Saturday, December 2, 2017

First Ham Radio

I haven't been posting much as there hasn't been much going on.

Thanks to an Amazon Black Friday sale, I picked up a hand-held, dual-band radio commonly referred to as an HT or handy-talky (Motorola-speak). It is made in China but distributed and warranted by a U.S. company. I also picked up a higher gain antenna than the standard “rubber duckie” antenna. It transmits on the 2 m and 70m bands (144 MHz and 420 MHz) at 1, 4, or 8 watts. Useful for local communication only and with local area repeaters. It took no small amount of Internet searching to find understandable directions for setting it up to use the repeater. Once you've done it once, it becomes easier. Taking the advice of an experienced ham, I cleared all of the settings and started from scratch. BTW, this changed all of the voice prompts to Chinese.

Starting on Friday afternoon at 3pm AKST and running for 24 hours, the local club participated in manning a Skywarn station. Apparently, many National Weather Service offices have an amateur radio in a back room for emergency communication. This is a photo of the NWS setup which has enhanced by the local club. A variety of voice and digital modes were used to contact others. I got the opportunity to talk with another operator in Calgary. My first HF (high frequency) contact. I hung around on Friday afternoon then returned on Saturday morning for a couple more hours.

I left the event around 12:30 to take the General and Extra class ham radio exams while they were still free. The rumor is that they will need to start charging a nominal fee for the use of the testing materials next month. I just made it under the wire to avoid the fee. I passed both exams with room to spare and now have my Amateur Extra Class license. Now I just need to figure out what all of this theory really means. The Skywarn exercise really helped to put real equipment and practice to the words on a page. Or should I say words on a screen. 

4 comments:

redlegsrides said...

Interesting stuff, are these ham radio stations hardened against EMP?

RichardM said...

Not as far as I know. I'd guess not hardened.

Trobairitz said...

Have you noticed it interfering with your land line home phone at all? When we rented in a little manufactured home park years ago our neighbor was an amateur ham radio operator and he always messed with our phone when he was on the radio (interference and loud crackling)

RichardM said...

We don't have a landline phone anymore so it's hard to tell. Plus, what I have is 8 watts. The max allowed is 1500 watts (depending on the frequency).