• [FOAR] The power supply connector dance contest... (13/21)

    From FOAR via rec.radio.info Admin@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jul 18 13:48:30 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    with more features and performance. In reality this means that your radio
    that came with CW, AM, FM and SSB will continue to work, but if it came
    with a specialised mode like FSK441, you're likely to run out of friends to communicate with when the mode is depreciated in favour of something new.

    In my opinion, Open Source software and hardware is vitally important in
    this fast moving field and if we're not careful we will repeat history and
    lose the knowledge and skill won through perseverance and determination due
    to lack of documentation or depreciation by a supplier.

    When did you last document what you did? What will happen to that when you
    too become a silent key?

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20210131.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    The Vagabond HAM

    Posted: 23 Jan 2021 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    This podcast began life under the name "What use is an F-call?" and was
    renamed to "Foundations of Amateur Radio" after 206 episodes. To mark what
    is effectively this, the 500th episode, I considered a retrospective, highlighting some of the things that have happened over the past decade of
    my life as a radio amateur. I considered marking it by giving individual
    credit to all those amateurs who have helped me along the way by contacting
    me, documenting things, asking questions, sharing their experiences or participating in events I attended. Whilst all these have merit, and I
    should take this opportunity to thank you personally for your contribution, great or small, to amateur radio, to my experience and that of the
    community. Thank you for making it possible for me to make 500 episodes,
    for welcoming me into the community, for being a fellow amateur. Thank you.

    During the week I received an email from Sunil VU3ZAN who shared with me something evocative with the encouragement to bring it the attention and appreciation it deserves.

    By way of introduction, on the 13th of June 2002, Ken, W6NKE became a
    silent key. Ken was an amateur, an active one by all accounts. I never met
    Ken, but his activity list is long and varied. Ken became interested in ham radio as a teenager in the 1930s. He was a long time advocate of CW and
    during WWII he taught Morse code to Navy operators. In 1975 he founded The Sherlock Holmes Wireless Society and was editor of its newsletter, now
    called "The Log of the Canonical Hams". He received his Investiture from
    The Baker Street Irregulars in 1981. Ken was an early member of the International Morse Preservation Society or FISTS, he held number 0818. He
    was the President of Chapter 2 of the Old Old Timers Club, the OOTC for
    many years. In addition to drawing cover art, Ken also wrote. Lots. 73
    magazine features plenty of Ken's articles with titles like: "Inexpensive Vertical", "Don't Bug me Dad" and "The DX Hunter".

    Ken was also a poet, which brings us to the way that I think is appropriate
    to mark the 500th episode of this podcast. I'm confident that you can
    relate to this contribution by Ken to amateur radio, published in Volume 1, Number 3 of 73 magazine in December 1960.

    The Vagabond HAM, by Ken Johnson W6NKE (SK)

    A vagabond's life is the life I live
    Along with others, ready to give
    A friendly laugh and a word of cheer
    To each vagabond friend, both far and near.

    I travel the air waves, day or night
    To visit places I'll never sight
    From the rail of a ship, or from a plane
    Yet I'll visit them all again and again.

    I never hear from a far off land
    That my pulse doesn't quicken. With careful hand
    I tune my receiver and VFO dial
    To make a new friend and chat for awhile.

    Africa, Asia, they're all quite near
    In as easy reach as my radio gear
    With the flip of a switch, the turn of a knob
    I can work a ZL, a friend named Bob.

    There's an LU4, a fellow that's grand
    Who's described to me his native land
    'Till I can hear the birds, and feel the breeze
    As it blows from the slopes of the mighty Andes.

    I learned of the surf, and a coral strand,
    The smell of hybiscus where palm trees stand
    'Neath a tropical moon, silver and bright
    From an FO8 that I worked one night.

    I've thrilled to the tales of night birds' screams
    In the depths of the jungle where death-laden streams
    Flow'neath verdant growth of browns and greens
    From a DU6 in the Philippines.

    The moors of Scotland, a little French Shrine,
    German castles on the River Rhine
    Of these things I've learned, over the air
    Without ever leaving my ham shack chair.

    There's a KL7 on top of the world
    To whom the Northern Lights are a banner unfurled
    That sweeps across the Arctic night
    Makes the frozen sky a thing of delight.

