Convert laser pointer to AA batteries

I play laser at the end of almost every day with my Border Collie, who is 1.5 yrs and has seemingly boundless energy.

My laser pointer is a strong Chinese (Taiwanese, actually, it turns out) number I bought years ago for some stupid reason. The green beam shoots really far and when its batteries are fresh, you can see the beam itself in dark or smoky air which is hella cool.

Anyway, it’s a problem because we play with it so often that the included CR2 battery wears out quickly. I bought a couple replacements, but it’s not sustainable. I already have a AA battery charger and batteries, so I figured why not try a conversion. It’s just about the level of DIY electronics that I’m ready for.

So I bought this 4 AA & 2 AA battery holder from Gikfun via Amazon.ca for just under $10 CAD. I wasn’t really sure what I needed, and haven’t completely worked out the voltage/current question here, but I plunged forward recklessly just the same.

Here’s what I started out with for laser, disassembled:

 

The brass-y looking part (not sure if that’s actually brass) has a mark on it: laserss.com with an ID number. I looked on the Taiwanese site but didn’t see it. It’s at least 10 yrs old though I think, so whatever.

Anyway, I watched some other confusing conversion videos and the process it turns out is actually really easier than I thought.

What I was able to get to work: use one alligator clip on the lower spring inside the laser case, and attach this to the black (negative) lead on the battery holder. Then attach the red lead to the case, since these kinds of cases are generally conductive and that completes the circuit.

Problem is that cuts out the build in switch and I don’t want an always-on laser, so I wired in an arcade button from Sparkfun which has been gathering dust as well. Wire the switch onto one of your leads, and then to the case. I’m not sure if you can do it off the black lead, but probably, right?

Anyway, once I got that working, I hunted around for a small box to use as an enclosure.

If I’m able, I will find myself an old NES zapper and gut it to use as a housing.

But this was a really fun, easy project with minimal parts requirements. What’s even more fun is that this laser seems more powerful than before even, and I can just recharge everything at my convenience. Will also work with a small dollar store style red laser like for cats.

Once I test this out in the field a few days, I will replace probably my alligator clips with a little soldering. But I need to find a great enclosure first!

Homebrew 1/2 Wavelength 2m J-Pole Antenna Build – Part 1 of 2

Building my +5 Staff of Summoning

My Nagoya whip apparently does not cut it with my Baofeng UV-5R. I’m not even sure I’m hitting the repeater, though it’s on a mountain that I can see across the river. I have no elmer to really help me figure it out.

Plus I bought the cheap radio all the more experienced hams told me not to. The Baofeng. One of the “non-compliant Chinese” radios, which a Toronto area radio shop told me they do not carry any accessories for. So many sources told me not to buy this, but I effectively tuned them out. And now I’m not able to tune anybody in to talk.

Okay, I got lost in my own metaphor there. I can hear others talking, but all my attempts to raise somebody, whether on simplex, repeater or on a net check-in have failed. I’m shy, but I’ve put myself out there again and again with no response (okay, except once in a dream, but that’s another story…).

I’m not ready to plop down money on a new transceiver though. And WI5HER claims that it’s “all about the antenna”. Don’t get me wrong, other people seem to have adequate success with their Baofengs. May depend on environment and proximity and density of other users. But where I’m trying to ‘work’ the airwaves, it’s not doing it with the little Nagoya (which is already bigger than the rubber duck it comes with).

So one of the major next steps that is affordable for people in my situation: you have a Baofeng and it’s not seemingly strong enough to reach other people, is to buy or build a J-Pole antenna for 2m.

If you’re not in the club already, two meters is the wave-length of the frequency band we know as 144-148 mHz FM. In the commercial radio spectrum in the US and Canada at least we listen between around 80-108 mHz FM. We usually call that just like 100.3 FM, but the true measurement is megahertz, or as they used to call it back in like the 50s and before (I don’t know when it changed tbh) “megacycles.” 1 hertz is one cycle per second. 1 megahertz is one million times that. Whatever that even means. Here’s a good diagram to help you sort it out in your head.

Anyway the model I followed was basically this guy:

And I even emailed him with questions and he was kind enough to answer (though someone else later gave a reason to do something different).

The measurements I used were based off this j pole calculator.

