I have been working feverishly trying to get organized for the Chicago Marathon. I have been building jumper cables, Anderson power pole devices and slowly have been getting down to the radios. I bought an Alinco 220 Mhz radio used from a guy but never tested it. I programmed the radio without too much work (there is nothing quite like following the directions and seeing that they actually work!) Anyway, I kept getting the same response on high power. The unit would automatically dump to low power. Oh no, I thought, there is a problem. I double checked the programming, the connections, the antenna. Everything seemed fine. So, I decided to call the AES repair department to see what it would cost to get the radio repaired and how long it might take…well, turns out, it would be better to buy a new radio. But, the gentleman was very helpful. He threw out about a dozen things to check (obviously, this has come up before!!). He asked, does it have a power cord? “Well, yes,” I replied. “Have you tried it with that?…long silence. “Well, no!” says I. He said what should have seemed obvious if I had been thinking, that at high power, if the battery doesn’t have enough get up and go, it doesn’t go! Well, I thanked him for his free advice and tried several of his ideas and darn it the radio doesn’t work now that it has been charged!! Argh. New rule – always suspect the obvious! So I am beholden to AES for being honest enough to advise me before I sent in the radio in for repair! The best news, I got all of this free advice without leaving my call sign…so I still have my dignity in place!
Getting ready for the Marathon has been somewhat akin to getting ready for Field Day. My garage is already full of equipment and I haven’t even started to fill it yet! Checking radios, connectors, power supplies antennas…the whole nine yards. It is fun but tedious. This year we decided to add a 220 Mhz bridge to a remote HQ. I bought a nice little Cushcraft 220 Mhz beam…and started to build it out over the weekend. Of course, the directions are written for people who hang from trees, so I started to build it backwards…eventually I got the hang of the piece and quickly assembled the piece until I noticed parts were missing! How could that be? Did I drop them on the floor? I tore through all of the boxes and paperwork. Nothing. Nope. The parts were missing…so this morning I call MFJ…the new owners of Cushcraft, and was given another number to call…without flinching, the guy at the other end took my order for parts and said they would be in my hands soon (stay tuned on that one). Still I was amazed how friendly everyone was and how accommodating. Good to see that in this economy the folks in the ham radio industry still haven’t lost track of their customer service. Seems that was the first thing to go with most other organizations…ever try to call for Cable TV repair, upgrade, problems. Oh my….better brew a cup of coffee first.
This year, we have almost 100 hams involved with the Chicago Marathon. 15 are from the NSRC. That is terrific folks. These projects have really defined who we are and helped put a face on ham radio.