    Tales of silver and gold and precious stones
    Ancient temples and molding bones
    Where the natives, I'm told, are tall and tan
    By an XE3 down in Yucatan.

    My vagabond trips over the air
    Will take me, well, just anywhere
    Where other vagabonds and I will meet
    From a tropical isle, to a city street.

    My vagabond's life will continue, I know
    Through the fabulous hobby of ham radio
    And one day from out at the world's end
    We'll meet on the air, my Vagabond friend.

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB

    Note: The spelling of the poem is as published in 73 magazine.
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20210124.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    The APRS of it all ...

    Posted: 16 Jan 2021 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    Amateur radio is a living anachronism. We have this heady mix of ancient
    and bleeding edge, never more evident than in a digital mode called
    Automatic Packet Reporting System or APRS. It's an amateur mode that's used
    all over the place to exchange messages like GPS coordinates, radio balloon
    and vehicle tracking data, battery voltages, weather station telemetry,
    text, bulletins and increasingly other information as part of the expanding universe of the Internet Of Things.

    There are mechanisms for message priority, point-to-point messages, announcements and when internet connected computers are involved, solutions
    for mapping, email and other integrations. The International Space Station
    has an APRS repeater on-board. You'll also find disaster management like
    fire fighting, earthquake and propagation reporting uses for APRS. There's tools like an SMS gateway that allows you to send SMS via APRS if you're
    out of mobile range. There's software around that allows you to post to
    Twitter from APRS. You can even generate APRS packets using your mobile

    In my radio travels I'd come across the aprs.fi website many times. It's a place that shows you various devices on the APRS network. You can see
    vehicles as they move around, radio repeater information, weather, even historic charts of messages, so you can see temperatures over time, or
    battery voltage, or solar power generation, or whatever the specific APRS device is sending.

    As part of my exploration into all things new and exciting I thought I'd
    start a new adventure with attempting to listen to the APRS repeater on the International Space Station. I'm interested in decoding APRS packets.
    Seeing what's inside them and what kinds of messages I can hear in my
    shack. Specifically for the experiment at hand I wanted to hear what the
    ISS had to say.

    After testing some recommended tools and after considerable time hunting I stumbled on multimon-ng. I should mention that it started life as multimon
    by Tom HB9JNX, which he wrote in 1996. In 2012 Elias Oenal wanted to use multimon to decode from his new RTL-SDR dongle and in the end he patched
    and brought the code into this century and multimon-ng was born. It's
    available on Linux, MacOS and Windows and it's under active development.

    It's a single command-line tool that takes an audio input and produces a
    text output and it's a great way to see what's happening under the hood
    which is precisely what I want when I'm attempting to learn something new.

    In this case, my computer was already configured with a radio. I can record what the radio receives from the computer microphone and I can play audio
    to the radio via the computer speaker. My magical tool, multimon-ng has the ability to record audio and decode it using a whole raft of in-built
    decoders. For my test I wanted to use the APRS decoder, cunningly disguised
    as an AFSK1200 de-modulator. I'll get to that in a moment.

    The actual process is as simple as tuning your radio in FM mode to the
    local APRS frequency and telling multimon-ng to listen. Every minute or so you'll see an APRS packet or six turn up on your screen.

    The process for the ISS is only slightly different in that the APRS
    frequency is affected by Doppler shift, so I used gpredict to change the frequency as required; multimon-ng continued to happily decode the audio signal.

    I said that I'd get back to AFSK1200. The 1200 represents the speed, 1200
    Baud. The AFSK represents Audio Frequency Shift Keying and it's a way to
    encode digital information by changing the frequency of an audio signal.
    One way to think of that is having two different tones, one representing a binary zero, the other representing a binary one. Play them over a
    loud-speaker and you have AFSK. Do that at 1200 Baud and you have AFSK1200.

    When you do listen to AFSK and you know what a dial-up modem sounds like,
    it will come as no surprise that they use the same technique to encode
    digital information. Might have to dig up an old dial-up modem and hook it
    up to my radio one of these days.

    Speaking of ancient. The hero of our story, APRS, dates back to the early
    days of microcomputers. The era of the first two computers in my life, the Apple II and the Commodore VIC-20. Bob WB4APR implemented the first
    ancestor of APRS on an Apple II in 1982. Then in 1984 he used a VIC-20 to report the position and status of horses in a 160km radius using APRS.

