A Fresh Start
Okay, as I write this it is the second day of 2023. I am committing myself to blogging more and getting more involved in my hobby this year. 2022 was a rough year with lots of changes in our lives that took me away from ham radio a lot more than I anticipated or wanted. We (the XYL and I) have experience health issues, a move to a new state, a new radio club and a bunch of new ham friends as well as several changes in my radios and equipment. I’ll be going into more details in upcoming posts on the new ham setup but I will provide some highlights here.
We finally made the move north to Hendersonville NC on Saturday September 24th. As reported in prior blog posts we are leasing a second floor condo through at least June of this year. In addition to exploring the area we will be using this time to decide if we want to make the move permanently and if so , we will be house hunting. Of course, I intend to play radio. The locam ham radio community is important to me wherever I end up. and I am blessed to have great club in this area. The Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club is very active and meets about 4 miles from our condo which allows me to easily participate. The members have been very welcoming and friendly. Back in Florida I had a 20 mile trip to participate with either of the two clubs in the area so I wasn’t very involved with either club. Here there are a lot of repeaters and numerous hams along with lots of POTA/SOTA opportunities to enjoy. I’m anticipating an active “ham” Winter and Spring.
Our girls came up to visit in the middle of November and my sister and her kids visited us over Thanksgiving. We were able to go back to Florida for a week at Christmas and we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with all of our family.
This is the hardest part for me to write about and I have written this so many times in my head then abandoned it as I was never comfortable with what I “wrote”. Since July the XYL has had a tough time with her Hemodialysis slowly taking a toll on her physically. In mid December we were finally able to transition her to Peritoneal Dialysis and she now does her treatments each night while she sleeps. This allows Her/Us to live a more normal daytime life as we explore and enjoy the North Carolina mountains and the area we live in. This “home dialysis” is also easier on her kidneys and her body. We are seeing her overall health improve and we are trusting God for a complete recovery for her kidneys.
The New Shack
I moved my shack from a corner of our bedroom in Florida to an enclosed balcony here in the condo. I have downsided considerably and I am still working out the layout and some of the kinks that I have encountered. My biggest problem has been getting an antenna setup that works well indoors for HF. I can’t put up an outdoor antenna and most things that I have tried indoors either don’t work well or are impractical to have in the middle of our living room. A 17′ vertical whip just isn’t practical indoors with 8 foot ceilings. My hamsticks didn’t work well either. Luckily I have a friend (thanks Mark) who has loaned me his AlexLoop and that seems to work fairly well but it limits me to 20 watts or less.
The local VHF/UHF repeater access has been very good. For example, I am able to talk on the Mt. Mitchell repeater using an HT from inside and that is about 35 miles distant from my location. Having repeaters on mountain tops sure helps! I check into the local Net each Sunday evening and I am always amazed at where the participants are located and how far away they are. In fact, we have a Net almost every night that I can check into.
Unfortunately I have a ridge line that is about 100′ higher than me that surrounds me on three sides. This limits my access to repeaters south of me and keeps me from participating in one of the nets that I like. I have to use Echolink if I want to participate in the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Society’s nightly Net. I did that quite regularly when I was still in Florida but it kind of hurts to have to do it now that I live here. But that is the way things go sometimes; you win some and you lose some.
Once we committed to the move I decided that with the smaller shack space I would downsize my radio collection. The Xiegu G90 and X6100 were sold off and the money went towards an Icom IC-705. So my shack now consists of an IC-7300 and a Yaesu VHF mobile rig on the desk. The 705 sometimes gets shack duty but it is pretty much dedicated to field use and will be my POTA radio as I also sold off the Yaesu 891. If you are going to go QRP in the field then go all the way. My friend Mark ended up with all three of my radios. I am still refining my shack layout and field setup so I won’t go into much detail here. In addition to the radios, I have also sold most of my Wolf River Coils antennas and have settled on some some new antenna combos that I will write about in future posts.
Again, I am making a commitment to blogging more this year as well as getting out and playing radio in the great outdoors. Future blog posts will be more radio focused but with the gap in my blogging and all that has happened I wanted to explain things to everyone. Thanks for sticking with me and for reading this. I hope to hear from you guys in the comments. Happy New Year.