Sunday, March 23, 2014

SQ150 to embark on Amateur Radio Education for members

Major "Wells" Gardner Harris, Group 7 Director of Communications, recently sent this out about Amateur Radio:
1. It works when nothing else does
2. It makes you part of a worldwide community
3. The opportunity to help neighbors by providing public service and emergency communications
4. Some of the nicest people you'll ever meet
5. Some of the smartest people you'll ever meet
6. Some of the most interesting people you'll ever meet
7. Some of the most generous people you'll ever meet (along with some of the cheapest!)
8. Lifelong friendships
9. Friends around the world (including those you haven't met yet)
10. The opportunity to go interesting places you might not otherwise go to
11. The opportunity to do interesting things you might not otherwise get to do
12. The opportunity to expand your knowledge of geography
13. The opportunity to expand your knowledge of earth and space science
14. Practical uses for high school math
15. Practical uses for high school physics
16. A good way to practice a foreign language
17. A good way to keep in touch with faraway friends and relatives
18. A good way to get driving directions when visiting someplace new (with or without GPS)
19. A good way to find the best places to eat when visiting someplace new (with or without GPS)
20. Finding "non-touristy" off-the-beaten-path places to stay, eat, visit, etc.
21. A good way to learn about virtually any topic
22. A good way to bridge the generation gap
23. A good way to keep tabs on elderly/infirm people
24. People named Joe (Walsh, Rudi, Taylor)
25. How many of your non-ham friends have actually talked
to someone in some remote place such as Cape Verde or the Seychelles?
26. How many of your non-ham friends might have talked to an astronaut aboard the space station?
27. How many of your non-ham neighbors might have a satellite uplink station in their basements—or in the palms of their hands?
28. How many of your non-ham neighbors might have a TV studio in their garage?
29. What other hobby group has designed, built, and had launched its own fleet of communication satellites?
30. Where else can you play with meteors?
31. Moonbounce
32. Informal way to improve technical skills
33. Informal way to improve communication skills
34. Introduces a variety of career paths
35. Offers unparalleled opportunities for career networking
36. Opportunities for competition in contesting and foxhunting
37. A good way to collect really cool postcards from around the world (despite the growth of electronic confirmations)
38. Nearly endless variety of different things to do, on and off the air
39. Hamfests
40. Dayton
41. Field Day
42. Working DX
43. Being DX
44. DXpeditions
45. Contesting
46. Award-chasing
47. Double-hop sporadic-E
48. Worldwide DX on 6 meters (once or twice every 11 years) [The current extended sunspot minimum has shown that mechanisms other than F2 propagation can offer intercontinental DX on the "magic band" at any point in the solar cycle.]
49. Tropospheric ducting
50. Gray-line propagation
51. TEP, chordal hops, etc.
52. Getting through on CW when nothing else will
53. Unexpected band openings
54. Building your own gear
55. Using gear you've built yourself
56. Operating QRP from some remote location
57. Experimenting with antennas
58. Working DX while mobile or while hiking
59. Experimenting with new modes and new technology
60. The opportunity to help build an internet that doesn't rely on the internet
61. DXing on your HT via IRLP and Echolink
62. Contributing to scientific knowledge about propagation
63. Keeping track of other people's GPS units via APRS
64. Ham radio balloon launches to the edge of space, and as always...
65. Reading CQ!

(Permission is hereby granted to reprint this list in amateur radio club newsletters, provided credit is given to CQ magazine.)
In order to foster a more technical understanding of the principles of radio communication, the squadron commander, William Phinizy, K6WHP, is starting an "Elmering" program to interested members who wish to get their Technician (or higher) amateur radio license. Those interested in participating can simply go to this link to obtain a suitable training book for a nominal cost and, while studying, can obtain on-line practice examinations here.

The actual amateur radio examinations are administered by hams themselves from a published question pool. There are three classes of ham radio license:

(1) Technician - VHF and UHF privileges, some HF privileges on 10 meters.
(2) General - Most HF, VHF and UHF privileges.
(3) Extra - ALL HF, VHF and UHF privileges.

You have to matriculate up the ladder (i.e., cannot take the General before you pass the Technician) and NO license requires Morse code proficiency anymore. The link above provides sample tests WITH THE ACTUAL QUESTIONS FROM THE APPROPRIATE POOL. It will grade your test and provide you with a score. The art is to keep taking the tests until your scores come back consistently as 80% or more. (Passing is 70 percent.) Then you go to a local ham club who regularly holds these exams, pay them about $10, and take the test. They will grade it there so you will know if you pass. Then it's about two-three weeks before the FCC issues you a call sign.

..radios? That's the fun part. The hams in Squadron 150, CAPT John Frerichs, N6VCW, 1LT Dave Martin, KD6IQY, Major John Hill, K6JCH, and others will chime in on sources, recommendations, and how, what, why and good deals when you pass. Additionally, from time to time, we will be providing demonstrations of radios and technical points to support your study.

Note that the question pool for the Technician license is changing in June so before you tumble for a book, determine if you can get your license before then. Otherwise, let's wait until then, get the new book, and hit it then.

Good luck!