Manpack 1.0: A Complete HF Station Under $1,000


On the way home from work, I overheard a conversation on a local repeater bemoaning the cost of radio equipment today. “Shacks in a Box” can be quite expensive, to be sure, but nothing more than the Collins KW-1 or the Gold Dust Twins of the 1950s.

To prove the point that amateur radio isn’t a rich man’s game, I designed a complete HF radio station that would cost less than $1,000. I wanted it to operate on all modes on as many bands as possible and have it be easy to use. Here is what I put together.

Transmitter: Yaesu FT-817ND

The FT-817ND is the world’s first self-contained, battery-powered, multi-mode, portable transceiver that covers the HF, VHF, and UHF amateur bands.

This rig is very popular among backpack and low-power enthusiasts. I like the FT-817ND because it includes an antenna connector on the face of the radio as well as the back of the radio. This is lets you attach a whip antenna to the radio while mounted inside a backpack.

  • Transmit (MHz): 1.8, 3.5, 5, 7, 10, 14, 18, 21, 24, 28, 50, 144, 440
  • Receive (MHz): 0.1-30, 50-54, 76-154, 420-450
  • Modes: AM, CW, FM, LSB, USB, Digital
  • Power: 5 Watts

Retail Price: $660

Antenna: MFJ 1899T

The MFJ-1899T multi-band antenna is an inexpensive HF whip antenna specifically designed for the FT-817ND. It covers all amateur bands between 3.5 MHz and 50 MHz. To transmit on 144 MHz or 440 MHz, you would use the whip antenna supplied with the FT-817ND.

  • Transmit (MHz): 3.5, 7, 10, 14, 18, 21, 24, 28, 50
  • Power Rating: 25 Watts

Retail Price: $80

Additional Equipment

I’ve included three other items for the station, a extra battery pack, a digital interface to connect the radio to a laptop, and the PowerPort World Pack backpack.

Total Retail Price of the station (excluding tax and shipping): $980

What do you think?

Project Management is a Growth Industry


There are 9,520 project management positions available on LinkedIn in the Greater Chicago area when I wrote this post.

Imagine how many there are worldwide.

Despite the staggering number of roles, it will be difficult to find qualified applicants. Requirements for associate and mid-senior positions are rather specific.

  • Strong analytic, communication, and delivery skills
  • Agile or Scrum methodology experience
  • Bachelors degree, preferably in Engineering, Business or Finance with 1-3 years in Supply Chain
  • Master’s Degree Preferred
  • Ability to Travel up to 80% of the time

The list gets even more specific depending upon the industry.

But make no mistake, project management is a growth industry. The discipline can be an important “force multiplier” that improves organizational performance. For organizations searching for that one, key professional, it will be difficult but not impossible to find the right candidate.

That is one of the reasons that the average project manager salary is $96,425 in the United States, according to Glassdoor.

For those with a strong set of technical, business, and leadership skills; a proven track record; and a willingness to relocate, the future looks brighter every day.

Crossposted at LinkedIn.

Why Your Club Should Offer Computer Science Scholarships


Amateur Radio places a lot of emphasis on mentoring the next generation. Mentorship doesn’t always have to be in a Radio Lab, though. It can be a shot in the arm to a high school student as he or she applies to college.

Enter the Scholarship.

Why Computer Science?

Computer Science is second only to engineering for the number of college applicants. With an average starting salary of $55,000, according to PayScale, you can see why young minds are attracted to the field. And while few of them will make it to Silicon Valley, there is no reason Amateur Radio Clubs can’t encourage their dreams and promote technology at the same time.

Data communication is the standard in many other services. Public Safety, Commercial, Telecommunication, and the Military all use data waveforms in their primary communication systems. Amateur Radio, specifically the methods we use, are legacy systems for the most part. It is in everyone’s interest, ours especially, to encourage the next generation of data architects.

In a more pragmatic way, there are a several benefits to offering a scholarship.

Club Visibility

The main reason a company will award a scholarship is to be recognized by the public. The public is their customer and the more good things they do for the public, the more their name sticks in their customer’s minds.

Awarding a scholarship will do the same thing for your club. If done correctly, your club can get at least three news cycles out of the scholarship. The first one is the invitation to apply, the second is a preview before the announcement, and the third is the awarding of the scholarship itself. You can get a bonus by making the announcement at a club meeting but presenting the check at to the student at school a few days later.

Create Opportunity

The more educated the public, the better jobs they will have. The better job, the better the paycheck. A side benefit of the scholarship is that they promote workplace diversity. There are a lot of students who are not white nor male who know technology. Color the workforce, color the hobby too.

Promote Technology

The proliferation of digital technologies over radio isn’t going to end. For all the hand wringing over Morse Code, it is voice that has lost the largest share of use in the past 20 years. Entry level license holders are using their data privileges on HF more and more, and it will only continue. Software Defined Radios are the future, and we should promote the technology to the next generation of data architects.

Do You Have a Personal Board of Directors?


As more professionals direct their own career, you are the CEO of your own business.

The business of your career.

Why stress over managing that career when you can tap the wisdom of others to help you?

It’s called a Personal Board of Directors.

Just like a Corporate Board, a Personal Board brings diverse perspectives and skills to the table. These are people who are interested in your success and are willing to give you their advice, encouragement, and an honest assessment.

How do you build your own Personal Board of Directors? Who do you ask?

Here are five types of people I have on my own Board.

  • Connector – A respected member of the community who has the ability to influence others and help you access a broader network
  • Expert – Someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do
  • Sponsor – A senior-level person who is willing to open doors for you
  • Listener – Someone who knows you well and will allow you to rant when you need to clear your mind
  • Enforcer – A non-nonsense person who holds you accountable and tells you who’s holding the cards, even when it isn’t you

Mentors offer impartial advice, critical feedback and they hold you accountable. Being a mentor gives you the opportunity to build an during career network as well as gain insight and different views from younger members of your profession. Proteges can shake the cobwebs in your mind.

In my experience, the relationship has to be one of mutual assistance. One party can’t be the taker. You have to give as much as you receive.

You can’t get anywhere, however, until you start.

Crossposted at LinkedIn.