Insight: When old Dogs save your sanity

I’ve been spending the last three months figuring out on what to do to bring my base station gear to at least post-millenium tech levels for my revitalised LEP and DV over HF and reliving the CW/RTTY/SSB and AX25 TP interest.

Of the working sets, as in GWO, I’ve an IC-251E and 211E base pair for multi modes - so just lacking 6 & 4m all modes on board. Those ideally would be my TP choices as the receivers are still (using the most optimised realigned front end mods from back when they were young) pretty solid and had plenty of welly (in fact, I actually never had a feeder/antenna setup that could handle that much) and were PA engineered enough (factory spec) to handle long duty cycles without needing active cooling unlike today’s stuff.

That would leave the 480SAT and 7300 for mostly voice work and dual gen cov monitoring. Aside from TP, I’m more a HF listener explorer and a motivated hacker/experimenter in dark magic of SHF these days. I’ve a fondness for 6M/4M and 70cms in general stuff and given how quiet 70 is, bar DV traffic, it’s as much as a sparsely populated playground as 4 & 6M is this side of London. But that’s the attraction, finding those infrequent phantoms on there.

Anyway, I was seriously pondering between an FT-818 as a portable all modes etc HF through 70cms for when things are less crazy, or setting up a proper WiresX link using a C4FM repeater or tethering a FTM-400 (which would also be my HP C4FM rig).

But after a week of reminding myself why I enjoyed using the IC pair so much in my pre-license listener days and rediscovering that old tech country and having written a fair bit about not dismissing old gear as pointless, I’ve realised I actually don’t really want modern sterile gear in my HF-70+ all-modes general base gear, I don’t want DSP butchery, I actually want radios that are user serviceable by replacing/modifying at the component level and no ■■■■■■ black-box discrete PA blocks.

So I’m leaving well alone, and I can thank the old dogs of the shack for that wake up call, and focus that money into some better GHz territory pro instrumentation for my dark magic territory stuff.

Sure I’ll still be VLF hacking too, but that’s more when I’m in the mood than a devoted area of interest.

So, there’s gonna be no more new modern rigs - the DMR & C4FM handles are the beginning and end of my modern 30mhz+ ventures, anything else will be using homebrew TxCRs or transverters on one of my oldies. Maybe it’ll even make me reuse the chassis of a very long-nuked TS700G for something I’ll equally enjoy using.

The 700G along with a 2400 handie, were major sentimental aspects of my childhood as it was those and seeing them in use at home that really fired up my interest in what was then a highly VHF/UHF shack belonging to a relative.

I think it was partly because it was a bit like a museum in a way, spanning a good few decades of VHF & UHF gear (remember, this was late 70s) and a decent crowd of his friends who treated my curiosity like it was a good thing rather than of an annoying kid bored interest.

Of course, of that circle, only two of us are still QTH’d in the land of the living - and I’m ■■■■ well intending to make sure some of us avoiding silent key status.

So I dearly thank my old dogs radios for giving me the kick up the ■■■ I needed. Maybe the shock I got off the valve PA on a very ancient linear had a hand in it too.

Follow up: whilst the original posts and thoughts/realisation was valid, the new toy aspect won as underneath I really did want an FT-818 as a grab and go set to just set up anywhere I felt the urge to do so.

So it got bought. But the old dogs saving my sanity aspect applies in a sense still, as it made me really objectively think about why I still really wanted it.

I guess it was less about functions and features but more than I have wanted one of those true self-contained HQ portables since the days when a few thousand UKP would have been a discount cost. Part of me still misses the manpack/portable 11m set I built from an old US spec CB I later sold back to an American in MP form in an old military manpack radio shell along with a DIY folding tactical antenna and breakdown long range antenna kit I modelled from the manpack set I used as a shell donor.

So sentiment had a very expensive contribution to what’s probably my mad buy for the year ahead. But hey, I’m enjoying my first night of use way too much to think about the hole in my finances.

It was, I guess, mad like the person who just buys a Merc because he/she always just fancied owning even a basic example and could afford to just do it.

returns to listening to phantom like SIG’s, distantly, whilst awaiting the arrival of the nice people in white coats