Although the traffic to this blog is relatively low, I do want to post regularly. As with any social media platform, one way to gain traffic is to keep a regular schedule. My plan was to have a new blog every Sunday. This was easy since Sunday is a slow day for me. I am not religious so I don’t attend church. I spend the day mostly working on odds and ends around the house. Lately, I’ve been working on organizing everything for a remodel to our house.
I haven’t been active with amateur radio. I’ve become burnt out. Burnout is common with many hobbies. What was the build up to this burnout? It was lack of progress along with general frustration. I have been fairly consistent at making contacts. I know where to hunt easy contacts with POTA/SOTA, FT8, DX Watch, etc. Although these are easy, I have failed to make contacts with them for a streak of a few days. This is rare with FT8. I know there are FT8 elitists, i.e. FT8 users that will only make a contact if you contact them first. I usually try to contact other operators since I feel it is good practice. I see a CQ so why not make this person’s day by giving them a contact. I haven’t been able to contact anyone. In addition, when I tune to frequencies for POTA/SOTA contacts, I don’t hear much. I understand that many use QRP so hearing them is difficult, but I usually get at least one.
I have been getting an insane amount of interference. It is on all band, even 2 m and 70 cm, though not as bad on 70 cm. It makes using the repeaters near impossible. A quick post on Reddit and everyone had the solution. Everything from plasma TVs to dryers. The QRM is random. It just shows up. It can last all day or for a few seconds. I did the typical thing and shut everything off in the house, including the breakers, and I was still getting it. I haven’t tried putting the radio on a battery since I haven’t received my battery yet. I ordered a complete battery/solar setup from Bioenno, but they are shut down due to coronavirus. I’m not upset at this. Their safety is more important than my battery. When I get it in, I plan on testing it. I don’t receive this interference when I take my radio outside for satellite work. This helps me narrow it down.
First, it could be the neighbors. Since we are all working from home, it is possible that the neighbor has a plasma TV. Since I live in the current times, I don’t have a plasma TV. She might since she probably doesn’t care about image quality or having up to date technology. The interference could be coming from her. I have no way to tell so I’m going to say it isn’t. I live in the city so it could be coming from anywhere. I have power lines on two sides on my property (I live on a corner). I also have power and telephone lines going through my back yard. My house is a nightmare for height. The main reason I don’t have a higher antenna for HF is because of all the overhead obstructions I have. I can’t use guy wires since they would make contact with some utility wire.
Second, my house is old. Like really old. It was built in 1919. The wiring was done half ass. Most of the wires aren’t color coded (red/green). They are just brown wires. Most of the outlets in the house are not grounded, which is why we have so many surge protectors. The interference could be coming from the lack of grounding on the outlet, which is why I don’t get it on my outside outlet as it is grounded. I plan on moving my station into the neighboring room once it is remodeled. This might fix it, or might now. I am assuming since the room is nearby that the outlet isn’t grounded.
Third, it could be the power supply. I have a $50 power supply. Why? It was what I was sold at the Fort Wayne Hamfest. It is a low cost power supply. The manual was super basic. I can’t find the brand online, suggesting it is a white label. White labels are objects that are built, usually in China, that have no branding. Another company will come in and put their label on it and sell it. All of the development is done by the manufacturer rather than the label brand. For example, if you look up “solar panel for phones’ on Amazon, there are so many brands, yet all of the products look the same. This is a white label. Since I’m a watch collector, a common brand that does this is MVMT. They buy white label watches at less than $10 and sell them for $200. I think this is the same thing that happened with my power supply. It has nearly not features on it like a typical higher end power supply. It is also a switching power supply, so it doesn’t handle interference well.
*Side Note: This company should have been able to judge its customer quickly. I was purchasing an FT-991a. I had an FT3DR on my belt. Why did you sell me a $50 power supply? I spent close to $2000 in 3 hours. I’m not saying he should have taken advantage of me, but he should have at least sold me a power supply that would have been closer in quality to the radio I was buying.
Another thing that frustrated me with amateur radio is the noise on the internet. I know. I am posting a blog on the internet but hear me out. There are a lot of voices on YouTube that are loud. They overshadow the good voices that post less frequently. For example, OH8STN has good videos. While I’m not a prepper, I enjoy his channel as it shows what you can do with radios. He pushed his FT-891 past what it was intended for. He also calls it like he sees it. He isn’t afraid to shine light on the loud, bad voices of YouTube. He dubs them “the haters,” a term that I can agree with. For example, it sounds as if he will be getting the Icom IC-705 when it releases. One guy in the comments started whining that it didn’t have an antenna tuner. His solution is a resonate antenna. I agree that having an antenna tuner would have been nice, but I personally use a resonate antenna. The reason I need an antenna tuner is because I operate on 30 m and and my antenna isn’t resonate on 30 m. If I was in a field scenario, I wouldn’t use 30 m. My SOTAbeams antenna is 40 m and 20 m. I know what bands I’m using. Julian, OH8STN, also throws shade at the loud voices for spamming low quality content. I agree with him, but this is mostly a YouTube problem. YouTube favors low quality but frequent content. If you can publish a video daily, it will produce more traffic than a weekly video.
