This past year was an eventful ham radio one. As I begin to look ahead to goals and daydreams of 2019, it’s always good to not expect the past to be the norm, but to take a moment and appreciate all the stuff that’s happened good and bad.

Thinking back, it’s amazing when I consider HF newbie AD6DM 2017 vs. AD6DM 2018. Here are some of the things I experienced in 2018:

  • Completed ARRL ARES training: EC-001 Introductory Course.
  • Set up a ham Twitter account @AD6DM.
  • First time having my own QSL cards and people to send them to.
  • Had my first CW QSO with AB6ET.
  • Learned the workings of a keyer; got several morse code keys.
  • Figured out how to properly connect my Yaesu FT-857D to a soundcard modem for my first practical forays into digital HF.
  • Figured out FT-8, COM ports, ALC settings, audio levels, and configuring your radio for digital upper sideband.
  • Extensively researched many brands and vendors to find my next portable HF rig.
  • Discovered why LiFePO4 is better and stopped using SLA’s.
  • Learned about SSTV on both VHF (satellite), and HF.
  • Learned how to use an antenna analyzer, and what all those letters meant (that it’s more than a SWR meter, but shows return loss, R, X, Z, L, C).
  • Learned how to solder more than two wires together.
  • Discovered PSK Reporter, RBN, and DXCluster.
  • First times sent and received on PSK31, Olivia, THOR, RTTY, MFSK32, MFSK64, WEFAX, among other esoteric digital modes on HF.
  • Had my first DX contacts, ever. Amazed to reach places like New Zealand, Russia, Japan, Cuba. Got comfortable reaching any state and Canada.
  • Discovered SOTA, POTA, and boosted awareness of LTOTA.
  • Got a couple of new rigs and HTs, each one blowing me away and expanding capabilities.
  • Learned about and figured out DMR (codeplugs) and DStar (reflectors).
  • Figured out and built a MMDVM hotspot.
  • Learned about the time encoding of WWVB, and how to simulate it with a Pi Zero.
  • Discovered SDRs and their use within Linux and Windows.
  • Researched and tried about 10 different antennas, including: Dipoles, OCFD, bugcatchers, monopole antennas, hamsticks, magnetic loops, end-feds, screwdrivers, speaker wire, and J-Poles. (A lot of fails here.)
  • Spent 6 months hesitating, comparing notes, then finally deciding on a base station antenna.
  • Expanded go-box knowledge and portable power and solar options.
  • First time participating in contests this year: QSO parties of various states, RTTY Roundup, CWT, Field Day, ARRL Sweepstakes, and a bunch of others. Learned Cabrillo and how to submit logs.
  • Finished CWOps Level 1 and Level 2.
  • Showed a few people how cool ham radio is, then as their interest grew, helped them find the resources to get licensed.
  • Went to my first ham convention.
  • Found many awesome hams to create a virtual “club” via Twitter and other communications methods. (More on that below.)

However, there are only so many things a working guy can do. Several things on my list still remained incomplete… I was not able to get started, figure out, or try (not in any order):

  • Winlink.
  • Activating a SOTA peak.
  • Figuring out motorcycle mobile.
  • Finally setting up a proper wire dipole at optimal height.
  • Getting on 160m.
  • Getting into mesh networking.
  • Registering and serving data from a 44-network domain.
  • Packet RF communications and BBS’s.
  • Figuring out how to decode and monitor P25 on a Pi.
  • Figuring out using a Pi as a main digital HF computer interface (like OH8STN‘s efforts and the DRAWS project).
  • Having a satellite contact, including ISS APRS packet and sat PSK.
  • Getting into the gigahertz range.
  • Sending and confirming a radiogram.
  • Being a net op.
  • Becoming a VEC and helping administer an exam.
  • Volunteering at an event providing comms support.
  • Finishing my go-bag.
  • Getting and installing a mobile rig for my car.

Perhaps the biggest catalyst of the year in ham radio was meeting all sorts of great hams. Without them, I’d just have a couple of rigs gathering dust in a box somewhere, and I probably wouldn’t be very active at all (much like my photography gear). A lot of these folks I found on Twitter, but I can also thank YouTube for those who I haven’t spoken to but have been so inspired by.

Thank you for a fascinating 2018. I can’t wait to see where this hobby takes us!

What are your goals and daydreams for ham radio projects in 2019?

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