Highs and Lows of 2017 (Article by Kristian M0SSK)

Thanks to Kristian M0SSK for sending in the following short review of what the amateur radio hobby meant to him in 2017:

Diving into Data:

Kristian M0SSK
Kristian M0SSK

I’d found myself with an M Zero callsign in December 2015. I was still an avid 10m SSB user, but HF conditions were frustratingly poor.

I’d seen and heard of local hams on Essex Ham who had been successfully using data modes for years, but I couldn’t let go of SSB. I’d seen demos at the local Essex Skills Night, but I still hadn’t made my first steps into HF data. That was until Richard G7OED encouraged me to try some of the easier data modes.

I resisted, then gave in. Richard started me off with PSK, and I took to it straight away. I found that I could make so many contacts in such a short period of time and I got a buzz from it! I was getting lots of E-awards, and then got into the JT modes through 2016 and into 2017. With FT8 becoming the next big thing, that gave me the DX I was used to, and I was now gripped. My log book swelled and I found I was making contacts daily without knowing it… and I just kept doing it.

Using data modes, I was collecting prefixes and was able to work 80m to 10m, any time, every day.

Kristian M0SSK making contact with Australia with ease on FT8
Kristian M0SSK making contact with Australia with ease on FT8

The hobby took on a new lease of life for me, but my radios were now silent and a microphone was a thing of my past. On average, I’d be making 18 data contacts a day. However, as time went on, I wished I hadn’t started this challenge. I found myself in my room for far too long with my anxiety heightening. By the end of December, I couldn’t wait to finish.. but once I had, I think I broke the hobby for myself. As of the start of January 2018, my data leads are un-plugged and the eQSL cards are still flooding in.

So, that’s the end of my unintended year on HF data modes. I now know what I’m capable of doing. A total of 6,865 contacts/SWLs logged. On average, that’s 18 contacts a day. However, in doing so, I’ve also found what I enjoy. Listening to new hams get on-air and helping to encourage them where I can. I also have helped with reprogramming of radios, to get newcomers onto repeaters and D-Star. I’ve had issues with speech/communication for more years than I’d care to admit and now I have come to enjoy picking up the microphone and speaking on our local net, if only for a few minutes. I’ve broken the ties with my DX, and I started the year by being social on a cold Sunday radio meet-up in Galleywood with the team from Essex Ham.

Kristian M0SSK

Thoughts on the above, from Pete M0PSX

Thanks to Kristian for this interesting, and honest, look at his enjoyment of the hobby. I suspect many of us have felt some of the same emotions expressed here. I too got ‘hooked’ on data for a while. Where I live, I’m not able to put up a large HF antenna and I rely on a long-wire stealth antenna, which is poor for voice use, but acceptable for data. I did my HF out on field days, and data at home. For me, it wasn’t chasing a total of contacts, it was chasing new countries, leading to frustration at not being able to get through a data pileup for that rare DX. Kristian and I have had a running joke for a while that he was able to work South Africa from a roof mag-mount on his favourite band – 10m SSB, and it took me 3 years to bag my first weak ZS contact from home.

I read two lessons from Kristian’s review – 1. that it’s often easy to get immersed or lose focus, and 2. that we’re in a hobby that does allow us to adjust and adapt. Data and CW certainly have their advantages especially in poor conditions, but there’s something magical hearing someone on-air that you’ve had a hand in training, or in tuning into someone with a different language and ideas from a distant land. For me, putting my radio knowledge to use for the community has helped me on my own personal radio journey – being part of Essex RAYNET helping charities gets me out-and-about, using radio for a purpose, and promoting the hobby.

Perhaps the trick is to make sure that amateur radio is a part of our lives… we can dip in when we like. There’s even the “off” switch, and we all need to switch off and personally recharge at times too. The hobby’s always there for us though – HF DX, Contesting, local nets, SSTV, club activities, field days, or just a rag-chew with a mate – they’re all very different, as are our moods. There’s always new stuff, and new people to talk to, which is why so many of us are passionate about the hobby, and stick with it (in cycles), for years.

Your story?

It would be great to get a few more articles like this put together. I’m sure we all have something to say about our own experiences with amateur radio. If you’ve got any thoughts on the hobby that could make an interesting short article – please get in touch, and we’ll share it with the rest of the community.

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One Comment

  1. G8FAX 20 January 2018 Reply

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