    As for the International Space Station, the APRS repeater is currently
    switched off in favour of the cross-band voice repeater, so I'll have to
    wait a little longer to decode something from space.

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20210117.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    The other radios in the world ...

    Posted: 09 Jan 2021 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    When you join the community of radio amateurs you'll find a passionate
    group of people who to greater and lesser degree spend their time and
    energy playing with radios in whatever shape that takes. For some it
    involves building equipment, for others it means going on a hike and
    activating a park. Across all walks of life you'll find people who are
    licensed radio amateurs, each with their own take on what this hobby means.

    Within that community it's easy to imagine that you're the centre of the
    world of radio. You know stuff, you do stuff, you invent stuff. As a
    community we're a place where people dream up weird and wonderful ideas and
    set about making them happen.

    Radio amateurs have a long association with emergency services. When I
    joined the hobby over a decade ago one of the sales pitches made to me was
    that we're ready to be part of emergency communications. In some
    jurisdictions that's baked into the license.

    There was a time when a radio amateur was expected to be ready to jump into
    a communications gap and render assistance with their station. There are amateur based groups groups like WICEN, the Wireless Institute Civil
    Emergency Network in Australia, ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service
    in the United States, RAYNET, the Radio Amateurs' Emergency Network in the United Kingdom, AREDN, the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network in Germany, DARES, the Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service, AREC or Amateur Radio Emergency Communications in New Zealand and EmComms in Trinidad and Tobago
    to name a few.

    Each of those manages their participation in different ways. For example,
    ARES offers training and certification where AREDN offers software and a
    how-to guide, in Trinidad and Tobago the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management is actively involved in amateur radio and maintains an active amateur radio station and five repeaters.

    In Australia there's a requirement to record and notify authorities if you become aware of a distress signal as a part of your license. In fact in Australia you must immediately cease all transmissions. You must continue
    to listen on frequency. You must record full details of the distress
    message, in writing and if possible recorded by tape recorder.

    While that scenario can and has happened, it's not common. An amateur
    station being used to provide an emergency link in the case of catastrophic failure has also happened, but in Australia I'm not sure if that was in my lifetime or not.

    My point is that the idea that we're going to put up a critical radio link
    and be the heart of communications in an emergency is, in Australia at
    least, not particularly likely. That's not to say that you should ignore
    that potential, or that it's universally true, but it's to point out that
    there are other things that you can do with your license that might happen
    more readily and help your community more.

    Outside our amateur community, there's plenty of radio in use as well. The obvious ones are volunteer bush fire brigades, state emergency services and
    the like. Less obvious might be the local marine rescue group, surf life
    saving or the local council. Each of those use radios as part of their
    service delivery and a radio amateur can contribute to that without needing
    to bring their station along. In fact, if you don't have an amateur
    license, but want to play radio, that's an excellent place to do it as a volunteer. I should mention that radio procedures are also in use in all
    manner of other professions, mining, policing, the military and aviation to name a couple, not to forget occupations like tour-guides, ferry operators
    and pretty much any place where telephones, fixed or mobile are not readily deployed.

    Within those areas there are procedures and jargon that you'll need to
    learn and perhaps even need to be certified for, but you as a radio amateur have several skills that you can bring to the table because you already
    have a license.

    For example, I learnt my phonetic alphabet many years before I ever heard
    of amateur radio. It was a requirement for my aviation radio ticket which
    in turn was required before I flew solo. When it came to making my first
    ever transmission on amateur radio, doing the phonetic thing was second
    nature, much to the surprise of my fellow trainees at the time. A thank you
    is due to both Neil VK6BDO, now Silent Key, and Doug VK6DB for making that training happen.

    You can apply the skills you bring with you when you join an organisation outside amateur radio who deals with wireless communication in whatever
    form that takes. For example, just the idea that you know how to pick up a microphone and push the Push To Talk button and speak and let the button go after you're done, a pretty trivial activity in amateur radio, will be something that you have that most of the untrained general public have no
    idea about.

    Amateur radio is a massive hobby. Playing with radio, or doing something serious with it comes in all shapes and sizes. Your amateur experience can help, but be prepared to learn different procedures and methods. The
    amateur way isn't the only way and it's not the only place where radio is
    used and sometimes it's good to have a look outside your comfort zone and
    see what the neighbours are up to.

