A Ham’s Birthday

Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time.

Paul Simon – Have a Good Time

It’s become a tradition that I play this song on May 31st. I did so every year, since I discovered the great Paul Simon. Just a reflection on my own life and every year the song seems to describe exactly how my life is going: it’s a mess, but I’m having a good time.

I make my own good time and so I was good to myself this year. I ordered an Argents Data Systems APRS kit, because I’ve been longing to do something with APRS for a long time now. I’ve already had some success with Xastir and SoundModem decoding APRS signals on my laptop, so I’m good to go now.

My wife was good to me, too, because she brought a Baofeng UV-5R back from China. Even cheaper than the export model, with a cute Chinese lady inside and a lousy Chinese manual. In China they use simplified characters, but also the use and translation of foreign phrases and words is different than in Taiwan. So over here in Taiwan we translate “menu” as 功能表 or “Function List”. Makes sense, right? In China they translate it literally: 菜單 or “Dish/Vegetable List”, like in the different dishes listed on the menu of a restaurant.

Enough has already been written on the Baofeng UV-5R. I can only add the following: “What an ugly looking thing!” The designer should be subjected to some serious Chinese torture. Not that we Westerners don’t mess up every now and then. When having the HT in my hand I constantly had to think of this beauty made by the French truck maker Renault.Maybe theses things are for “manly men” and I’m not man enough to appreciate this kind of design.

Anyway, I am also going to make my foray into the SDR world, because my lovely wife also brought back an DVB-T USB Television stick with a RealTek RTL2832U inside. There has been a lot of talk about these sticks lately and for only US$11 is it worth a try. I’ll keep you posted, but for now I only tried the TV reception (great) and DAB radio stations (non what-so-ever in Taiwan! It seems FM radio is here to stay for a long time).

Together with the other projects that are under way I will have a busy summer holiday.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

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