Back in business

After a nearly year-long hiatus from being able to operate HF from my home, I’m back on the air.

Right before last year’s 13 Colonies special event I discovered damage to my feedline. There wasn’t really anything I could do but junk the whole run of cable. I took down my dipole too, because I thought I would put up another type of antenna, such as an end-fed, or maybe even a Spiderbeam.

Weeks turned into months. And eventually I found myself at a crossroads, not only with the hobby, but with other aspects of life as well. I focused on other efforts, such as writing, and in fact another radio amateur and I cranked out two screenplays last summer.

I focused on some other hobbies, but I mostly worried about my career, as my previous employer was going through “a transition” of sorts. I knew I needed to seek other employment, or else I’d probably wind up the casualty of a reduction in force.

By the time December rolled around, I was basically done with ham radio. I shambled through my final months as president of the local club, an organization I loved, and had faithfully attended every meeting for the past five years. I’ve since stopped attending.

I gave up a prestigious position in the officer line at the lodge. It was a position I’d been waiting to take since joining the lodge, but something inside me said it was time to walk away, and so I did. I’ve also stopped attending these meetings. I didn’t renew my dues with other Masonic groups either, the Scottish and York rites.

By February, I was installed in a position with local government, essentially doing the same sort of work I’ve done for the past dozen or so years.

There was an uptick in radio interest for a moment. I participated with another club for the S.C. QSO Party and we smashed the scores for multi-multi operation. I had a brief flirt with some targeted DXing and grabbed two ATNOs, but my enthusiasm for that ended quickly.

I found a new hobby… playing the bass guitar. To purchase the bass, I sold off the 24-year-old American Stratocaster that I’d owned since college — an instrument I swore I’d never sell. I’m much happier with the bass to be honest. I don’t have a long history with it, but it’s more fun to play, and I’m already playing bluegrass basslines with a buddy of mine who plays banjo.

I also go interested in street photography again (I’m warming up for a trip I plan to take to Cuba in November), and I purchased a Fujifilm X100F for that purpose. I’m loving it!

I considered selling all my radio gear recently, but before I quit, I want to achieve DXCC via LOTW. I set a soft deadline to have an antenna back up before the 13 Colonies this year. I wanted to get the feedpoint of the antenna closer to my shack, but since I never figured out what kind of antenna I wanted to erect, I decided to just go with the trusty OCF again. This time, I opted for the stout low-loss LMR 400-style coax in an effort to minimize losses over the 150-foot run.

Saturday I woke up and went to work getting the antenna back up. Is there anything worse in ham radio than hanging a dipole? Jeez. It always turns into a mess of backlashed rope/wire, fighting with limbs, etc. I used my fishing rod to cast a bolt over the same limb I used before, pulled up some paracord, and hoisted the OCF up. Everything was going well until I realized I’d literally been pressing my face into a patch of poison ivy while I was tying off the center balun. No ill effects so far…

Then I was off climbing a tree to tie off the short arm, and later, into the swamp behind the house, which was dank with primordial ooze from a recent storm. I was ankle deep in muck, hauling the long leg southward when I realized there could be wildlife back here. Like alligators. Most certainly snakes. I quickly tied off the antenna and got out of there.

Back in the shack, I was receiving signals nicely. 10 meters was even popping. I issued a CQ on 40 meters and 20 meters CW and verified I was being received on the Reverse Beacon Network for both bands. Yep, I was getting out.

And that was all the radio I did for the weekend. I’m glad to have the antenna back up and working, but I need to get motivated as well. How can I get my interest level back up? Suggestions?

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