Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Am a Ham!


No doubt all of you are wondering how my ham radio test went on Saturday, and I'm ever so happy to report that I passed! I'm a Technician class ham radio operator, though I haven't been able to use the radio yet because the FCC hasn't issued me a call sign. 

The test consisted of 35 questions, ranging from FCC regulations to semiconductor components, and I studied using a book of Vlad's written in 1993 and by reading the question pool that the American Radio Relay League provides. I also had a healthy dose of test anxiety, since as an English major semiconductors are not my forte. But now I know all about Ohm's Law. And the ionosphere. And coaxial cable! Plus, I got to take the test at NASA. How cool is that?

Theoretically, I will be able to use the Internet and thus update the blog and email while in the middle of the ocean. That is, if I can figure out how to actually use the radio. I have a feeling that Vlad knows how to do all of this stuff but made me take the test because I looked so excited about the idea of becoming a ham radio operator. At least, I hope he does, or we're going to seriously offend some hams. There's a lot of etiquette involved, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get blacklisted for talking to close to the microphone. 

The only downside to all this is that I have to take another test to be able to use marine frequencies, which will no doubt mean another round of memorizing radio frequencies in between boat projects. My favorite. 

15 comments:

  1. Awesome, congrats!

    I thought that you didn't need any sort of test to use SSB Marine bands? Or is there a separate set of HAM Marine bands?

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    1. Thanks! It's been pretty fun to learn about all this stuff.

      You're right that you don't need to ham it up for the SSB marine bands. You just apply for a license through the FCC, I believe. However, I was told by the ham radio guys who gave me the test that I should take the general test too. It gives you a much wider range of communication ability than just the SSB or the technician license. Truth be told, I don't understand all of this yet, since I haven't even turned on the radio!

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  2. That's great! But not only do you have to figure out the radio, you have to figure out the packet modem. TOO MUCH STUFF.

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    1. Not the packet modem! Charles, please, I'm trying to stay calm.

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  3. Congrats! Well done! Does one celebrate becoming a Ham by eating a ham samich? You should. Go you1

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    1. Ooh, a ham sandwich! That sounds delightful. I wonder if canned chicken would make a good sandwich? Hmmm ... I'm still not brave enough to try!

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  4. Well, that's mighty exciting! Good for you!

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  5. Congrats!
    I've been a ham since high school ('95) and enjoy it very much. It's not all too difficult and people are forgiving when you are on the air and there are plenty to learn from. I have several radios and a good modem. SCS modems (like in the picture above) are considered top of the line. I got one a year ago and love it. It would be well worth getting a sound card interface like SignaLink to connect between computer and radio and opens up many other operating modes. Any questions, I'd be glad to help however I can.
    73's ES CUL! (Best Regards and See You Later)
    ~Dan
    W4ABN

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    1. Thanks so much, Dan! I'll get in touch when I have questions, and it's good to know that we have a good machine, even though I have no idea how to use it yet.

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  6. Oh and the trick to the canned chicken? Throw it into a Tasty Bite Tikka Masala sauce (Tasty Bite easy to store and transport)and it is totally edible.

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    1. That sounds amazing. Even with the canned chicken!

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  7. Now Sid has a hamster companion!!

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  8. Congradulations.

    btw, for Marine SSB, you need a ship license for the boat, and a restricted operators license for each user. Ham is different, but unless you only want to do CW, i.e., morse code, you'll need a general -- that includes almost all the freqs you'll use with pactor for email -- you're planning to use winlink, right? Sailmail, which has a yearly fee is strictly marine ssb, so you don't need a ham license for that.

    They give ham exams in the keys all the time.

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