Archive for the 'Ham Radio' Category

Sever Weather Preparedness Week

This week is Sever Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois and Indiana. I know many Ham radio operators use this week to get their radios working for when the first storm hits. Many weather spotters get out to training classes (mine is actually in two weeks). I hope that most families will do something, even if it’s going out a buying a NOAA Weather Radio or buying some extra batteries and flash lights for when the power gets knocked out. You never know when the weather might effect you. Last year, in my county, we got hit by both a micro burst and a tornado. Many of them effected some of the same people, as they hit only a few towns away from each other. Near my work (the next county over) another micro burst hit during yet another storm. That one knocked down power lines for nearly an mile and a half down a major road. The worst part is, I’m hearing from many weather experts that this year has the potential to be even worse than last. The norther Illinois/souther Wisconsin area has already seen their first sever weather of the year (early January). Emergencies always remind my of my Boy Scout days, “Always be prepared.”

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I’m an old man

I came to the realization last night that I am an old man. Heres why.

1. I drive an old man car (Ford Crown Vic)
2. I try to be in bed by 9 at night. (altough, not by choice, I have to be up for work by 2:30 in the morning)
3. I have an old man hobby. Since I have become active in Ham Radio, I have discovered that the median age has to be about 55-60. And much of that is off set by the 10 and 14 year olds that I have met that are in the hobby. I have only met or spoke to 2 other people within 5 years of my age.
4. I prefer old man drinks. I will occasonaly drink beer, but my drink of choice is wisky on the rocks or wine.

I started thinkuing about this when (of all people) my dad woke me up with a phone call at 9:45 last night. Most people my age are getting woke up by their parents at 9 in the morning becasue they slept too late. I should just buy a walker and start siting on my deck, shaking a broom at the little kids who get too loud outside my appartment.

Field Day

As I had posted earlier, this weekend was Field Day. I ended up putting in a lot of hours and I’m still not fully with it. I started set up at 7 a.m. on Saturday and didn’t leave for home until 6 p.m. on Sunday. I only got about three hours of sleep in the back of truck, and got soaking wet trying to set up, but over all, the weekend was worth it. I got to get on the radio some and was able to contact people all over the country, from southern Florida to western Washington. I also got to talk to a hand full people from Canadialand (VE’s in ham lingo, referring to it being the prefix for Canadian Ham’s call signs). We were set up on the top of an old garbage dump which put us up about 200 feet above the average terrain of flat Illinois, which was great for our radio signals. We also had lots of problems during the event. We had two vehicles lose mechanical power on the way out to the site, it was raining the entire morning, someone forgot to connect one of the antennas on top of a fifty foot radio tower (it was funny watching my chief climb the tower when it was half the way down), another on of our antennas wasn’t working right, and we ran out of fuel on one of our generators. After participating in Field Day, I can’t wait until next year!!

Field Day 2007

March 23 -24 is field day in the amateur radio community. Field day is a time for amateur radio operators (hams) to set up and operate their emergency power stations. Many hams take pride in the fact that they can set up their radios and relay communications to other parts of the country and the world with little more than their radio, an antenna, and a battery or other source of emergency power if they ever had to. Field day is there chance to practice and show off, as the main draw to field day is the contest that most ham clubs participate in. Field day is a 24 hour endurance to make as many contacts (contacting another ham) as possible on as many different modes (type of communication, i.e. AM voice, FM voice, Morris code, and many others) as possible. The contest starts at 1 pm CDT on March 23rd and will end at 1pm CDT on the 24th.

For all of you that are not hams, it is a different hobby. I got into the hobby within the last year, but have been interested in it since high school. I have always loved electronics, and ham radio lets me use electronics and problem solving to produce the best signal I can. I also have met many interesting people from all walks of life and all age groups on the air waves. I would like to eventually get into some of the digital modes of operation which include digital voice, data transfer, and instant messaging type communication. To become licenced, one must study for and take a short test. Help studying and where to take the test can best be found at a local radio club. To find a club near you, see the ARRL link on my main page.

To any one that is even remotely interested in amateur radio, emergency preparedness, or electronics, I challenge you to find a club near you and find out were they will be setting up for field day. Most clubs (there my be a few bad apples) would be more than happy to have you come visit and they could show you around and explain the different types of communications that they are using.

I have not been to a field day before, but I’m anxiously waiting and don’t think it will be a disappointment!!