To say we’ve been “hamming it up” doesn’t mean we’ve just been goofy. We’ve been hamming on the radio, adding to our collection of ham radio equipment, adding to our collection of amateur radio operator friends, adding to our collection of amateur radio knowledge & licenses, and adding to our collection of websites. All this, along with all of our other projects including increasing our solar power, has kept us busy!
HAMMING ON THE RADIO
Laurie (KØLTH) has been having fun trying different frequencies & methods, responding to other hams calling “CQ” from all over the world: US & Canada, South America, Central America & the Caribbean, Europe, Japan & even Indonesia. Most of these types of conversations (QSO’s) are quick hello’s and an exchange of name, location & a signal report. Most of the hams outside the U.S. are contesters, trying to get as many contacts as they can from as many different locations as they can. They are typically nice, but not chatty. Some are a bit more relaxed and like to talk, but they seem to be few and far between. From within the U.S. & Canada, there’s a mix of contesters and folks who like to chat (“rag chew”). It’s hit-&-miss when answering these CQ’s. I (Laurie) prefer chatting and talking a bit more than the quick hello, but finding out how far this wire antenna will send out the waves is a fun challenge as well.
It took a while for me to get up the nerve to send out a CQ, looking for anyone to respond. Finally, after getting more confidence in talking on the radio, I’ve been doing that more now, and I find that folks are much more interesting & chatty when I’m not just asking for the signal and moving on. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve “met” a lot of interesting folks. Hams are mostly men (OM’s), and even though there is an increasing number of female hams (YL’s), there aren’t many on the radio! I’d like to help change that.
Tim (KØCKR) doesn’t do much of the distance radio (DXing), but chats with a lot of folks nearby on the local repeaters, exchanging info about ham radio: getting questions answered or offering help when needed.
We have added a second radio to the shack inside the house, so we can scan the local repeaters on one while using the other for other radio projects. We’ve also added a 40′ radio tower for one of our antennas (and perhaps more in the future), which puts the top of the antenna about 50′ above ground. This has really helped with our reception.
For the Christmas season, Tim thought it would be fun to put a Christmas star on the antenna, high above the house. He found a lot of the materials at thrift stores and put it together. The first couple of nights we had it up, we noticed cars slowing down & even stopping in front of our house, presumably to look at the star. Tim got to thinking that since it’s powered by our solar system, it’s a “solar-powered star”–think about that…..
It’s a small thing, but we hope it will help neighbors remember that it was a star that pointed out the birth of God’s son!
We’ve also added a radio & antenna to the car, so we can listen in and call out when needed and we’re on the road. This may come in handy if there’s an emergency situation and no cell phone coverage. This radio can also be taken out and used in the workshop when Tim is building & experimenting with new antennas.
We’ve become quite active in a local radio club, MARC (Mountain Amateur Radio Club). Most of these folks are in Teller County (next county to the east of us). Because of the topography & distance, these folks are closer to us than most of the hams in our own county. We’ve also gotten to know several people from the Fremont County area, and it’s been a lot of fun getting to know these people and sharing experiences.
There are a lot of radio “nets” where people get on the radio together and talk mostly about radio activities, but also some personal stuff. Hams are quite friendly with each other, and even when we haven’t met face-to-face, its easy to call some of these folks “friends”. We look forward to meeting more in person.
KNOWLEDGE & LICENSES
Laurie got ambitious over the summer and studied for the highest amateur radio license “Amateur Extra.” She took the exam in September and passed, so she’s now able to use more of the amateur radio frequencies. She also decided to become a VE (Volunteer Examiner), so she is now credentialed to do that. She’ll do that with the MARC group.
Tim put off taking the “Extra” exam due to so many other projects on his plate, but has studied to take that exam at the end of this week. Certainly he will whiz through that test.
In addition to what we have to study for the exams, we’ve been learning a lot and applying new skills. One is a digital mode called JS8Call. I won’t go into any detail on that here, but that mode along with many others may be used with weak signals, which some folks are limited to particularly when power is out and they are using batteries.
We decided it would be helpful to ourselves & others to work on some projects together & learn some new things, so we started a website to organize that effort. Ham2ham.net is where we communicate what we’re doing or would like to do in the future.
As we grow older we don’t want our minds to turn to mush! We both believe that by learning new things and exercising our brains we will stay sharp as long as possible. We’re certainly accomplishing that with all the ham radio adventures & projects. Stay tuned for more…