It's hard to believe that this is my first post of 2022. Regular readers know of my Dad's passing last Fall, and except for a few half hearted posts - I decided to take a break. So, sorry for this Blog's silence since last Fall (and that's all I have to say about that).
As many of you know I'm a proponent for using a Magnetic loop antenna, not only for portable use, but as an indoor base antenna as well, should you live inside the walls of an HOA neighborhood. Do Mag Loops work? You bet they do. I've used mine to check into the Texas Traffic Net on 3.873, maritime nets on 20m, as well as QSO's on 10m and (gasp) 11m. If you use a legal CB radio you'll never overload a QRP rated loop, and "Skip" within the states is perfectly legal.
Yes, there is a narrow bandwidth when tuning a loop, but that bandwidth increases as you move up in frequency, especially 11 and 10m. I've tagged stations in New England from Texas on 10 meters with relative ease, and having a band scope/waterfall really helps me determine which way to manually adjust my loop next (the variable capacitor knob is turned either left or right to move down or up frequency).
"..as Forest Gump once said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.”
Even if I'm on 28.480USB I can see activity up/down frequency which often determines where to tune next - and this makes using a mag loop super easy (in fact, many times I'll sit on a frequency for 10-15 minutes, watching the waterfall for activity before tuning my loop).
On 11m it's a totally different animal. I usually use my CPI-2000 base, and there's no way to determine if I should go up or down a channel. Each channel holds its own surprise.
Today was a great example. Using my IC-705 on 10m it was easy to see station activity 70khz in either direction, and (as I said), if I didn't see anything on the waterfall I'd sit there like a WWII Submarine rigged for silent running - waiting for something to happen on the scope.
Back on 11 meters, all I could do with the CPI was change the channel selector "click-click-click" UP & Down until I heard a station worth a shot at calling. It was... as I once wrote in regard to having a CB with a frequency counter vs. one without, akin to flying blind - or as Forest Gump once said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.”
"I had a lot more fun accidentally discovering stations on the CPI versus watching the waterfall/band-scope on the 705"
As I flipped around my 40 channel 11m band today I never knew what to expect on the next channel (unless it was a channel or two above and below the "Super Bowl"). Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised, while other times not so much.
Yes, I could have used an A/B switch to watch the band scope on the IC-705, switching to the CPI and tuning the loop in the direction of where the action appeared to be, but I continued to keep the rigs separate: My 705 for 10m and the CPI-2000 for 11. That's when it dawned on me that I had a lot more fun accidentally discovering stations on the CPI versus watching the 705's waterfall/band-scope on 10m.
(it was like fishing with a rod/line/bait vs. fishing with dynamite)
I had a similar Gotcha moment in the 80's when my ham rig with it's digital display was in for repair, and I was given a Yaesu FT-101b loaner to keep me on-the-air (the advantage of having a somewhat local repair shop, with a heart 'O gold - Thanks Sonny).
Other than knowing where the band limitations existed for my class of License, everything in-between was up for grabs and it became a really cool experience hunting for stations. It didn't matter if I was on 28.305 or 28.314.5, as long as I was tuned in to the other station we'd have a QSO.
Finally, when my rig with it's digital display was repaired, I was sorry to let the loaner go back to Sonny's shop. Thinking deeper than I usually do, this is similar to using a radio @ it's legal output level, versus putting an amp in-line to make sure you're heard.
I guess that's why I like QRP so much - it's a real challenge to land the big one, and when I do, my heart's racing like it had a case of "Buck Fever"...
AND NOW... FOR SOME CARTOONS
So, here's the end of my first post for 2022 - Happy New Year!