QSOs from Okeechobee FL

A picture of the QSL card I send to hams I've contacted

A picture of the QSL card I send to hams I've contacted

Okeechobee is the first location where I have been able to operate my new roof-mounted amateur radio antenna. I enjoyed installing it a few months ago while we were visiting Debbie’s parents in NC. We didn’t have very much time for operating the radio and were getting ready for southbound travels. This picture is of our Airstream with the rooftop antenna raised. It electrically folds down for travel.

For the past three months, in Okeechobee, I have spent a little time every few days listening and answering calls on the radio. The antenna and radio have worked out better than I could have hoped. Previously our ham radio antenna was beside the truck’s fender, mounted to the frame. It worked, but not very well. On top of the trailer, with almost twenty-three feet by eight feet of aluminum roof as counterpoise, the antenna works beautifully.

Contacts I've made from Okeechobee FL

Contacts I've made from Okeechobee FL

I have made contacts with hams in ten countries on 20 meters, eight on 40 meters, and have worked four islands (Azores, Bahamas, Bonaire, and Galveston Island). This is pretty modest by amateur radio standards. Some operators make more contacts in a weekend than I’ve ever made. I am having fun reaching as many countries as I can. This map picture displays the contacts I’ve made in the past ninety days.

QSL card from CU2JT, a Portugal operator

QSL card from CU2JT, a Portugal operator

All my contacts are catalogued and sorted, and I have exchanged QSL cards already on some. Some hams post their received QSL cards on the walls of their radio room, or “shack”. Debbie and I haven’t discussed this (and won’t unless/until I have a room). I am receiving the cards electronically from some hams and in the mail from others. The snail mail cards I scan and save in the electronic folder with the emailed ones. This really nice looking card from CU2JT, while he was in the Azores, came to me through email.

I operate only intermittently. Most of my time I am golfing, playing tennis, shuffleboarding, swimming, reading, sleeping or just sitting around. Sometimes, for an hour or two, I enjoy listening and talking on the ham radio. And I will, each week at least, check into the RV Service Net to update our location, listen to weather and road conditions throughout the east and midwest, and hear how other members are doing.

I am using 100 watts, less than one-tenth the power of some operators who use amplifiers. Some radio operators, from clear across the country, sound like they are next door. They have so much amplifier power and it just about completely covers up my signal. Whenever I hear a pile-up on a frequency I have a relatively slim chance of making the contact compared to the big stations. Sometimes, through persistence and patience, I make it through.

And while very good, my antenna is nothing compared to some permanent stations. Many seem to have high gain directional antennas, and I hear a few of them so clearly from California, British Columbia, Lithuania, and Portugal. Our present site conditions seem far less than optimal. We are sitting in a low site, are eight feet from an metal-roofed park model, and our vertical motorized antenna just peaks out above the park model’s roof ridge. Still, I have made contacts in all these and more countries from our spot in this resort.

We’ll leave this resort site in a few days. I’ll miss the connectivity I’ve had from here because I’m accustomed to it. And I am very interested in seeing how my ham radio system will work from other (and hopefully more favorable) site conditions.


4 responses to “QSOs from Okeechobee FL

  1. I enjoyed seeing your setup for your HAM radio while there.

    The contact cards are a nice way to know where you’ve been, radio wise. I’m sure Deb will allow you to build a small room beside the Airstream, once you have purchased a lot!!!

    Very interesting post on the operations of HAM radios. Thanks.

  2. So glad to hear your enjoying your time on the radio.
    We lived in Florida for a short while and also enjoyed our time there. One caution, if you stay for any amount of time, watch out for the frequent lightning that comes along with the seemingly daily storms. Even a compromise antenna is better than no antenna.
    WD3IT – Jim

    • Agreed about better than no antenna and also lowering it for storms. I’d hate to have a flying limb take out the antenna and I’d really hate taking any lightning hit. Might really ruin our day and our home.

      I’m very happy with my antenna — it is about the best I can arrange with our mobile. It is very easy to raise and lower from within the cabin, quick and reliable to tune to all frequencies between 3.975 and 18.168 MHz. Perfectly suitable for us. Sometimes we’ll raise a dipole, and see pretty nice results from it. But our Tarheel Lift and Lay mount works superbly for the vertical antenna and I’m getting contacts.

      The next best thing I’ve seen for mobile seems to be the 31 feet long vertical telescoping plastic tubular. It has a 140 strand flex-weave wire and an AH-4 tuner at the bottom, and tunes beautifully to all bands from 80 to 10 meters. We saw it at HamCation offered by W8AFX & W8GMS. Here’s a link in case you haven’t seen it.

      Surprisingly, a lot of the RV Service Network motor home guys at HamCation in Orlando this year are using HamSticks on top of their roof ladders. They pull an assortment from their coach storage compartment, pick the one or two they want, and climb the ladder and screw them in. And they’re operating. I like being able to switch readily, both as band conditions change and just to see what’s on the other bands.

      Have you heard the difference in 40 meters since March 29? The lower end of voice 7.125 – 7.200 was absolutely free of broadcast that night. Just a fantastic change! I had a nice and quiet 15 minute qso with an operator in NY. I’ll look forward to getting on radio again soon from a new location.

      Jim N5RTG

  3. Sounds like you’ve got everything working in your favor. Enjoy this wonderful hobby and all it has to offer.
    WD3IT Jim

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