Another amazing YouTuber is Michael, KB9VBR. His videos are once per week meaning he gets overshadowed by the loud voices. Why does it seem like I’m against the loud voices? Because they control YouTube content. Radiosification is an amazing channel for anything VHF/UHF digital. If you search for digital hotspots, his videos are hard to find. It is easy, however, to find the loud voices. They spam 20 minute videos with 3 minutes of actual content. Radiosification has videos under 10 minutes that explain everything you need. KB9VBR does the same thing. For example, Michael’s recent video on how to setup APRS on the FT3DR is direct and to the point. It shows you what you need to know. Take other channel that do the same thing. They draw out their videos. The key length is 10 minutes since it gives you ads at that point. This just leads to a difficulty in finding good information.
How has this lead to burnout? Because I’m finding it hard to expand what I do in amateur radio since information is harder to find. I prefer to learn about a topic online first before reaching out to experts in the community. The reason being is because I don’t want to look like an absolute noob when I do. I understand that I do look like a noob but at least I have a basis of understanding. When knowledge is swapped out for clicks and thumbnails with stupid faces, it dilutes the information. It seems like YouTubers care more about clicks and traffic than actually being elmers. At that point, why be on YouTube? Fame and fortune. As someone who has a massive YouTube channel and a decent sized Twitch channel, I can tell you that there isn’t much fame and fortune in YouTube or Twitch. For the top guys there is, but those top guys are an anomoly. Look at Jim, W6LG, on YouTube. He is the perfect example of an elmer, though his videos are pretty boring. This is what amateur radio channels should be. It seems that most are focused on vlogging over education.
Lately, we have had some pretty crazy weather. It snowed mid-April. We are mid-May with temperatures in the 50 F range. This makes it tough to get outside and setup projects. I prefer warmer weather. I don’t get discouraged by cold weather much, but when I do, it is usually because we have a stretch of days in the 70 F range followed by a week in the 40 F range. The rain has also been a problem. We get a rain storm every few days, making it tough to get outside. Water and electronics don’t mix. It seems like I’m making excuses, but it is much easier to sit indoors than to wait for the one day where weather is perfect so I can knock out a bunch of activities. One project that I’ve been waiting on is setting up my guy kit for my SOTAbeams antenna. I haven’t had the chance to do this due to the weather. It is also a project that I need two people for, and my wife isn’t always available to help out. This means that most two person projects are limited to the weekends, and if the weather is poor, the project gets postponed. Last weekend, we had a thunderstorm and it knocked over a tree onto my car. This means the plan for the weekend was removing the tree and assessing the state of my car.
I know that the weather will be improving soon, but this means I will have to cram a bunch of projects into a few days. There are a lot of things that need to be done in that time frame since many of my projects revolve around field day. I’ve been trying to get a portable antenna and all of the coax I need. I need know how to use my mast and everything associated with it. As I’ve stated in my post about my first POTA activation, it is more important to invest in yourself than gear. I had some of the best gear but struggled to use it.
I, honestly, didn’t have anything to write about. Since I didn’t do much, there wasn’t much to write about. I struggled to think about topics. I think what I’m going to start doing is just reviewing something that I did or a piece of gear I have. This nice thing about having a decent income is that I can buy almost anything that I want. I have multiple HTs that I could talk about. I have multiple antennas. I have so much to review. I just need to pick an item from my pile and talk about it. I wanted this to turn into a YouTube channel, but I don’t have an editor for amateur radio. The guy I found that could do it didn’t product videos I was happy with. Many either want too high of a price for their level of work or won’t stick around long term. I don’t want to have someone make videos for a month just to leave. Then, I have to hunt someone else down. I’ve also been focusing more on my other YouTube channels, which revolve around gaming and watches. Yes, I am a watch collector. I have been doing quite a few videos over my collection. The gaming channel is a little easier since I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve cut my streaming hours on Twitch down a considerable amount. Much of this is to find focus as what to do next. This frustration has spilled over to other areas.
I said the goal of this blog was education and that is still the plan. I lost sight of that for a bit. My plan is to do more gear reviews. I will pick up one thing from my gear pile and talk about it. Tell you the experience I had with it. This isn’t an unboxing channel where I will sit in front of a green screen and talk about how cool it is. There won’t be any live reactions. Hodinkee, a watch website, does a segment called A Week On The Wrist, where they wear a watch for a week and give an impression. That is what I want to do. I will pick a piece of gear and use it for a week. This will give me a good idea of how it works and functions. My plan is to start this next week. Today, I will go to my gear pile and grab something. That is what I will use for the week.
Thank you for reading and being patient with me. I plan to refocus and be back next week with better content. Until then, stay safe and 73.