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It has been a month already!

It feels like yesterday I got my licence, but it has been already a month and it has been a ride! First, I needed to learn how to operate my Icom IC-7300 radio a little, so I read the manual. It has so many functions that I don’t even know what are they for yet, or seemed complicated at first sight, but I read it anyway - later in this article you out will find out why it paid off 💪. So I pushed the “tuner” button and my antenna was matched to 10m band, and I pulled the trigger.

I made my first ever QSO on the 9th of February 2024 with the strong signal special event spanish station AO100RADIO on 10m band via SSB. I was sooo nervous when I was going to push the PTT button for the first time, even though I was not sure what the other station’s callsign is - the callsign seemed somehow weird to me. The other station was pronouncing it alpha-oscar-one hundred-radio. And the “one hundred” part confused me, because from my licence training I was used to pattern “xx-single number-xx”.

But in the end I was brave enough and pushed PTT and tried to speak my callsign. The AO100RADIO picked me up, gave me 56 report - I replied with their 59 report and asked for repeating his callsign. He tried repeating it several times, but I still could not get it. Finally, he said “alpha-oscar-one-zero-zero-radio” and the bulb in my brain went on! So I logged it and that is the story of my first QSO. And from that time, I was not a shortwave radio virgin anymore!

The same day I made another QSO with portugal and in the following days other countries followed. I was so excited when USA and Canada stations answered my first CQ call! And by the time, few more interesting countries (at least for me) followed.

I made contacts on 10m, 12m and on 40m because that’s where my antenna can be tuned using built-in tuner in my Icom. Or at least I thought it is tuned on 40m, but I was getting awful reports on 40m and I noticed the output power meter on my radio is not peaking to 100%, but around 40% only. I went investigating using my chinese antenna analyzer and found out, that my end-fed wire antenna had SWR about 8 on 40m.

I am not sure how my radio thought it is tuned, but I suspect, that I was using the built-in tuner on 40m when it was raining and foggy outside and I guess it was able to match it at that time, but when the weather is not wet, the antenna properties changed rapidly. Also, currently the antenna wire is going through the roof entrance, and it is somehow twisted there, so not ideal (but that is something I am working on right now).

Due to things written above I was running 100W into detuned antenna for some time, until I found out. Luckily my radio is clever enough to cut the power and did not blow up 🙏

My first split operation

I was reading theory about split operation. One of the articles suggested to try it ideally for the first time with a friend. I did not have a friend to try this with me, so I stored the theory in my brain and that was it.

on 6th of March 2024 I was tuning the band to check for station calling CQ. Usually for me, there were many spanish and portugese stations on 10m. But this day, I noticed unknown callsign prefix that was calling CQ. And he was calling CQ and saying “listening 5 up”. I knew that meant this is split operation so I went to check the callsign and found out, that this is the

J38R Grenada DX-pedition calling and no one was answering them yet 😱

At that moment, shit just got serious, because I really wanted to make the contact, but I knew I must set my radio to split. Because I read the manual and faintly memorized how is it done, I was able to set it up under one minute and tried to answer the CQ. What a surprise when the J38R picked me up immediately with a nice report of 59! I was so happy it worked, and that I was able to set up the split operation!

I kept listening their station and in the meantime I alerted my local HAM friend to try them out. But it was 5 minutes later he joined, tried to call several times, but no avail. By that 5 minutes the pile-up was enormous, whole Europe was calling. I suspect somebody put them in the DX cluster.

So I guess I was lucky at least three times here:

  • I heard one of their first CQ’s until they appeared in the cluster
  • I was able to set up split operation for the first time
  • The CONDX were good

No portable yet

I do not have that much time on the weekends, but I am planning to make a portable and some SOTA or FF activation. I already have the batteries and stuff purchased, but the time is my enemy. There needs to be a balance of family-life and the hobbies, so I am waiting for my opportunity for SOTA activation, because I love hiking and cycling and one of the summits is really close to my place 😊

One more pull

I made 87 contacts in the first month from my home. I am not saying hamshack, because it is just TRX sitting on my table next to my computer 😂

Every time I am tuning across the band, I have the feeling that I guess the gamblers have - even though nobody is calling I still tune across the band multiple times, because what if somebody just started calling? Similarly like gamblers are pulling the lever on slot machines, because what if the next pull will be winning? 😂