Best technical explanation I’ve seen of what’s happening (without being too dense) is this video:

I like that there is kind of a trombone quality about these antennas.

https://i1.wp.com/www.kanstul.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/TROMBONE-1606.jpg?w=700

I don’t think it’s accidental if we break both these devices down to what they’re doing: enabling the user to transmit a signal at a particular wavelength. One in audio (Hz) and one in radio (mHz). You can explore these feelings more on Wikipedia’s trombone page if you’re so inclined.

Also check out the J-Pole Antenna site. He has a guide for especially Baofengers about using external antennas on your radio, the why and more importantly the how. The guy’s in the US and makes and ships finished versions of what I’ve built below of much higher quality than what I will embark herein to show you now. I submit with humility, knowing the quality of my soldering is quite “shitty”, but this is my first time working with these materials (copper, flux, solder) and these tools really – mainly a blowtorch used in this way.

Best way to get good at something is to experiment, iterate, ask questions, try it out. Then you can do it better later. Sometimes you can succeed on a first try though too.

Jury’s still out on that for me, as I’m awaiting my coaxial cable which will let me mount and link the antenna to the radio.

This is after completing the cutting and soldering of the copper 1/2″ pipe to the measurements on the j-pole calculator.

I never cut copper pipe before. I bought a little $5 pipe cutter, which worked but crappily. This video was useful for general principle:

I also experienced a bug in my process because I bought two wrong parts: over-sized end caps, and an elbow which was 1/2″ on one end, but not on the other. So I bought a straight coupler and used that to join the small end of the elbow to the short arm (1/4 wavelength). There was no issue with that–the two arms are straight and parallel.

 

 

 

I tried to rotate this image, but oh well. This is the copper tubing attached with u-bolts to a stick of wood I will use as a mast and attach to the outer peak of my shed. It’s definitely starting to look like some kind of wizard LARP staff, which I really like.

Maybe I will get a costume to go with it.

https://i0.wp.com/images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41Vryv3yTUL._SL500_.jpg?w=700&ssl=1

Or maybe I can reserve that for when I actually get good at this.

Here is my electrical connection. I bought the SO-239 connector from Durham Radio, outside Toronto (online). Unlike the radio store that told me they don’t deal with my ‘non-compliant’ Chinese radio, Durham actually – you know – sold me radio parts. Go figure!

[Insider tip: you didn’t hear it from me, but they *might* even sell you an Android TV box, which is sketchy af but I like it! Netflix Canada subscribers, you feel my pain!]

Yes, I know my welds are ugly af, but again, first time so cut me some slack. They are sealed, which is mainly what’s important to me rn. On the feedpoint connection, I used electrical solder which I got from the hardware store rather than the plumbing solder I used everywhere else.

Oh, if you don’t know how to solder onto copper, you should take a look at least at this video. It’s really not complicated:

But I guess you can’t pull it off with just a soldering iron, cause you need to actually get the copper really hot (and apply flux first) or else your solder won’t ever really bond. I know because I tried to connect the stripped piece of copper wire I picked up after an electrician did a small wiring job at our house to the back of the SO-239 aka UHF female jack.

Anyway so I did eventually use the torch on it and that worked.

But there’s a pretty big “gotcha” here in this process, because it’s highly likely that you will melt the plastic inner on the UHF female. You can sorta see it poorly in the photo above, the white part is partially melted.

Once I get my coax, I will see how well the PL-259 seats into that. Worst case scenario (I hope) is I heat up a knife and cut out the melt that interferes – if any.

If I had it to do all over again, I would get a smaller or hand-held or ‘micro’ torch and use something which I could more easily control. I already had one like this, a sort of fat big propane canister with a simple control at top. It’s fine for general use, but for a controlled application of heat like this, something smaller would definitely be in order.

Oh well, I will take my lumps as part of the learning process.

Now, in the J-Pole build video above, he uses a flat copper plate to connect his UHF female to the copper pipe. It was non-obvious to me IRL where/how I could acquire such a flat piece of copper.

So what I did ultimately was flatten down one of the too-big copper end caps I had bought with a hammer and very small anvil that I have. Then I used a corded drill, a lot of patience and a little swearing to drill and bore out larger and larger an adequately sized hole to pass the UHF female jack through and connect the nut on it.

I know my results are crappy looking, but I’m proud regardless for a first try. You always encounter problems in building something totally new with new materials and tools, and it’s all about how you improvise in the moment to achieve at least an approximation of your desired end-goal.

