I finally took some time off. I haven’t taken time from work and truly disconnected for some time, and I’ve been feeling it. My son has the time off from school, the Mrs works second shift, so we’ve been enjoying sleeping in, and getting ready for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
One of my goals over my time off was to spend some time on my radio hobby. I wanted to build an HF antenna, a simple dipole, and when I learned of the Santa Net on Christmas Eve, that priority hit the top of the list. I had stopped into the last Radio Shack in Windham, bought some 18-gauge speaker wire and cable strippers, and found some RG8x coax labeled for CB use that would work perfectly. I even found a dynamic CB mic with the pin-out diagram on the package, and the connector it required.
Amy had to work Christmas Eve, but got out early. She came in to me measuring 60 feet of wire from the end of the hallway into the kitchen, back and forth 20 feet at a time. I brought it into the bedroom and pulled it apart. While Jordan soaked in the bath tub, I watched a quick video on making a dipole to see how they connected the wire to the chassis-mount SO-239 connector. I got a good idea what the end product should be, but tonight I was in a hurry to get my ears on the air. I soldered the two ends to an connector, on end to the center pin, the other wrapped around a screw through one of the chassis mount plate. I ran outside and strung the cable through the woods, suspended 10′ off the ground from an old dog run. 60′ feet in either direction, half leading down by the brook along the driveway, the other ending out behind the tool shed. Photo is taken Christmas Day.
When I turned on the radio, the world was at my doorstep. I plugged in some old computer speakers, and tuned around – the bands opened right up to my ears. I found the Santa Net on 3916 Hz – loud and clear! I picked right up on a little girl asking Santa for a wiffle ball, and turned the radio up. Jordan started hollering in excitement from the bathroom. Mumma washed him and wrapped him up, and he sat shivering from being in the tub too long, at my radio.
He liked hearing the other kids, but was quickly disappointed that he couldn’t talk to Santa. I tried to explain my way around it:
“I haven’t wired up the mic.”
“Why can’t we use that one?” He points at the VHF 2-meter radio. “I’m sorry kiddo, it’s a different kind of radio”.
I finally try to explain that I don’t have permission to talk on this frequency yet. He listens for a while longer, and gets down and plays. After he goes to bed, I listen for a while longer. It’s wicked cute, hearing the kids talk to Santa, via a relay station in Michigan. Impressed at what I can hear from a very compromised antenna arrangement. I tune around a bit, and head to bed, myself… with a new goal. I must upgrade my license to General Class, so we can talk to Santa next year.