It's been almost a month since I set up my Wires-X gateway and I can report that it appears to be working well, despite not holding a solitary QSO on it! There are countless nodes and rooms connected but few, if any, conversations happening I have called out on numerous occasions in various rooms and, apart from US rooms, I have heard next to nothing. I wonder why this is? Maybe it's a low number of operators on the system? Doubtful, as a glance at the connected node list shows thousands world wide. Are we becoming a hobby filled with licenced SWL's? It's a great shame, as the audio quality is superb, the infrastructure of the Wires-X system is extremely sound and the potential for a huge uptake is certainly there. Even using the Fusion reflectors in the FCS system shows a distinct lack of activity.
D-STAR is very busy at times, I connect to REF001 C regularly and there is always a lot of traffic. Granted, D-STAR has been around for much longer and there are far more people using it, but the audio in comparison with C4FM is a little "robotic".
As for DMR, the almost constant monitoring by the "DMR Police" and the equally constant changes in the infrastructure, and the Politics involved with the various networks has spoiled a once pleasurable experience.
AllStar has not been without its difficulties as well. There has recently been a "branching out" where members of the UK Hub have splintered away to form HUBNet UK, taking users and splitting the community. It's impossible to pledge an allegiance to one particular "network", I just want to talk to people regardless of their particular differences.
Locally, the already depleted ranks of operators on 2m have dwindled away to the occasional few. Not so long ago a QSO could be guaranteed almost every evening, but not so now. Even use of repeaters has decreased to the levels that would not justify a Repeater Keeper continuing.
What do I glean from all of this? I suspect that there are many disillusioned Amateurs out there. There are the "Die Hards" who only use Simplex, Analogue and decry "new fangled ideas" such as Digital and Internet Linked systems. There are the up-takers of systems like DMR, who are put off by the almost constant derision by those who are seldom heard in a QSO. They only come on air to chastise those who they perceive to have transgressed. The fact is that, regardless of the means used, it's all about talking to people. Why participate in a hobby that involves communication if you don't wish to speak to anyone? So, let's put the calls out, let's answer a few of those calls and get talking again!
On a somewhat lighter note, the FT-817 is still impressing me greatly. It really is a superb radio, and if power (or the lack of it) is an issue, just look at some of the QRP forums out there to see just what can be achieved with a measly 5W. I bought a Moonraker SPX100 portable multi-band antenna to use with the 817 and I have to report that as a dummy load it is as useless as it is as an antenna. It is not resonant (at all) on any of the bands and flatly refuses to tune with a tuner. Even adding counterpoises has made little difference, so my Hamfest bargain has flopped somewhat. All is not lost though, my trusty wire with un-un is still doing its job. I have it mounted on a 10 metre fishing pole, as a vertical, and it still tunes 80m to 6m with no problems. Granted, it's a compromise antenna, but for portable use its fine. It telescopes down to a metre in length and can easily be carried whilst out and about.
Last weekend was JOTA and myself and other members of South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society activated the Scout Hut at Foston for the event. I was unable to participate on the Saturday but managed to spend the whole of Sunday operating and assisting with the station. Best contact of the weekend was into Cyprus, and many European stations were also logged. The Cubs, Beavers and Scouts all had a whale of a time, as did Stewart, Andrew, Richard and myself. Looking forward to next year.
Not much else to report, but watch this space.....
73 de 2E0ENN