Covid19 & Amateur Radio

So I cannot do an update without mentioning Covid 19, Cornavirus, or the other names it is known by. For me it means a lockdown, working from home and taking even more care, but it does mean i get to use my radio quicker than when working in London.

I have configured my Buddipole on a 2M configuration, as I feel more confident (well had been !) than on HF. It is simply amazing the amount of people on 2M and the repeaters, and I now think that the Poole repeater is now connected to ‘hubnet’ so it has even more traffic – when it stays up.

I was informed by a well regarded amateure that my signal on 2m repeaters was having issues, so i have held off using them, but in my spare time have been trying to get DSTAR working on my IC2200H – so far the results have been, well, frustrating, but the good news is that whilst trying to get out on a Digital mode, i was using my SDR to listen for the offest the MMDVM was putting out on, and picked up a conversation on 550.

Long and the short of it what was a challenging (ok, it was annoying me by late evening) time to get DSTAR working turned into a fantastic 1/2hr conversation with a very local contact and amazingly a contact on the Isle of White -some 20+ miles as the crow files.

The banter was fantastic, a good mix of tech, hobby info/insights and enjoying each others company. I felt so glad to be back out on the Icom on a simplex channel and no reports of dodgy voice outputs, moreso with two very fine amature operators who were a pleasure to speak to.

The amount of operators on the repeaters is akin of how busy it was on CB back in the day, it seems everyone who had a licence has remembered they have one, and got back onto VHF/UHF and learning about repeaters – even with my ‘new’ licence, there is some users who have forgotten ‘repeater’ etiqutee (you dont need to calll CQ, you do need to leave a gap), and the ‘net’ moderators haver done an amazing job in holding 10+ people having a conversation – with Echolink,etc more people are on 2m, so its almost *too* busy.

Anyhow I am so glad to have met a local and also got out so far on my buddipole setup, DSTAR is looking like something I might look at again, as I have a dual 2m/70cm radio en-route with DMR on it, and think that willl give me the kind of range/connectivity i need, but am wondering, was my signal really that bad that I needed radio now, given i got a 5/7 report from the IoW….

Stay safe and hope everyone is keeping well during these difficult times. I know the Radio is helping me alot being so isolated and is a nice escape being able to talk to other amatures, i just hope we all get out the other end of this being able to meet each other in person hopefully.