Tim, KD9LAI attended his first SARC meeting in May and received a Baofeng UV-82X handheld donated to the club by Jim, KB9RGU. I asked him a few questions about ham radio now that he’s had some on-air time.
What got you interested in ham radio?
In the early 90’s I developed an interest in “world band” just in time for the first Gulf War. This was entirely on the “receiver” end of things, but even then I toyed with the idea of getting my “ticket.” Life intervened, however. Fast forward to 2013, at which point I began volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol. This, as well as other experiences, has impressed upon me the need for emergency communication skills during times of crisis.
What did you use to study for the exam?
I primarily used 3 completely free resources: (a) A set of power-point videos by Ham Whisperer in conjunction with notes from (b) FCC Technician Class Exam Study Guide – 2014-2018 … and (c) the Roy Watson Ham Radio Exam practice tests–available as both android and iOS apps. I found straight/rote memorization of answers to be insufficient to my needs. The Ham Whisperer videoss along with the wikibooks pages provided just enough explanation to get me through.
What did you find interesting at the first meeting you attended?
The amount of knowledge and expertise exhibited by current club members.
From the meeting, or from contacts you’ve had on air: Is there anything that you heard about that you’d like to learn more about in the hobby?
Yes, I am very interested in pursuing my general [class license]. My primary interests from here are in the realm of learning enough about antennas for portable/stealth operation; I’m also interested in QRP, digital modes, and how to do more with less.
Tell us about your first contact. What repeater did you use? Was the ham you contacted helpful, welcoming, etc? What radio did you use and how did it work?
My first contact was while I was in a McDonalds parking lot on Ogden, during a lunch break. I got on the DARC repeater, 145.430. It was a ‘lunch-time’ gathering in which Net Control called for any sign-ins. The radio I was using was the Baofeng UV-82X given to me by the club. Without thinking about the fact that I was still in my car on just a rubber duck antenna, I keyed up and gave my call sign. I was immediately acknowledged and welcomed into the Net. Net Control located me in the QRZ or other database, and I confirmed my identification. Question of the day was if we had sustained any damage from storms the previous night. Net Control said I could be heard, though it sounded like I was on the ‘edge’ of the repeater. In reality I was only about 2 miles from it, but sitting inside my car on just a HT with rubber duck…. yeah, I get it. So, in reality, I think it worked GREAT, given those conditions; and I was very much welcomed by the other ham.
Do you think the material you covered for the exam helped you make your first contacts?
Difficult to say. Preparation has been cumulative. I think what helped the most for making my contacts has been dialog (verbal and email) with other hams, and watching YouTube videos on selected topics.
What parts of the hobby do you plan to continue exploring?
As mentioned, I want to get my General so as to have HF privileges open to me. I’m then interested in slowly exploring and learning about various modes of communication under less than ideal conditions.