Ham radio as I know it is out

I decided to put my Elecraft K3, Elecraft P3  , K-pod and LP-Pan up for sale!! It may sound odd but I was very close to the K3 and it served me very well. The support at Elecraft is amazing along with many rig software updates. The gear was sold one piece at a time. First it was the LP Pan that was sold and soon after the Elecraft P3 was sold and then the K-pod was gone. Just today the Elecraft K3 was shipped out. What is left is a vacant spot on the left side of the radio desk.........hmmmm is it still called a radio desk with no radio??? Why this drastic move you ask.....well the solar cycle is at a low, I do have some real challenges in the condo with a compromised antenna and when I looked over at the roll top desk that used to hold the K3 I just was not moved to go and turn it on. I came to the conclusion I needed a new challenge, something to give my learning curve a challenge. So what am I off to next.........stay tuned to find out!
Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

45 Responses to “Ham radio as I know it is out”

  • NZ8I:

    Hey OM,
    LMAO about “Ham radio is out as I know it…”
    Hamster fer last 40 years on n off.
    First transmitter was a homebrew-built with Elmer-cw only.
    Bought my IC-7300 last Christmas.
    Amazing changes over my hobby life.
    Ur just burned out dude.
    It happens.
    But just when u forget it altogether;
    Old Mother Nature kicks u where it counts.
    Power grid goes down- cell phones shot
    It s smoke signals or back to Hamming fer survival comm
    See u down the log in 3-5 yrs .
    73
    NZ8I

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening NZ8I, not to worry dude there is not burn out here just a change and standby the next post will clear the RF fog bother.
    73,
    Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Sorry NZ8I not “bother” but brother.

  • Martin OK1RR:

    How long are you licensed? How deep are you in the game? CW or no-coder? There are many aspects to follow – you CAN make YOUR ham radio! “Ham radio is out as I know it…” – how false! Ham radio will be exactly as what we do! Believe me, YOU have it in YOUR hands!

  • richard a desrosiers wb5b:

    hi sun spots may be low but wspr and ft8 are alive and well !!!
    dick wb5b

  • Jeff VE6DV:

    I can relate. I still enjoy hf cw and every so often voice but osine 2011 my main focus has been the digital voice modes. D-STAR and now DMR. This is a hobby of 1000 hobbies. Always something new to learn and experiment with.

    Jeff VE6DV

  • Steve W8SFC:

    I have been a SWLer for 40 plus years, and last fall got licensed, and just attended my first Field Day. I got to make some contacts on 40m, but it was difficult due to band conditions – the noise floor did fluctuate some, but between the higher (and longer duration) levels of background noise and the pileups on the stronger signals it was not a simple affair to make those contacts, from my perspective. I didn’t expect this to be easy but I think we did well considering conditions.

    I will keep plugging away at this, because the Elmers tell me that it can be much better making contacts when the band conditions are better, and that these things vary over time. I’m working toward upgrading to General in my spare time, and learning about other modes of operation.

    I just got started here, and I am not ready to go to internet only radio, which seems to be the alternative. The only remaining thing I have knowledge of is the new digital hybrids that use cell phone technology married to digital two way radio. I know this may be the wave of the future and it probably attracts a younger crowd interest wise, but I wonder if this is really still radio once you tie cell phone tech to it.

    73!

  • Gary N4CHV:

    I don’t believe Ham Radio is out but it has certainly changed over the past 60 years. I was first licensed in 1956 and home built a 50 watt CW transmitter out of the handbook. My receiver was a WW2 ARC-5 on 40 meters. I used to stay up most of the night looking for a CW contact. I have operated from Hawaii, Germany, England, and Libya (5A3TR – Tripoli Radio). I have been somewhat inoperative these past several years but am now picking up where I left off and back on the air within the next week or so. My old equipment is still working as new and I will use the until it quits. Anyway I just wanted to put my two cents in on this conversation. I do see that a computer will be a major upgrade to amateur radio as it has already started. 73 and see you on the air.