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20210110.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    The impossible task

    Posted: 02 Jan 2021 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    For decades I've been playing with every new piece of technology that comes
    my way. In amateur radio terms that's reflected in, among other things,
    playing with different antennas, radios, modes and software.

    One of the modes I've played with is slow scan television or SSTV. It's an amateur mode that transmits pictures rather than voice over amateur radio.

    A couple of months ago a local amateur, Adrian VK6XAM, set-up an SSTV
    repeater. The way it works is that you tune to the repeater frequency,
    listen for a while and when the frequency is clear, transmit an image. The repeater will receive your image and re-transmit it. It's an excellent way
    to test your gear and software, so I played with it and made it all work
    for me.

    In 2012 I was part of a public event where local schools participated in a competition to have the opportunity to ask an astronaut on board the International Space Station a question as part of the City of Light 50th anniversary of John Glenn's first orbit. The event was under the auspices
    of a group called Amateur Radio on the International Space Station or
    ARISS, an organisation that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020.

    Assisting with the logistics behind the scenes first hand and the amount of equipment used I'd gained a healthy respect for the complexity involved.

    The ISS has several radio amateurs on orbit. Among their on board
    activities are plenty of amateur radio friendly ones. In addition to ARISS, you'll also find repeaters, voice, packet and other interesting signals if
    you listen out for them.

    In previous years I've made abortive attempts at using my station to listen
    and transmit to space, with varying degrees of success.

    On a regular basis the ISS transmits SSTV using amateur radio. Often you'll find a series of images that commemorate an activity. During the final week
    of 2020 astronauts on the ISS celebrated 20 years of ARISS by transmitting
    a series of images on a rotating basis as the ISS orbits the earth.

    One of my friends made a throwaway comment about listening to the
    international space station and decoding slow scan television. I'd heard
    about this event on various social media outlets but put it in the too hard basket.

    Based on what I'd seen during my ARISS event, my own trials, and what local amateurs have been playing with in the way of interesting cross polarised antennas, rotators and the like, I'd decided that this was a long term
    project, unachievable with my current station.

    My station consists of a dual-band vertical antenna for 2m and 70cm on my
    roof at about 2m above ground level. The radio is my trusty Yaesu FT-857d. Connected to a Debian Linux laptop running three bits of software, rigctld, gpredict and qsstv.

    With a high level of apprehension I fired up my station, tuned my radio, updated the orbital information and radio frequencies and waited for the
    first acquisition of signal from the ISS. Imagine my surprise when a
    picture started appearing on my screen. It's a lot like the days of 300
    baud dial up, getting a picture from some remote computer back in 1985.

    With that I managed to receive several of the images by just letting it run
    for the next couple of days.

    I'm glad my friend made their comment, because it spurred me into action to
    try for myself.

    I'll be the first to admit that the image quality isn't broadcast ready, or that I made mistakes, or that I should have started listening at the
    beginning of the week rather than the last few days, but all that is just
    noise because I can report that it works and I have the pictures to prove

    I now have most of the image series, number 2 is missing and I only have
    part of number 1, but there are some beauties among the 35 images I
    captured. I've published them on my project website at vk6flab.com, for you
    to have a look at and use as inspiration for your own seemingly impossible task.

    This leaves me wondering what else I can hear from overlying spacecraft
    using this set-up. What have you heard and what equipment were you using to make that happen? Are there any impossible tasks that you've avoided?

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20210103.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    Testing a link, on a band, at a time.

    Posted: 26 Dec 2020 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    The other day I wanted to know what kind of communication was possible
    between my station and the station of a friend of mine. We want to do some experiments and for that to be possible, we need to have a reliable communication channel.

    Traditionally you would get in touch with each other and attempt to find a suitable frequency on a band to make a QSO or contact. That generally
    involves picking a band, then tuning around the band, finding a frequency that's not in use, then listening, asking if the frequency is in use, then telling your friend via an alternative method where you are, only to have
    them tell you that they have noise at that particular frequency. You go
    back and forth a couple of times, finally settle in on a mutually
    convenient frequency and have a contact whilst keeping note of the signal strength shown on your receiver.

