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.
Well, two actually. Both on 10 meters since i cannot use any other bands. YO4RIU and KC8IM.
Ah, and in case you are wondering, i am back to using my Sirtel Santiago 1200 and an Anytone AT-5555 10 meter radio. That’s the working conditions for the moment.
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
In case you are wondering why this blog is not updated anymore, for the moment i am in “radio silence” mode.
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.
Because i cannot have antennas and radios at home anymore and because i have all that stuff at the EA3RCH clubstation i am building EA3RCH as a remote station.
- The setup needs to be accessible from everywhere and by every member of the club.
- Little or preferable no setup is required on the client side.
- Setup needs to cheap or free of charge.
- Setup needs to be real or near real-time.
The setup will exist of two configurations at the same time.
In the basic setup i will be using the TeamViewer Host software to allow to connect to the host PC and watch the screen using TeamViewers Remote Control functionality.
The audio part will be handled by Skype. The Skype software will be configured in Auto-Connect mode and an account list will be configured so only authorized users will be able to connect to the host PC.
The advantage of this setup is that you are working as if you were sitting in front of the computer screen. You have full control over what’s happening and which software you want to use for controlling the transceiver.
With this setup i basically achieve all the objectives i mentioned before. This is also the setup i am going to introduce to the club members.
However, for my personal use i will go one step further.
Using the VPN connection
In this setup i will use TeamViewer to set up a connection between the host PC and my VPN server in my home network. That makes that the host PC in the shack sits in the same IP network as my workstation.
On the host PC will run Ham Radio Deluxe Remote Server and will connect from my local HRD installation to the remote server on the host. That makes that i don’t need TeamViewer to use Remote Control to work the transceiver. Instead i will be directly connected to the host PC and everything that happens on the transceiver will be directly communicated to my local HRD software. Audio will still be handled by Skype.
Advantage of this setup is that it uses less bandwidth and all my logging is done locally. No need to copy logfiles between the clubstation and home HRD setup.
This is all going to be build next Saturday the 22nd of December (if the world than still exists). I will post here how everything went.
The ones who are following me must already have noticed that i am not on the air very much anymore. Reason is that i had to remove all my equipment from my QTH. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have done two things:
TS-480 in the car
I have installed my TS-480 in my car. I made a very simple setup where i use an external battery in the back of my car and the same mobile antenna, my Falcon Outback 2000, on a magnetic mount on the roof of the car.
I installed the main rig under the passenger seat and the console in the dashboard when i want to work the radio.
Here are a couple of photos of the setup.
The next thing i did is sign up for a local radio club, the Radio Club Cerdanyola. In the club i have access to everything i need.
There are several radios. For HF there is the Icom IC-756Pro connected to a tri-band 4 element yagi for 10, 15 and 20m. For 40m there is a home-brew Windom and for 80m the club uses a full-size delta loop. Amplifier is a Ameritron AL-811H and digital modes are run through a RigExpert interface connected to the IC-756Pro.
Furthermore there are complete setups for 2m, 70cm and 1.2GHz. There is a EchoLink repeater, etc, etc.
We are currentl y remodeling the shack, but here are some photos of the “old” setup.
Ah, and yes, VERY important. In this shack i have a FRIDGE!!
Next article will be about how i am going to make a setup so that i can use the HF radio not only as main radio in the shack, but also as remote station from my home QTH.