Hello World!

Long ago, I got caught by the ham radio bug, thanks to my mentors (elmers in the ham radio lingo) like T.K. Mani, VU2ITI and Raj VU2ZAP and countless others on various mailing lists. For the past 10 years or so, I was busy elsewhere with various new jobs, family, building a house, taking care of loved ones who were ailing etc. During this time, ham radio took a backseat. I moved my belongings to my parents' place in Cochin and changed the address on my license to this address in 2008. However, life took a different turn, I had to move back to Bangalore, take up another job, went through an acquisition, move to another startup which also went through an acquisition. I didn't forget about Ham radio during this time. But I discovered a few other things in life like Functional Programming and went deep into that rabbit hole.

What has changed now?

Things are as busy as before, but I have decided to dedicate some time for my hobbies as I want to be an all rounded individual than a single dimensional one. My little corner in this hobby has not changed, I still love homebrewing. Just that I don't have much equipment now. I gave away my oscilloscope to someone. I still have the signal generator at my parents' house but I have no idea whether it works or not. I don't have my radios and power supplies. So, I have decided to rebuild the station from scratch.

Appliance or Homebrew?

Of course, homebrew. But I decided to take a middle path. I need a radio to do day-to-day operation. So, I decided to get a uBitx kit and set it up. I resurrected my old inverted V dipole on my terrace. I don't have a big space on the terrace. But there are some vacant plots behind my house, so I decided to use that until someone comes and evicts my antenna.

So, last weekend, my friend Bejoy VU3BOJ came home and we got the antenna on a bamboo mast up. Unfortunately, we couldn't tune it to a low SWR. We used this $50 poor man's antenna analyzer that Bejoy brought along. It does not seem to give out accurate readings of SWR and needs calibration, but it can be used to find the minimum SWR frequency. Unfortunately, with some length adjustments, it is still not at the minimum for the 40meter band (I have a fan dipole for 20m and 40m band). Gopan, VU3HPF also came home and we plotted the SWR with his Rig Expert meter and it corroborated the earlier readings.

However, I have been using uBitx to listen to the band in the past one week and it has been absolute fun. The band conditions are not great at the moment. But there is a lot of local activity on 40m in the morning and I have been deliberately keeping away from radio in the evenings owing to work and family. After all, it is a hobby!

I also found that my uBitx is not transmitting though the relay switching sound can be distinctly heard. So, those are the things I plan to do in the coming days.. It is good to remember that there is a "self education" part in the Amateur Radio rules and regulation and what better way to do this than building and debugging one's own equipments!

This time around, there are a lot more resources available for an average radio amateur. A number of radio amateurs have web presence. A lot of them have YouTube channels. SolderSmoke podcast is still around though I have not been listening to them yet. There are tons of SDR projects. Last time around we had GNU Radio, a couple of expensive boards. Now we have so many inexpensive boards via kickstarter available, many many amateur projects. I was disappointed that EZNEC is still Windows only!

So, expect to see an occasional post here on amateur radio operation and homebrewing as I learn and find my way into learning electronics and building small RF emitting equipments!

73 de VU3RDD