After a ridiculous length of time away from this blog, i finally get around to trying again!! Lots of things have been happening "in the shack", new equipment, new modes being tried, and i have also discovered the joys of Twitter!
Equipment wise, the shack now consists of a Yaesu FT897 as the main radio, this is used with a random wire in and inverted V configuration via an LDG Z11 Pro II automatic antenna tuner. This is also connected to the computer via a Tigertronics Signalink USB sound card for data modes. (I also have a G4ZLP sound card, which i use from time to time while i try to decide which is better)
This gets used for SSB with up to 100 watts output, but mostly for data modes with up to 30 watts output. Mostly i use PSK31/PSK63 modes, although i do swap to RTTY and JT65 when the mood takes me, or the stations that i want to work appear on those modes. I have also had a quick play with SSTV, although the software for that has left me more than a little baffled. WSPR gets used when there is nothing else happening on the bands, and i have also had a quick go with Hellscrieber having made just one contact using this mode.
I find myself mostly using the 30meter band (10MHz) these days - no contests to get in the way, fewer stations and generally nicer people on there! 40meters (7MHz) gets a bit of use, as does 20meters (14MHz), but i would say that 17meters (18MHz) has become my second band of choice after 30meters, for pretty much the same reasons!
15meters (21MHz) and 10meters (28MHz) get a little visit from time to time, although i don't transmit on them too often. My antenna does not really work that well on 80meters (3.5MHz), so i tend to leave that alone.
I also have a Yaesu FT817 connected to a multi-band vertical which is actually tied to the downspout from the guttering, so does not work at all well, and as this radio only puts out a maximum of 5 watts, it is pretty much useless except for receiving.
Finally, a Kenwood R5000 (with all the optional filters) is the receive only part of the station. This is mostly used to monitor my own transmissions when carrying out tests, and for quickly checking activity on other bands. I also use this for broadcast band reception from time to time.
As for Twitter, I have to confess that I did not see the point of it for quite a while, but now that I have gotten my head around the basics and learnt how to use the search and hashtag features, I actually do find it both entertaining and useful. Most of the people I "follow" are radio hams, photographers and crime writers, all of which are categories that interest me tremendously.
The fellow radio hams that I am in contact with via Twitter are always full of useful and helpful tips and advice, and we also share a lot of amusing banter with each other. Many times I have had tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks during our banter sessions!