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Thread: Amateur Radio

  1. #1

    Amateur Radio

    I know there are other hams here. Just got back from the monthly club meeting, where Field Day plans were discussed, and was wondering how many of us are here, and how active folks are. Plans for field day? What other activities do your clubs do?
    Recovering Gun Store Commando. My Blog: The Clue Meter
    “It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is always for us to give the government more money and power, while we eat less meat.”
    Glenn Reynolds

  2. #2
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    In the desert, looking for water.
    The clubs do all kinds of things. We have a pretty awesome repeater system. They have a couple of weekly emergency communication nets, message traffic nets, and so forth. I got mine for back country coms, and that’s usually all I do with it.

  3. #3
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    I've been a licensed amateur since 2008. Unfortunately, I'm not very active these days. I'm not much of a ragchewer, so I don't just get on the air and talk to random folks. Also, living in a townhome community in NoVA, having a fixed HF base station is challenging. I did it for a few years, but decided to take my station down due to me not using it much. I lost interest in my local club when D-Star came out and that was just about all the club was interested in. My personal interest was ad hoc communication over distance with no supporting infrastructure (QRP, HF, etc). I have little interest in repeater-based comms.

    That all sounded very negative, which isn't my intention. I still use my VHF/UHF HT for hunting, offroading, etc with fellow hams. I LOVE field day, though I doubt I'll set anything up this year. When I was active in my club, I would run a solar-charged battery-powered QRP station. I didn't make as many contacts as the high power HF stations, but I geeked out over making contacts hundreds or thousands of miles away with a station that would fit in a shoe box (not including the very long wire dipole antenna and ladder line) and didn't need mains power. I still have that station and will sometimes take it camping.

    I should get involved with my club again. Sheesh, I think it's been 5-6 years since I last attended a meeting. I don't even know who the officers are these days or what sort of activities they engage in aside from the yearly hamfest and Field Day.

    Chris

  4. #4
    Site Supporter RoyGBiv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    We've integrated amateur radio into our local CERT, help the city with support for weather watch (RACES/ARES), event management (parades, large outdoor events) and are integrated into the local disaster planning.
    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." - Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776

  5. #5
    I have not been active in a long time. My HF rig is not working from my last move. I have held a license in each license class, Novice, Technician, General, Advanced and Extra. I upgraded to Extra a few years ago when my license was about to expire.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter
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    Aug 2014
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    Northern Virginia
    Quote Originally Posted by RoyGBiv View Post
    We've integrated amateur radio into our local CERT, help the city with support for weather watch (RACES/ARES), event management (parades, large outdoor events) and are integrated into the local disaster planning.
    I was involved with our local RACES group as well and did training exercises at Dulles (was really cool! involved explosions and mass casualties!), in support of regional sporting events (Marine Marathon, triathlons, MS150s, etc) as well as parades, Civil War reenactments (specifically the big Bull Run anniversary a few years ago) and such. That sort of thing could be interesting and rewarding, but it attracted the radio comms equiv of the Tactical Timmy. I took a lot of FEMA's online coursework in support of that, which actually integrated reasonably well with my work in IT Security Management a few years later.

    Chris

  7. #7
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    CT (behind Enemy lines)
    Got my ticket when I was in college. A friend pulled a HT out from under his car seat and made a phone call through his club's 2 Meter Repeater via Auto-Patch. This was well before cell phones or even bag phones and I thought what he did was very cool. I said, "How can I get one of those and do that"? Then I got the lecture about learning Morse Code, Theory and taking the test. He loaned me a Morse training LP (yup vinyl record 33 RPM). Approximately 2 weeks later I took the commuter train into NYC and tested for my license at the FCC building in lower Manhattan.

    I was active in a small circle of friends who controlled a club and 2 meter repeater. My first radio was an Icom 2AT HT that I had to modify it to work on the club's 1 MHz repeater split. We only had a 4 cavity duplexer and not the typical 6 cavity found in the 600 MHz split repeaters. That radio years later was stolen from my car's glove box when I was out with friends on a weekend night in New Haven, CT. I lost the in-dash car radio and a Gerber boot knife that was also in the glove box too. I never operated on anything but 2 meters. I can't remember how long I went without a radio back then but I replaced the Icom 2AT with a Icom 02AT that was programmable for the 1 MHz split.

    The guys in the club started taking jobs in different parts of the country. My interest fell off and I let my license lapse without realizing it. A bunch of years later I got the bug again and then realized I needed to re-test. My previous license covered the Morse Code requirement and I sat for the Extra exam at a Club through the VE program. I was quite surprised at how much the exam process was watered down. The Extra exam I passed was no more difficult that the Technician exam I had passed many years earlier. Back in the day the Extra exam included copying Morse at 20 WPM and theory that was a significant step up from the Technician/General theory.

