Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ham Radio License KEØEUS

Getting my Ham Radio Technician License has been on my mind for a long time. Now it's  a mission accomplished. It's been a journey to get here starting back in my very youthful days. I remember how my Dad and I would go outside at night and watch the skies for the Soviet and U.S.A.'s satellites going overhead in the space race of the 1950's. I still recall the excitement of spotting the moving satellite all by myself. (I suspect my Dad suggested the right direction to look).  Now that we have manned satellites, did you know licensed ham radio operators can talk to the astronauts on the International Space Station?

When I was 13 years old, I spent my nights turning the radio dial to pick up far away  radio transmissions. I would be thrilled to land on a station in another state. I already suspected that radio waves traveled farther at night but I had no idea about radio frequencies, wavelengths and the workings of the ionosphere in picking up these radio stations.  

I didn't even recognize I was heading into the world of ham radio until years ago when a dear neighbor passed away. His wife mentioned he had a ham radio set up she was going to offer to the local ham radio club. My heart beat a bit faster hearing this but since I had no license or knowledge I didn't feel I could offer to buy his equipment. I never forgot that extra pitter-patter of my heart when this subject came up. I just pondered it quietly until a year and a half ago. 

In 2014 I bought my first ham radio books to study. I bought a Ham Radio for Dummies and the HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course.  The study books for licensing are changed  every few years and the books have dates on them. The book I had in hand was current only until the middle of last summer. As Murphy's Law would have it, after getting this close to getting my ham radio license, I had to have two shoulder surgeries which threw me  off track on my studies and my book reaching it's expiration date. 

In May, 2015, my friend, Theresa, sent an email  to our group of girls saying she wanted to get her Ham Radio license and would anyone like to join her. I was thrilled to find a kindred spirit. The test date was only 2 weeks away so I got the updated books and went into a study frenzy. For 2 weeks all I concentrated on was absorbing what I would need to know to get a Ham Radio Technician License.  I wrote notes from the book, took practice exams on line and carried my notes and book everywhere with me. Theresa and I even got together to help each other in our studies.  Did you know: wavelength (in meters) = 300 ÷ frequency (in megahertz)? Technician band privileges are a very important thing to know as well. Following FCC rules is a must.


The night of the exam the 5 volunteer examiners commented that we were among the largest group they had seen taking the test. I estimated there were maybe 15 of us and all three levels of licensing hopefuls were accounted for: Technicians, General and Extra. 

For the Technician exam, out of a pool of 426 possible questions, the test had 35 questions with each of the 10 areas of study represented. To pass, 26 answers had to be correct or about 74%. It was multiple choice with 4 options to choose from. For the test I was to bring my ID, 2 pencils, a pen and a calculator. The cost to take the test was $14.00 (some exams are $15.00 depending on what test is used). 

Checking in, paperwork was passed through 3 different volunteer examiners. At the end of the table I was handed the test booklet and could start on it immediately. When finished I handed it to the first person at the end of the examiner's table. I was surprised the results were looked over by 3 different people. No chance of cheating on this test. 

Finally my name was called out and my passing score for a Technician License. I was pleased to pass in flying colors. As my friend told me "I over studied." Theresa and I high-fived over the thrill of passing our tests and we celebrated with these pictures of us. 

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy!

I will be getting my transceiver soon and then it's a whole new learning curve to master it. There are a lot of fun things to do with a ham radio. To check out some ideas look at this page of  65 great things about Ham Radio printed in the CQ Amateur Radio Magazine. Additionally, there are contests (i.e. to see how many stations one can reach in a given time), Hamfests, Field Days and the ham radio can be used in emergency communications. This unit mounted on a bike shows a creative use of one's radio license. 

I spotted this car last week in the Costco parking lot. I was hoping it's owner would come out so I could chat with him. See the 73 on the car? In "ham language" it means Best Regards. Abbreviations are frequently used to keep radio transmissions brief and efficient. It's fun reading this car. It tells quite a story about it's owner. 

If NØPQV ever sees this post, 73 from KEØEUS!

Now that I have my call sign I'll be looking for you. Send me your call sign and we can chat.
UPDATE:  I found Terry and have visited with him! I sure enjoy my fellow Hams!