more “room to play” and i normally get a better result in phasing out the noise when using the Wimo compared to using the ANC-4.
I bought the QRM Eliminator in the hope i could eliminate noise coming from Power Line Communication devices. Before i decided to purchase the Wimo i watched a lot of videos of people using the Wimo, ANC-4 or MFJ-1026, however i was never able to get close to the results i see in those videos. Most probably this has to do with my antenna setup and the level of noise i am experiencing here in my house. In my tests, completely unscientific and completely applicable to only my situation here, it didn’t really matter which one of the noise cancellers i was using. Both gave me similar results. And this brings me to probably the most important conclusion regarding these QRM Eliminators, it is much more important finding the right main and noise antenna setup than which brand or model device you buy.
I hope that this article gives people an idea of what you can and what you cannot achieve with these noise cancelling boxes. My Wimo goves me the possibility to use appx 100kc more from the band than without. When i have the device switched off my range of usable frequencies basically stops at 27.630 where as when i do use the Wimo, or the ANC-4 for that matter, i can go up to appx. .730 before i get buried in PLC noise again. Are these boxes worth their money? For me yes, since there are a lot of DX activations happening between 600 and 700 and without the Wimo i wouldn’t be able to hear anything decent there.
The last post was to tell you all that EA3HOE is off the air. And that’s true. However, i am thinking on getting back on the air. It all depends on the fact if i can find the radio i would love to have.
This blog will be continued on http://www.30ir030.net
I have sold my radios and antennas and am waiting for other opportunities in the future to pick this hobby up again. If this is going to happen, nobody knows. But if and when it happens, i will of course inform you through this blog.