W1BTR, at your service! I’m a General (second level) ham operator!
I’m W1BTR on the airwaves. If I’m on a repeater, feel free to call me Lucas. I love meeting people in the hobby, and I love getting interested folks of all ages into the radio hobby!
I live in Lancaster, Massachusetts (where I cannot receive mail, hence the different address on my FCC license). When mobile I’m usually on/monitoring the WB1GOF repeater in Westford, and the W1MRA repeater in Marlborough, where I work. At home, my base station reaches the WB1GOF, W1MRA, W1DVC, and local N1ZUZ repeaters quite well. I can also hit the W1BIM repeater, but I’ve been struggling with some fading lately so it’s not stable.
What is Ham Radio?
Mobile / Car Unit:
- Icom IC-2820H 50 Watt radio on VHF (2m) and UHF (70cm), with a magmount 1/2 wave antenna, and a second 1/4 wave antenna for diversity receive.
- Also monitoring 146.5200 MHz with 1/5 wave magmount antenna on a UV-5R.
- Emergency CB Radio that is left unequipped in the trunk 90% of the time.
- Radioshack 10m HF Ham Radio in the trunk with a mag-mount for stationary use only.
Home / Base Station:
- Running an Anytone 778UV 25w with a 1/2 wave antenna at 50 feet just west of Clinton in Lancaster, MA.
- Frequently monitoring, the Westford WB1GOF repeater, and the Marlborough W1MRA repeater as well as my local Clinton VHF and UHF repeaters at times.
- I monitor the 2m calling 146.5200 MHz frequency sometimes as well.
- Currently working on an APRS digipeater base station.
- Running a Yaesu FT-100D 100w with an ~72′ End Fed Random Wire antenna tuned through an MFJ-949E manual antenna tuner.
- Transmits on 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m. Receives okayish on all HF bands.
- Capable of handling most digital modes.
- Set up to transmit and receive NBEMS messages as needed on HF. Can transmit NBEMS on VHF/UHF. Can also receive NBEMS messages when mobile through my android device with AndFlmsg.
- Can often send radiograms across the continental 48 states and fairly frequently can reach western Europe through digital modes.
HT / Handheld
- Baofeng GA-510 10 watt handheld with a TD-771 high-gain whip antenna, typically mounted in my backpack. Sometimes I use the stock rubber ducky antenna because it outperforms the td-771 depending on the day.
EchoLink / PC Over Internet
- Mostly running off of my local Westford WB1GOF-R EchoLink node. I also bounce around and I like making direct connections too.
Winlink / Radio based Email
- I’m on Winlink, the internet connected email service that allows off-grid users to send emails on the internet with their radio and a computer. I connect to Winlink over telnet when at home, and in an off-grid situation I can connect over 2m with my IC-2820H out of my vehicle using a custom cable, or off my FT-100D on HF albeit slowly). Email me at W1BTR (or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re using standard email).
Services I Offer
- Antenna Tuning and SWR Measuring – $20 or $20 / hour (whichever is more)
- You should not use a CB radio, ham radio, or any type of transceiver with an antenna that hasn’t been checked for SWR, which is a measurement of how well a signal is traveling through the antenna. Very minor issues or poor placement can widely alter SWR, and if your SWR is off it can actually damage your radio and antenna! This is very important!
- I have a specialized network analyzer that can tell me lots about your antenna, and help me tune it properly for you.
- Kenwood and AnyTone radio programming – $20 / Radio
- I’ll program your Kenwood Jack (Includes most Baofeng handheld radios, such as the UV-5R, and many more) with CHIRP to have the channels and frequencies you want, from ham to weather to police and fire!
- Free Fellow Amateur Operator Aid
New Ham FAQ
Q: I’m interested in getting into Ham radio, how much does it cost?
A: Ham radio is very much a scalable hobby. Getting your license only requires you pass a test for whatever level you want. Each testing session costs, on average $15. Once you pass, filing for your license costs $35. After that, you can buy a cheap Baofeng UV-5R VHF radio for less than $30, or you could even use EchoLink, a system that connects to repeaters over the internet, for free.
That being said, slightly better equipment is always attractive, and while a low budget doesn’t lock you out of the hobby in any way, you’ll find that HAM radio can be an easy outlet for any extra cashflow! All in all, if I, a student paying for my college degree without debt so far, can have fun in the hobby, so can you!
Q: How hard are the tests?
A: The Technician (the lowest level) is not terribly difficult, and it grants you a lot of awesome privileges, especially on VHF which is what the prementioned UV-5R uses. It’s not something you’re likely to test for without studying and pass unless you’re an electrical engineer or something, but it’s not too much to take on. Many people with no previous experience will cram study in a day and and pass the test. The General class test is a significant step-up in privileges and difficulty, but if you’re considering studying for that too, go for it. It grants you lots of privileges on HF bands, which are the bands that will get you around the world.
Start at www.hamstudy.org, a free tool to study the actual questions that will show up on the test. Use study mode, and get to a comfortable point with 100% seen, which means you’ve seen 100% of the questions. If you do 20 flashcards a day, you’ll be there in no time. Practice tests are available as well, but note that tests use 10% of the 350 total available questions, so just cuz you passed one test doesn’t mean you’ll pass the next one.
Q: What can you do?
A: Hams can talk to each other over designated areas of different frequencies. You can talk to people all over the world! You can talk with other licensed friends, talk over repeaters and satellites, talk in Morse code or RTTY (text chat), and more! You can also provide emergency assistance, communications, and weather reports with a little extra training if that’s your thing. The possibilities are endless.
Buying / Selling
Send inquiries to W1BTR@winlink.org
- Looking for a small antenna tuner for portable / qrp use.
- Selling fully built uBITX radios on my shop! I’ll be selling the sBITX once it’s out as well, so keep an eye out for that.
- I also offer accurate SWR tuning and measuring using a Nano VNA!