I’m starting this as a new blog and site for myself mostly. However, hopefully in the process I may be able to document processes that could help others as they start their journey down the road to being a HAM licensee.

For myself, I’ve had the bug for a while to have some fun while talking to others throughout the country as well as the world. I thought it would be fun to keep up with my other friends that have been doing this for a while. Plus, getting to play with technology and airwaves at the same time seemed cool. The one thing that had kept me in the past from not doing this was the morse code requirement. It wasn’t that I was against learning morse code…it was more the idea of finding the time to learn morse code

Being a pilot by trade, I have picked up CW here and there from the various navigation beacons we use (even though we really don’t listen to the ID’s so much anymore). But, I definitely would be very far from being able to pickup or send complete words or sentences. It’s one thing to figure out a 3-letter identifier…it’s a whole other world communicating with it.

So, when I picked up a book at my big kid Chuck-E-Cheese store (aka Fry’s Electronics) the other day and found that there was no longer a code requirement, I thought what the heck. I bought the study guide from Gordon West (WB6NOA) and started reading. 3 days later and I’m sitting in front of a VE-group that was nice enough to convene just so that I could take my Technical test right before I left for vacation for 10 days.

15 minutes later, I had a hearty “Congratulations! You Passed!”. Ok, so I still missed 3 answers. But, I suppose a 91.4% after three days of review isn’t too bad. 🙂

Ok, now I’m a licensed HAM operator. What do I do now???? Start ordering stuff, of course (while waiting for my call sign to publish). 🙂 And what cool toys there are for you in the radio world. Luckily, waiting for my call only took until about 2pm the following day of the exam. I have to hand it to the folks at W5YI, they’re very quick at putting the information in the system. A nice thanks to those folks as well as the VE’s that were nice enough to gather on a Monday evening for just me!!!

Being a former commercial radio jock I knew that stuff was cool. I never knew how much cool radio stuff there was in the HAM world. So I wound up with an inexpensive Handie Talkie for walkabout and then decided to go for the Cadillac for my mobile side. I really wanted to get something that I could use both at home and in our travel trailer for when I travel. I picked up the Kenwood TM-V71A, with a Comet (gotta get the model again, can’t remember) antenna and a fairly inexpensive Radio Shack 12V power supply (for the house and trailer) from Main Trading Company. So far this has all worked great in pulling in the repeaters and having some fun local talk. BTW, if you’re looking for equipment, may I highly suggest you check with the folks at MTC and see if they have what you want. Not only are their prices quite fair, their customer service is unbelievable. I know it seems like a shameless plug, but I do like to reward companies that go out of their way on customer service. Anymore, that is a long lost art. Ok. end of shameless plug. 🙂

Because I hate spending money on products I can build for next to nothing, I really had a hard time wanting to pay for the Kenwood cable sets (both PC and Audio to use as EchoLink node). Luckily, I found this page by our radio friend, Brian (MW0GKX), across the pond that gave perfect directions for building the cables. It takes a LOT of patience and a little perseverance, but they’re pretty simple to make. The cables sell online for about $60 for the set. I built both sets with parts from both Fry’s and another local electronics store (Tanner Electronics in Carrolton, TX), for about $20-25. Of course, it took me a couple days to be brave enough to plug them into the radio for fear of my soldering not quite being up to par. But, alas, when I did they worked perfectly.

After I passed the Technical, I started talking with my college friend who has been in HAM for a while about all this new territory I was in. I soon discovered I really needed to get my General license so I could get into the even cooler toys. So, with vacation coming up, back to Fry’s I went to get my Gordon West General Class Study Guide. I’ve been studying that up for about 5 days now and am ready to take my General Class license test, which I intend to do this weekend (6/23/2012). But with that new license I, of course, need to equip myself properly. More on that on my next post.