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VGSMC_8520

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I just posted a similar question a minute ago (younger guy interested in amateur radio). I'm a computer programmer, and Echolink looks pretty interesting. I'm also kind of nervous that I will have nothing in common with other hams, and don't want to get bored with the hobby.
 

902

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Contesting is one of those things that makes it possible to say that ham radio really does have something for everyone.

I'm a rabid UHF and up contester.
I do that, too! Do you do it from home, or take it on the road as a rover or hilltopper?

I'm mostly 6 meters and up. Built a few Down East Microwave transverter kits. A while back I fell in with these guys who would build this stuff, then go hilltopping during the June VHF contest just before Field Day. We would all bring our own stuff, but operate as a team. My favorite part had nothing to do with radio - CONTEST CHILI!!! This stuff that Jack (now sk) would make and pour into 2 liter soda bottles, that would be the greatest thing at 3 AM. It didn't matter that Jack was in his 70s and stroked out a couple of times, he made damned good contest chili. It didn't matter that I was in my late 20s. I brought stuff from home, worked stations or logged, and fixed stuff if it broke. I even had a Motorola service monitor that we used as an exciter for 900 MHz. We made contact with the "Sugar Zebra" (W2SZ) guys using the service monitor when something went south in the transverter. Got the contact and multiplier.

Another thing was lying on a blanket on top of a mountain (this was in Upstate NY), looking up, and the sky was so dark and clear that we could see satellite flares! It was just short of SCARY! I would rate that experience with a whole bunch of "wow" things in my life at the time. Maybe peripherally related to ham radio, but if I were not a ham, I would never have been there.

Bless ham radio. It's a lot more than just yacking on the radio, but it is still what one makes it.
 

AgentCOPP1

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902, unfortunately where I live, VHF/UHF contesting is all but impossible because it's COMPLETELY flat. Almost as flat as the Utah salt flats. The only hill we have within a radius of ~100 miles is man-made, and even then it's only maybe 50 feet high.

Nonetheless, that sounds like an amazing experience. There really is just some sort of magic to looking up in the sky and seeing those stars whose light took millions of years to reach us, and seeing the occasional satellite zoom across the sky. Iridium satellites are the best though because they can almost blind you haha. I saw the ISS once and heard it's signal on my handheld. I was able to track it in the sky simply by looking at it instead of referring to a chart, but unfortunately the only signal I heard from it was a carrier and no modulation (as far as I could tell), but I was still hearing the ISS!!! I was freaking out to say the least.
 

902

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Landon, don't write it off because of terrain! I know guys in Florida and parts of Texas that put up 35 ft. towers or temporarily mount antennas to their vehicles. It works! You can do a great deal of this without a whole lot. I've been to your neck of the woods to various meetings in Urbana over the years. You won't be alone working VHF/UHF in that area. In fact, I'd bet you will have a lot of tropo to St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville from there! I had tons of tropo when I lived in the Midwest.

You can get your feet wet with a 2 meter multimode rig and a beam. If you like it, take it further. Check these guys out. Or these guys. And look at the Hepburn tropo forecast. You can do this! Besides, I need your gridsquare :wink:
 
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