About three months ago I unconsciously or perhaps consciously lost interest in ham radio. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, in fact this was what lead me to allow my license to lapse the first time in 2016. If it weren’t for a new coworker of mine showing interest in ham radio again after a twenty-five year absent; I presumably wouldn’t be writing this post now. His excitement about all of the recent advances that have been made since he was first license reminded me of the things I missed about ham radio. This forced me to reflect on the reasons that I stepped away from the hobby for nearly three months. After some time I narrowed it down to three primary reasons. Without further ado I present to you my three reasons I took a break from ham radio.
I love satellite operations! It was my primary reason for returning to the hobby earlier this year. Shortly after becoming licensed I joined AMSAT to support amateur radio in space. Little did I know there was an ongoing dispute among two newly elected board members and the rest of the board of directors. Apparently the dispute was over the access of to AMSAT’s finical records with the lengthy ordeal playing out like some pollical scandal with lawyers and secret audio recordings. The board of directors went as far as releasing a statement that was full of contempt for the two new directors. In turn Patrick Stoddard WD9EWK, one of the individuals at that center of this controversy released his own statement on the events that transpired. All of this drama culminated with those who sided with Mr. Stoddard attempting replace three of the existing board members with there of their own candidates. Ultimately they were unsuccessful in their coup attempt, and I’ve exhausted all interest in being a part of AMSAT.
Whether you want to admit it or not, ham radio is an expensive hobby. Sure you can purchase a Baofeng handheld for thirty-five dollars, but to really take advantage of all your license privileges you need to shell out some cold hard cash for either an HF rig or an all mode VHF/UHF radio. Initially, I wanted to get on the air as quickly and cheaply as possible to try my hand at working a few of the FM satellites, as a result I purchased an Arrow Antenna II and the Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus. To make a long story short, the Wouxun radio was garbage. Don’t believe me check out my review of the Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus. After some time of fooling around with that dumb thing, I decided to purchase a Yaesu FT3D and I’m glad I did. On a side note, I should absolutely do a review of that thing since I’ve had it for about three months now and I’ve explored most everything the radio has to offer. With the KG-UV8D I was limited in how I could operate. With just supporting FM I really only could use the thing for satellites outside of using it to connect to any of the local repeaters in the area. On the other hand the Yaesu FT3D allowed me the ability to expore APRS and C4FM AKA System Fussion. This however came at the cost of three times the price of the KG-UV8D. All told, even after selling my KG-UV8D, I am about $600 into the hobby with an Arrow Antenna II, Yaesu FT3D, and Comet Dual Band HT antenna. Even with this setup I’m only able play around with FM satellites, APRS, and simplex/repeaters. I would have loved exploring some of the other areas of the hobby when I jumped back in the spring of this year, but discretionary funds were spread out among different things at the time.
This year 2020 has been an unusual year for me. Between a global pandemic and finishing some of my basement, I’ve been very busy. As a result I’ve had little free time. What free time I’ve possessed has been divided between multiple hobbies with amateur radio taking a back seat most of the time. It’s my own fault really since I set out earlier this year with the goal of exclusively working FM satellites. I initial assumed it would be effortless to make time through out my day for a quick ten to fifteen minute pass. It made sense at the time; take a brief break, make a couple of contacts, and back to what I was doing before hand. But it turns out that FM satellite QSOs are hard work This in turn lead me to get frustrated very quickly and wish I could operate at my own pace whenever I felt like it. Just so you know, rarely do two FM satellite passes line up back to back when you want them two giving you a thirty to forty minute window of time in which to have fun. Looking back on my journey into ham radio, both the first time and second time, I should have just gone the HF route from the get go. Since I didn’t, I feel like I set myself up for disappointment. With very little motivation and other competing priorities it’s no wonder why I stepped away from ham radio as long I did.
So what does the future hold for me now that I’m interested in ham radio again? Well, Santa is coming to town, and he’s going to have a new Yaesu FTDX 3000 wrapped up under three for me. I’ll finally be able to dive head first into the world of HF. I have some ambitious plans too. I’d like to explore some of the lesser used digital modes like Hellschreiber, Olivia, and Contestia. I’ll still jump on the FT8 bandwagon, but ultimately I want to explore all the digital modes. I also want to learn morse code, which I’ve unsuccessfully started and begin working som CW. The Yaesu FTDX 3000 contains some exceptionally attractive features for CW operations that I really want to take advantage of. Another area that I’m going to focus on coming up soon will be building a MMDVM hotspot. Sure I could merely purchase a prebuilt one, but what the fun in that? All in all I think the rest of this year and next year is shaping up to be a excellent time for me to get back into ham radio.