Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hello ham radio, goodbye RV

My dad and my brother both were ham radio operators when I was growing up and eventually my mom and I also got our Technician class licenses (my brother holds the next level, a General class and my dad has what used to be the next level above General which is an Advanced class.)  

As a young adult, I didn't have the time or the money to get seriously into the hobby and eventually let my license expire.  That was quite a long time ago, but I suspect once Ham Radio gets in your blood, it's always there lurking, just waiting for something to trigger the fever again.  I say this because a couple of weeks ago, while surfing the internet, I inadvertently stumbled across some of the new things going on in the world of Ham Radio.  Well, maybe not so new to folks active in the hobby, but new to me since I had been away from it for 20 years.  

I did a little checking and most of the things that had caught my attention could be done with only a Technician class license.  I figured it wouldn't take too much study to retest and since there was an exam date of June 16th, that would give me two weeks to get back up to snuff.  I took a couple of practice exams to see what I might need to brush up on and much to my surprise, I found that I had not forgotten much at all. In fact, it only took one day of study before I could easily pass the practice tests.  Since I still had almost two weeks to go before exam day, I decided I would study for the General exam.  If I could pass this, it would be a nice surprise for my father on Father's Day because it would mean that I would be able to transmit on his favorite HF bands (something I could not do with just a Technician license.)

Yesterday I took the tests.  First was the Technician exam which I sailed through and then the General exam which I also sailed through.  As a result, the examiners were quite insistent that I take the Extra exam next.  I knew there was no way I'd pass that one since I hadn't even looked at the question pool or studied for it and it's got some pretty esoteric stuff on it.  But they strongly encouraged me to take it anyway as a way to get acquainted with what was on the test and since it didn't cost anything but a little extra bit of my time, why not?

Needless to say, I did not pass that test, but I did manage to get 27 out of 50 answers correct, far more than I expected. The half I didn't get right included quite a few things I'd never even heard of, but it all seemed like things that I could learn if I applied a little bit of effort.  I don't really need an Extra class license at this point, but it would give my dad quite a thrill if I could achieve it.  It's something to think about in a few months, after I've finished moving out of the RV.  

Yes, my RV days are over.  I've enjoyed living there the last two years, but with Rob and I moving back together, the RV is way too small for two people and two dogs.  Instead, we'll be living in an apartment for a while.  And while an apartment will make getting back into ham radio a bit of a challenge since my antenna choices will be limited, it's the best option at the moment.