As far as I can tell, this will probably do the job. I did a decent job of staying in line with the measurements the J-Pole calculator gave me. I tuned mine for 146 mHz which is right in the middle of the 2m band. Unfortunately, I don’t yet have an SWR meter – though I found that Durham sells an MFJ (MJF?) that works on 2m for around $60 so I will probably pick that up one day. It’s too expensive to buy into all this radio equipment at once before I even know what I’m doing.

A hobby is all about developing an interest into a mild side-obsession. That takes both time and repeated effort and can’t be just bought into all at once.

I would guess that with everything (excluding the cost of tools, coax and the SMA female to UHF female jumper I had to buy for the Baofeng), the J-Pole antenna build I did probably cost me around $20-25, including the mounting hardware. I didn’t keep exact track.

I ordered about 35 ft of RG58 coax, even though I saw some people say RG8U would be better. I honestly don’t know the difference yet, so this is the price of learning. Maybe I make an imperfect prototype. Worse things could happen. Like doing nothing or giving up completely. Cost me about $35 plus shipping.

SMA female to UHF female from Durham Radio outside Toronto, Canada cost me just under $20 plus shipping, but now I have a radio store that will allow me to indulge my cheap Chinese technology desires – even to my own detriment.

But as I see it, how could a learning experience like this be bad?

Unless, once I get it all mounted, wired and connected up people still can’t hear me.

Then we’ll have a problem.

Even if that happens though, I’ll probably still be left with a perfectly serviceable 2m antenna which I can use with a better radio once I finally decide to throw my Baofeng out the window.

Post script:

For every trash-talking ham out there who will tell you not to buy a Baofeng, most of them are talking from experience because they almost all have one. So take that for whatever it’s worth. In technology, ubiquity counts for a hell of a lot. So if you feel compelled to buy one, don’t let someone stop you if it’s your path to learning more.

Frequency tuning

To change your Baofeng radio to Chinese language settings (spoken voice):

  1. Turn on the radio, and press menu.
  2. Press up arrow until you get to Voice.
  3. Press menu, to modify. Press down/up arrow to CHI.
  4. Press menu to confirm.

Video example of the voice language menu section:

I’m not sure *why* you’d want to change your radio to Chinese voice settings, except that it’s kinda fun…

Makes you feel like you’re tuning into something more exotic.

With my practice chanter, I’ve pretty much got the fingerings down for the scale, but I can hear that I’m having trouble achieving the right notes, especially the more open high ones on the left hand.

In lieu of having an actual instructor, I’ve gone for the next best thing instead: opening a technical feedback channel to help me tune into the frequencies needed.

There’s a simple site called flutetunes.com with an Online Tuner that accesses the microphone on your computer via permissions in the browser. So I’m just playing the chanter in front of the computer, climbing up the scale and noting where my pitch is off and trying to adjust with a combination of airflow and embouchure. It’s a little trial and error, but it’s also pretty precise. It gives you both the name of the musical note and the reading in Hz of your soundwave. It’s fun to set this thing to on while you and other people are talking and watch the notes fly by. To see in plain terms the musicality of speech, and how certain people’s voices tune towards certain frequencies…

I successfully learned Morse code (sending) in about 4 hours the other day using the G-System, which I can’t recommend enough. It’s literally a break-through and I’m shocked it’s not more widely known and used. It seems like “some random guy” just invented it about a month/month and a half ago, and it shortens training time from weeks or possibly months into hours. Now I’m learning to copy via AA9PW‘s excellent Morse generator. (I had some app I found on iPad I don’t know the name of which helped me to learn to send as well–there are a bunch of shitty ones out there, I’ll come back and add the name of this decent one later)

Once you go down the road of starting to learn and listen for CW, you start to hear these strange rhythmic patterns everywhere. I was awoken the next morning by a woodpecker outside my window tapping out almost telegraphic sounds.

https://i0.wp.com/www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/CLWHAWO.jpg?w=700&ssl=1 https://i1.wp.com/images.ges.cz/images/pictures/m/mfj-550.jpg?w=700&ssl=1

It starts to get spooky. I was drawing a bath and there was some kind of frequency pattern that started to emerge out of the sound of the drips. Too rapid, too foreign for me to comprehend. But I wonder if one day…

Is this what is meant by the Language of the Birds?

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Odin_hrafnar.jpg?w=700&ssl=1

Rediscovering the Spectral Arts

Every day after work lately, I go outside with my dog, a beer, my practice chanter, a Baofeng and a high-power green laser I got years ago on Amazon (deliver from China).

