Savannah – As those of you who follow me on Twitter probably already know, I’ve been amateur radio-less in the car for about the last month and a half. Before I go any farther, let me say this – even if you listen far more than you talk (which I do), you don’t know how much you’re going to miss the radio until it’s not there! Around the beginning of the year, I decided to take the Yaesu FT-8800 out of the car and use the FT-857D for both HF and VHF/UHF, putting its control head on the dash where the FT-8800’s was. Since I do more receiving than transmitting and I haven’t had the need to use both radios at one time in quite awhile, I didn’t see any sense in having both radios in the car taking up space. This arrangement worked fine until the main tuning knob on the 857 quit working.
First, the main tuning knob quit tuning the radio up. I could still tune up using the smaller select knob, so I kept on using it with the idea of seeing about having it repaired after the Georgia QSO Party. I was thinking about operating from Brantley County or another of the small counties near work. That plan came to naught when the main tuning knob also quit functioning altogether. In addition to losing fine tuning, you also lose the ability to manipulate the menus to program the radio and adjust some of its functions. After an exchange of email with Yaesu, it went off to them for repairs. After a little over a month, it returned with $119 of repairs including the rotary encoder and various assorted hardware with labor. This past Saturday while still in Brunswick, I reinstalled the 857 and shot some preliminary programming into it with the ADMS-4B software and RT System’s USB programming cable I had ordered while it was away.
The installation was a bit messy, with cables and wires still all over the place, but I wanted to see how it was going to work. After tuning around, up and down – everything worked – I found W1W, the 100 Watts and a Wire Podcast special event station on 20 Meters and worked Marty successfully. It was still relatively early and the conditions weren’t all that good, so I didn’t find anything else. On Sunday morning, a brief opportunity to get on the air yielded 4V1TL, a Haitian special event station honoring Toussaint Louverture. With that, I left things like they were and planned on cleaning up the installation once I got back to Savannah on Monday. The Monday morning drive from Brunswick to Savannah gave me an opportunity to try out the VHF/UHF side of things. A good roundtable QSO on the Savannah 442.700 repeater with Marc, W4MWM, Philip, KA4KOE, Jeff, WX4JDM, and others proved that side of the installation was working good as well.
Later on Monday morning after I got back home, the re-installation was pretty much finished. I sorted out all of the cabling and wiring and got everything tucked back back under the front seats. I also took the opportunity to sort out some of the scanner cabling that got a bit out of order after replacing the Uniden HP-1 with a new HP-2. The FT-857D programming still needs to be finished, however. I’ve got the Savannah, Brunswick, Hinesville, and Waycross areas programmed in but I still want to add repeaters for the drives to Beaufort and Charleston and Warner Robins and Forsyth. I also want to program the upper/lower limit memories for 40, 20, 17, 15, and 12 Meters with the General Class portions of the bands.
With the radio back in, I hope to be able to start hunting special event stations once again and giving out a few contacts in some of the contests. Even though I could care less about the contest aspect of it, I also want to start hunting National Parks on the Air Stations. I love the idea that amateur radio is helping celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service! The fact of the matter is, things just didn’t feel right without a piece of amateur radio gear in the car. Everything’s back to normal and I’m once again a happy ham.
P.S. – I’ve been thinking about replacing the HVT-400B HF antenna with a Yaesu ATAS-120. I haven’t fully convinced myself yet and I’m still contemplating that move. If and when I decide to do it, I’ll have more to tell about it.