  • Cam N7NBB:

    This comment is directed to Steve – W8FSC… and others as applicable.
    As I am sure your elmers already told you, you also develop an “EAR” for listening to those noisy signals. As an avid SWL-er, you may already be on your way to “HEARING” voices in weak signals… NOW comes the training you ear to pick those voices out of an SSB signal. It takes practice and experience, but you WILL start digging out those tough ones. The settings on your radio ALSO play a major part of what you can and can’t hear. Adjust the RF gain, AF gain, and any filters you have at your disposal. A common misconception is to hear a weak signal, run the RF gain as high as possible. That is NOT the case. Same for the AF gain (to a lesser)degree. EXPERIMENT. Give Yourself Time to adapt.
    Happy Hammin’

  • jeff WW6L:

    a dramatic exit! anyone else leaving?

  • Eddie K7HFU:

    Keep your ticket current. The bands will be back.

  • John N6VTS:

    I’m eager to see what he springs as a next step!! Condx may be tough, but that just makes the successes sweeter!

    73, John/N6VTS

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Martin, I have been in ham radio for about 27 years and am 90% CW and 10% digi. My CW is QSO’s and contesting. It’s true that are many aspects of ham radio and you are correct it is for sure in my hands.
    Stay tuned Martin.
    73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Richard, very nice to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to stop by. I have tried FT8 and it’s a great mode for when the bands are in the dumpers. I have to stay that computers have always interested me and our radios and PC are becoming more and more intwined. I know some become very frustrated with computing mixed with ham radio but I like the challenge.
    73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Jeff and welcome to the blog, yes DMR is really catching on and I have done some reading about it but have not seen it in action. I have been off and on but more recently more off than on. It may not be the hobby per say only as my schedule has been very busy.
    73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Steve, I want to start off by saying CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Welcome into ham radio and it’s great that you are moving toward upgrading. Sound like your first field day was a hit and yes I have hear the same from many op’s that it was a slow time as the bands did not co-operate. It’s true over time the conditions will improve. But you did mention the combo of radio and PC….hmmm sounds like the future.
    73
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Gary thanks very much for your “two cents”, yes things all around have changed…..dial up internet, home phones, BW TV, and so on. I agree Gary keep going with the old gear until it gives up and I will say it is more forgiving when you forget to adjust, turn off or mix settings up. When you do that with modern rigs the result is smoke!
    Thanks very much Gary for your two cents 73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Easy Jeff…..drama is not my radio way……:)
    73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Eddie thanks for stopping by, up in Canada the licence is life time with no yearly fee. Even if the ticket gathers dust I can just pick it up and dust it off.
    73 and have a great week Ed
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello John, that is a very interesting question and in time deserves an answer.
    73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • David WB4ONA:

    Happy Trails Pardner! [hat-tip]…

  • David Wilcox K8WPE:

    Not to worry. I have been in ham radio for 55 years and electronics since age 10 or so. This hobby has always been there when I wander off and try somwthing else. It is something I can do from home or take a QRP set up on the road (to play with when my wife is shopping). It will be there when you come back, but it might be very different…… Just another challenge to keep an old brain working.

    Dave K8WPE

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning David WB4ONA, easy partner not so fast.
    73,
    Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello David K8WPE, it is so true with ham radio the gears just keep turning and the mind is kept sharp.
    73,
    Mike

  • John KU8Q:

    Hey, OM. There’s lots of digital stuff going on, and even with the newer versions, I find lots of activity on 20 and 40 meters for PSK31. I realize you feel limited in your condo, but many fellow hams are finding that magnetic loop antennas are saving the day for them in regulated housing areas (HOAs and Condos especially). There’s always someone, somewhere. Many fellow hams make the mistake of listening and not hearing anything. If you never call CQ, those “listeners” think the band is dead. IF everybody is listening, nobody is hearing anyone else.
    73
    John

  • Walt N5EQY:

    So much to learn, so little time, so many changes to the whole system. Its hard to keep up, especially for OLD guys like me who cant remember anything. Still trying, cant give up, just takes so long to figure out all the digital stuff that has burst onto the ham radio scene. At least analog still makes sense to me in my old age. I still like making new friends on SSB and FM.

