...to let you know that I'm still alive. I actually have been doing some ham radio related activities, but haven't had much time to blog about that. More about that in a moment...
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the 7th Area QSO Party. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I not only operated SSB exclusively, but that I also did so running at 100 W. Hopefully I won't be shunned and cast out from the QRP community for such a transgression. I think I'll be OK, since most QRPers are forgiving folks.
Actually, it felt good to switch gears a bit and get back to one of the basic ham radio activities. My mic had been gathering dust for quite some time, and I don't want to be too one-dimensional in my approach to the hobby. I didn't take the contest too seriously, only operating for a handful of two-hour stretches at a time.
The shack PC is loaded with Ubuntu Linux, and I struggled for a very long time to find a decent contest logger written to natively run in a Linux environment. In the end, I gave up and settled on running SD in a Wine console shell. I was actually quite surprised at how well it worked; which was flawlessly.
Since I did not have my headset mic/footswitch combo dug out of the remaining moving boxes in our garage, I was stuck with the hand mic. Given this, and my unfamiliarity with SD, I decided that I would stay strictly search & pounce for the duration of the contest. There was no way I could run even a small pile-up without screwing up massively. That decision made for a nice leisurely contest. I only bagged 31 QSOs, spread out pretty much evenly amongst 20, 40, and 80 meters. Not exactly a world-class showing, but lots of fun nonetheless. Next year, I'll try to have my station in better shape so I can mount a more serious effort.
A more sigificant event has also happened to me in the last few weeks. Through a bit of networking, I managed to land a second job as a part-time technician at Buddipole Antennas! To be honest, I didn't even realized that Buddipole HQ was just a few miles from my house in neighboring Hillsboro until I heard of this opportunity. I'll be learning the product lines so that I can assist with customer support, as well as a variety of other job duties as needed. So if you are a Buddipole customer, don't be shocked if I end up answering your phone call or e-mail one of these days. So now you know why I've been a bit busy the last few weeks and haven't had much free time.
I've been having a lot of fun playing with different configurations of the Buddipole system in my backyard. I'm sure you'll hear a bit more about my efforts in this area in the future. I'm hoping to get out in the field with the Buddipole in the near future to do some true portable operation, especially if I can get the antenna out to the coast sometime soon for some nice low takeoff angle DXing to the other side of the Pacific. Stay tuned for further details...