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HAM greetings

2007-11-12 17:35:33.271638+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

On Saturday, Charlene and I went to a HAM "class" and test. They gave us this many page sheet of questions and answers and said "read through this 5 times, you'll pass". Charlene and I sat down and started working through it, after an hour and a half we both knew the first three pages solidly, but we looked at the size of the rest of the booklet and Charlene said "there's no way". So I said "Okay, let's take a walk, I'll read it, mumble out loud, you don't worry about it." We walked around Hamilton Field, I mumbled out loud while I studied, and when we got back and took the test both of us passed. We both have our Technician (lowest level) licenses.

Which means we should both now get the jokes at HamGreetings.com, greeting cards for HAMs (Via Laurel Krahn).

Next up: Actually learning what all that crap we managed to check off correctly on the multiple choice test actually means, figuring out what radios to get, and learning about the communications nets that pop up for disaster preparedness stuff.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-11-12 21:14:16.808507+00 by: Dan Lyke

In case anyone actually gets to the comments on this post, I wanted to add something else that I'll be musing on for a while: We now have our licenses because we crammed for the specifics of the test. I know that wavelength in meters is approximately 300/frequency in MHz (Actually my high school physics tells me it's closer to 298, but 300 is the guideline given in the test prep materials), I know that in any transmission I have to identify myself when I begin transmitting, every 10 minutes, and when I end transmitting, one or two simple things about circuits, and a whole bunch of disconnected factoids about HAM culture.

And not to climb an extendable tower when it's other than in the retracted condition.

I know nothing about actually reasonably operating a radio, what frequencies I'm permitted to use, that sort of thing.

Part of this is a feeling in the amateur radio community that the barrier to entry is too high, that the first thing to do is get people legally able to use a radio and then worry about the details. And part of this is that much of amateur radio rules and guidelines are lore, built up by private parties and only passingly set by the FCC.

However, the overall feeling is that there's a whole bunch of silly lore going on, that the only way I'm only going to figure out the reality is by making this culture a lifestyle where I participate in it for several hours each week, and the barrier to entry still seems to far surmount the technical issues.

Hopefully we'll get over that, but it's rather disconcerting.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-11-12 23:44:55.217431+00 by: Ralph Brandi

I'm pretty sure that as Technicians, you'll be allowed to operate on higher bands like 2 meters (144 MHz) and above that pretty much only travel locally, as opposed to high frequency bands below 30 MHz that can travel around the world.

Practically speaking, this means that your main topic of conversation will be whether it's legal to order pizza over the phone patch rather than lengthy discussions of prostate problems.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-11-13 00:23:23.154026+00 by: Dan Lyke

Giggle. We want it mainly for Marin Century logistics, and will probably end up getting a little more involved in disaster planning stuff just so that we have a definite use to learn towards, and that'll probably be the same groups (Marin Amateur Radio Society and Red Cross, interfacing with local emergency services).

But, yeah, many folks seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of listening for "CQ"s over static-filled links and engaging in roughly CB radio behavior, only without the lewd unregulated language. That does nothing for me.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-11-13 11:05:35.834114+00 by: DaveP

I never had a license, but I was part of the ham "culture" during my years in Boy Scouts. Under Technician, you're allowed little bits of everything from the 80m band and up, though CW-only (i.e. Morse code) in some of the bands.

http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/Hambands_color.pdf is a graphical view.

Technician class used to, IIRC also be one of the few who could use ultra-long-wave, but I don't see that in the chart. But that was also back in the days when Technician still had a morse requirement, so it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they've kicked amateurs off the low freqs so the navy can have sole domain down there.

Anyway, feel free to ping me if you need a translator.