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    So you dumped you K3 setup because using it was not all that exciting. I can relate, but I have a disease that solves that problem… I have done one hell of a lot of bartering the last 20 yrs. Yup, dozens of trading, selling buying, more trading. Totally out of control at times, but have had many, many radios run past me for weeks, months and in some cases years. Being on limited income for quite a while keeps me money challenged, but has not stopped me from getting some outrages trades.

    My Tentec Eagle got me a 2 yrs old (at the time) K3/100. I then picked up a P3 kit that was never built and that was the start of my K-Line that I have used for 9 years. I just recently traded the K3+P3 for a FTdx5000MPL that was bought by the first owner December 2017. Makes that a new radio since he never used it.. The K3 was 9 yrs old the 5000 at the time I got it was 90 days old… New radio, tons of features and lot to learn. A key to my trading disease.

    Since I sold the FT-991 (again I traded another radio for it) and use those funds for a cool KX2 with internal battery and ATU, the KX3 I had was up for trade, and that I did. I traded it for a 6 month old IC-7300. The PX3 was sold for hobby cash. The IC-7300, as far as I am concerned, it a K3+P3 or a KX3+PX3+KPA100+KAT100 are in one box the size of the K3 (close to it). The radio will hold it own to a K3 99% of the time. Digital is a blast. The many scopes (yes it has more then one) are a ball to play with. The basic ATU is more then 3:1, but if you go to what is called EMERGENCY mode your power is capped at 50 watts and you have a 10:1 ATU. Opens up a lot of compromise antenna fun and games. Quite frankly with the FTdx5000, KX2 and IC-7300 my trading disease is now in check.

    Please not I am also have a ball with Win4YeasuSuite and Win4ICOMSuite for rig control and more. With the ICOM I now have a larger spectum scope/waterfall, and with Win4YeasuSuite and adding a SDRPlay to the IF out I have the same with the 5000. More things to play with, more reasons to get on… Something to consider. New toys means new challenges, learning, frustrations and yes FUN .. Thus more reasons to turn the radio on and play.

    My 2 cents worth as usual… Any questions? 😉

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • Mike VE3WD:

    Good evening John and thanks for all the great input, it so true that if everyone around the globe is listening to everyone the band seems dead. I’m very excited about setting out on a new direction it has been rolling around in my head for some time. It was due time to make the change or just stop going down that avenue all the time.
    73
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Walt and very nice to meet you, yes there is a lot our there regarding the hobby and I sure have had my frustrations with the digital modes. One day everything works great and the next day nothing it’s as if the computer gods are not smiling down on you. Walt by staying at the hobby or anything for that matter it may not seem like it but it keeps the mind sharp!
    Thanks for stopping by and 73
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    As always Harry great to hear from you and I hope all is going well, thanks very much for your 2 cents always loook forward to it. That sure is a very impressive string of rigs you have had WOW! Just doing the trading and bartering is a hobby in itself. I had the Win4k3 suite and Tom does a fantastic job with all the software. He offers prompt customer service and will even call you to sort out an issue!
    New toys and new challenges hmmmmmmm sounds interesting Harry 😉
    Thanks Harry for your input and stay tuned
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    Hi again Mike,

    Here is a partial list of radios since about 1998 to the present. 20 yrs ..ow did that happen??). The list is in specific order since I can not remember which radios were trades and which were sold so I had $$$ to buy more. But I do know the trade part was at least 80 of the time.

    SGC-2020, IC-703, IC-706, 706MII, 706MKIIg, IC-718, IC-756 (twice), IC-756PROII, IC-7000, IC-7100, IC-7200, TS-130S, TS-140S, TS-450SAT(Fully loaded with all the filters), ALINCO DX-70TH and DX-77, FLEX 1500 AND 3000, TENTEC 599 EAGLE, TENTEC AROGONAUT VI, FT-857D, FT-897D, FT-101EE, FT-7, FT-817 and 817ND(Total of 9 over the years), FT-991, HB-1A,HB-1B, MFJ-9420, MFJ-9440, MFJ-9406 KX1, K2/10 (2 fully loaded. Internal ATU and batter), KPA100 in external box to make K2/10 into K2/100, K2/100 (two..K2’s are great radios and great for trading material), KX3+PX3+KXPA100+KXAT100, K3/100 (Recently traded)+ P3(Sold)+KPA500+KAT500(Still have both and are keepers), K3/100(DOA/Tech special… not working and now fully functional with the jumper to make it into a /10…a keeper).

