Ham Radio

I am a US licensed amateur radio operator – callsign W9GTH. My ham journey began in 1997 when I got my “no-code tech” license. At the time, the no-code option was relatively new and still a bit controversial. I bought an HT, and got talking on the local repeater. I got involved in Field Day and other activities. Five years later, I got tired of working HF under the club call and passed my General exam (including the 5WPM CW (morse code) test). Then, I took a long break from the hobby. A combination of club politics, life getting busy, the rise of the internet, and other things led me to put it aside. Another factor was that it seemed like the hobby was just people using radios to talk to each other about radios, which got old after a while. I didn’t let my license lapse, but I didn’t use it.

Flash forward to 2023. One of my fellow gamer nerds was writing an RPG adventure that involved ham radio operators and asked me to give her some technical advice. In the process of helping, I realized that I missed the ham radio hobby. I saw that a test session was coming up in a month, so I picked up a study guide and on May 31, 2023, I passed the Extra Class license exam. My wife rewarded my efforts with an Icom 7300 as a birthday present. I dusted off my old Kenwood TS-830 as a backup HF rig, strung a folded dipole in the backyard trees, and turned an unused corner of the basement into a cozy ham shack. But what to do with this new station? It had been quite a few years, so I needed to find out what was going on in the hobby.

Enter the Ham Radio Crash Course. Thanks to their videos and the excellent podcast, I discovered FT-8, POTA, the Long Island CW Club, and many other wonderful developments in the ham field (in which we are all out standing). Many thanks to Josh and Leah of HRCC, who have helped me to rediscover my interest in a wonderful hobby and dispelled my fears that it would still just be radio people using radios to talk about radios and radio people. I mean it is that, but there has to be more and I am glad there is.

I was also happy to discover that things had changed for the better locally, too. I decided to take a chance on rejoining the local repeater club, and I am glad I did. The nonsense from the past is gone and the repeater club has become an active and welcoming community. One of the best features is the daily net. Every day at 5pm Central, they host the Happy Hour “Un-Net”. It is largely unstructured, but is moderated. The only rule is to check in with your call sign and share your “happy thought” for the day. Everyone is welcome. Another area club links their repeater to join in the fun and we get check-ins from all over the US and Canada via Allstar (node 511680). They keep a log and award a certificate for 100 check-ins. Whenever a ham checks in for the first time, a round of welcomes is given. Every day of the week, 30 to 50 hams get together to keep the bands in use, hone their operating skills, and have fun.

Thanks to HRCC (and other YouTubers), I feel like I did when I first got my license – eager to learn and excited about the possibilities.


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