    On a good day that will take a few minutes, on a bad day that might take
    much longer or not work at all.

    If you want to do this across multiple bands, you have the fun of doing
    this whole thing multiple times.

    In case you're wondering, I've done this plenty of times and I will confess that it's an interesting combination of joy and frustration in attempting
    to get the answer to a pretty simple and common question: "Can I talk to my friend?"

    In my shack there are plenty of tools, digital multimeters, LC meter,
    antenna analyser and the like. No doubt you have some or more of those.
    Perhaps you have an oscilloscope, a vector network analyser, or other

    None of those are particularly useful tools to solve this particular

    On the other hand, you are likely to have a receiver and probably a transmitter. If you're reading or listening to this, you're likely to have
    a computer as well.

    Using a receiver and a computer as a tool to solve this problem might not
    have occurred to you. It hadn't occurred to me until recently that these
    are ideally suited for this particular repetitive task.

    So, I fired up my copy of WSJT-X and set it to WSPR mode. Changed the band
    to 2m and set it up to transmit. The other station did the same. Within a couple of minutes the results were coming in. We could both see what the
    link quality was like between us. Then we changed to 70 cm and did it
    again. Rinse and repeat for 10m.

    As it happens, the other station was receive only and they had to attend to some family activities and I was in my office earning a living, well
    actually, doing my bookkeeping, but you get the idea, you can do this test while you're doing something else.

    I checked in a couple of times to see how it was going when he pointed out
    that I could see his actual results on the WSPRnet.org website.

    I had been looking at the map with mixed results because it had been timing
    out for most of the day and when it did work, all I could see was that a message was decoded, not how well it was received. Randall VK6WR, the other station, then pointed me at the link to the database which I hadn't seen
    until then. If you're looking, it's at the top right.

    Out pops a list of all the WSPR spots his station reported, and as a bonus,
    the spots reported by another local amateur.

    If you know me at all it will come as no surprise that I used the
    opportunity to make a chart. Actually I made several, one showing the
    frequency drift between our stations, one showing the signal strength.

    Between the three bands it looks like 2m gives us the best opportunity for experimentation, though 70cm does appear to have some possibilities. Sadly
    10m isn't with the antennas currently in the air, but I saw an email the
    other day with reports of a new vertical at the other end, so we'll have a
    go at doing the 10m test again in the very near future, perhaps even today.

    Right now from the WSPRnet.org website I'm downloading this month's WSPR reports from the Downloads section to see who else saw my signals. No doubt I'll make a chart or six. I'll keep you posted.

    I must thank Randall VK6WR for pointing me at the database link on the WSPRnet.org website, because that made propagation and link testing so much more useful and repeatable.

    Tools come in all shapes and sizes. What's one that unexpectedly helped you lately?

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20201227.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    When will it ever end?

    Posted: 19 Dec 2020 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    Mark Twain is often misquoted in relation to reports about his death, pithy
    as always, he said: "The report of my death was an exaggeration." Similarly
    the death of amateur radio has been reported on many different occasions.

    Letting amateurs near a Morse key, banning spark-gap transmitters,
    introducing transistors, integrated circuits, computers, the internet,
    software defined radio, the list grows as technology evolves. I can imagine
    our descendants decrying the death of amateur radio with the
    commodification of quantum computing at some point in the future of

    Yesterday I had an entertaining and instructional play date with a fellow amateur. We discussed countless aspects of our hobby, things like how you'd
    go about direction finding if you had access to multiple radios and
    antennas, what characteristics that might have, what you'd need in the way
    of mathematics, how you'd write software to solve the problem and how you'd
    go about calibrating such a system. Could you use a local AM broadcast
    station as a calibration source, or do you need to generate a known signal?

    We started talking about how you'd send data across the network so you
    could have a dozen devices in different locations that you could
    synchronise and share data. How would you control it, how would you make
    use of existing standards, were there other tools like this already and
    what were their limitations.

    Then there was the conversation about using spectrum effectively, seeing current digital modes like FT8 and their level of effective use of a 2.5kHz slice of spectrum with 15 second time-slots and the theoretical bandwidth
    that you might achieve if you used that mode as a data transmission mode.