I don’t really know what I’m doing precisely, or why. Calling down frequencies. Calling out. Projecting, maybe.

Been working especially on my right-hand technique, and flipping to left as the notes climb higher in the practice chanter’s spectrum. It’s weird how the fingering isn’t like other woodwinds, and I still don’t really get how to consistently control tones on notes, but it’s seeming like something that develops. Letting the instrument teach me, for now. Very much focusing on making habitual microsteps, frequently handling, short bursts or runs of notes and stop.

I’ve been contemplating this arrangement of objects, and making intuitive leaps about how their functionality might be somehow, mysteriously, entangled. The audible frequencies. The visible. The radio. Might there be some type of device, or even entity, which was capable of interacting on all of these simultaneously. WI5HER‘s idea of a “wifi enabled species.” Is that our future?

What if I had a practice chanter I could use to dial-up the local repeater, and hit the offset frequency, spin off a command sequence. Morse code as notes in a song, an “air”, a spell. Pictograms sent as laser patterns across the dark. Macros triggering on hidden lawn computers in response.

Made myself a rat tail counterpoise for my Baofeng today. Threw out my call sign a couple of times. No response. Guess I will keep trying, keep re-arranging the configurations and connections between these calling devices. Re-discovering the spectral arts takes time and patience.

Sorry to end on a not-that-good video, but it was the only thing I could find for "laser bagpipes" on Youtube.

Here’s a short palette cleanser of people trying Spanish pipes in a shop:

Treewatching

Huntsmen call us goblins still.

If you can get yourself into a liminal state, I recommend trying this simple exercise. Along the spectrum of experience, it might fall somewhere between active imagination and day-dreaming — a bit like cloud-watching… or more hard-nosed people might call it pareidolia/apophenia. I think it’s probably better not to overly judge or conceptualize it ahead of time. Just see if you’re able to enter into the experience, and hold it for a moment. My thesis is that by repeatedly doing this, you might be able to tune into “natural transmissions” which were occluded/overlooked previously, or which your consciousness wasn’t able to demodulate before because it lacked the inner listening linkage.

Anyway, sit and stare at some trees “as a mass”. You could probably do this closer up with branches, but I’m testing at a distance. So sit there in a liminal state and “stare at the trees,” eyes slightly unfocused. It may be that as the wind moves, you will begin to see “shapes in the trees.”

Perceived shapes may include: faces, figures, etc.

A site with a lot of pop-ups has a quote by random doctor or other expert about the phenomenon of pareidolia:

‘But our findings suggest it’s common for people to see non-existent features because human brains are uniquely wired to recognise faces, so that even when there’s only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face.

Which, “if you think about it”, is exactly what Google Deep Dream does:

It searches out, and actively fills in figures, faces, bodies, etc as it tries to make sense of images.

So, whether this should be considered a “feature or a bug” of HumanOS, it definitely appears to be a thing.

The funky part, for me personally, was that yesterday I did this and saw for a moment the image of what I only knew from random visual references: the image of a ‘thai angel.’

Along the lines of this:

Which I knew nothing about, then looked up later online to find out is a kind of multi-cultural mythological creature across South Asia, the kinnara.

“In Jataka No.504, we have the autobiography of a Kinnara who describes the Kinnara class as ‘human-like the wild things deem us; huntsmen call us goblins still.’ The Kinnaras can sing, play the flue and dance with soft movements of the body.”

So they’re described here as something between human, animal and monster — depending on the position of the observer. In my case, the “soft movements of the body” seem to be the dancing of tree limbs as the wind passes through them…

Whether or not kinnara exist objectively, or the human mind ‘deep dreams’ them into existence via evolutionary invocation is kind of a moot point for me. It’s part of the Spectrum regardless, and a phenomenological manifestation of the same underlying Unified Field.

In one of the Castaneda books, there exists a curious encounter with what the perceiver takes to be a dying animal, but which on further reflection is just a dead branch. Don Juan, a probably made up shaman invented by the author, says:

So part of me wonders, if one can dwell with these images as they pass before your eyes in a waking liminal state, what other mysteries might you be able to see into?

First QSO on Echolink

About a week or so ago WI5HER finally convinced me to check in via Echolink to the 9 o’clock net on his local repeater. I’d been waiting for my paper certificate from Industry Canada, and it finally arrived. So I took a photo of that, uploaded it to the Echolink site (only works on iOS the Echolink app, not on Mac OS that I’ve seen) and within 24 hours I was verified there.

