August 05, 2008

How in Hell did I get Talked into this?

To augment poor cell phone coverage when we're gallivanting around the hinterlands, I've been talked into Amateur (Ham) radio. After blasting through the Technician-level test a couple weeks back, it took the FCC almost two weeks to get me in the ULS. (No, I'm not going to put up my callsign. I'd like to keep a fig-leaf of Internet annonymity. You can get a lot more than a name from a callsign.)

Until I figure out exactly how much vandalism I'm willing to do to the interior and exterior of my truck, I'm sticking to a (not-so) simple 5W handheld radio. (A base station is simply out of the question. I don't want to invest in that much equipment. I'm really not in need of another neglected hobby, and the HOA would have my nuts if I tried to put up a decent antenna.)

So far, I've been using the wide-band receive to listen in on a couple of nearby repeaters and some aircraft frequencies. I now know that the airport tower near me shuts down at 9pm and re-opens at 6. Beyond that I haven't so much as "kerchunked" the radio.

I may invest in a good mobile (order of magnitude more output) some time later this year. They're a bit pricy to request as a Christmas present, but maybe if I can convince the folks to lump it in with the birthday. Nah, still too much.

Posted in Meh by: Will at 12:14 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 I've had my tech ticket long enough that I've had to renew it. ;p Really ought to upgrade, now that they've ditched the code requirement...

Definitely "neglected hobby", though. I hardly ever turn on the IC-2000 in the car these days - my commute is 5 minutes.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 05, 2008 01:18 PM (pWQz4)


I blew through the Tech test so fast that they asked me if I wanted to try the General (pretty easy when you've just been running through online tests over and over). I wasn't prepared for that level, and I'm not sure I'd ever want to take things that far. 6m, 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm are more than enough for my needs. It's not like I'm really looking to get into DX.

Posted by: Will at August 05, 2008 02:15 PM (WnBa/)

3 These days people who are inclined to get into DX create web sites.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 05, 2008 05:32 PM (+rSRq)

4 That kind of circumvents the whole point of DX.

Posted by: Will at August 05, 2008 11:20 PM (oj5wx)

5 Well, time once was where DX was the only way you'd converse with people from foreign countries. You'd make a contact, chat for a few minutes, send a little postcard and get one yourself, and maybe years later you'd talk to that person again, and remember the last time you talked and what it was about.

But these days, it's just a lot less special. I mean, yeah, I could talk with a guy in Germany, if I set up a lot of equipment, got my antenna aimed right, and had good band conditions.

Or I could just switch windows to my IRC client, where I have a -choice- of Germans to pester when I need help deciphering Japanese people speaking bad German. ;p

The hobby just doesn't have the luster it once had. Cheap, easy, ubiquitous communication has made most of its aspects redundant, like being a classic car aficionado without the sexy aspect. About the only thing that it does uniquely well is handle disasters - no infrastructure required, after all.

It doesn't help that band conditions are crap lately. Go go Maunder minimum...

That said, it's not a bad hobby. You can learn a lot about physics and circuit design. And nobody is more polite and helpful than a group of hams.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 06, 2008 01:08 AM (pfysU)

6 DX has become far more technical than social (at least from all the recent literature I've been looking into). Now it's more about seeing if you can tag Siberia on 1W than just finding anyone at all to talk to in Siberia.

Posted by: Will at August 06, 2008 08:56 AM (WnBa/)

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