    After getting my privileges reinstated I installed a Kenwood Tri-Band mobile (2M/220/440), a Tri-Plexer and an Austin Metropolitan tri-band antenna in my car. That lasted a few years and when I got my next car the radio never got installed and it has been in a shoe box in my garage with the old Icom for many years. Maybe some day in the future I will get the bug again and this time set up a HF station.
    Last edited by JohnO; 06-15-2018 at 08:50 AM.

  8. #8
    Site Supporter RoyGBiv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkr View Post
    I was involved with our local RACES group as well and did training exercises at Dulles (was really cool! involved explosions and mass casualties!), in support of regional sporting events (Marine Marathon, triathlons, MS150s, etc) as well as parades, Civil War reenactments (specifically the big Bull Run anniversary a few years ago) and such. That sort of thing could be interesting and rewarding, but it attracted the radio comms equiv of the Tactical Timmy. I took a lot of FEMA's online coursework in support of that, which actually integrated reasonably well with my work in IT Security Management a few years later.

    Chris
    My local municipality is quite a bit smaller than your AO. Most of what we prepare for here is weather related. I've been out several times doing damage assessments post-tornado, for example. We train for "suburban S&R", which is again focused on tornado damaged houses/subdivisions, lost kids, lost seniors, etc. We join in regional exercises 1x/2x per year. We see a few Tactical Timmys in those, but, most of the burden comes from the many well-meaning folks that are not part of an active local group. Since their only training is these regional events, the region events usually wind up being mostly remedial.

    With all the severe weather here, RACES is an active organization... Very well organized and closely integrated with NWS in Fort Worth.

    Radio has been fun and I'm happy to put it to use in some small ways that contribute to the community. The groups I'm involved with are, thankfully, fairly low on a-holes. As a bonus, TX Legislature amended the concealed carry law last year to give Emergency Service Volunteers a defense to prosecution for carrying past our no-guns signs. If I'm participating in support of an active emergency, I can carry into a school, for example. A few years ago we were called out to a tornado damaged area and they set up CP inside the local elementary school. That was dicey. After the floods last year we supported shelters that were set up in schools. The defense to prosecution applies at all times to other less-sensitive places (businesses) that post valid no-guns signs, even when not on an active emergency.
    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." - Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776

  9. #9
    Likes Marmite Clusterfrack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Redneck wonderland
    I’ve got a General, but have been too busy with other activities to do much with it. All I have is a few handhelds for backcountry use.
    "BJJ is sort of like nonconsensual yoga"
    "You don’t really graduate from certain problems or certain things… like you always have to work on trigger control and pulling the trigger straight. " --Ben Stoeger 1/24/2018

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkr View Post
    ...living in a townhome community in NoVA, having a fixed HF base station is challenging. I did it for a few years, but decided to take my station down due to me not using it much.
    ARRL is making a big deal about the Amateur Radio Parity Act.
    What they don't tell you is that in order to get it passed they watered it down so that you can put up an antenna IF the HOA says you can, and if the HOA says you're good with a mag mount 440 antenna on your fridge, then that's it.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkr View Post
    I lost interest in my local club when D-Star came out and that was just about all the club was interested in. My personal interest was ad hoc communication over distance with no supporting infrastructure (QRP, HF, etc). I have little interest in repeater-based comms.
    DSTAR is moribund, to say they least.

    My club was HUGE into DSTAR, and still runs a DSTAR repeater, and net. It helps that ICOM is a half hour or so from here. (well, 45 minutes. On a good day...)

    The issues you cite are common: Lots of folks getting licensed because they want to operate 2m/1.25m/70cm handheld, as part of CERT/S&R, etc. So they get a technician license and don't even think of going further.

    Which is fine, as far as it goes, and some of them will discover contesting, CW, DX, etc. I myself got into amateur radio for EmCom, and that remains my primary interest. I have an HF rig, but have not set it up, and it will probably be a while before I do, to say the least. But after last nights meeting we were discussing the possibility club events besides Field Day, meetings, EmComm, and the occasional Public Service event. Can we run a contest as a club?Or have one of the DXers with a decent shack host a DX party? We're in Western Washington for pete's sake, maybe we could do a club Summits On The Air excursion. (Pacific Northwest Summits On The Air.org)



    Those interested in improving the state of amateur radio in the US may be interested in this site: myARRLvoice
    Recovering Gun Store Commando. My Blog: The Clue Meter
    “It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is always for us to give the government more money and power, while we eat less meat.”
    Glenn Reynolds

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