Anyway, hearing a net check-in at another non-local repeater was something very different from what I hear on the (French language) local repeater, which I still haven’t made contact with… I know the repeater can hear me, because it gives me a roger beep after I take my finger off the PTT but I’ve never had anybody answer me. Anyway, in relation to that checking in via Echolink in another place was pretty much as easy as pie, though I was really nervous about the “protocol” because there is a certain etiquette or format which repeater net check-ins tend to follow.

Basically, from what I can tell, net check-ins go something like, the control (the person hosting the group check-in) asks for calls according to certain groups of users. If you fit that group, you can transmit your call sign in the gap that follows (try not to overlap others). On first go-round, I just said verbally “normal” letters VA2SFX, but the control said he didn’t recognize the call sign, so asked me to repeat. And since I’m also not a local callsign for that region, it only makes sense. So I repeated it as VICTOR ALPHA TWO SIERRA FOXTROT XRAY and he got that. (Thank you NATO Phonetic Alphabet).

So, on this repeater — I can’t speak for others, when someone logs onto the repeater via Echolink, they can hear it. Maybe it announces my call-sign? I’m really not sure. So, after I correctly self-identified, he let me go right away as I was the only one in the group. You basically have to wait until you’re called, after you announce your station. Anyway, boiled down to a format, I said like basically the following:

VICTOR ALPHA TWO SIERRA FOXTROT TANGO
[State your first name] [State your location or region]
Brief message introducing yourself.
[Repeat call-sign (phonetically or not)]["Back to the net"]

Saying Back to the net you “release control” back to the net control. Otherwise, if you don’t, I guess you open the chance for the control to respond or ask you a question or something, which I didn’t do. I was “too nervous.”

I have to admit that it’s an odd initial fear in getting on the air, figuring out how it all works, not trying to sound like an idiot, or do the wrong thing, etc. Certainly helps that first time to be able to speak the same language as the net.

 

Ham Radio – Beginners Guide For & By A Beginner

I recently attended a tech conference in Phoenix, Arizona and as is my usual modus operandi I took every freaking opportunity to show off my radio gear, strutting around the conference grounds with my Baofeng F8HP on full display. This is not out of the ordinary for me. Pretty much any time you see me in public – on a bus, in a coffee shop, in a park – I’ll be openly carrying.

Rocking the Anthuor horns next to my Baofeng HT radio.

Only in those moments where I require two hands do I resign myself to clipping the thing to my back pocket, letting the obnoxious Nagoya antenna flap around like Morrissey with a bouquet of flowers dangling from his jeans.

Bigmouth Strikes Again. Can’t stop, won’t stop talking about my radio….

I want people to ask me what the hell I’ve got there! I’m not afraid to admit I want to evangelize for the hobby. Just the other day some teenagers on the street asked me point blank what  I was doing with a device that looked like “something those guys used in Jurassic Park“. I couldn’t convince these youngsters that they should ditch their smartphones (and their $80/month data plans) for a Amateur Radio License, but you better believe I’ll be back to fight the good fight another day.

Though I’m having less than stellar success rates, I still believe that this approach at ham proselytization is worth the effort. And not like it’s all been for nothing – I have had several strangers reach out to me to get more information/indoctrination. For instance, after #RailsConf I had someone reach out on twitter:

Finally! Oh, how long my heart has yearned for this day….

So, in furtherance of our goal of helping to inspire #1000newhams, we here at SCAN THE PLANET  are going to offer some tips for how one can go about getting a license and start transmitting on the air.

Basic steps for getting your Amateur Radio license

1) There is no getting around this: If you want to be legal, you need a license. Being licensed will give you the authority to broadcast on the amateur radio bands. Also, it’s just cool to be able to have our own call letters for a station unto yourself. For instance: I am WI5HER. I get to fully embody that call sign and I can feel it beginning to merge with my identity…

With websites like ae7q.com you can even research to apply for a ‘vanity’ call sign (that’s what I did with WI5HER, and hint hint, as of this writing WO4HHH and WO0WOO are both totally still available!)

