Some Amateur Radio Statistics

November 1st, 2010

I’ve had a lot of fun with amateur radio since I got licensed in July! Here are some numbers regarding my HF contacts. Not included in this are probably hundreds of more contacts on VHF or UHF, which are more local bands and not typically logged.

  • Number of contacts: 542
  • Countries contacted: 30
  • US States contacted: 40
  • First country contacted: Argentina
  • First state contacted: Indiana
  • Most common countries: USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany

One of my favorite moments happened recently when I turned on my digital program (fldigi) and happened to tune to 17m. I don’t have antennas there and don’t usually bother, since there’s rarely something I can receive. But I saw two PSK-31 (digital) signals. One of them was a Japenese station calling CQ. I replied, and although we had some noise (perhaps due to my lack of a 17m antenna), made my first contact with Japan! Things like this are part of the fun of amateur radio. Sometimes things that have no business working actually do, and I get a surprise like this.

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  1. Tracy Reed

    A friend of mine has been trying to get me into amature radio. I recently read “Getting Started with HAM RADIO” which is a somewhat recently published intro book. As a computer guy with the Internet and thus the world at his fingers what is the attraction to amature radio? That is my main problem so far. What would I use it for? What cool projects could I do that haven’t been done a million times before by other people? My house isn’t even very well positioned (in somewhat of a canyon). What band do you normally operate in? If you reply please cc me via email as I don’t know if I will happen to read this blog entry again unless your system automatically emails replies. Thanks!

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Hi Tracy,

    That’s a pretty common question, and actually that very sentiment kept me away from amateur radio for quite a few years — I had first considered it in the 1990s as Internet was just becoming widely available.

    I wrote about it at:

    http://wiki.complete.org/WhyAmateurRadio

    Also, here’s another article:

    http://n0nb.us/ham-linux/ham/hamradio.html

    The projects that people get involved in depend on the person. Some build their own radios or their own amplifiers. Others enjoy restoring decades-old radios/amps. That’s not me. However, I rigged up a bicycle for amateur radio operation. I’m not the first to do that by any means, but it is rare enough that every setup is pretty much unique. I am also working on building my own (very simple) HF antennas.

    Antennas are something that varies for each individual situation. Some people live in a high-rise apartment in the city and have no ability to place an antenna outside. Others might live in a canyon like you, in wide-open country with high winds, etc. Pretty much every antenna setup is unique.

    It would probably be best for you to contact a local amateur radio club to get their opinion on your specific terrain. In general, it may hurt your performance on the VHF/UHF bands, but if you aren’t too close to the rim, you might not fare too badly on the longer-distance HF bands, since you’re sending your signal up at a certain angle, not straight out, on those. You can also do NVIS projects, where you aim your signal nearly vertical and bounce it off the ionosphere to make contacts. You can also build yourself a cross-band repeater, which you could perhaps place at the canyon rim to relay signals back and forth.

    It’s not for everyone, but it is probably the closest thing to “open source in hardware” there is. It’s the only radio service that permits people to build their own setup to whatever extent they desire. I’ve had a lot of fun with both uncommon things (bicycling with an amateur radio) and more common things (helping out with communications at a bicycle ride, setting up my car for mobile amateur radio operation, etc.)

    Reply

  2. DantDattaws

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    Reply

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