HAM Radio Update

Still having fun with amateur radio! I’ve made some progress on a few fronts.

Last night I made my first successful contact with another HAM through the International Space Station’s repeater! The person I reached is in Ithaca, NY – about 300 miles from my home in Connecticut. He offered to send over an Mp3 of his side of the transmission which I’ll post here soon!

Typically my radio can reach about 20 miles give or take so having the space station relay transmissions is a huge range booster. What’s remarkable is that my radio only transmits at about 6 or 7 watts and the station is 250 miles up.

What I’m finding with this hobby is that you need the right antenna for the job. So I recently picked up the handheld monstrosity pictured above which is designed for making space station contacts. It’s also useful for regular local contacts until I get a proper antenna installed here.

Additionally I was also able to send my first message through the Winlink email system without using any Internet infrastructure! This is a hybrid email network that can work via local radio receivers but can also route email either from station to station or over the Internet. It was fun to watch the transaction on my laptop. I bought a special device called a “SignaLink USB” which can switch on my handheld radio’s transmitter when the PC sends out the audio.

Once I get an antenna installed I’m going to set up a little BBS on a Raspberry Pi for the local HAMs to use.

I’ll put together an update video soon once I have a few things ironed out!