2) What does a license give you? Well, just like your favorite FM radio station has been granted authority via the FCC to broadcast on a frequency somewhere between 87.5 to 108.0 MHz, ham radio operators have been entrusted with a whole chunk of spectrum in which they can experiment with their communications. Within that allocated spectrum, there are conventions on the type of communications allowed (like these frequencies are for voice communication, these are CW / Morse code, those are for digital modes, etc). The key is that you need a license so that you hop on one of those allocated frequencies, identify yourself, and make contacts! There are also some rules that you need to know around what your transmissions should look like (no music, no ‘broadcasting’ like a shock jock to the public, regular identification every 10 minutes, etc).

3) Lucky for you, it’s remarkably easy to acquire a license! If you’re in the United States, you can use the ARRL website to look up where you can take an exam. If the thought of an exam gives you the cold sweats, you should relax knowing that there will only be 35 questions on the test and you can miss up to 9 of them and still qualify for a Technician class license. Though it’s a ‘closed book’ test,  every possible question and answer is available to you before taking the test so you have every opportunity to become familiar with the material.

4) The ARRL also has a book that is a good study guide with all the questions and answers and introductory explanations behind the answers. If you want to actually “know” what’s going on and not just pass the test with your incredibly sharp memory, this is a great resource. I also found the flash cards on http://hamstudy.org to be invaluable and my preferred way for learning the material.

That’s it.

Contrary to prior versions of the test, you no longer need to demonstrate even a small amount of proficiency in Morse Code (CW). I can’t imagine having to do that – it seems like a huge barrier to entry and I’m glad they got rid of that part of the test.

Photography of an old version of the test being administered …. probably

I personally think the examination should be made even more concise (a test focusing on the legal and basic technical aspects only). Wouldn’t it be great if more people could have a fast track to get licensed – something that would allow more people to transmit on the local “repeaters” in their region with an out-of-the-box solution like a $30 HT (handie-talkie). Something that would require no knowledge of antenna design, no futzing with knowing the details of the internal parts of a radio. Just getting on the air and feeling the magic of talking with strangers. If later someone wants to to learn about slightly more technical things, there could be a way to level up from there. But I digress…

Bottom line – if you are wondering if you should do this the answer IS YES RIGHT NOW DO IT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. That’s my pitch more or less.

Because really, I’ll think you’ll find it’s a lot easier than you expect. I know for me, it has opened up a whole world of fun and accessible technology and also some engagement with people, spectrum, and worlds that were always there swirling around me, but hitherto invisible.

And if you’re already involved in ham radio, what path did you take?                
Do you have any resources that might help someone who is just beginning?         
Let us know in the comments!
 

Listening to local police frequencies

I have some local emergency (police and fire) frequencies stored in my HT, and turn them on occasionally while driving or working outside. I like how the Call button the UV-5R lets you tune to a VHF/UHF frequency and then pressing Call you can tune to a broadcast FM station while you wait, and the broadcast signal will cut out when a VHF/UHF signal on the chosen frequency is detected. So you’re not just listening to silence while waiting for a signal.

Anyway, I was doing some woodworking one Saturday morning and heard the local police discussing a possible emergency:

Some chickens were in the road.

DANGER DANGER

Apparently someone had called it in as a traffic risk, and a squad car was sent to the scene — because that’s the kind of area I live in. The owner was an old man, and was not home. Apparently (obviously) the chickens had escaped. I’m not sure what the resolution was, but this was the best thing I’ve heard so far while scanning the radio.

My first TX

I don’t live in a very populated area, and my repeater was offline for a couple weeks after getting my ticket. So I waited until it came back before trying to transmit. I listened to the local net, but was a combination of too drunk/nervous/shy to chime in. As it’s in French, I’m never quite sure when I’m supposed to throw out my call sign. So anyway, I waited until after the net was over and fired up my Baofeng HT and finally went for it, with some gentle urging from WI5HER.

When I pushed the talk button, my record player (which I tend to leave on without realizing) activated and I could hear a loud hum out of it. Freaked me the f out at first until I realized what was up. Finally, I realized that I was TXing on the listening frequency of the repeater, and had not programmed the offset, so I fired up CHIRP and cloned the repeater settings into the HT and tried again.

I tried a few times, in both French and (hopeful) English. No results. I tried a few times again over the next few days at random times, stationary and while driving with no results.

As of this writing, I’ve had no contact by radio. Every once in a while, after TXing a CQ or a “listening” after my call sign I hear a little bit of noise, a sort of blip blip blip static and possible kerchunk. I can’t tell if that’s a valid user trying to respond and my HT isn’t able to hear them or what. I can hear my repeater fine though when it self-identifies in voice and CW every ten or so minutes.

Oh well.