Home QTH

When my interest in ham radio took hold back in 2009, the first rig I bought was a Yaesu FT-857D, and what a great radio that was. My dad, K2JGL (SK) gave me his trusty old Barker & Williamson BWD-90 folded dipole antenna to use, so I strung it up between some trees about 30 feet up and began my journey around the world. At the time, we lived northwest of Plymouth, Wisconsin in the middle of an old-growth woods, with hills rising far above us on three sides. Certainly less than ideal conditions for amateur radio, but somehow it all worked out just fine.

In 2014, we moved to our current home - again in the middle of an old-growth woods - I put up a used antenna tower I bought a few years back. I upgraded most of my equipment and sold the FT-857D. 

My home rig is now a Yaesu FT-991A with a Garmin GPS18xPC antenna, and a Heil PMD-6 headset. The radio is linked to a Raspberry Pi 4, running Raspbian Buster OS, via a USB cable. There is a host of free, open source software available for ham radio, including the latest Linux-based CQRlog software for logging and managing my LoTW and QRZ logs. My connected antennas include a GAP Titan DX for HF, and a Diamond X300A for VHF/UHF. This simple setup has been very satisfying for both local and DX, and the CQRlog gets a 5/5 rating in my book!


In the VW Golf Sportwagen, I installed a Yaesu FTM-400XDR dual-band VHF/UHF with a Comet SS-680SB NMO antenna for FM, C4FM, and APRS. In the near future, I would like to install a RIGrunner 4004U that is direct wired to the car battery so I can make better use of this setup for remote field events. The USB ports will allow the use of my Raspberry Pi for logging. I also have a huge deep cycle battery that can be used for extended periods if needed.

Other Equipment

I am currently working on a project involving the ZUM Radio duplex MMDVM Pi-hat as a repeater. Using my trusty old FT-7900 and FT-7800, a couple of mini Din cables, and the ZUM MMDVM, I am putting together a small digital all-mode repeater capable of full duplex D*Star, DMR, NXDN, P25, POCSAG, or YSF. If this works out as expected, I will be seeking out an old GE Master II, or any other robust analog repeater, to handle whatever mode - read YSF - is selected. I'll be blogging about this, so... 

I also have a ZUMspot with a Raspberry Pi Zero W and 3.4" Nextion screen that I use for YSF and DMR. The hotspot also does DSTAR, NXDN, P25, and POCSAG, but I don't use any of these other modes.

Portable HT Radios

Yaesu FT-60R HT with a Comet MH-255 or Comet SMA-24 antenna
Yaesu FT-70D HT with a Comet SMA-501 or Comet SMA-24 antenna
Yaesu FT-2D HT with a Comet SMA-501 or Comet SMA-24 antenna
Tytera MD-390 HT for DMR

A Bit of History

Nancy and I are now in our soon-to-be retirement home we built about 800 feet from the western shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. All the wood walls, ceilings, posts and trim were logged, by me and my good friend Ryan, from where our home now sits. The logs were milled at a nearby 102 year old circle saw mill into about 6,500 board feet of lumber. We have spent the last two years ship-lapping, sanding, installing, and finishing (still finishing) the boards with four coats of dark tung oil. The hand-made wood interior is one of my dreams come true!

When my father was young, he was an electronics geek always experimenting with HF radio setups and antenna configurations from his home at 46 Hillside, New Hartford, New York. With a simple folded dipole antenna strung between his window and an old Hickory tree, he has enjoyed many QSO's from all around the world!

His interest in electronics and amateur radio continued while he was a U.S. Navy submariner and Electronics Technician (ET) aboard the USS Chopper from 1951 to 1955. Continuing into his adult life, dad logged almost 10,000 QSO's and has confirmed 286 countries, most of which were made with less than 80 watts from a vertical antenna.

From 1955, here is one of K2JGL's many memebership certificates from the ARRL.

After his divorce in 1972, dad and I became distant in many ways. I was a police detective, married with four children, and living in Wisconsin. Dad was an engineer living in Nashua, New Hampshire. As the years passed, we had less in common, visiting only every few years.

Bill K2JGL with his Yaesu FT-920 and Astatic model D-104 crystal microphone (2000).

In 2007, I decided to take up amateur radio as a means to rebuild my relationship with my dad. Through this common interest, and on January 17, 2009 I earned my Technician license as KC9OYS. On March 14, 2009 I continued on to earn my General license and changed my call sign to K9KMS.

In honor of my dad, now that he has passed on, I am trying to get and keep his K2JGL call sign, as well as recover my original KC9OYS call.

Amateur radio has been very instrumental in the restoration process of a broken relationship with my dad. It has also led to other personal accomplishments and satisfaction in my own life. For this, and for my dad, I am very grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment