Brad O'Dell

From my very limited optic there are many “classification’ levels of Hams. I’m not talking about license level but rather the individuals’ demonstrated technical breadth and depth of electronics and communications knowledge, skills and abilities. In case you’re wondering, I’m at the bottom of this totem pole!

First, a little personal history. I served in the Navy between 1970-76 as an avionics electronic technician. The day after my honorable discharge I promptly forgot all of my training and left behind any desire to pursue electronics as an avocation. Fast forwarding 10 or so years I was now supporting our Governments Intelligence Community (at least they were intelligent then). I was charged with recruiting then hiring electronic technicians and engineers, communicators and computer security officers. I did this for two or three years before I assumed other duties within the Community.

My bride (Jo Marie aka Jo aka Joma) and I relocated from Washington, DC to Denver, NC in November 2012 after my third retirement. It seems like we had just settled in when our only daughter pleaded for us to come to Richmond, VA to assist with her first baby (our first grandchild). Knowing that fish and company all start to smell after three days, in May 2019 we purchased and moved into a 40’ fifth-wheel in Richmond. For a little over a year, we lived in Richmond, traveling back to our home in NC about once a month to retrieve mail and make sure our house was still standing.

During our year in Richmond I needed something else to do with my free time (yes there was a little free time) so, I purchased my first radio – a Baofeng.

I always seem to get the cart before the horse! Over a period of months and before I became a Technician I purchased a Kenwood TH D-74 HT and two Icom ID-5100A’s. I installed one of the 5100’s in my truck and “listened” every time traveling and the other 5100 was installed and “listened to” in the fifth-wheel. My fifth-wheel antenna was a Chameleon CHA DB VHF/UHF. To round out my fifth-wheel system I added an OpenSpot-3.

In May of 2020 I tested for and passed my Technician exam.

We have a building (often referred to as the cottage or boat shed or shop or train room) next to the house. I did a little rearranging, commandeering, building and painting and violả, my ham shack! With the shack area identified, I started assembling my General Class station. Over the last year and one-half I’ve added:

Icom IC-7300
Samlex SEC-1235M Switching Power Supply
LDG AT-600 Pro II Tuner
Daiwa CN-901 HP SWR/Watt Meter
Heil HPS-5
Icom SM-50 Microphone
Icom IC-705
Icom AH-705 Tuner
W2HVH Enclosures Icom 705 Go-Box w 4.5 Ah Battery

Living in a HOA and being married to a very, very did I say very particular young lady I’m limited regarding externa antennas. In addition to the Chameleon, I’ve added the following and these seem to open all bands for me.

Comet CP-45 Mast
Comet YS-45 Tripod
Comet GP-3 Antenna (VHF/UHF)
ZeroFive 30’ Commercial Flagpole Antenna (HF)
TN-07 – MyGoTo Antenna (HF)

Before you ask, the flag below our American flag is the flag of the Choctaw Nation. I am a card carrying member of this Indian tribe.

Hopefully, I’ll test for and obtain my General Class license very early next year. If I can’t make it happen then watch for my shack on the “Traders Net” Laugh Out Loud!

My final thoughts:
First, You don’t have to have a thousand dollar shack to be a Ham. All you need is desire and a Chinese knock-off or Motorola HT.
And second, every Ham should be an Elmer. If you’re not willing to step up to this plate then disconnect your mic and just be a listener!

Listen – Learn – Laugh!


Folks often say that they “only” have a technician license. I have had mine less than two years and my amateur radio journey has been really fun. From learning basics on VHF/UHF, 220, program my radios, repeaters, APRS, DMR, hotspots, and the Technician portion of the 10 meter band it has all been a blast.
My shack is not very intrusive and almost on stealth mode. Living in an HOA my VHF/UHF antenna lives in the attic and connected to a Vero N7500 radio. On the photo you can see a cheap cell phone that connects via bluetooth to that unit. I can walk around the house cable free and TX with 40 watts of power.
Next to my wireless access point I have a hotspot to access DMR, I use WPSD to run the hotspot and monitor from the computer and talk using a Retevis RT3S running OpenGD77 firmware.  All in all a very simple setup but faily efficient for what I want to do.
Jose “Pepe” Chavez
Certified Interpretive Trainer

IC-9700 on left mouse/monitor/mic and IC-7610 on the right mouse/monitor/mic.

Both radios are available direct via IP, allowing me to use them from my Amazon Workspace, and by USB cables connecting directly to my PC.

The IC-7610 Has a mouse and keyboard and monitor connected directly, whereas the IC-9700 uses a software client on the local PC for Control, Waterfall, Etc.

I use Kasa power outlets to switch the elements of my station remotely.

Remote Power and Remote Control together let me run my entire station (amps and all) from most internet connected devices, including my phone.

This is the IC-7610 remote from my phone running 250w of FT8.

Click here to see a video of the IC-9700 running remote on a $30 Intel Atom Micro PC.

Here is the whole mess of it! (Q-R-Pinot too)

Now that I have shown you my shack, show me yours!

Send me photos and a description of your shack to have it featured here!

The new antenna has made a substantial difference in the performance of this repeater.

If you had trouble getting in before, try it now and you might make it.

Many thanks to my brother, Jeremy, for giving us yet another of his early Sunday mornings.

Still to come…

100W Amplifier and Bridgecom Duplexer.



If you can hear the D-Star repeater, but cant get in, use VFO mode to tune 444.675 and set your mode to DV.

Most users with an issue have programed a digital memory, which we are not ready for yet. (The D-Star Gateway System is coming soon.)

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