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The beginning of my journey

March 29, 2021 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


My name is Chris, call sign KN4POD. I’d like to welcome you to my site. My goal is to share my journey in amateur radio with you! I hope to teach some of you and learn from others along the way. I’m currently a truck driver operating an auto transport. You can catch me on the air on D-Star reflector REF030C or the reflector that I host specifically for truckers XLX863C. The dashboard for my reflector can be found at http://xlx863.kn4pod.com

I first became interested in radio when I was a teenager. My dad was a truck driver and he usually had a radio in his truck. He also had a radio in his little pickup truck. I played on the CB in the afternoons after school and found that there were a lot of locals on base stations and even some mobiles. We had a fairly large community of CBers and everyone got along with each other pretty well. This sparked an interest in me to put up a tower and setup a nice base station. I started out with an old President base radio. I added a JB Super modulator driving a Palomar 300A chrome top linear. I had an Antron 99. The radio was eventually upgraded to a Superstar 3900. At the time I had no idea any of this was against FCC regulations. It’s just what we all did back then.

Fast forward 25 years and I found myself looking for a solution for reliable emergency communications. Over the years I found myself getting involved in the off-road community. I fell in love with riding four wheelers. I eventually started taking vacations to the Mountains in Tennessee to a place called Windrock. Windrock is 73,000 acres of private property in Oliver Springs, TN which is located just west of Knoxville. There is approximately 350 miles worth of trails for all skill levels from gravel roads to very steep hill climbs and rock crawling. There is something there for everyone! With such an extensive trail system and often times me riding alone I started having thoughts of what if I broke down or crashed while riding, especially if I was alone. That brought me back to looking at radios for communications because I already knew that cellular coverage was hit or miss all over the park.

My research started with simple CB or citizen’s band radio because it’s what I knew best. I already knew of its limitations in range and figured the mountainous terrain would hinder that even more. I remembered an old neighbor I had as a kid who had a “Ham radio” base station setup down the road from me. I remember that it looked intimidating with a ton of switches, knobs, and meters, but he said he talked all over the world with this radio which I thought was really cool. I started looking in to this “ham radio” technology and boy did I go down the rabbit hole! I learned there are all kinds of different modes and bands and that there were several different ways to accomplish what I was looking to do. I learned about repeater systems and quickly discovered that there were several repeaters near the Windrock property and even one right on top of Windrock Mountain! Bingo! That’s the ticket right there!

I began to look for a radio, and like many new hams today I purchased a Baofeng UV5R. It was cheap and I wasn’t prepared to make a heavy investment into this yet. It allowed me to dip my toes in the water and I learned how to program repeaters into it. Once I had some of my local repeaters programmed in it I was sold! I heard locals talking on the repeaters with a range of 30-50 miles or so. This was the perfect solution for my emergency communications need.

I continued researching and found some study guides to get my technician amateur radio license. Within just a few weeks of studying I was ready to take my exam. I passed the exam with ease and even tried the general exam as well. I did not pass the general but considering I never studied for it I wasn’t expecting to.

When I started studying and learned that there are many different digital modes available to use I really became interested in that and dug in. I settled on D-Star as my preferred mode. D-Star D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) is a digital voice and data protocol specification for amateur radio. The system was developed in the late 1990s by the Japan Amateur Radio League and uses minimum-shift keying in its packet-based standard. There are other digital modes that have been adapted for use by amateurs, but D-STAR was the first that was designed specifically for amateur radio. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-STAR