    This is just a partial list. At present I have a K3/100/10 (The DOA that now works and I can make into a /10 or /100). IC-7300, FTdx5000MP Limited, ALDA-103…1977 all solid state 100 watt + transceiver and matching PS. HW-16+HG-10 vfo … working FB and my original Hallicrafters S-38D RX from the late 1950’s early 1960’s. Also a TS-711A and TS-811A for satellite work one day soon.

    So maybe trading is sort of a secondary hobby, but that was not my intent. I have been a ham since 1963/64 and had very few HF radios (my list does not have all the vhf/uhf radios). Just before 2000 I decided to change that, thus new toys, new challenges, new learning and then move on to the next. My problem is the K3, 7300 and 5000 I have are too good to part with. I hope our upcoming ham swap meet in July will net me a radio for more trading…If not so be it..

    I hope I plated a seed or two for future playing. There are a lot of things you can do as far as ham radio goes….

    AM … Not dead yet. Sounds like yesteryear
    FM … 10 meter, 6 meter, 2 meter, 440 and above.
    SSB .. HF, VHF, UHF, Satellite. Plently of bands even when they seem dead for someone to log and visit with.
    CW … The “original” digital mode and still alive today and not dying. Good for all band and any and all legal power.
    QRP .. When power is down or you are camping or just want a rush knowing you just contacted someone with less power then a night light. This is the one mode with lots of frustration and excitment
    QRPp . For get the power of a night light, drop down to the power of a cheap flashlight and see who you can nail.
    RTTY . The original keyboard to keyboard chat mode.
    Digital . The latest way to make contacts when you have hearing problems, HOA, dead sounding bands (as in low solar cycle)
    PSK, FSQ, IFKP, CONTESTIA, DOMINOEX, HELLSCHREIBER, MFSK, MT63, OLVIA, QPSK, 8PSK, PSKR, RTTY, THOR, THROB If you have not tired them all and all the direrent speeds, you can’t say you know all there is to know when it comes to making contacts and new friends on the air.
    SSTV . See and be seen.
    Satellite . Put up a couple of VHF/UHF eggbeater antennas and go for it. FM, SSB, CW and digital as well and making friends on the ISS. This can be done pretty much anywhere. And it is a challenge.
    Let’s also remember that ham radio can be done anywhere, so don’t rule out mobile, RV’ing, Camping, Parks, Beaches, etc.

    This list is about 80% of the activities I know of… Figured this would be enough for you to ponder… BTW make your next radio a IC-7300… Trust me on this one… It is a winner once you get past the fact that SDR radios work a bit different.

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good lord Harry when do you have time to sleep doing all that trading and bartering?
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    SLEEP IS SO OVER RATED….

    Just try not to think about this, but that list is far from complete. I have had dozens of smaller radios like softrocks, pixies, Small wonders PSK20 (two over the years and my first PSK31 radio that I made contacts with), SW-40, HW-101 and many, many more. Keep in mind these radio have been over a period of about 20 yrs. But as one friend said…. I have not only a interesting disease, but incredible timing in when it come to trading…. Most “deals”, probably 90%, were using QTH.COM, a few with QRZ.COM and the balance with Eham.net. Try it you might like it…

    Harry K7ZOV
    73 to you and yours…. Don’t give up, just be more creative…

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Your trading is a hobby in itself!
    73
    Mike

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    Now back to using my toys…. Will be chasing Baker’s Island using SSB and FT8 for the next week. Also going to chase the 13 Colonies Special 10 yr event. IC-7300 for FT8 and all my digital wants and needs, the FTdx5000 for all the rest. The K3/100 will be running soon in my workshop/junk room/disaster area by the end of the week.

