Monday, March 9, 2015

Long overdue update!

Hello readers!  I'm writing you now from the great state of Texas!  Yes, we've finally begun to settle down after our move in November.  Things have been good for us and we're very much enjoying the change of venue!

For starters, the move went pretty well.  Most of our stuff is crammed into a 15 foot by 10 foot storage unit, but I managed to keep most of my radio stuff with me and that made it to the apartment unscathed.  I did lose my mast I was using for my hex beam, apparently it was left on a different truck.  How someone forgets a 12 foot long pole I do not know.  That isn't a huge loss though, it was free to me and I didn't plan on using it at our new QTH anyway.  I'll be putting up a real tower instead.

As for our new QTH, we've been apartment bound so far and it looks like we'll continue to be for at least a few more months.  Luckily that has not meant I had to be off the radio.  I've had pretty good luck using my homebrew magnetic loop with my TS-590S from the apartment, even though I'm limited to QRP levels.  I've got a few DX contacts on sideband even in the ARRL contest!  All in all, I can't complain too much.  Noise levels are relatively low and I can get out from time to time so I'm not at all upset about the operating conditions.  It's keeping me on the air and that's what matters.

We have been shopping around for houses and we might even be building.  The housing market here in Texas is very dynamic and with springtime around the corner, things should be picking up again.  It isn't uncommon to see stuff listed and sold within a week so if we find something we're going to want to be ready to go on it.  So far, we have not seen much, which is why we're thinking about building.  As you know, HOAs can be a real big pain and there's no exception in the DFW area.  All the new developments have them and a fair share of the older ones do too.  We have found a few properties outside of the HOAs but we haven't fallen in love yet.  Whatever way we go, I'll be planning to include room for a 40' tower and a K9AY loop of some sort for low band receive.  It'll be quite a step up from what I'm used to so I'm very excited about the prospects.  Still, it all seems like it will probably be a long way out.  If I have a dipole up before next winter, I'll be surprised.

I am missing my contest club, N0MA, up in IA.  I'm still on the email reflector so I'm keeping in touch but I've missed a few of the good contests with the group and I have not found a good group down here yet.  There's a meeting for the DFW Contesters group on Wednesday this week though so hopefully I can make some face-to-face connections and get something planned for a future contest.

I went to the Irving Hamfest last weekend which was all right.  Back in IA it was one hamfest a year for me, and down here it looks like they're a little more common with many of the suburbs holding their own throughout the year.  I didn't find much worth looking at there but I was on the lookout for a D-Star capable mobile rig.  With our inevitable move to a house, we've been looking further away from work and my commute may triple so I figure a more capable mobile radio for the car may be in order.  There was a guy selling an ID-880H but he wanted too much and wouldn't take my lowball offer.  Other than that, it was a lot of boat anchor junk, and not even the "good" boat anchor stuff.  I did see a guy get a brand new Begali Traveler for the tiny sum of $150.  They go for $260 from Italy so I would say the guy got a pretty good deal!

I also ran into a young ham who somehow recognized me from Dayton last year.  Apparently he was working one of the vendor tables inside one of the halls.  How he remembered my face out of the thousands of people who walked by, I'll never know!  Regardless, we had a nice little chat on the benefits of digital voice on the VHF bands and he mentioned that he's been into P25, along with a few guys from the area.  He dissuaded me from D-Star a bit but I'm not really convinced either way.  We're going to keep in touch though and see if we can put something together for Field Day maybe. I guess he works pretty closely with the SMU radio club so we could probably put together a decent group of young guys.  I also know of several Rose-Hulman students working down here on co-op that I might enlist for FD too, but there's lots of time for that yet.

That's a big update, and all I have for now.  Keep tuned for more stuff in the following weeks and months!  Thanks for reading!