Gwens PicHi, I'm Gwen! -- NG3P

Please note that my callsign has changed. It is now NG3P, not KB3DVJ.
Amateur Radio is a very geeky hobby, especially for a woman to get into, but I've always loved electronics and radio stuff. My father got me a HUGE Navy surplus shortwave radio back when I was a little kid, and we labored over it for several weekends, replacing tubes and old oil-filled capacitors until we got it working. It was missing a few pieces, like the transmitter, but that was okay with me. I would sit in front of this 100-pound monster for hours at a time, listening to far-off places. I even listened to my favorite AM broadcast stations on it. Eventually, it died the final death, but the hook had been set.

I toyed with electronics off and on for years after that, but never really got into ham radio because the licensing rules were incredibly draconic. In later years, they changed the rules and allowed for a "no-code" license, one that didn't require Morse Code knowledge, but it was still a number of years before opportunity would let me look into it.

I got my No-Code Technician class license in May of 1999. I have two hand-helds: A Yaesu VX-5R and an Alinco DJ-C5T. I have two "mobile" dual-band rigs, one of which I use in the house, an Alinco DR-605TQ, and a Yaesu FT-90R for the car. For HF, I have an ICOM IC-746 with built-in tuner, and a wonderful Heil HM-10 dual-element microphone.

At first, my partner Maggie (who got HER license, and is now KB3DXS) and I operated from our little two-bedroom apartment. This posed a number of problems in the placement of antennas and interference with neighbors. I tried using a copper J-pole on a floor stand, placed on the balcony, but it interfered horribly with other electronics in the apartment. So I did some research and came up with a modified Moxon loop for 2 meters, a design that has almost no rear radiation lobe, putting out almost all of it's power outward in a hemisphere. This solved all of the interference problems, and we used that design until we moved.

When Maggie and I upgraded to HF privileges, we shot magnet wires out into the trees and got fairly good results on 20 meters, and no one saw the tiny wires against the sky.

We moved into a nice, new house in the Spring of '99, where we each can have a "shack" of our own, and antennage is sprouting all over. We have quite a little antenna farm going here -- a 75m skywire loop around the front yard, a G5RV and a longwire in the back, and a 10-20m vertical and two discones popping up from the roof. Maggie is very much into amateur satellite, so we have an az-el antenna rotor on a tripod out back, with Cushcraft 70cm and 2-meter circular-polarization yagis on it. Once she gets it set up properly for AO-40, we'll put it up on the roof peak. To my surprise, I really enjoy CW. I have a very pretty Bencher iambic paddle connected to the 746's internal keyer. To think I had avoided code in the beginning!

Recently, we both upgraded to Extra class, and got our credentials as Volunteer Examiners. This means we can officiate at testing sessions so others can get into the hobby.

All in all, Amateur radio has been very enjoyable and has stretched my mind and my skills. I reccommend it to anyone with a very wide geeky streak in them. :)

Low Power, Big Challenge

I recently started doing some QRP experimentation. QRP is the Q-signal for "please lower your power", and has been adopted as shorthand for low-power operation. On CW, that means 5 watts or less, and on phone it's 10 watts or less. I started off with a little 80-meter "Tixie", a Pixie II transceiver circuit with a built-in TiCK keyer. It works, but the tiny signal hasn't gotten me any contacts. I think the receiver is too deaf on the transmitter's frequency...perhaps due to desensitization...but I haven't managed to actually TALK to anyone on the thing. But that's okay... It was fun to build, and fun to play with.

QRP rigs also tend to be very small. The Tixie, with battery, is smaller than a paperback book. I have another kit on the bench, an Elecraft K2 multi-band rig, and a Small Wonder Labs DSW-20 rig on order. We also have the NJQRP club's new 75-meter PSK-31 "Warbler" kit that we haven't built we're really getting into this stuff! Maybe when I know more electronics, I'll actually design my own rig!

For more information on QRP operation, check out the QRP Amateur Radio Club International website.

The Big Project

The ARRL doesn't have the only big project in ham radio! The HamInfo CD is mine, my way of "giving something back" to the hobby. it is a business-card-sized *CD ROM* that will work in almost all computer CD drives, and contains a collection of tools, software, and literature to help someone start in amateur radio. I carry a few with me all the time, and give them away when asked what "that funny-looking cell phone" is. If you would like to get in on the act, follow this link!

Email Me!

I found a very interesting and FREE site for adding things like chat, forums, guestbooks, and other content to your own webpage. You create a free page there, then you can copy little pieces of code from their library onto your own external pages. Here's their chat engine:

Use my chat page to chat live!

I just put a "stub" page on their server, since I really didn't need ANOTHER page, but an added benefit is that they give you a forwarder URL to the external page. Yes, they put banner ads up, but they're not horribly intrusive, and you can put your OWN banner ads into the queue. They're a useful content provider, and I recommend them. The WebPost System

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Nifty License plate Graphic courtesy R.T.'s Blank Plates.