    There was the conversation around how you'd use propagation tools to
    determine path openings on the higher bands without needing a beacon, just
    a computer and a radio.

    Then we talked about how you'd go about making a simple WSPR beacon, based
    on a minimum component count and some readily available hardware, rather
    than a sophisticated transceiver like a PlutoSDR.

    There was a discussion around E-class amplifiers and their characteristics
    and potential pitfalls.

    We managed to cover a fair bit of ground in a few hours over our hot
    beverage of choice, a nice meal for lunch and despite me tripping over the threshold of my front door, banging my head against the wall and rolling my ankle. The head is fine, the ankle not so much.

    My point is that the world of amateur radio is never done, it's never
    finished, there's never an end. There's always more to discover, more to explore, build and investigate.

    How on earth could you contemplate that this was a hobby that had no
    relevance in the world today, let alone that of tomorrow.

    I for one am very happy to call myself an amateur and looking forward to discovering what else there is to play with. Why are you an amateur and
    does this feel like the end or a new beginning every day?

    The reports of the death of amateur radio was an exaggeration.

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20201220.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    If you want to do HF in an apartment, where do you start?

    Posted: 12 Dec 2020 08:00 AM PST

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    One of the many vexing issues associated with getting on-air and making
    noise is actually making that happen.

    So, let's look at a completely restricted environment. An apartment
    building, seven stories off the ground, no ability to make holes, an unsympathetic council, restrictive local home owners association, et
    cetera, et cetera.

    On the face of it your amateur radio hobby is doomed from the start.

    In reality, it's only just beginning.

    So, to hear HF right now, today, you can go online and listen to a plethora
    of web-based software defined radios. There's the canonical WebSDR in
    Twente and a whole host of others using the same or similar software.
    There's KiwiSDR, AirSpy, Global Tuners, and many more.

    This will give you countless radios to play with, coverage across the
    globe, the ability to compare signals from different receivers at the same
    time on the same frequency, the ability to decode digital modes, find propagation, learn about how contests are done, the sky's the limit. I'll
    add that you don't need an amateur license for many of these resources, so
    if you're considering becoming part of the community of radio amateurs,
    this is a great way to dip your toe in the water. Think of it as a
    short-wave listening experience on steroids.

    I hear you say, but that's not amateur radio.

    To that I say, actually, it is. It's everything except a physical antenna
    at your shack or the ability to transmit.

    Permit me a digression to the higher bands. If you want to listen to local repeaters on UHF and VHF, listen to DMR and Brandmeister, you'll find
    plenty of online resources as well. You can often use a hand-held radio to connect to a local repeater which can get you onto the global Echolink,
    IRLP and AllStar networks. Failing that, there's phone apps to make that connection instead.

    Of course if you want to expand your repertoire to transmission, beyond a hand-held, you can.

    There are online transmitters as well. Many clubs have their club station available for amateurs to use remotely using a tool like Remote Hams.
    You'll get access to a radio that's able to transmit and you'll be able to
    make contacts, even do digital modes and contests. You will require an
    amateur license and access to such a station. Some clubs will require that
    you pay towards the running of such a service and often you'll need to be a member.

    Then there's actually going to the club, you know, physically, going to the club shack and twiddling physical knobs, though for plenty of clubs that's
    now also a computer since they're adopting software defined radios just
    like the rest of the community is. Using a radio via a computer can be
    achieved directly in the shack, but there's no reason to stay on-site. You
    can often use these radios from the comfort of your own shack.

    If you do want to get physical with your own gear, receiving is pretty
    simple. A radio with a wire attached to it will get you listening to the
    local environment. I have for example a Raspberry Pi connected to an
    RTL-SDR dongle that's connected to a wire antenna in my shack. It's
    listening across the bands 24/7 and reporting on what it hears.

    If you want to use an actual transceiver and you don't have the ability to set-up an antenna, kit out your car and go mobile. Failing that, make a
    go-kit with batteries, which as an aside will stand you in good stead
    during an emergency. Take your go-kit camping, or climbing, or hiking.
    Plenty of opportunities to get on-air and make noise.

    I hear you asking, what about having an antenna farm?

    Well, you can set one up in a farmers paddock and connect to it remotely -
    you will need permission from the land-owner - there's plenty of amateurs
    who use their country abode as a remote station.

    [continued in next message]

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