There has been a long absence by me from Amateur Radio and electronics except for digital computers and CNC (Computer Numeric Control) systems. A little activity in the form of Radio Frequency transmission and receiving, but nothing in the form of RF experimentation operations.
I have fired up the TenTec HF transceiver from time to time and that is a communicating activity only. Not the building of things electronic.
I have told myself that the decade starting 2020 is a good time to get back to real amateur radio. Especially making things with rf frequency, electronic and digital electronic circuits.
For me, amateur radio has largely been about the building of the radio station and getting it all to work, more than operating for contest points or just rag-chewing (general conversation).
At this point I don’t know exactly where I will be heading. First steps are to become re-acquainted to where the SOTA (state-of-the-art) has moved in the last decade or so.
I have ordered a new ARRL handbook and re-subscribed to QEX which is a bi-monthly experimenter publication produced by the ARRL.
An area of amateur radio I have always been interested in exploring is the microwave bands. I have a 28 MHz to 144 MHz converter to assemble. I just looked at the kit and realized there are SMT (Surface Mount Technology) components to mount. Tiny micro components that require micro-soldering in place.
I must have thought (at one time) “I can do that!” but it looks intimidating to me just now. This will definitely require a little self-assurance about the assembly process. It IS the way circuits are assembled these days. Not like the good-old “Heathkit” days with big components that inserted into PCB holes and terminal strips to be fastened with blobs of solder. I was a bit more fastidious than that (no blobs), but it makes a good comparison for the new SMT solder techniques required.
OK,ok… with the correct tools I am going to be able to manage this challenge. (I’ll keep telling myself that!) I am doing fine jewelry work and magnifying glasses are part of the necessary tool kit. I also have a USB digital microscope for examining tiny solder connections.
Maybe I stay with the larger components and the “old-school” techniques. I’ll see where this road takes me.
I feel most likely I’ll be making some space here in the office /ham shack area for electronic assembly and circuit creation. Heavy fabrication (like cases) will of course be out in the workshop with the heavy tools. I think my jewelry style bench here inside will be good for electronic circuit work. I can make some space in a bookshelf behind the desk for test instruments or other shelves here that are presently populated with a lot of 3D printed “Junque”
I also have a collection of very obsolete books and old software manuals that really need to be purged. They provide an important looking library collection but are totally useless with current equipment and state of the art technology. It will do me good to get away from Windows 95 and acoustic modem manuals. I have no desire to re-visit such dated materials. I have newer and better roads to travel with the time I have remaining…
One thing for sure. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to enjoy amateur radio. The “radio” part means we can reach out to others or control things remotely with the legal permission to do so. Permission to transmit at a very wide range of reserved or shared radio frequencies.
When I was very active flying radio control model aircraft, all my equipment operated on the 6 meter ham band. It was like having a private flying frequency all to myself. One other modeler got a tech license just so he could use 6 meters. We of course located our equipment on different 6 meter frequencies.
Options galore for how to enjoy amateur radio. I am going to dig back into this once very favorite activity. I have been licensed for over 50 years. Just again renewed my “ticket” with the FCC, so I am still good to go. Now I just need to start going again.
Looking forward to the new publications I ordered like a kid with a quarter (maybe it’s $2.00 these days) to spend at the candy store. So many things to try… or taste!