Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Why Ultralight DXing is the perfect hobby (For me at least)

Over the past 15 years my hobbies have been a major issue for me. As a teenager I became heavy involved in the radio scanning hobby, which lead me to UHF CB and then me obtaining my amateur radio ticket (ex VK7FPGB) which I let lapse a few years ago. I also started the original “Launceston Scan” Yahoo group which grew to become the “Scanning Tasmania” website and forum which is still active today. It has been over a year since I was last a member of this forum and now have no connection to it at all. In early 2008 I was getting a little bit sick of the radio scanning hobby and the issues associated with this, which in part lead me to try my hand at photography. Very soon after starting with this I found I had some talent and a passion for photography. In late 2008 I decided to get back in to radio scanning in a small way which then grew again and this lead to me focusing on this and photography taking a back seat. Over the next 5 years I changed and moved between both these hobbies plus I also tried my hand at creative writing, computer animation, programming and I also became heavy involved in the LEGO Technic hobby to the point where in early 2013 I ran a LEGO expo in Launceston called “Brixhibition” and following this I was elected the vice-president (North) of the Taz-brick Collectors Club. 

By the middle of 2013 things had come to a head and after much soul searching I decided to leave all my other hobbies behind and just concentrate on the ultralight dxing hobby. Late in 2013 Gary offered to build for me a Tecsun PL-380 with this famous 7.5” Loopstick mod, when I received this in the mail my interest and passion for ultralight dxing really took off. I have also suffered from some health issues over the past 8 years and these mean that sometimes I am unable to get out and do things that I would like to do, ultralight dxing is a good reason to go out when I want to / can and it is also just as enjoyable if I am stuck at home too.

I find the ultralight dxing hobby to be a really good fit for me; this is for a number of reasons as it combines a number of my previous interests in to one hobby:

Radio Communications: 
Back when I first got interested in radio as a teenager one of the things I most enjoyed was listening to distant stations on the AM and Short-wave bands. This was something I have not done as much over the past few years and I have missed it. The cost of equipment is quite low and it is easy to source locally or via the Internet. Where as a scanner can start at $200 and go up in to the thousands, broadcast receivers are much cheaper and unless you want to get very serious a basic $60 radio will do 95% of what you need. I have been very happy with how well my AR1733 and modified PL-380 work.

After 15 years in the radio scanning hobby on and off, it had to me lost some of the appeal; you can only hear so many taxi drivers calling for jobs or Jones waste talking about bin pickups before you get sick of it. As I work during the day my scanning time is limited to a night time during the week or of a weekend, while you can sometimes hear interesting things during these times most of the radio traffic I am interested in happens during the day, while I am at work. As shortwave and medium wave broadcasting is a 24/7 business at any time of the day or night I can be comfortable that I will be able to pick up something of interest. Of late I have been quite sick and this has seen me take some time off work, even with having the whole day to myself for a couple of weeks on and off I still was not happy with what I was able to hear on my scanners. If I was not happy in a situation like this when I have the time to do it then I finally decided that I never really would be happy in that hobby.

Photography:
My various portable ultralight dxing sessions have allowed me to take some photos / videos which I have found really enjoyable. This also gives me a chance / excuse to get outside which is a positive for my health.

Computers / Programming:
I have always had a serious interest in computers (it is also my job) and programming. Ultralight dxing lets me continue with this due to my database I have created. I also enjoy the data analyst side of the hobby and again this is something I can do from home when I am unable to go out.

Writing:
The ultralight dxing hobby gives me a good reason to continue writing as I produce my reports from each of my sessions. I also communicate with various people online via forums and Yahoo groups and run my blog.

It was not until late 2013 that I really got serious about this hobby, the kindness and support I have received from many on the ultralight dxing group and other groups / forums has been very much appreciated. This is especially true for Gary who is a real asset to this hobby, even to the point of modifying radios for people all across the world including myself.

Ultralight dxing is the perfect hobby for me, it combines a number of my interests and it has been one of the main reasons I have been able to drag myself out from my illness and become the person who I used to be again.


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