Discover more from 73 from G5DOC
Crackling with life and connection 
Greetings from the shack...
Got up early to do a little radio before writing. In between some paid work editing audio. The early sun streaming through the windows of my shack.
There were quite a few Australasians heard on the bands, ricocheting around the world. Conditions seem good and frequencies congested. After a full turn of the dial, I put a call out on 4m and sat listening. Just in case.
73 from G5DOC is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Sometimes I'm engaged in other tasks, half-heartedly adjusting the dial. But I always feel an eager anticipation around 70.45MHz. A combination of the rarity of activity on this frequency and the knowledge that round here, any voice that is heard is full of hope.
As I go about my business, occasionally remembering that the radio is there, or sometimes clocking the fans moving air though the power pack, there is a flutter of my own hope. Something close to excitement.
Hours pass while I'm busy pushing pixels or splicing audio. But I'm patient, complicit in the thought that nothing will happen. Yet knowing that if something does it will be worth the wait.
Those that use the 4m band love it. An etherial web of dormant and unfound friends. All waiting for a sign of life. All occasionally, like me picking up the mic and calling CQ. Before placing it back on the desk and returning to the task in hand.
If the universe decides to delight me, it happens quickly. A voice breaks the silence, crackling with life and connection. Like discovering a hidden treasure, a whispered secret, shared only with those who have the patience to listen. And lifting the mic I answer. My focus shifting entirely to the calming timbre of a voice, a connection, transporting me to another place, an unseen face. And yet a smile is always heard.
The rarity of these moments is what gives them their poignancy. In an always on world, bustling with constant communication, I find solace in these quiet corners. In this little used amateur radio band, that rewards the curious with a sense of wonder. And reverence for the art of human connection and the magic of radio.
These whispers in the cosmic noise remind me that beauty often lies in the unconventional and overlooked. And so, sat here at my desk, I remain captivated, lost in the static and the potential for the extraordinary. Keen to embrace the silence, for within it lies the potential for fortuitous chance encounters. A testament to the beauty of simplicity, and the wonder of a world waiting to be explored — one voice at a time.
I have asked my son and daughter a few times if they might like to get an amateur radio licence. I tell them that it would look great on their school report or CV but in reality I’d just like to share my hobby with them. So far, outside of playing with PMR walkie-talkies on holiday, they have no interest at all.
But there is still hope. My daughter has just joined the scouts and is keen to collect some badges. In amongst what’s on offer I spotted the Scouts Communicator Activity Badge. There are five different pathways to get the badge including learning a foreign language, translating sigh language and learning some Morse and Q-codes. We’ll ignore the mobile phone and internet path. The one i’m interested in though is the one where the scout has to:
Learn the regulations governing the use of amateur radio equipment.
Visit an amateur radio station.
Log 25 different amateur radio stations. Note the date, time, call sign, frequency, readability and location. You may include some broadcast stations.
Show how to tune a simple communications receiver.
Give an example of a typical greetings message.
Explain in simple terms how radio waves travel around the world.
Learn the more commonly used HF and VHF amateur frequency bands.
Learn the phonetic alphabet and define at least eight international Q code signals.
Show that you can recognise call signs from the UK and near continent.
While volunteering with the scouts last week, helping with the rifle shooting, I offered my radio based services. They are more than a little keen. It looks like I might get to plant a seed.
Way back in time I recorded this audio.
I finally straightened out my skyloop and after trimming the hedges it appears to now be out performing my ZS6BKW. Especially on receiving. I first tested it on FT8.
Not a lot of new stuff out to talk about that I have seen, so I thought I’d link to a couple of my favourite radios for listening on. I’ve spoken about my favourite little SW listening radio the XHDATA D-808. Unbeknown to me there was an update to it. Thankfully outside of a USB charge port there is little to upgrade for.
The amazon link above is to a discounted version. No idea if it is the new or old version as I can’t see the port clearly.
Another favourite receiver of mine is the little Tivdio/Retekess V-115. It’s still a bargain at less than £20 but 6 years ago in 2017 I paid £16. So prices have crept up a bit but it’s worth it. I loaned it to my Father-in-law who was sailing round the world and a couple of years later got it back. It now sits in my shack window charging off a tiny solar panel and has cost me nothing after bringing many hours of listening pleasure.
I did just notice the BL-5C rechargeable battery is not what it was 6 years ago and so as I plan to take it away with me soon I’ve just bought a new one for £3 off eBay.
You will see a load of videos on YouTube about this radio. Mostly from people about three years ago who were sent one to review. I can vouch for what they say though. Great for the money. Especially as it is also records. Here is a sample at the lowest quality of three recording settings.
The auto gain is a bit of a pain but if you are recording from the radio it’s pretty steady. There is an example of that in this video.
I would add though that for either of the two radios listed above there are a couple of must have accessories that are worth picking up should you want to boost reception.
Firstly on the left in the image below is the XHDATA wind up antenna that will plug into any radio with a minijack antenna socket. Plus for smaller radios that don’t like the V115 it has an adapter so you can clip it onto the antenna. And on the righthand side in the picture there is a little £2 gold BNC to minijack adapter specifically for the top radio with a minijack antenna port which means I can plug in much larger external antennas.
Still waiting for a new batch or handhelds to hit the scene. USB-C charged, perhaps something that does 2m/70cm/4m/APRS/Digital and will deliver local repeater codes to my specific location. But I fear I might be waiting a long time.
In the meantime are these are these the only handhelds worth looking at? I think they have missed a few.
What are you using or recommend? Remember there is a comment box below if you would like to add anything. ;-)
Remember Wlad (US7IGN) from the last issue? Well last night at 18:15UTC I made voice contact with him on 15m. Despite weird conditions we managed a short QSO on 21.442. Having only chatted via email up to now this felt like a proper conversation and infinitely more satisfying. We both covered the 1600 miles using 100 watts. I was on my sky loop and he was on the vertical that was featured in the last issue. He says that the addition of the metal roof on his apartment has really helped antenna performance.
I’d like to start featuring the online work of those that read this email. If you have a radio related blog book, pdf, podcast, newsletter or Youtube Channel please let me know and I’ll link it here. Let’s start with the Gareth M5KVK’s blog.
Wlad From last week recommends his friend K4SWL’s blog QRPer.com and I have to agree. It’s well worth a look.
Using lora nodes as soil moisture sensing-antennas.
Sunday October 8th, (this weekend) marks the 50th anniversary of legal commercial radio in the United Kingdom. Boom Radio will be broadcasting a programmes throughout the day. Here are the listings.
At 106 years old Oscar Norris is the oldest ham radio operator in the US.
This is my other more regular, slightly more eclectic email.
Thanks for reading and I hope subscribing.
Please share this wherever you think it might resonate. At time of writing there are 270 subscribers to this email. We’re still new to the scene, unconventional and overlooked. You are some of the more curious people in radio ;-) And I thank you.
73 de Christian G5DOC