Stupid idea

A very, very long time ago, not long after I was demobbed, I dabbled with a type of civilian RT commonly known as CB Radio. I wasn’t interested in all the ‘ten four, eyeball eyeball, one four for a copy, what’s your twenty’ malarkey. I was into SSB DXing. I had a modified Cobra 148 GTL DX which gave me the standard 40 American channels, plus a low-block, a low-low block, a high block, and a high-high block. That’s 240 channels.

I blame my time in uniform for getting in to that pastime, obviously. The four things I used to do a lot of (sitting in the back of a lorry in the actual shadow of the Iron Curtain listening to stuff, 1,200 baud telegraphy, HF voice comms over extended distances, and dodgy RTTY) have a lot to answer for.

Anyway, plugged into the back of the aforementioned Cobra was a rather splendid erection (easy tiger), a full-wave dipole mounted very high, and some top notch coax. I also had a quiet place to sit (with or without headphones). I’d establish comms and eventually QSY with folks across Europe, and sometimes the US, depending on skip. That’s not the name of a bush kangaroo, FYI.

Anyway, where I’m going with this is that while I’m writing, I like having a bit of background noise. About half of the time I’ll listen to GHR (but Popmaster is very distracting). The rest of the time I put my scanner on and listen to a bank of Mil and civil air frequencies I’ve programmed in. I can’t explain the need for background noise, other than saying the place is too quiet without something going on.

So yes, I am productive while I’m listening to stuff whilst I’m writing. The airband(s) aren’t quiet. I get the Americans on their way to scare half a dozen Welsh sheep, I get air to air refuelling, I get Typhoons out of Coningsby on their way to beat up Hull and the rest of the Humber. I do get the high altitude corridors, obviously, but unfortunately I’m too far adrift for transatlantic, though the good transatlantic comms is HF anyway, not VHF. And now we’re approaching the point.

My scanner can get all the funky frequencies, but it doesn’t have SSB. So I could, for example, tune down to 19688Khz which is where the Baltic Fleet out of Murmansk are currently pretending they’re a bunch of ocean-going trawlers, but I’d have to listen to an SSB transmission on full. And that’s not good.

So my first idea was to supplement my trusty Trident TR1200 scanner (500KHz to 1.3Ghz) with a proper HF device, something SSB-capable with full BFO. And then I thought I would get easily distracted because what I really needed isn’t an HF receiver, what I really needed is an HF scanner – and now we’ve opened a different tin of worms.

My second idea was to get an American 10m two-way, an Anytone 5555, for example, and do some DXing of my own. Of course I’d need a suitable antenna, high quality coax, and a place to operate the station from. Ah, now that’s, potentially, a significant problem. And there’s one problem that is even more significant.

I don’t have the time for any of these shenanigans.

Listening, while I’m doing something else, is one thing. Taking part is yet another tin of worms. I guess I’m just going to have to leave the whole bundle of ideas alone, and carry on with GHR and my programmed airband frequencies.

Or mmaybe I should get an SDR? Because that’s a whole new, and considerably bigger, tin of worms.

4 thoughts on “Stupid idea

  1. Roger Roger, what’s your vector Victor. I only have a simple handheld scanner but haven’t used it in probably years. When we next move house (somewhere in the 5-10 year range) I’m seriously going to consider how much sky we can see from any potential dwelling. Where I am now is thoroughly terrain-blocked through about 180 degrees, including in the direction of the local airport. I’ve also dabbled in ADS-B decoding but have the same problem currently.

  2. If you are just going to be listening, then an SDR would be the way to go, I reckon.

    But if you actually want to have a QSO (QSY means to change frequency) with folks, why restrict yourself to the CB frequencies and power levels?
    Someone like yourself could get your Foundation licence after about an hour’s study, I reckon.
    And with sunspot maximum approaching, now would be an ideal time to get on the higher bands (this also applies to the CB frequencies, obviously).
    I have nothing against CB – started there myself and had a lot of fun with it – but AR gives a lot more scope to play with.

    Can’t help you with the time aspect, I’m afraid.

    1. Interesting, thanks Young Masher. You’ve got my imagination working. I’m reading up on what Foundation does/doesn’t allow someone to do. Seems to exclude 10m-11m? Hmm.

      1. Good. Something like this would be a doddle for you.
        Even the Intermediate exam wouldn’t present ypu with much of a problem, methinks.

        11m isn’t included in the amateur bands, but any HF tranceiver should pick up 11m – and also transmit, in some cases.
        10m is an amateur band though and – of course – works very similar to 11m.
        I THINK ten metres was initially excluded from the Foundation license, but not any more.

        Also, the 10W power restriction for Foundation is being raised to 25W this year, whereas legal CB is restricted to just 4 Watts FM and 12W SSB, I believe.

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