    Have a great week-end Mike. 73 to you and yours..

    Harry

  • AI4HO:

    Greetings and salutations, I can & do understand where you are coming from. Ihave for me an amazing setup!Kenwood TS590SF,ALS-600 amp, whiche is connected to my 52’crank up tower which is up all the way, under that at 48-50′ is my 40 meter dipole a fantastic setup for me to be sure……I use it a couple times a week.
    As a 100% disabled vet medically retired for 18 years now, up until just a couple years ago I was very active, participated in field days, would go at the drop of a hat to help someone with a rig problem, or an antenna problem,etc. My 2 autoimmune diseases decided to go into over drive and I became less than what I though I should be. I am now the one needing help, not that I don’t appreciate all the help I’ve received, but I’m the one that should be up the tower or fixing my antennas. That said I bow find my self being drawn back to one of my loves in ham radio….QRP, I have had my share of new and 2nd or 3rd hand QRP rigs. From the X108Gvenerable FT-817ND, an IC-703+, to my latest purchase the Xeigo 108G I also have my cheater amp for QRP but don’t use it unless cond. are REALLY bad! My next adventure is DMR….at 61 years of age been a ham for….23 yrs. now and though I am tone deaf as hell can’t hear CW ta beat the band, had a real problem taking the code test for general. All that aside I know I’m not as active as I was, that WILL change I know, had some serious health issues an emergency surgery that I am finally healed from. K know I will get active again, maybe not like I was 8-10 yrs. ago but will still be an active ham.
    I know by the title of your article that you definitely have something in the works! Can’t wait to read the next installment of this incredible story of yours. Heck, once you are back up and running maybe we can do a SSB QSO. Be that as it may, the best of luck in your next adventurein ham radio! My apologies to all for the length of my post, I get carried away and my fingers definitely do the walking!

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Have a great weekend Harry, it’s a long weekend up this way (Canada day weekend) do post on how the Baker’s Island went?
    Have a nice weekend of radioing.
    Once again 73,
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Greetings Mark (AI4HO), not to ever worry how long the replies are at all. You sure do have a very nice setup for sure and I am like you Mark, I am the one out doing and going and when my time comes to ask for assistance it sure is going to be hard and feel different. It’s great to read that your getting into QRP I have been a QRP person for a long time and QRPp also is a hoot. It’s amazing to see how far your signal can get. Have a good weekend Mark and I am hoping your health is good.
    Finally you are correct something is up at VE3WDM!
    73
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Zal----VU2DK:

    Even if all the bands are no good—its imperative that we must CQ them regularly & in great numbers plus all modes because leaving them empty will encourage poachers & they are already multiplying if you SWL carefully so lets not use bad propagation to shy away otherwise we are going to give up our hard earned spectrum to odds & sodds !

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Zal, you have a great point and one that we all in the back of our minds know……listen less and call CQ more!
    73,
    Mike

  • Zal---VU2DK:

    Hi Mike VE3WDM—yes we only have to hear any contest weekend & all gets alive again—maybe the strong RF field created by all the activity acts like some kinda medium, so why can’t we do this when there is no contest ? I also have a feeling if all the old high power broadcast stations came back on the short waves, things might change with a stronger RF field all over—just my purely/typical Ham view !!

  • Henry, VE3ACF:

    As an EE (UofT) licensed for 62 yrs,survivor of the Russian CW woodpecker, being a ham got me lots of jobs and promotions. Still get my CW and psk31 kicks from on line apps prxtx and g1SDR. Don’t bury yourself yet.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello again Zal, it so true how the bands become energized on contest weekends! With the summer months here many Hams are out and about enjoying the nice weather.
    73
    Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Greetings Harry and thanks for stopping by, CW is my 98% mode of choice and is a language all unto it self. My hard right turn regarding the hobby is going to keep me going long into retirement.
    73
    Mike
    VE3WDM

  • Sorry Henry not Harry…..the auto spell check is a great thing…..sometimes! Happy Canada Day
    73,
    Mike

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